Michal Kwiatkowski won Milan-San Remo in 2017 with a perfect tactical performance against faster finisher Peter Sagan. This year the tables turned, with the Pole and Team Sky the victims of other teams' tactics and a lack of riders in the final kilometres.
Team Sky tried to take control of the race on the Cipressa but were then swamped on the run-in to the Poggio, with Kwiatkowski starting the final climb from too far back. He never got back into the thick of the action and was not well placed when Nibali made his surge mid-way up the testing climb.
Kwiatkowski hoped that other teams would chase the down Italian and give him a final throw of the dice. However, the chase failed to materialise until it was too late to catch Nibali. Kwiatkowski finished 11th in the sprint with Gianni Moscon in 29th a few seconds behind and no other Team Sky riders in the top 75 of the results.
"We were in the front on the Cipressa and Poggio but when Nibali went, we fell asleep a little bit there. Pretty much the whole bunch just let him go and he gained 15-20 seconds," Kwiatkowski said, pointing the finger at his rivals but also admitting a mea culpa.
"It maybe didn't surprise me, but I was surprised that no other sprinter teams were going anywhere - they just stopped riding. I thought they were going to make a steady tempo without any slowing down or any crazy accelerations."
"I had a go twice - I don't know if that was on camera - when we started the first bit but I was directly marked by Sagan. I felt there was a lot of headwind and I was going nowhere at that point. We were only two guys but there were other teams with more than two. What can we do? It's difficult racing when you don't have a sprinter in your lineup.
"Nibali had a good advantage and I thought the sprinters' teams were going to catch him. I was just left with the chance in the sprint but not the feeling to win.
"I felt great the entire race, it was amazing to take the responsibility, we did well with that, we were in the right moments at the front, but it's tricky to be in the game in San Remo. You need to have some luck and really feel the moves, how the peloton is going to go. Nibali was the best today, but I expected something more from myself. It's a pity."
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