The 107th edition of Milan-San Remo was the biggest race of busy spring weekend across Europe with polemic of Arnaud Démare's alleged tow from the FDJ team car ensuring La Primavera remained in the headlines well after the Frenchman took out the first monument victory of his career.
Compared to recent editions of the first monument of the season, Milan-San Remo started under sunny skies in Milan with riders signing on at the Castello Sforzesco before the 10am start. There were familiar names in the breakaway from last year, Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), Andrea Peron (Team Novo Nordisk), Adrian Hurek (CCC-Sprandi Polkowice) and Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida) the chief culprits, with the peloton content to let them enjoy the sunshine and a 10-minute lead by the 50km mark.
While there was calm in the peloton, race organisers RCS were far from tranquillo as a landslide near Arenzano saw the race directed away from the coastal road to the autostrada and several more kilometres added to the percorso as a result. With the race back on the coast, the break's advantage continued to fall the closer the peloton got to the capi.
A crash involving pre-race favourite Michael Matthews and race winner Démare on the ascent of the Cipressa became the focal point of the post-race polemica with Italian riders Matteo Tosatto (Tinkoff) and Eros Capecchi (Astana) telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that the Frenchman "was hanging onto the right of the team car. It's disgusting!", said the later. While the events would reach a crescendo on Sunday, the race was still taking place with the breakaway eventually caught with 25km to race.
On the Poggio there was a regrouping in the peloton as riders like Démare made their way back to the front before Michael Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) launched off the front, with Vincenzo Nibali and Fabian Cancellara both marked as they closed down the move. There was time for a late flyer by Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data) before a small group, including Fernando Gaviria and Peter Sagan, formed at the head of the race.
Just as the sprint was about to open up, Gaviria overlapped wheels to hit the deck as Sagan and Cancellra put their bike skills to the test, avoiding the Colombian who had disrupted the momentum of the riders eighter side and behind him. Just as the sprint was about to open up, Gaviria overlapped wheels to hit the deck as Sagan and Cancellara put their bike skills to the test, avoiding the Colombian who had disrupted the momentum of the riders either side and behind him. On the other side of the road, Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal), Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis), Démare and Swift squeezed through an opening. As Bouhanni was drawing level with Démare, he slipped his chain and could only bang his bars in frustration as his former teammate accelerated to the win ahead of Roelandts and Swift.
For full race coverage of Milan-San Remo, click here and watch the race highlights below.
Lizzie Armitstead's winning start to her 2016 season in the rainbow jersey of the rainbow jersey continued at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda, a race she won in 2015, on Sunday despite working for Boels Dolmans teammate Megan Guarnier.
Armitstead chased down Jolanda Neff (Servetto Footon), who had gone clear on the final ascent of the Orino, with the intention of setting up Guarnier for a reduced sprint victory. Armitstead and Neff arrived on the finishing straight together where the world champion turned on the power and sprinted to the victory while Guarnier got the better of a fading Neff to ensure a one-two for Boels Dolmans.
The victory was Armitstead third of the season and second in the Women's WorldTour which sees the 27-year-old take the lead in the individual standings. After four races, Boels Dolmans are 100% in the Women's WorldTour after three events and lead the team classification on 544 points. The next round of the Women's WorldTour takes palace next week with Gent–Wevelgem.
For full coverage of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda - Comune di Cittiglio, click here
Trofeo Alfredo Binda podium: Megan Guarnier, Lizzie Armitstead and Jolanda Neff (Velofocus)
Bronze medallist from the 2015 Richmond Worlds in the U23 road race, Anthony Turgis won his first race of the season ahead of Cofidis teammate Loïc Chetout and the gold medallist from the Worlds, Kevin Ledanois (Fortuneo - Vital Concept). Kenneth Vanbilsen and Florian Senechal capped off the day for Cofidis finishing fourth and fifth.
The race had been won by AG2R-La Mondiale's Alexis Gougeard for the last two year's running but the 2016 edition belonged to Turgis.
For full Classic Loire Atlantique results, click here
Ruben Companioni (Jamis-Sutter Home) took out the first race of the 2016 USA Crits calendar in Tampa, Florida at the Sunshine Grand Prix with Mac Brennan (Holowesko Citadel Racing Team p/b Hincapie Sportswear) a narrow second place getter. The Cuban explained that his good form is down to a block of training in Colombia with teammate Javier Acevedo that helped him power out of the four corners on the flat 0.54 mile course.
For the full race report and results from the Sunshine Grand Prix, click here
Roubaix Lille Métropole's Rudy Barbier proved to be the fastest finisher at the Cholet - Pays De Loire after more than five hours in the saddle, a day after abandoning the Classic Loire Atlantique. The 23-year-old got the better of Baptiste Planckaert (Wallonie - Bruxelles) and Yannis Yssaad (Equipe Cycliste Armée de Terre) in Cholet after 201km of racing.
It is the first professional win of the Frenchman's career, one week after he won the UCI 1.2 Paris-Troyes ahead of Planckaert and younger brother Pierre. Laast year, Barbier won the best young rider classification at the World Ports Classic.
Click here for the full results from the 2016 Cholet - Pays De Loire
The five day 2.2 Volta ao Alentejo saw a change on GC during the final stage with Enric Mas taking the yellow jersey from the shoulders of Krister Hagen (Team Coop / Oster Hus). Mas, the winner of stage 2, slipped to second on stage 3 were he remained until crossing the line on stage 5, claiming the overall victory.
It was a day of double celebration for Klein Constantia with Rémi Cavagna winning the final stage of the race. On Saturday, it was Jarno Gmelich Meyling celebrating victory and Metec / TKH Continental Team's second win as many days after the success of Johim Ariesen on Friday.
Tao Geoghegan Hart was the best finisher for Axeon Hagens Bermans in sixth place despite an illness limiting his power output.
"I have been sick with either food poisoning or some type of virus the past three days, which made eating anything very difficult," he said. "It made for a super unenjoyable last few days of the race, as my body really was not firing on all cylinders whatsoever. But with my GC (general classification) being the best chance of a decent result the team had, I knew I had to try and keep riding.
For all results from all five Volta ao Alentejo stages, click here
Enric Mas (Klein Constantia) in the yellow jersey (Volta ao Alentejo)
Karl Platt won the fifth Cape Epic of his career and first with Urs Huber as the Bulls team won three of the seven stages on the way to a 13 minute overall victory ahead of Nicola Rohrbach and Matthias Pfrommer (Centurion Vaude by Meerendal). The women's race was won by Annika Langvad and Ariane Kleinhans (Spur-Specialized) for the third year in a row.
The final stage, from Boschendal to Meerendal Wine Estate, went to Manuel Fumic and Henrique Avancini (Cannondale Factory Racing) with Sabine Spitz and Yana Belomoina (Sport for Good) the fastest women's team.
Saturday's penultimate stage in Boschendal was won by Periklis Ilias and Tiago Jorge Ferreira Oliveira (Dolomiti Superbike) and the women's by Sabine Spitz and Yana Belomoina (Sport for Good).
For full Cape Epic coverage, click here