Peter Sagan (Cannondale) let out a Hulk-like roar as he crossed the finish line in Arezzo - relieved to have shown he won, relieved to have shown he is on form for the Classics but also a moving gesture for his mum, who he revealed is unwell.
Sagan made a point of dedicating his victory in stage 3 at Tirreno-Adriatico to her. She will no doubt be happy to see he is back to doing what he does best: making the hardest race finishes look easy to win.
"It's an important win because now I know that my condition is improving," Sagan explained.
"This finish was not everybody, maybe for five riders in the group, but I won it. That's why I'm happy and happy about how I feel.
"It was very complicated and dangerous in the last seven kilometres. I was up front, then behind, then up front, then behind again. In the last three kilometres I found a teammate who put me on the front but then after two corners I lost my position and I think I was tenth. Fortunately that's when I found Bennati who was moving up before the climb. I got on his wheel and that helped me to get up into position. Then on the climb, it was very hard and we went fast but it was good for me."
Philippe Gilbert (BMC) tried to attack early to distance Sagan but that only helped the Cannondale rider in the finale after he moved back to the front.
"I saw he was on good form but he attacked too early. But it was good for me because he lead-out the sprint," Sagan said with brutal honesty, castigating his rival's tactics.
"When I feel good, I don't worry about what other riders are doing but you have to understand who is strong so you can decide who to follow in the sprint."
Milan-San Remo favourite
Sagan's victory instantly lifted him back to the top of the list of Milan-San Remo favourites. He wants to make up for his second place behind Gerald Ciolek last year but insisted that doing his best was more important.
"Every year is a different race and every year Milan-San Remo changes, too," he said, ruefully deflecting questions about La Classicissima.
"For sure my goal is to do well. If I win or not I want to give my all - that's the most important thing. You can always win or lose. I want to do my best."
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