Live coverage of the 106th edition of Milan-San Remo.
The Milan-San Remo peloton is just about to roll away from a wet and chilly Piazza Sempione. Rain is general all over Lombardy this morning and the temperature is around the 8-degree mark as they set off from the shadow of the Arco della Pace. All told, they'll clock up over 300 kilometres today - as befits the longest Classic, the neutralised zone is a mammoth one too. The bunch must negotiate 8.5 kilometres (and some slippery tram lines) through the streets of Milan before hitting kilometre zero on Via della Chiesa Rossa at 10.10am local time.
For the third successive year - ever since the race switched to its current Sunday slot, in fact, - we're set for a wet and cold Milan-San Remo, though at least this time around it ought to have dried off somewhat by the time the bunch hits the finale along the Ligurian coast. The forecast was for rain and temperatures of 8 degrees as the bunch trundles across the flatlands of Lombardy and Piedmont as far as the Turchino, before a slight improvement thereafter. By the time the race hits the capi, the run should have ceased and the sun might even poke its way through the clouds. The temperature at the finish is expected to be around 13 degrees.
The route, as has been repeated ad nauseam in the build-up, is the classic Milan-San Remo parcours. After crossing the Po shortly beyond Pavia, the race hits towards the first major obstacle, the Passo del Turchino (143km). To the delight of the sprinters, Le Manie is absent, but all the old friends feature in the finale - Capo Mele (241km), Capo Cervo (246km), Capo Berta (254.5km), Cipressa (271.5km) and Poggio (287.5km). And, after a 5.5km plunge into San Remo, the finish is again on the Via Roma after a hiatus of eight years.
Plenty of race capes and unmarked gabbas on show in the peloton as it makes its way towards kilometre zero. Twelve months ago, Alexander Kristoff set out with his dossards pinned onto long sleeve jersey, apparently much to the mirth of his fellow countryman Thor Hushovd, who couldn't picture anyone riding all the way to the Riviera in training kit. It ultimately proved a rather sage sartorial decision from Kristoff, however.
290km remaining from 293km
The pace sky-rocketed as soon as the flag was dropped with a number of attacks flying off the front, but as yet none of them have stuck. It would be a shock if the early move didn't feature representatives from Androni, Southeast and Bardiani CSF. Each of those teams will have delegated one or two riders to track the early move. They'll have been easily recognisable as they went to sign on this morning - they'll have been the riders without legwarmers.
284km remaining from 293km
A group of four riders opens a gap of 45 seconds over the bunch - Sebastian Molano (Colombia), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo), Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18) and Andrea Peron (Novo Nordisk). Stefano (Tutti Pazzi Per) Pirazzi (Bardiani CSF) leads a determined coalition of chasers just behind.
There are 199 riders in the bunch today, incidentally. There is one non-starter, Martijn Verschoor of Novo Nordisk.
280km remaining from 293km
The leading group has swollen to 11 riders and they have an advantage of 1:50 over the peloton. It looks as though we have our morning's animators, who will - symbolically at least - herald the coming of spring for towns such as Pavia, Voghera, Tortona and Campo Ligure as they roll on towards the Turchino.
275km remaining from 293km
Our eleven leaders are: Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Sebastian Molano (Colombia), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) Andrea Peron (Novo Nordisk), Stefano Pirazzi (CSF Bardiani), Adrian Kurek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka), Julien Berard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Androni Giocattoli) and Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli). Their lead is now up to 3:25.
It's worth noting that none of the teams of the very top level of contenders - Etixx-QuickStep, Katusha, Tinkoff-Saxo, Giant-Alpecin and Trek Factory Racing - have managed to place a representative in this early break.
265km remaining from 293km
The break's lead continues to rise through the opening hour of racing. As they approach Pavia, their advantage is already touching almost ten minutes. 11 minutes, incidentally, was the maximum lead built up on the last occasion that the early break made it all the way to the finish in San Remo. In 1982, a group of 13 broke clear in the streets of Milan, and Marc Gomez was the last man standing, after he dropped Alain Bondue on the way down the Poggio. A disappointed Moreno Argentin pipped Francesco Moser in the sprint for third after the group of favourites left their chase effort too late. Slim chance of a repeat in the radio earpiece era, mind.
For a retrospective look at some of the myriad ways to win Milan-San Remo, click here. Or if you'd rather listen to Alexander Kristoff talk you through his win last year, click here. Indeed, by all means do both.
The Southeast team - formerly YellowFluo - didn't get the nod from organisers RCS Sport for an invitation this year, denying Alessandro Petacchi the chance to tackle the Via Roma ten years on from his 2005 victory. Instead, Gazzetta dello Sport reports, the 41-year-old is today lining up at a Gran Fondo event in Panama.
240km remaining from 293km
The eleven escapees have crossed the mighty Po and are heading towards Voghera with their lead of ten minutes on the peloton still intact.
The rain is still falling steadily on the Milan-San Remo peloton. You can see an assortment of glum, tense faces from the start line at Piazza Sempione in our exclusive gallery here.
The break covered 43.8 kilometres in the first hour of racing, incidentally. The wind hasn't been much of a factor so far, but ahead of the worse, the word was that there would be a stiff breeze on the coast this afternoon. Crucially, perhaps, a headwind is anticipated on the Poggio, meaning that any would-be Giorgio Furlans will have their work cut out if they are to get clear and stay clear. Good news for the sprinters - if the forecast is indeed correct.
The shoot-out on the Poggio and its aftermath are what always stick in the memory, but Milan-San Remo can't simply be reduced to those breathless final kilometres because they are informed by everything that has happened before then. The pace of the peloton on the climb of Le Manie, for instance, was often cited by Mark Cavendish as the biggest obstacle between him and a second Milan-San Remo victory.
230km remaining from 293km
Gatis Smukulis (Katusha) is at the head of the bunch keeping a check on the break's lead on behalf of Alexander Kristoff. Manuele Boaro (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Eugenio Alafaci (Trek Factory Racing) are also making contributions. The gap is down to around eight minutes.
In non-Milan-San Remo news, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) has confirmed that he will not defend his Volta a Catalunya title due to a stomach virus. The Catalan race gets underway tomorrow and features Chris Froome and Alberto Contador in their final race together before the Tour de France.
216km remaining from 293km
The race has passed from Lombardy into Piedmont, and as our eleven escapees reach Tortona, their advantage over the peloton has been pared back to a more manageable 7:45. A reminder again of the names in the break: Jan Barta (Bora-Argon 18), Sebastian Molano (Colombia), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL-Jumbo) Andrea Peron (Novo Nordisk), Stefano Pirazzi (CSF Bardiani), Adrian Kurek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Serge Pauwels (MTN-Qhubeka), Julien Berard (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Androni Giocattoli) and Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli).
There's been a lot of new video content added to the Cyclingnews YouTube channel in the run-up to Milan-San Remo, and you can watch it all
Two days before the race, Peter Sagan sat down with Stephen Farrand of Cyclingnews to discuss his chances. Sagan is at Milan-San Remo for the fifth time, while Farrand is making his 22nd La Classicissima appearance. The fruits of their conversation are here.
Like many of his rivals, Sagan doesn't believe the return to the Via Roma will make an enormous difference in the grand scheme of things, though he will surely have noted the slightly uphill finishing straight during his reconnaissance. "I don’t think the Via Roma finish will change much for me," Sagan said. "Of course, we’ll see what happens in the race. The race is a kilometre shorter because of the change back to Via Roma and the road after the descent of the Poggio is shorter by that kilometre. I think it all depends on what happens on the Poggio.”
Speaking of the Via Roma, this morning’s Gazzetta dello Sport carries an evocative piece from Marco Pastonesi, who combines a walking tour of the famous street with some historical flavour and insight. The slope in the road, he writes is “imperceptible by foot, at 4kph, but decisive on pedals, after 292.5km at an average of 45kph.” It certainly caught out Alessandro Petacchi in 2004, when the overwhelming favourite opened his sprint too soon and was passed by Erik Zabel, Stuart O'Grady and eventual winner Oscar Freire in the final 100 metres.
208km remaining from 293km
The Trek and Katusha squads continue to lead the peloton, and they have clipped the break's advantage down to 7:20.
In recent years, Fabian Cancellara has often seemed to channel his inner Alex Ferguson when asked about Peter Sagan, always seeking to heap pressure upon the Slovak's shoulders, though he was rather more conciliatory in his declarations to L'Equipe before the race. "Sagan is a great rider. Stop saying that we're enemies and we can't stand one another!" he said. "We're rivals - that's different."
Mark Cavendish was not especially expansive at Etixx-QuickStep's pre-race press conference on Saturday afternoon. The Manxman picked up an illness during his recent trip to South Africa and insisted that he was not among the favourites for victory today. "I don’t feel 100 percent. I feel better from my illness but I’m not 100 percent,” he said.
The break is currently being puffed along by a tailwind although 2003 winner Paolo Bettini does not believe the 40kph winds will make much of an impact one the race cross the Turchino and drops to the Ligurian coast. "They're coming from the north so the Appennines will act as a barrier," Bettini told Gazzetta.it. All Paolo Bettini weather forecasts should perhaps come with a caveat, however. As Italian national coach, he predicted that rain and cold would prevent a bunch sprint ahead of the Copenhagen Worlds in 2011. The result? Sunshine, unseasonably high Danish temperatures, a mass sprint won by the Mark Cavendish - and Italy's worst Worlds performance since 1983...
191km remaining from 293km
The break has already gone through Novi Ligue, home of the first Milan-San Remo's first Campionissimo, Costante Girardengo, and has sinced passed Basaluzzo and the 100km mark. Their advantage over the peloton stands at 6:45.
While Cavendish claims he is not at 100 percent, world champion Michal Kwiatkowski and Strade Bianche winner Zdenek Stybar offer two decent attacking options for Etixx-QuickStep this afternoon. "The most important moment is on the top of the Poggio to be in the front, because if you have one rider who hasn’t got the best skills in the descent then you can lose the race there," Kwiatkowski said yesterday afternoon.
171km remaining from 293km
The eleven escapees are on the lower slopes of the Passo del Turchino, which technically rises gently for 25 kilometres, though the climb's true beginning is perhaps at Campo Ligure - or even at Massone, just over three kilometres from the top.
169km remaining from 293km
The rain is falling persistently on the Turchino, but it has apparently eased - though not entirely abated - on the Riviera. The break's advantage stands at 6:45.
160km remaining from 293km
The peloton has come through the first feed zone at Campo Ligure, an event Mark Cavendish has called "the first sprint of the day." Katusha and Trek remain prominent towards the front, and they have shaved the deficit back further to 6:20.
It's now five years since Fabian Cancellara last completed a monument classic without finishing on the podium. His 17th place in the 2010 Milan-San Remo has been followed a remarkable sequence of placings. He won the Tour of Flanders/Paris-Roubaix double that spring, then finished 2nd at San Remo and Roubaix, and 3rd in Flanders the following year. Cancellara crashed out of the 2012 Tour of Flanders, two weeks after finishing 2nd at Milan-San Remo. In 2013, he claimed another Flanders-Roubaix double and third place at Milan-San Remo, while last year, he won again in Flanders, took second in San Remo and third in Roubaix. Easy to see why his Trek team is setting the tempo at the head of the peloton....
That Cancellara sequence also highlights a sad reality of modern cycling, however. He hasn't ridden the Tour of Lombardy or Liege-Bastogne-Liege at all in that time. Indeed, the demise of the old World Cup in 2004 has contributed massively to the increased division between cobbled and Ardennes Classics - which means we ought to savour Milan-San Remo all the more. This is the only classic this spring, for instance, where Philippe Gilbert and Cancellara will line up against one another.
150km remaining from 293km
The escapees reach the summit of the Turchino with a lead of five minutes over the peloton. This is more or less the midway point of the race, but also a rather symbolic moment. In popular the popular imagination, at least, the Turchino marks the boundary between the frigid air of the northern Italian plain and the sunshine of the Riviera, the threshold between winter and spring. I'm not sure if they can appreciate that symbolism out on the road right now - the rain is still cascading out of a leaden sky as they begin the descent, with temperatures still in single digits.
The switch of Milan-San Remo from Saturday to Sunday has altered the experience of La Classicissima somewhat for those who live near the Turchino. An acquaintance of Cyclingnews from Campo Ligure often recalls with misty eyes how the Saturday morning passing of Milan-San Remo meant that he and his classmates were frog-marched out of school early to cheer on Argentin, Bugno et al. Let's hope the race carries the same appeal for the youth of today even if it no longer involves cutting class.
The rain is still tumbling quite heavily as the bunch drops towards Voltri. One senses that dressing for the occasion and eating properly will be even more important than usual today. Tuttobici had some words of wisdom on that topic from Luca Paolini (Katusha), who was, of course, the Andrea Pirlo-esque assist-man for Bettini in 2003 and Kristoff last year. Paolini said that he ate half a kilo of pasta last night and more again this morning, stressing the importance of loading up on carbohydrates. "For the race itself, I've got a mixture of gels and solid food. It depends on the weather - sometimes the cold prevents you from eating properly," said Paolini - who, lest we forget, also finished on the podium in 2006 and was part of the winning break in 2013. "Kristoff is our sole leader but if a group goes away in the finale, I could be there too."
134km remaining from 293km
The average speed was 43kph after three hours of racing and the intensity is beginning to ratchet up another notch or so in the peloton. As the break heads towards Arenzano, their lead is down to 4:47.
Tinkoff-Saxo and Lampre-Merida have joined the pace-setting at the front of the bunch. Lampre have the last Italian winner of Milan-San Remo, Filippo Pozzato, in their ranks, as well as young hopeful Davide Cimolai, who won the Trofeo Laigueglia on his last visit to Liguria and also claimed a stage win at Paris-Nice. In the absence of Sacha Modolo, Cimolai will be Lampre's option in a sprint, while Pozzato will surely be delegated to try and track the moves over the top of the Poggio.
One Italian who never won Milan-San Remo, but who has a special relationship with the race, is Mirko Celestino. Born on the day of Felice Gimondi's 1974 win and hailing from Andora on the route - where he now owns a bar - Celestino's best result was second behind Paolo Bettini in 2003. Although he retired in 2007, Celestino tackled the race once again today - albeit the inaugural 1907 route on a vintage bike, as a participant in the Classicissima d'Epoca event, which set out from Milan overnight. Celestino and co. expect to reach San Remo around 3.30pm.
119km remaining from 293km
The combined efforts of Trek, Katusha, Lampre and Tinkoff-Saxo continue to chip away at the break's lead. Their advantate is down to 4:15 as they reach Varazze. The average speed after four hours is just over 42kph.
And with that, I'll hand you over to Daniel Benson, who will be in the hot seat all the way to the Via Roma.
As we head closer towards the final 100km of racing Trek, Katusha, Lampre and Tinkoff-Saxo continue to carry out the lion share of the pace setting on the front of the peloton. Just behind them, however, we can see a number of Team Sky and Etixx riders beginning to gather. Both of those two teams have dominated the early exchanges this season with the Belgian outfit on 18 wins and Brailsford's bunch behind on 13, three clear of Movistar.
Meanwhile, near the finish, Cyclingnews' Sadhbh O'Shea reports that the rain has eased off. Good news for the peloton as we dip into the final 110km of racing.
The lead to the break has moved back out to five full minutes as we see Barta, Peron and Kurek swap quick but determined turns on the front. It might be drying out near the finish but the riders out on the course are still having to contend with wet conditions as we dip inside the final 100km of action. Tinkoff currently lead the chase for the peloton with Peter Sagan neatly tucked in near the front.
Katusha have posted another rider on the front of proceedings as we see Matteo Tosatto gritting his teeth as he rides through the conditions. The Italian will be key in Sagan's bid to win his first title and he's already done a number of kilometers on the front of the peloton. The gap between the peloton and the break holds at 4'45 with 92km remaining.
Kristoff is currently in the pack as we see him wrapped up in several layers of clothing. He'll lose them steadily as we race closer and closer to the final set of climbs but the Norwegian has been in fine form this year with multiple wins in the Tour of Qatar and a solid stage victory in last week's Paris-Nice.
Danilo Wyss drops back to the BMC team car and picks up food, bottles, and some information to distribute back to his teammates. The squad come into the race with two cards to plan in Van Avermaet and Gilbert - both of whom are on form.
Back to the front of the peloton and Tinkoff have positioned a few more men, including Sagan, near the head of affairs with their team leader in around sixth wheel.
Sagan has had a consistent start to the season but his first win of the year, that stage in Tirreno, will have done his confidence the world of good. However it hasn't taken any of the pressure off his shoulders for today - even after victory more and more is demanded of the Tinkoff leader and he will be expected to deliver once more today.
83km remaining from 293km
Into the final 85km of action and a few riders are starting to take off their rain jackets. Will that prove to be little premature with some of the pack suffering from the cold conditions? The pace continues to be steady but hardly frantic as the break pushes out to 5'11 clear of the peloton.
The tailwind is certainly helping the break motor along as Sagan and Matteo Tosatto have a few words together, with the peloton winding along the coast. Team Sky have organised their battle lines and sit just behind the Katusha, Tinkoff and Trek foot soldiers.
First play from Etixx with Stijn Vandenbergh and his huge frame riding to the front of the peloton. Cavendish, Stybar and Kwiatkowski could all play a part in today's finale.
Not much from Movistar at this stage but in Rojas, Valverde and Lobato all in form they also have cards to play as we see Valverde ride through, his paws wrapped up and locked over the drops of his bike.
67km remaining from 293km
Through the feedzone, the second of the day and the break have lost a minute so the gap is down to an even four minutes with 67km to go. The pace has increased though with Vandenbergh, his body hunched over his Specialized, pushes the pace just that little bit higher.
At the back of the pack Kristoff drops off his rain jacket, a few riders around him following suit, as the conditions continue to improve. The bunch hit the feedzone with five climbs still remaining and the gap to the break at 3:36.
There are a few cracks starting to appear in the break as they catch word of the peloton beginning to chase as we see Bono crack the whip and provide a surge in pace. The break continue to lose time, however, with the gap down to 2:50.
Pauwles, formerly of Team Sky and Etixx, takes a turn but the peloton are now being lead by Etixx with several of their riders ushered to the front as we head towards the Capo Mele
56km remaining from 293km
The roads continue to dry out as the race heads towards the final 50km of racing. The 11-man break are still plugging away, their advantage holding at just over three minutes as Katusha rally and come back to the front ahead of the climb. The race is building towards an exciting last hour.
Now we see Team Sky push to the head of the peloton, Tinkoff Saxo too and the race is really clicking into gear.
Fenn on the front, Rowe just on his wheel as we see Stannard and Swift at the tail of the Team Sky train. Eisel is at the back of the bunch, just coming back from the team car. We're on the Capo Mele as we see the world champion near the front too.
The break continue to lose more and more time, their gap to 2:19 and there's a crash in the peloton.
A number of riders held up and there's a split in the field. Two Katusha riders down, one of them Jacopo Guarnieri, Kristoff's main leadout man.
The Italian is back on his bike and chasing so the damage doesn't look too serious but that's a concern for the defending champion and his Russian team.
48km remaining from 293km
Vandenbergh is still on the front and driving the pace for the peloton as Molano is dropped from the leading group on the road. Pauwels is currently punching out the pace for the break as we see the gap dip to 2:18.
Over the climb and we see a few Lotto Soudal men move up for Greipel. Pauwels is bossing the lead break at the moment, meaning his teammates in the bunch don't have to do any of the pace setting duties.
44km remaining from 293km
Still ten men in the break and they're not giving up lightly as they hold the peloton at 1:45. At the finish the sun is out so we're sure to have a dry finish in San Remo in around an hour's time.
Cofidis have joined the party at the front too as they look to protect Bouhanni for the finish. The Frenchman has not found his stride since his move to FDJ but if he can win today all will be forgotten.
Onto the Capo Berta and there's a split in the break as Movistar, Etixx and a number of other teams fight for the lead positions at the head of the peloton. That's Boasson Hagen near the back of the field after he ran off the road.
Bono is driving clear and going clear with Pirazzi so we have two men leading the race as we reach the final 40km of racing.
This climb will be a real test for some of the sprinters as we see Katusha wrestle control at the head of the peloton. In fact Arredondo driving the pace for Fabian Cancellara.
Pauwels makes it three riders at the front but there's one more rider about to pull himself into contention. Team Sky now hit the front and Luke Rowe's pace is electric.
36km remaining from 293km
36km to go and what's left of the break, Berard is the fourth man have just 46 seconds over the peloton. Just two more climbs remaining.
Team Sky descending well at the moment, unlike their ride in Paris-Nice and there's another crash in the peloton.
Voss is down but up ahead we have three Team Sky riders leading the race because the Team Sky rider in fourth wheel hit the deck.
Christopher Juul Jensen has crashed and he's out the race. A cut to his head and his helmet is off. He's thankfully sitting up.
Team Sky took risks on that climb but at the moment three of their men are clear of the rest of the field. Thomas, Swift and Rowe. They're 33 seconds down on the lead break. They're not waiting, that's for sure.
It's Rowe who continues to lead the trio as they press on with the peloton over 10 seconds back.
33km remaining from 293km
33km to go and the four leaders have 33 seconds on the chase. It's Orica who are now leading the chase from the front of the peloton.
Giant Alpecin also move up as we see the world champion near the front of the peloton and still in contention.
A number of teams will need to commit though and close the Team Sky trio of Rowe, Thomas and Swift down.
The Team Sky trio have a decent gap with the Cipressa just a few kilometers away.
Bono is clear and on his own. Then we have Pauwels, Berard an Pirazzi, and then the rest of the early break and the Team Sky riders forming another break.
The Cipressa is just around the corner and the race is wide open as we see a reaction that should shut down the Team Sky move.
Bono still heads, 18 seconds clear of the chasers but the entire race is split by only 24 seconds as we see Rowe leading the dangerous Team Sky break. It's Lotto who are leading the peloton.
And we're on the slopes of the Cipressa with Bono still leading Milan-San Remo.
A huge effort from Rowe but the peloton are closing and fast.
And there's an attack from BMC.
Dillier from BMC is the man going clear. A rider from Bora goes clear too and Swift and Thomas latch on.
And Stybar has attacked and matched the Thomas group.
Van Avermaet has made the split too. So we have two men from BMC and two from Team Sky. And there's a huge crash in the field and Demare is down.
Demare is back up but it's going to be a huge effort to come back from that. Only 25km to go.
Bono has been caught and so has the Stybar group. Nordhaug now ups the pace.
Team Sky on the front and the entire peloton is lined out.
We still have around 70 riders or so in contention but Team Sky are putting the hammer down.
Three riders from Team Sky on the front but Sagan is there, so is Cancellara and Cavendish.
Valverde is there too but Team Sky's pace is putting the rest of the field under pressure.
Arredondo in second wheel as BMC attack again.
Arredondo closes the gap with Swift and Thomas both equal to it it. It's all back together once more.
Bouhanni is near the back, so is Kristoff.
Kristoff is in trouble, he's pushing a big gear and just about holding on.
Arrendondo now sets the pace with Swift and Thomas on his wheel.
Sagan is with the world champion a few places back as Arredondo picks up the pace once more.
Inside the final 23km of racing and Kristoff is still fighting to stay in contention near the back of the peloton. It's Thomas who now hits the front, Boasson Hagen is also near the front too.
Thomas is doing all of the work though as we see Oss, and Degenkolb where they need to be.
Lobato is starting to drop back through the cars too. That's another sprinter in trouble.
And BMC go again with a rider zipping to the front.
That's Oss on the front and now we see Cavendish at the back of the peloton. He's nearly made it over the climb but Oss is doing all the damage at the moment.
Pozzato is near the front too as we see Cavendish fighting to hang on.
Cavendish has just made it back. Matthews on the other hand looks strong and near the front of the peloton as Pozzato sets the pace on the descent of the Cipressa.
We're into the final 20km of Milan-San Remo with just the Poggio to come.
Pozzato is doing a great job on the descent and some gaps are starting to open up.
Gallopin takes over from the Lampre man but there's another attack, this time it's Oss who goes once more.
Oss is powering away and has a smal gap but Gallopin is fighting back, along with a number of riders.
Oss has about five seconds but it's all starting to come back together as Orica set the pace for the peloton. 16km to go.
Oss has been joined by Thomas.
Movistar still have numbers as the world champion takes off his leg warmers. Kristoff has made it back and he's with Paolini at the back of the peloton. Can the defending champion pull it off?
Oss and Thomas are still clear of the peloton, with 19 seconds over the bunch.
There's no real chase coming from the peloton at the moment with 14km to go.
Astana have four men but they're near the back. Etixx, will they chase?
It's all Oss at the front at the moment with Thomas briefly say on. And here come Astana on the outside with Nibali calling the shots.
Now the leaders have 23 seconds with just the Poggio to come.
BMC are slowing down the chase, as they should. Who will take this on?
Lampre have put two more men near the front, but they're just keeping the lead at 23 seconds.
Thomas looks pretty cooked but he's hanging in there and finally comes through and takes a turn. The gap is out to 30 seconds with 12.5km to go.
Now it's Katusha who hit the front, Lampre have gone as we see a few Trek riders also moving up to help with the pace setting. The gap still at 30 seconds with 11km to go.
We're closing in on the Poggio and the gap is down slightly to 25 seconds as Oss and Thomas swap turns.
Two Katusha riders on the front as Nibali and Astana still hug the outside line.
Six miles remaining in the race as we head towards the final climb. The gap is at 20 seconds.
And now it's Trek who hit the front with 10km to go. It's all for Cancellara at this stage.
And now Astana move up and set the pace. Cavendish is there, Guardini is there, Sagan, Boasson Hagen too. The gap to the leaders is 17 seconds at the bottom of the climb.
Now Katusha set the pace with three men. Lotto are there in numbers too.
The gap is at 12 seconds with 8km to go as we see Greipel at the back. It's Paolini on the front though with Kristoff on his wheel.
Just nine seconds for the two leaders. It's all coming back together.
Bole is there, just off Kristoff's wheel but the Katusha man is running out of teammates.
At the back Greipel is fighting to stay in contention.
And Thomas has attacked and gone solo.
7km to go and Thomas has a gap on Oss.
Thomas has about 7 seconds on the chasing peloton with Oss in between the two parties.
15 seconds now for Thomas with 6km to go.
Paolini out of the saddle and starts to dig in and he goes passed Oss who cracks.
And Gilbert and Stybar attack. No dice and they can't get a gap.
Nibali near the back but Thomas still leads but Van Avermaet attacks and he does have a gap.
It looks like Cavendish could be getting dropped too. Matthews, Sagan and Arredondo have a gap at the front but over the top it's Thomas who leads with Van Avermaet just behind.
5km to go. Will it all come back together for the final sprint?
Thomas, caught by Van Avermaet but it's all coming back together. Sagan, Matthews both there.
Van Avermaet now sets the pace on the descent. Valverde is there for Movistar, so is Gilbert and a rider from Astana but it's not Nibali.
3.9km go as they riders cut through each corner.
Gilbert, Stybar and Ciolek are all out of the race in crash.
It's Van Avermaet who leads on the descent with Thomas on his wheel. The world champion was also taken out in that crash.
Another attack from Van Avermaet on the descent and Thomas has to close that move.
2km to go.
Thomas now on the front, now Sagan hits the front with Matthews.
Swift is there as well and Valverde. Cancellara is there and Thomas sets the pace for Swift.
Matthews is second wheel as we see Paolini and Kristoff fight to the front of the peloton.
1km to go and Paolini hits the front.
A long lead out. Degenkolb is there too.
Bouhanni is there too.
Kristoff has to go early and he opens up his sprint. Can he hold on?
Degenkolb is coming through. He's going to take it.
Degenkolb in third place at the start of the sprint comes through the middle of the road and takes the win. His first Milan-San Remo title.
Kristoff second, Matthews third with Sagan in fourth.
The Giant-Alpecin rider simply had the better sprint after almost 300km of racing. He timed his run to the line perfectly and takes the biggest win of his career.
A number of riders were taken out on the descent of the Poggio but Degenkolb came through without a leadout man inside the final few hundred meters. A hugely impressive ride from the German.
Results#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult 1John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin 2Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 3Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 4Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo 5Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida 6Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 7Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing 8Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida 9Tony Gallopin (Fra) Lotto Soudal 10Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) MTN - Qhubeka
Kristoff had to open his sprint from too far out after Paolini had dropped him off at the front of the peloton while Matthews will be pleased with his finish.
Thanks for joining us today. You can find our complete report, results and photos, right here.
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