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Milan-San Remo 2016

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 Hello and welcome to our live coverage from the 2016 edition of MIlan-San Remo

 

 Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from this year's Milan-San Remo. We're right on the start line as rider and fans gather for one of the most iconic races in professional cycling. The sun is out, we have endless blue skies and the riders are ready to race.

We're around an hour from the official start/roll out but all the team are here and have gathered for the sign-in. Outside the Tinkoff bus, just to our right, all the Specialized bikes are lined out, with Peter Sagan's world champion's bike resting proudly at the front. More on him later today.

 

We're walking down passed the team buses, through the crowds, and there's Brian Cookson, already on the campaign trail as he seeks another term at the head of the UCI. The Cannondale bus stands out and there's already some activity with a few riders peaking out from the door to check on the conditions. They've a few interesting riders for today's race. 

Outside the Trek Segafredo bike now. No sign of the riders, who are no doubt enjoying one last coffee before signing on. Here though is Fabian Cancellara's Trek for today's race.

 

It was of course Cancellara's birthday yesterday and he will be looking for one more Milan-San Remo crown in what is going to be his final Classics campaign. The Swiss rider won this race back in 2008 with a daring late attack. Did you know it's been ten years since an Italian won this race?

 

2015 John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
2014 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
2013 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN Qhubeka
2012 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge
2011 Matthew Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad
2010 Óscar Freire (Esp) Rabobank
2009 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team Columbia-High Road
2008 Fabian Cancellara (Sui) Team CSC
2007 Óscar Freire (Esp) Rabobank
2006 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic

 

We're now outside the BMC Racing team bus. Now this is a team that could make today's race. In Greg Van Avermaet they have one of the race's favourites and they're stacked with attacking options too... riders like Daniel Oss, who broke off the front last year with Geraint Thomas. They are without Gilbert this year there's real belief inside the BMC camp that this could be their year in the Classics. And here's a snap of Greg's bike for today. 

 

Just by the BMC bus we have the Death Star - or the Team Sky team bus, if you prefer. The British team come into this race with Paris-Nice winner Geraint Thomas in fine form. They're similar to BMC in that they have options - so expect Michał Kwiatkowski, Ian Stannard, and a fired up Elia Viviani to feature at some point. It will be interesting to see who works for who. Viviani has had a track programme of late so he may not have the legs for 300km but we'll see. We know he's passionate about this race and he'll want to show himself at some point.

 

Just as push our way through the crowds, why not take a second to download our free podcast. We preview Milan-San Remo and hear from Cancellara and Cavendish. You can also review/rate the podcast too. It's just a click away.

 

And speaking of Cavendish, we're just outside the Dimension Data team bus. The South African team have won this race before - back in 2013 - and they certainly have a stronger squad these days. Cavendish, like Viviani comes here after a track-road programme but as a former winner, the British rider can't be utterly discounted. His team have in fact been talking up his chances in recent days. Perhaps, Edvald Boasson Hagen has more of a shot this time around though. He's shown form already this year and he's probably their designated leader. He's gone missing in this race before but he's one to watch this afternoon. 

 

We're now outside the Orica GreenEdge bus and their quietly confident of their chances today. Michael Matthews oozed class and form at Paris-Nice and he was third last year. There's no Simon Gerrans in the team but the Australian outfit are united behind Matthews. They a very capable looking team today as well. Here he is talking at the startline. 

171 Michael Matthews (Aus)
172 Michael Albasini (Swi)
173 Sam Bewley (NZl)
174 Daryl Impey (RSA)
175 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den)
176 Jens Keukeleire (Bel)
177 Luka Mezgec (Slo)
178 Simon Yates (GBr)

 

 

Our complete race start list is up to date and you can find it right here.

 

And we've just bumped into an excited Matt White from Orica GreenEdge. "Matt, how is Michael today"

"We’re ready to go. He’s ready to go and his preparation has been really good over the last few weeks. Also, he’s a year older than last year, so he’s got that extra experience."

 


 

 

How do you see the race unfolding and do you want a bunch sprint?

I actually don’t think that there are many teams who would back their sprinters. Maybe Bouhanni and Kristoff, so that means we’re going to have a really fast Cipressa. That only suits us and Michael. Whether it’s 70 riders, or 20 we have the man to win today. It’s another thing making that happen though.

 

Mark Cavendish has signed on with his Dimension Data teammates. The former Milan-San Remo winner is now conversing with the media but we're about ten minutes away from the roll out. 

 

And now the world champion appears. Peter Sagan, with all those second places this year, is still looking for his first win of 2016. Could today be his day? He certainly has the form and the team around him but can he get it right on the day? 

 

The riders are now on the start line and the 2016 edition of Milan-San Remo is about to begin. They have 9km of neutralized roads before the official start begins. 

 

 

Vote Cookson. The UCI president was in Milan this morning and here he is with Astana team leader Vincenzo Nibali. 

 

The riders are rolling along, through the first few kilometres before the race officially begins. It's all smiles at the moment but as soon as the flag drops you can bet there will be a flurry of attacks. The break of the day tends to form inside the first 20-30km in Milan-San Remo and it can last for well over 200km. For a number of riders, making the break is crucial for them and their teams.

 

And we are off in #MSR, the season's longest one-day race! That's 291 kilometers from Milan's via della Chiesa Rossa to Sanremo's Via Roma!

@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 19th Mar 2016 09:12:36

 And we're off. The 2016 Milan-San Remo is now underway. 

If your'e new to this race and want to find out which riders could feature, then please head to our top 10 rider video, right here.

 

For now there are a few Lampre riders on the front of the peloton. The all-Italian team have a few cards to play with today in Ulissi and Modolo but they're certainly not favourites by any means. Here's a look at their nine-man squad:

 

141 Diego Ulissi (Ita)
142 Matteo Bono (Ita)
143 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita)
144 Davide Cimolai (Ita)
145 Roberto Ferrari (Ita)
146 Sacha Modolo (Ita)
147 Manuele Mori (Ita)
148 Federico Zurlo (Ita)

 

Dry, sunny spring conditions at the start and they should hold throughout the race today. And now the pace jumps up, with a series off attacks from the front of the peloton. Making that first main break is so crucial to a lot of teams and riders. It may not have an effect on the tactics for the final but it takes the pressure off teams, meaning they don't have chase, and it also provides valuable TV/online exposure. 

 

One non-starter today and that's Moreno Hofland. That's a real blow for Lotto Jumbo who will have to do without one of their best riders today.  He won a third of their races in 2015, granted that was only 2/6 but still... a blow for the Dutch team.

One rider on the start list here for the first time in his career is Fernando Gaviria. He's a dark horse for many but there's a huge difference between winning over 170km and winning after nearly 300km. Few riders can actually manage that feat. There's no pressure on the Etixx rider today but his team certainly have a few riders who can shine. 

 

Stybar is probably the strongest and he certainly showed his condition at Tirreno last week with one incredible stage win. Boonen - we're not really sure where his form is at the moment but don't write off Trentin either. He's a very underrated ride. 

111 Tom Boonen (Bel)
112 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita)
113 Fernando Gaviria (Col)
114 Fabio Sabatini (Ita)
115 Zdeněk Štybar (Cze)
116 Matteo Trentin (Ita)
117 Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel)
118 Julien Vermote (Bel)

 

And we have a break: They jumped after 14km of racing and they've quickly established a lead over the peloton. Tinkoff and FDJ are leading the bunch but the riders up the road are almost two minutes clear. 

 

Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r La Mondiale), Serghei Tvetcov (Androni Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF), Jan Barta (Bora Argon 18), Adrian Hurek (CCC-SPRANDI-POLKOWICE), Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling), Matteo Bono (Lampre - Merida), Samuele Conti (Southeast - Venezuela), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL - Jumbo), Andrea Peron (Team Novo Nordisk) and Marco Coledan (Trek Segafredo).

 

There are some decent names in there  - and certainly a few strong riders with Kluge and Tjallingii standing out with the most experience and/or horsepower. 

 

 

Tjallingii - now 38 - has been with Lotto, formerly Belkin, Blanco and Rabobank since 2009. He's only ever ridden the Tour de France twice but he's well respected within the bunch as one of the most hardworking and dedicated riders going. In fact, Oscar Freire, picked him in his cycling dream team

 

271km remaining from 291km

20km into the race and the group have 1'57 over the peloton. That's our break for the day. 

 

The break are heading towards Pavia as they look to extend their advantage over the field. Trek Segafredo have 27-year-old Coledan in the break and his job will be to sit and work with the leaders, allowing the rest of his team to prioritise their work for Cancellara and keeping their team leader out of trouble. 

 

The bunch have well and truly sat up now with the break picking up a minute per-kilo at the moment. The gap to the bunch is at 4'25 after 24km of racing. 

 

Bono - 32 - and from Iseo is in his 12th season with Lampre and he takes a turn on the front of our breakaway. He has won a stage in Eneco and Romandie - the latter way back in 2007 when he beat Beppu and Pinotti into Fribourg. He's a solid domestique and Lampre will be content to have a man in the break at this point in the race. 

 

Cyclingnews' Barry Ryan spoke to Michael Matthews at the start this morning. Here's what the race favourite had to say:

 

"I guess from my races in Paris-Nice, I had some good results with two stages and the green jersey. I’m feeling a little bit of pressure but I think I have the form to deliver.

I think you've got to see how the race pans out. There are a lot of riders here who are going to be attacking. I have to follow them, I can’t just sit back and wait for the sprint."

 

Sounds like Matthews is going to follow the attacks on the Cipressa and Poggio - it all depends on if he marks the right move. Also, are riders really going to work with Matthews if he makes it into a small group on the run-in to the finish?

 

29km remaining from 291km

The peloton have a comfort break and the gap has moved out to 9'40 after 29km of racing. 

 

At the start of the race, Mark Cavendish made the point about the weather. 

 

"Personally, I’m not sure, I’m coming back from the track. But we’ve got a lot of options on Dimension Data. There will be a lot of fresher legs in the finale on account of the weather."

 

Does Vincenzo Nibali have the weight of a nation on his shoulders? He's without doubt the one Italian who could pull this off today but he's called on several riders to be aggressive with him on the final two climbs of the race. Here's what he said in a pre-race press conference:

 

“There are some important riders like Van Avermaet, Sagan, Cancellara that, like me, have to try something. Otherwise, there are riders like [Fernando] Gaviria, [Alexander] Kristoff, [Nacer] Bouhanni and [Michael] Matthews, who are superfast in the sprint,” Nibali said.

“It’s difficult that something happens on the Cipressa but you can hurt the sprinters if we ride it hard and fill their legs with lactic acid. The 9.1km between the Cipressa and the Poggio are never ending. If you attack alone, they’re never ending. I died there in 2014.”

 

You can read the full story, here.

 

Like Cavendish, Tom Boonen - a former teammate of the Manxman - pointed out that we could have a larger group than usual at the finish. 

 

"We have a strong team, it’s not just about me. We’ve got riders like Stybar who can go on the attack and then if there’s a sprint, we have Gaviria. It’s a long race and there’ll be sore legs by the time we get to Sanremo, but the good weather makes it a little easier."
 

 

One rider who will be hoping for a bunch sprint is Bouhanni. He was totally isolated last year in the sprint and he'll be expecting more from his Cofidis teammates. 

 

"I got a good win at Paris-Nice and my form is good but there’ll be lots of contenders to win today."

 

246km remaining from 291km

Meanwhile the gap to the leaders continues to grow - it's now 10'45 after 45km of action.

 

One rider who has gone under the radar is Alejandro Valverde. He's not won here before, and his record isn't great, but he can't be counted out. We caught up with him at the start in Milan.

 

"It’s a complicated race and it’s difficult for me with so many sprinters, but I’ll see what’s possible and I’ll try to do something."

 

241km remaining from 291km

We've covered the first 50 kilometres of this year's Milan-San Remo. Just to re-cap if you've just woken up, 11 men have broken clear of the peloton and they hold a 10'45 lead over the peloton. One none starter today, that was Hofland, and the sun is out.


The riders in the break:

 

Gediminas Bagdonas (Ag2r La Mondiale), Serghei Tvetcov (Androni Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF), Jan Barta (Bora Argon 18), Adrian Hurek (CCC-SPRANDI-POLKOWICE), Roger Kluge (IAM Cycling), Matteo Bono (Lampre - Merida), Samuele Conti (Southeast - Venezuela), Maarten Tjallingii (LottoNL - Jumbo), Andrea Peron (Team Novo Nordisk) and Marco Coledan (Trek Segafredo).

 

 

Kristoff has decided to put one man on the front of the peloton. Katusha aren't concerned by the break but they just want to keep an eye on things. 

 

We're hearing some reports of a landslide on a section of the course. Not much more than that at the moment but we'll bring you news as we receive it.

 

Photos are emerging online now of the landslide. There appear to be several cars involved - not from the race though - and so organisers will need to find an alternative route. 

 

5 of the 11 riders in breakaway #MSR @Milano_Sanremo were in the breakaway in 2015 as well pic.twitter.com/q8fk9XGBtB

From the landslide images we're looking at, and again this isn't from the race organiser, it's going to be hard for the race to pass along this stretch of road. It's around Arezano, near Genova.

 

We're still waiting on more details to emerge but here's our brief story on the landslide.

 

One option for the race could involve a neutralisation. We could then see the riders shipped off in buses to a new point where the race could start safely. Once we have confirmation on any plans we'll bring them to you. At the moment the race is still over an hour away from the landslide. 

 

Another option could see the organisers route the rider onto the motorway and off the coastal rode where the incident has taken place. 

 

We have now been told that RCS will release an announcement once a decision has been made.

 

Nothing is confirmed until RSC make a statement but we are hearing that there will be a 9km diversion onto the motorway. We're also hearing that the Turchino climb may be cut from the route as a result. 

 

News of the landslide on the #MSR course confirmed via race radio. Peloton will have 9km diversion on motorway.

224km remaining from 291km

The Orica GreenEdge team have also Tweeted about this 9km diversion onto the motorway. 


In the race, the break have 8'27 over the peloton after 67km of racing.

 

LottoNLJumbo Cycling ‏@LottoJumbo_road:

A 9km diversion for the riders because of the landslide. They're going from Genova voltri to Arenzano via the autostrada. #MSR

 

Journalist Felix Mattis is on the scene of the landslide and he's reported that:

 

Most important information from the landslide: Nobody injured. That's what the firemen on site just told me. #MSR

 

You can follow Felix on Twitter, here.

 

211km remaining from 291km

80km into the race and the peloton, still with a Katusha rider on the front, have brought the gap down to 7'43. We've still around 220km remaining in the race. 

 

Confirmed: The race will not be neutralized. They will have the 9km deviation, however. So after the Turchino, the riders will deviate onto the motorway at Voltri. They will then race 9km before heading back onto the coastal road at Arenzano. A similar situation occurred in 2003.

 

Here's the official statement from RCS:
 

Due to a landslide on the Milano-Sanremo original race course in between Genova Voltri and Arenzano, the Race Direction together with the Police Support Officer decided to divert the race onto the A10 highway, entering in Genova Voltri and exiting in Arenzano to rejoin the original course. This detour is now officially part of the race course.
 

 

91km remaining from 291km

Just the small matter of 200km of racing remaining in this year's Milan-San Remo. At the front of the peloton Peter Sagan's Tinkoff squad start to work and they take a minute off the break's advantage. They're at 7'43.

 

196km remaining from 291km

The 11 leaders had almost 11 minutes on the peloton at their peak but the gap continues to drop, and it's at 7'25 with 196km remaining. Tinkoff and Katusha continue to hold the fort at the front of the peloton, while several riders are heading back to the team cars to pick up extra food, bottles and instructions. 

 

La Repubblica in Genova reporting two injured in the landslide, one seriously https://t.co/4EA1IwN75N

@petercossins Sat, 19th Mar 2016 11:49:57

The Passo dello Turchino is on the horizon for the riders in this year's Milan-San Remo. The climb will not decide the race but it will sap the energy of everyone out there, adding to the culminated fatigue that comes with racing for 300 kilometres. 

 

The peloton have eased off in their chase ever so slightly and it's allowed the 11-man break to extend their advantage to 8'37. 

 

Tinkoff have sat up, and it allows the break to move their lead back up to nine minutes. This brings Katusha back into play, with Kristoff's men setting up shop on the front of the peloton. 

 

No John Degenkolb in this year's race. The German is still recovering from being hit by a car earlier in the year. He won last year with a perfectly timed sprint and he has taken to Facebook recently to post this photo. 

 

 

We spoke to Kristoff, the winner from 2014, at the start this morning. In the last two years he has had Luca Paolini with him but the Italian is fighting a drug charge after testing positive for cocaine last summer. 

 

"I’m hoping for a bunch sprint, that is my aim. Hopefully I can keep my teammates around me and the group stays together in the finale. But it’s always hard in the final."

 

Paolini was instrumental in Kristoff's success in recent years, especially in San Remo. 

 

World Champion Peter Sagan was a man of few words at the start this morning. 

"Tirreno is the past. Now we’ll see today.
We’ll see. It’s not about condition, it’s about results.
For now I’m good."

 

Susan Westemeyer is taking over live for the next few minutes. Over to you Susan...

 

 Susan here while Dan hits the feed zone.

The break group has started on its way up the Turchino. With 146 km to go, the gap is 7:22.

 

We now have official confirmation that this year's Milan-San Remo is 295km long. That is an additional 4 km due to the change in course.

 

Mother Nature seems to often play a role in this race. This is not the first landslide to change things, and we certainly all remember the heavy snow several years ago which shortened the race. 

 

The gap is dropping dramatically on this climb -- with 141km to go, it is down to under six minutes. 

 

The lead group has crested the Turchino and is now starting on the detour route.

 

Back in the peloton, Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) punctured. That was quickly taken care of and he is back with the bunch.

 

The riders are now on the autostrada, on their way around the landslide.

 

129km remaining from 291km

 129 km to go and still the gap is at 5:55.

It is good for the race that they can use the autostrada -- but what about those in cars, who just want to get somewhere? We picture long back-ups of frustrated travelers.....

 

129km remaining from 291km

There are higher speed limits on the autostrada and the peloton seems to be taking advantage of that. They have now cut the gap to 4:52 with 129 km to go.

 

The peloton has passed through a toll booth on the autostrada -- but we doubt that they stopped to pay.

 

So far we have an average speed of 41.6km/h. This would put us at the finish in just over 2.5 hours, or 17:00 (5 p.m) CET.

 

Today's break group.

 

 

Here's a bigger view of the breakaway. That's Serghei Tvetcov (Androni Giocattoli) the Romanian national champion at the head of the group. He made the leap from the Continental US team Jelly Belly to the Italian squad last season after landing on the final podium of the USA Pro Challenge in 2014.

 

 The riders have hit the coast now, and apparently buoyed by the palm trees and water, they have brought the gap up to over five minutes again. 107 km and 5:05.

 The gap continues to drop and it's now at 5'12.

#MSR / el peloton en Novi Ligure #MSR https://t.co/HzpNYMtXzd SKY

@liveciclismo Sat, 19th Mar 2016 13:34:04

#MSR Around 100km to go for the leaders who have a gap of 5min. Peloton is coming closer.

@TeamDiData Sat, 19th Mar 2016 13:39:35

In around 20km of racing Bobby Julich will be joining us for live coverage from the race. 

 

Simon Clarke is now near the front of the peloton. He's come here promising to be aggressive, along with his Cannondale teammates. The Australian has already won this year for his new squad so he'll be full of confidence. 

 

Only two Australian's have won this race before. Matt Goss, and Simon Gerrans. Neither are here today but Michael Matthews is here, and he's a red hot favourite after his stunning start to the season. He was third last year too and can win either in a bunch sprint or if a break goes on the Cipressa or Poggio.

 

100km remaining from 291km

The break have 5'08 on the peloton with 100km left in the race. The 11-man break is still working well together, with the sun still out. The conditions are truly perfect for racing at this time of year.

 

Dimension Data have a rider on the front of the peloton but the real muscle comes from Katusha who have almost their entire team near the front of proceedings. The peloton are lined out, an indication that the pace is constantly increasing. 

 

Bobby Julich:

I didn't do MSR that many times as a rider, but do remember that it was like playing a video game for +6.5hrs. Seemed like there was always something that jumped out at you. Due to having little experience, for sure I was too nervous at the wrong moments which in a race like MSR is not ideal. My best memories were being able to attack on the Cipressa in 1998 and then being in the front group and then leading the descent in 2001 off the Poggio. It was not a great race for me and think that my the last time I did it was in 2003 before retiring in 2008. Not a favourite race of mine, but it was awesome to experience it a couple of times. I do remember that when the race was done, I could barely turn my neck from side to side since I was so tense and in the drops all day.

 

The gap has dropped below five minutes, it's 4'54 with 95km to go, so still around two hours left in the race. The break aren't riding badly, it's just that the peloton have really stepped up. 

 

Cancellara drifts around the bunch as if he's just out on a Sunday club run. The former winner will be content with how the race has gone so far for him. He has a man in the break and it's meant that the rest of the Trek Segafredo team can sit back while other teams chase. Tinkoff, Cofidis, Etixx and Orica have now started to set the pace on the front of the peloton.

 

There's Geraint Thomas, a little further back in the bunch, and with a number of teammates around him. The Paris-Nice winner went on the attack last year, and he'll be looking to do the same on the Cipressa or Poggio, once more.

 

The bunch are currently descending, with riders tucked right up against their stems as they try and stay as aero as possible. 

 

Julich:

The break in a race like MSR just doesn't roll away at the start, you have to be strong to get into it, but at the same time don't think that many of those guys really think that they are going to make it to the finish. I am not surprised that there are some bigger teams represented in the break because once you have a guy up the road, it allows your team to not stress about brining it back. These days with so many teams with riders who have objectives in this race, it makes it very tough for a break to make it to the finish. Also means that it is difficult to have all 8 guys riding together. Just takes 2-3 guys around a leader to help him and keep him out of the wind.

 

Nibali in the Italian national jersey is coming back through the cars at the moment. He has a teammate with him. 

 

Kluge cramps up and drifts to the back to stretch out. He's been on the attack since KM 14.

 

86km remaining from 291km

Stunning scenery along the coast as Tinkoff continue to set the pace along with Dimension Data. Both teams have committed one teammate to the chase and it's working - the gap down to 4'07. 

 

Julich:

Now that they are on the coast road, the pace seems to just ratchet up more and more each km closer to San Remo. There are so many guys that are on form at the moment that I would expect there to be the first selection on the Cipressa, but will there be that perfect group that will work together to the Poggio? I don't think so. As so often before, the race will really be decided on the Poggio and especially on the descent of the Poggio.

 

81km remaining from 291km

A shade over 80km left in the race and the Tinkoff-Dimension Data partnership is working with the gap between the break and the peloton down to 3'50.

 

Julich:

Typically this is a sprinters race and it is up to those teams to do the work and control the pace, but it would be great to see Van Avermaet, Fabian, Sagan, Matthews, and Nibali really make the race hard and work together. Doesn't seem to happen anymore, but this year could be different. A sprint after 300km is not the same as it is after 200km, but once real sprinters get a sniff of the finish line, you can never count them out regardless how hard the race has been.

 

It's Manuele Boaro who has done all the work for Tinkoff so far in the race. He's not getting any real help at the moment with a number of other teams saving their powder for the latter stages of Milan-San Remo.

 

There's a train of BMC riders near the back of the bunch, but I'm not sure if Greg Van Avermaet is there. Clearly something has happened for them all to drop back in that fashion.

 

Julich:

I think that most riders agree that MSR is a "lottery" and we know that many of the big names are on great form at the moment, but I am curious if we are going to see any riders that have been building their form quietly during the past month of racing can surprise the pre race favourites.

 

73km remaining from 291km

We're just ticking towards the finale with the tension starting to build. The riders in the break have 3'41 over the peloton and they'll hold the lead, probably until around 30km to go. 

 

The pace has eased at the front of the peloton, with the gap holding at 3'44. 

 

The peloton head through the feedzone with 65km to go. Almost a crash as a Tinkoff rider can't take his musette. A few riders have to swerve but luckily no one comes down. 

 

Julich:

If it wasn't already, the 2nd feed zone in MSR is time to "punch in" and really prepare for the last 30km of full gas racing. There are certain landmarks in the race that each team mentions during the team meetings and this is the start of the really serious ones.

 

Etixx have started to commit men to the front of the peloton, a sign that they're starting to organise their race. Stybar, Boonen, and Gaviria all potential cards to play today within the Belgian team.

 

Julich:

Recently we have seen great form, results, and team work from Cofidis and FDJ. Will be interesting to see if these teams will be boxing with the big boys this year in MSR.

 

61km remaining from 291km

Just over 60km to go as we see Cancellara come back through the bunch after going back to the Trek Segafredo team car. He has a teammate with him and the Strade Bianche winner will make contact without even breaking sweat.

 

Julich:

I am also curious to see if the very young and talented rider from Etixx, Gaviria can factor into the finish in his first MSR and just coming off the track. It's said that 300km races are not for the younger generation and takes years of racing and experience to win, but this kid seems to be something quite special.

 

There has been a crash in the bunch!

 

57km remaining from 291km

A touch of wheels near the back of the bunch and four or five riders hit the deck. They're all up and running again. 57km to go. 

 

The gap has come down to 2'54 as the bunch once again line out. 

 

A few more riders have started to move to the front of the peloton, although they're not really riding at full gas. Up the road, Bono and Kluge swap turns for the break, helping the 11-man move hold their 2'40 advantage. 

 

Julich:

This is the part of the race where it starts to get stressful. Everyone has there job and knows what they have to do, but there is only so much room on these narrow, twisty, and windy roads. Factor in this great weather and the added crowds on the side of the road which makes things even more dangerous.

 

Cannondale make their first play of the race, putting two riders on the front of the peloton. Tinkoff, Cofidis are also starting to organise themselves. 

 

And there's another crash in the bunch. A number of riders down, one of them from Lampre, who is still on the ground.

 

Everyone is up and riding apart from the man from Lampre. His front wheel is a mess, and the Lampre rider is Zurlo. He's out of the race, but he is sitting up, although holding his left shoulder. 

 

52km remaining from 291km

We're on the Capo Mele with the break holding 2'02 with 52km to go.

 

Before the race hots up here's a look back at winner's quotes from the last 10 years

 

Julich:

It is in this part of the race where the peloton takes on an amoeba-like form and as a older rider once told me, "if you are not moving up, you are moving back"!!

 

A number of riders are struggling to get back on after that crash, which happened at the bottom of the Capo Mele. After 240km of racing, chasing the bunch can end your race. 

 

49km to go and the gap between the break and peloton is down to 1'35.

 

Lotto Soudal join the pace setters on the front of the bunch as we see Agnoli trying to chase back after the crash. He has a new bike. Up the road the riders in the break look cooked. They've been out there since Km 14. 

 

A few more riders still trying to make contact after the crash. It didn't seem to take down any of the main race favourites but it's caused chaos in the field. 

 

Lotto, Cannondale, Orica are all on the front, setting the pace for the bunch. Lotto have a few men who could attack on the final two climbs. 

 

Julich:

Getting through these 3 "Capos" in the front without using too much energy is the trick. Not easy because not only are the climbs tricky, the descents are as well and can easily string out the group. Setting your leader up for the start of the Cipressa are the objectives of many riders in the peloton since the start of the race.

 

Tinkoff are trying to cancel out the other teams, moving right to the front and over the Orica riders. 

 

41km remaining from 291km

Just over 41km to go and the gap is 1'20. The Cipressa isn't far away and you can tell because so many teams are fighting for the front, just in order to position their team leaders. 

 

Julich:

Very few races in the world do you see the peloton spread out across the road when going full gas. This is what makes MSR such a unique race, since there are so many teams with a shot at winning.

 

38km remaining from 291km

Onto the Capo Berta and the break is falling apart, their lead just 60 seconds as BMC Racing move up and set the pace. Betancur... dropped from the peloton.

 

Tinkoff look like a rock as they set the pace with BMC alongside them. They both want to make the race as hard as possible, because they want to drop the pure sprinters, or at least isolate them. Tossatto is virtually sprinting up the climb at the moment.

 

Two lines on the front BMC for Van Avermaet, Tinkoff for Sagan, the rivalry continues. 

 

Over the top and although the bunch is stretched, it's still strong in numbers. The riders are now on the descent and racing towards the final 30km of Milan-San Remo.

 

Julich:

There are a lot of teams that haven't even sniffed the front yet and others that are committing almost all their riders for some kms now, so will be interesting to see which tactic works the best when they tackle the Cipressa.

 

Maarten Tjallingii (Team LottoNl-Jumbo) and Coledan have attacked from the break as we move closer to the Cipressa.

 

And there's another crash with Cannondale and Katusha both losing men. Haller is down and that's awful news for him and Kristoff for the finale.

 

Julich:

A rider once explained MSR to me as, "300km of racing with 30km of the most stressful kms of the season, that normally comes down to a 300m sprint".

 

Albasini is now setting the pace for the bunch and there's another crash, this time it's Vermote who is down.His race is also over. 

 

The Belgian is sitting up but he's taking off his helmet. That's his second crash of the day. 

 

A few riders re-group at the head of the race but the break just have a few seconds left.

 

31km remaining from 291km

31km to go and the it's Lotto NL setting the pace towards the Cipressa. 

 

Vanmarcke has been quiet this year but he's third wheel at the moment as we head towards the Cipressa.

 

And there's another fall. Peter Kennaugh is there and is Matthews there too?

 

That's Thomas. He's involved and with 30km to go his race is over too. 

 

That was the biggest crash we've seen so far today.A Cannondale rider is on the floor. No sign of where Matthews is at the moment though.

 

28km remaining from 291km

Bouhanni, Valverde, Van Avermeat, they're still there. 

 

There's still no sign of Matthews on the road. We dont know if he's chasing or out of the race. 

 

Julich:

Crashes have taken some top riders and now with the Cipressa coming up, it will be interesting on how they take on this important climb. A bit early for the big guys to make their move, but if that perfect group is formed, it may be difficult to bring back.

 

Bouhanni has Cofidis on the front and setting the pace for him. The Frenchman is a decent bet at the moment for the win. The break are now on the Cipressa with less than 30 seconds over the bunch.

 

Kluge dropped from the break as Bono sets the pace on the Cipressa. There's Matthews, still chasing but on his own. Demare is there too.

 

Julich:

The Cipressa is not the most difficult climb, but after +260km it can really sting if you are not in good position. The most important part of this climb cresting the summit in good position for the descent. This is where those video-game reflexes really come in handy.

 

Time checks say that Matthews is a minute behind. Now Katusha set the pace for the bunch. It's all working towards Kristoff as Astana lift the pace. Stannard is there for Sky. 

 

26km remaining from 291km

Nibali is there. Will he attack on this climb. Sagan, Van Avermaet all there. 

 

Five riders left for the break and they have 12 seconds. They'll be caught before the summit .

 

The pace isn't fast enough in the bunch. Surely we'll see attacks.

 

Matthews looks to have lost his chance today. Thomas too. 

 

The break is caught and we're all together with 25km to go.

 

Astana try and lift the pace. Perhaps Nibali will make his move on the descent. 

 

There are a few cracks in the bunch on the climb due to the pressure from Astana.

 

There's yet another crash.

 

Boasson Hagen, he's still in contention and so is Cancellara. 

 

Now Krueziger sets the pace, Sagan in fourth wheel with Cancellara on his wheel. Cavendish has been dropped. 

 

BMC just floating in the wings allowing Tinkoff to do all the work. Still no sign of Matthews and if he's made contact with the main field.

 

Cancelllara and Sagan. They look so comfortable as we see Stannard look after Kwiatkowski.

 

Visconti attacks and it's Stannard who goes after him.

 

The Italian has created a gap and the Sky rider latches onto the wheel. A rider from Cannondale is trying to get across. BMC try and make a move but that's shot down by Tinkoff without hesitation. Visconti and Stannard start to work together and have made a gap of around 7 seconds. BMC send another rider up the road.

 

22km remaining from 291km

22km to go and the leading pair are about to go over the top The BMC rider is brought back as Katusha set the pace at the front of the peloton.

 

21km remaining from 291km

Over the top and Visconti leads with the gap at 12 seconds.

 

The gap goes out to 17 seconds. Now it's 20 seconds. This is starting to look like a very interesting move but there's still a long way to go. Lotto Soudal and Etixx set the pace now.

 

Julich:

The descent of the Cipressa is quite technical and with some tired boys out there, gaps can form quite easily. Once you come back down to the coast road, you better be on a wheel because gaps can be formed instantly and you want to save as much energy as possible and not have to chase or close a gap on the flats before the Poggio.

 

Stannard has a gap on Visconti on the descent, the Sky rider faster through the corners. 

 

Julich:

I am sure that the two current leaders would welcome a few more riders to help with the 10km to the Poggio, but looks like they are "all in now"! Knowing these descents are even more important that knowing the climbs. You see many riders doing recon on these and for good reason...they are nasty!!

 

They're on the bottom of the descent and Visconti links back with Stannard. It's a flat section now of around 8km to the foot of the Poggio. The leading pair have 13 seconds on the bunch. In fact the gap is down to just 5 seconds.

 

And Daniel Oss. He's attacked from the bunch and he's dragging two men with him. That will give us five riders on the front. 

 

Stannard, Oss, Montaguti, Visconti and Sabatini are the five as Katusha set the pace for the peloton with Lotto. No movement from Trek or Tinkoff at this point.

 

16km remaining from 291km

The five leaders have 16 riders. Will Etixx be happy with the make up of the lead group or will they chase a teammate? Sabatini is no pushover in a sprint so they may let this one go.The five leaders have 15 seconds. 

 

In fact Sabatini isn't working at the moment. He's just holding his place at the back of the break for now.

 

Julich:

This is where having teammates in the group is important in order to keep the gap as small as possible before the start of the Poggio. There is where many riders job is done for the day as long as their leader is in good position for the final climb. Once the Poggio starts it is everyman for himself and there is very little time to play around with team tactics.

 

Cummings helps with the chase, as Boasson Hagen is there. 

 

14 seconds for the leaders but Sabatini refuses to work. 

 

Sagan has two men left and they're not committed to the chase. He's lost Benatti to an earlier crash.

 

3km to go until we hit the Poggio.

 

11km remaining from 291km

Back together again with 11km to go. Katusha and DD have brought this back together. 

 

Julich:

We are in for a fantastic finish! Very important to judge your effort before the right hand turn to the Poggio. If you come up to early, you will get swamped and if you wait too late, you will not make it since EVERYONE knows they have to be in the front on that turn.

 

Now Tinkoff hit the front with Kreuziger setting the pace. Now the swing onto the climb.

 

OSs leads GVA. Sagan and Cancellara are close by.

 

Van Avermaet is second wheel so Oss needs to keep the pace. Matthews is back in the lead group but he's right at the back. 

 

And Sky hit the front on the climb with Rowe doing the work.

 

Not the highest pace setting as Katusha take over once more.

 

Cancellara, Nibali and Boasson Hagen right near each other.

 

Swift is there for Team Sky as well.  A former podium finisher here.

 

BMC and Katusha set the pace on the day's last climb. #MSR

@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 19th Mar 2016 15:50:48

BMC and Katusha are happy to set an even tempo on the front. No attacks yet.

 

Julich:

The Poggio is the only climb that I ever had to touch my brakes while climbing. Coming out of those turns and having to smash the watts again make this climb quite unique.

 

Matthews is hanging on at the back of the group.

 

An attack with 7.5km to go. It's Fedi for Southeast. 

 

At least he's given it a go. A few more riders need to try and make a move and it's Astana who go next.

 

Julich:

Looks like the sprinter teams are in control of the climb, so the descent is going to be super important.

 

Fedi is still leading as Gallopin makes a move. A few more riders try and attack just at the summit. 

 

Tinkoff shut it all down and it's back together.

 

And Kwiatkowski has attacked and he has a gap. He timed his move really well there. Can he make it stick?

 

Gatto has blown. He was chasing and now Nibali leads the bunch with Sagan close by. We're now on the descent.

 

Kwiatkowski is going for it with everything he has. Nibali is the man pulling him back though.

 

Julich:

There is only one line on this descent, so where you start the descent is where you finish it.

 

The gap is three seconds. Boasson Hagen there, Nibali, Sagan, Cancellara and Kristoff. The Sky rider still has a couple of seconds. Swift is dropped.

 

Matthews off the back too at the moment.

 

No one is chasing Kwiatkowski. Nibali takes the race in his hands and he goes after him. 3km to go. 

 

Sagan doesnt want to chase. Valverde is there, and Trentin but they're not working together. Kwiatkowski has 5 seconds with 2.6km to go.

 

2km remaining from 291km

2km to go and Kwiatkowski is heading for a monument. Etixx are chasing and Cancellara has attacked. 

 

Etixx try and chase him. And Kwiatkowski is caught. Cancellara and Trentin are caught. All together.

 

1km to go and Boassan Hagen and Van Avermaet go clear.

 

Gaviria is there!

 

500 to go.

 

Crash. Gaviria is down.

Demare wins Milan San Remo. An incredible finish.

 

What a finish from the Frenchman. That crash in the closing few meters took out Gaviria and Sagan lost the wheel as a result.

 

Demare came from really far back and Swift, who had been dropped, takes second on the line. 

 

1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
2 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
3 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal

 

1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
2 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
3 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
7 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
8 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela
9 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step

 

That's France's first win here since 1995 when Laurent Jalabert won for ONCE.

 

We had it everything in the final few kilometres. Cancellara attacking with Trentin, followed by Boasson Hagen moving off the front with Van Avermaet with 1km to go.

 

It all came back together inside the final 600 meters with Gaviria in a leading group of four. He hit the deck though, and that forced Sagan to slow and he was able to find enough speed. At the same time Demare and Swift launched their sprint with perfect timing. The Frenchman though had enough to take the win. 

 

Bouhanni was well placed but he had problems with his gears. You could see him thumping the bars as he crossed the line.

 

Julich:

MSR is such a brutal race. You can do everything right and then everything can change in a split second. There was so much going on there in the final kms that it was hard to keep up with, but that last 300m is where it all has to click. Click it did for Demare! Seemed like the favourites cancelled each other out a bit which allowed the riders from behind to catch back up and pass at the most crucial moment.

 

Here's another look at the top ten:

 

1 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
2 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
3 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Soudal
4 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha
7 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
8 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Southeast - Venezuela
9 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
10 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Etixx - Quick-Step

 

Kristoff was there, or thereabouts but he didn't quite have it. Few would have picked a lot of those names at the start of the day. 

 

Demare has spoken at the finish:

"This is incredible. There are days like this one in which everything works despite the occasional hiccup, like crashing at the bottom of the Cipressa. I made it across at the bottom of the Poggio and the entire way I felt fantastic. I became the under-23 world champion in similar conditions after crashing. I'm delighted to win Milano-Sanremo. This is a big one and has been running for over a century. It's extraordinary. I'm extremely happy."

 

We now have video highlights from the race, right here.

 

Thanks for joining us today. We have a report, results, video and photos of today's action, right here.

 

Before we go... we couldn't not post this image of Demare from the press tent at the race.

 

 

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