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Milan-San Remo 2018

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Buongiorno! It's Milan-San Remo day. La Primavera, La Classicissima, whatever you're calling it, it's here, one of the most prestigious races in cycling. At the end of a long day in the saddle - and the live blogging chair - we'll have our first Monument winner of 2018. 

Here it is, then. The eagle-eyed among you will notice the distance has gone up from 291km to 294km - that's because of a road closure near the mid-way point. Milan-San Remo was already the longest race on the pro cycling calendar, so what's a few extra kilometres?

 

 

It's raining heavily in Milan at the moment, where the riders are signing on and undergoing their final preparations ahead of the race. Roll-out is at 9.45 local time and, after a lengthy neutralised zone, the race proper is set to start at 10.10. 

 

It looks like the race will live up to its reputation. The route has always been symbolic of the passage from winter to spring, with the peloton leaving behind the miserable conditions in Lombardy and emerging into the warmer climes on the Ligurian coast. Raining in Milan right now, it's set to improve with every kilometre and the sun could even break through the clouds in San Remo. Here's Stephen Farrand with the weather. 

 

Rain threatens to shake up Milan-San Remo

 

Katusha-Alpecin at sign-on. Marcel Kittel is making his debut in this race. He's obviously a fast finisher, but how will he deal with the Cipressa and Poggio?

 

Bookies' favourite Peter Sagan on the podium this morning. The world champion has to win this race one day, surely. Is this his year?

 

2017 champion Michal Kwiatkowski there. Can the Pole do it again. He's certainly one of the in-form riders, coming in off the back of overall victory at Tirreno-Adriatico.

 

Signature check for @TeamSky | Il Team Sky al podio firma #MSR https://t.co/0bY5ZuhjJV

@Milano_Sanremo Sat, 17th Mar 2018 08:46:20

 

The riders, all layered up in wet weather gear, have rolled out of Milan and are currently making their way through the neutral zone. The racing will be underway shortly. 

 

'Sagan and Kwiatkowski the favourites, but La Primavera is never that simple'

 

Now's probably a good time to have a read of Barry Ryan's in-depth race preview.

 

2018 Milan-San Remo preview

Mark Cavendish this morning. The Manxman is a former winner of this race but seems to have ruled out any chance of winning it again after he broke his rib at Tirreno. It was his second crash in as many races in a start to the season that has been blighted by bad luck. He says he's here to help his teammates

The world champion and the European champion. Alexander Kristoff is another former Milan-San Remo champion, of course, having sprinted to victory in 2014.

 

 

We're off!

 

The flag has been waved and the 2018 Milan-San Remo is officially underway.

 

Let's see who's up for the punishment of a long day in the breakaway. 

 

It looks like we already have our break as a group of nine riders goes clear of the peloton.

It looks like the smaller Italian teams, as expected, are well represented in the break. We'll bring you the full composition shortly. 

The breakaway

 

Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF)

Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani CSF)

Evgeny Koberniak (Gazprom Rusvelo)

Guy Sagiv (Israel Cycling Academy)

Dennis Van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy)

Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini)

Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk)

Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates)

Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Selle Italia)

 

279km remaining from 294km

This is definitely the break of the day as the nine riders carve out a lead of three minutes after 15km of racing. 

Breakaway of 9 riders, one World Tour team represented by Matteo Bono, he went in the early move in 2014, 2015 and 2016 https://t.co/MPLSzoN05N

@inrng Sat, 17th Mar 2018 09:33:31

 

 

Predictions please

 

We went to the pre-race directeur sportif meeting yesterday and there was one name on everyone's lips: Peter Sagan. Who do you think will be walking away with the first Monument of 2018? Let us know your predictions, or any other thoughts you might have about the race. You can do that via Twitter @paddyfletch

 

Milan-San Remo predictions: Peter Sagan can win any way he wants

 

The gap continues to grow. Five minutes now.

Dark horse of the day @Milano_Sanremo: Heinrich Haussler. The guy absolutely loves this race, has unfinished business here aaaand he flying.

@alex_howes Sat, 17th Mar 2018 09:13:24

Not quite the same conditions today, but remember 2013? In one of the most dramatic editions of the race, snow and rain fell all day long, and the race had to be neutralised at one point, with riders heading onto team buses in order to warm up before being sent out again. You can re-live it all with our special gallery of photos. 

 

Gallery: A look back at the 2013 Milan-San Remo

 

 

264km remaining from 294km

Sagan sends a couple of riders to the head of the peloton as the gap to the break begins to stabilise after 30km. 

 

Unexpected ancient history lesson there from Quick-Step

 

Peloton is passing through Pavia, former capital of the Kingdom of the Lombards and the place where the reign of Romulus Augustus, the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire, ended. https://t.co/bPts9rAN9D

@quickstepteam Sat, 17th Mar 2018 09:57:58

 

#MSR stars by @Gazzetta_it:  ***** Kwiatkowski, Sagan **** Alaphilippe *** Demare, Kristoff, Viviani ** Trentin, Moscon, Van Avermaet * Nibali, Ewan, Kittel, Cort https://t.co/xJvKtV4EWU

@searchhhh Sat, 17th Mar 2018 07:43:22

#MSR our #MatteoBono made an early move and joined the 9-man breakaway, this is his fourth appearance in a… https://t.co/FCUwSMCgsN

@TeamUAEAbuDhabi Sat, 17th Mar 2018 10:02:57

 

252km remaining from 294km

An hour on the clock and the riders have covered 41.2km.

The nine breakaway riders now have a lead of six minutes over the peloton.

 

It has stopped raining but the roads are still wet. 

 

Vincenzo Nibali at the start this morning, not too sure about the conditions. 

 

 

Seven minutes the gap now. 

 

Peter Sagan was his usual enigmatic self this morning. Wrapped up in the black outer layers of his world champion's kit, he remained coy on his tactics and chances of finally winning Milan-San Remo. 

 

"Let's hope the weather improves once we go over the Turchino and get to Genoa. I just hope to make it to the finish in one piece, so that we can enjoy a nice dinner tonight," he joked.

 

"We’ll see what happens. The race lasts seven hours and a lot can happen. It all depends if I’ve got the legs."

For more pre-race quotes and photos from Milan, here's a story from the start line from our resident Italian Stephen Farrand. 

 

Milan-San Remo rolls out under pouring rain - Gallery

 

It's been a pretty quiet start to the day, but then again Milan-San Remo is nothing if not a slow burner. The Passo del Turchino acts as a turning point, coming at the half-way mark and marking the entrance to the coastal roads that lead down to San Remo. 

 

 

Like Peter Sagan, Michael Matthews is a rider who seems perfectly suited to the demands of Milan-San Remo. Ordinarily he'd be among the top favourites but he comes into the race having broken his shoulder blade at the opening weekend in Belgium at the end of February.

 

"I'm always smiling so if I'm having fun out there today I can put on a good show and hopefully do my best. There's no pressure on me today, I've had really bad preparation for this race, so we'll see how it goes," he said this morning. 

 

As for tactics, with Sunweb also lining up with Tom Dumoulin and Edward Theuns, he added: "I guess the nice thing is we have options. With weather like today, you never really know what's gonna happen, so we just need to go out there, roll the dice, and see what we can do. At the end of a 300km race you never know how guys are feeling, how the race has gone, so we'll see towards the end what we do."

219km remaining from 294km

75 kilometres on the clock now and the nine breakaway riders are still out front with a sizeable lead, though the pace has increased slightly in the peloton. 6:30 the gap.

 

@paddyfletch Kristoff will fade and Ben Swift will go from lead out man to leader, taking the win he has come close to before.

@MrStenmeister Sat, 17th Mar 2018 10:32:22

Our latest podcast features a preview of Milan-San Remo, including our European Editor Stephen Farrand (who's covering the race for the 25th time) telling us what makes La Primavera so special.

 

"Some people don't consider it a great race, don't consider a special race, because it's very flat and then just a crazy  final 10 minutes. But it's that crescendo, that build-up, even this week until the big day, and then on the day, and then on the climbs, over the Cipressa and Poggio, and then the sprint on the Via Roma. That peak of excitement on the Via Roma, you don't get that in any other Classic, because the race is spread out more, so it's that build-up and that emotion, and then it all happens in those final metres."

 

Milan-San Remo preview and Tirreno talking points – Podcast

 

Postcard from La Classicissima | Una cartolina dalla Classicissima #MSR https://t.co/M4yuI26jAr

@Milano_Sanremo Sat, 17th Mar 2018 11:10:16

 

Here's Matteo Trentin speaking at the start. The Italian is one of two options for Mitchelton-Scott alongside Caleb Ewan.

 

"We have an option for me, let's say from Cipressa to the other side of the Poggio, and we have Ewan for a mass sprint. Let's see, because I always say Milan-San Remo is so long that if you're thinking now about the finish you'll probably never get to the finish.

 

"The race will be on from the Cipressa, and from there whoever has the legs is probably going to do a move. We need to be attentive on every little move that happens because we have one bullet and if you shoot it wrong you're out."

209km remaining from 294km

A slower second hour of racing gives us an average speed so far of 39.5km/h.

 

Look, just 200 kilometers to go! #MSR

@quickstepteam Sat, 17th Mar 2018 11:26:16

Our nine men out front have made the effort to spend all day in the breakaway today, so we'll make the effort to shine the spotlight on them. 

 

Mirco Maestri, the 26-year-old Italian on Bardiani CSF, is riding his third Milan-San Remo and has been in the break every time. He's also ridden two Giros but only last week did he pick up his first victory as a pro, with a stage and the overall in Greece at the Tour of Rhodes. 

 

Here's a shot of the break

 

 

Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe are the teams on policing duty at the head of the peloton and the gap remains stable at around 6:30.

 

"Last year was very nice but today's a different race," says Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). "I had some bad luck the last couple of weeks and a nasty crash in Tirreno but I feel ready again and will be mostly supporting the team today."

Here's the peloton

 

Matteo Bono is the only WorldTour rider in this breakaway. He's a rare example of a one-team man, staying with the Lampre set-up his whole career. The team isn't Lampre anymore, bought out by UAE businessmen last year, but much of the structure remained the same and Bono was one of those to move across.

 

This is his 13th season as a pro and he still has another year on his contract, by which point he'll be 36. He's won at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Tour de Romandie but is primarily known as a reliable teammate and, like Maestri, he's no stranger to a breakaway, this being his fourth time at Milan-San Remo. 

 

Philippe Gilbert, twice a podium finisher here, is certainly one to watch today. After winning the Tour of Flanders last year, the Belgian has set himself the audacious feat of winning all five Monuments, San Remo and Paris-Roubaix being the only ones missing. You can read his thoughts here:

 

Gilbert: I could win Milan-San Remo this year or maybe never

 

Quick-Step, as always, have the most strength in depth. Even after Fernando Gaviria was ruled out with a broken hand, they still have Gilbert, Elia Viviani, and last year's podium finisher Julian Alaphilippe. They have all bases covered, with Gilbert and Alaphilippe capable of aggression on the Poggio, and Viviani waiting in the wings for a bunch sprint. 

 

@TrekSegafredo: Happy #SaintPatricksDay @ryanmullen9, first time starter in #MSR and the only Irishman in the race today! https://t.co/Z…

Paolo Condò on Sanremo in La Gazzetta: 'The race which seems the most monotonous of them all to the infidels of the of the bicycle, & the most sacred to us devotees.' https://t.co/P332mPzzO5

@friebos Sat, 17th Mar 2018 12:14:46

 

Dennis Van Winden is another of the riders in the break who stayed loyal to one team for the majority of his career - though not all of it. After 11 years with LottoNL-Jumbo (formerly Rabobank) - interrupted by the briefest of stints at Synergy Baku - the Dutchman joined Israel Cycling Academy and is now in his second year with the Pro Conti team. 

 

Van Winden seems to be finding his feet again after a career that veered from the script drafted out early on. Highly promising at U23 level, he was derailed by a kink in his iliac artery that required emergency surgery. He now finds himself at the Israel Academy as a 30-year-old acting as one of the senior figures in the team, passing on his experience to the young roster. 

 

174km remaining from 294km

With 120km on the clock, the average speed after three hours of racing is 39.3km/h. The nine breakaway riders still enjoy a lead of 6:30 over the peloton as they head towards the Passo del Turchino.

More quotes from the start line now, and this time it's Edvald Boasson Hagen. The Dimension Data rider has had a sketchy start to the season after undergoing gallbladder surgery this winter, so he wasn't overly confident about his chances.

 

"I hope to get to the finish and I hope I can get an ok result," he said. "I've been sick and during the winter I had some issues so I'm not really in top shape yet but it feels better every day so hopefully I can do something today."

Here’s Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott), who finished 10th last year on his Milan-San Remo debut.


“I feel all right now. I was starting to feel a little bit sick at the end of Tirreno and we didn’t want to risk anything because this was one of the big goals of my season, so I just went home a bit early and recovered, and now I’m feeling good.


“Maybe with fewer sprinter here it won’t be as controlled on the climbs, which will make it a little bit harder. For me to go well here it has to be a little bit controlled, so hopefully there’s someone controlling it. I think there are still enough sprinters here that it should be controlled. The Poggio is a tough climb but I’m pretty confident in my form and hopefully I can get over it this year as well.”

164km remaining from 294km

The road is rising gently uphill towards the Turchino Pass. The breakaway riders are almost at the first feed zone at Campo Ligure. 

 

Time to shine the breakaway spotlight again and let's take a look at Sho Hatsuyama. At the age of 29, he's not quite a neo-pro, but is nevertheless riding his first season as a fully professional rider. Until now he has raced for Japanese Continental teams but he was picked up over the winter by Nippo-Vini Fantini - an Italian-registered team with Japanese sponsorship. 

 

He's raced the Tour de Provence, Ruta del Sol, Strade Bianche and Tirreno-Adriatico so far this year, and finished close to last place or outside the time limit in all of them, though he doesn't shy away from a breakaway. Here he is today in that of the longest Classic of them all, earning precious exposure for his team's sponsors. 

 

The breakaway riders are losing ground as the road continues to head uphill. Their lead has been cut back to 5:30 at the feed zone. 

 

The pace increases on the Passo del Turchino as BMC come to the front.

 

The breakaway riders crest the pass together but their lead has been cut to 4:30.

Time for the legendary Passo del Turchino. It was here that Fausto Coppi attacked in 1946 and went on to take a memorable solo win after more than 8 hours in the saddle, putting 14 minutes into runner-up Lucien Teisseire. #MSR https://t.co/Xtp5lo5ZTT

@quickstepteam Sat, 17th Mar 2018 12:59:01

 

The riders now take on a descent to the coast. 

 

The break is haemorrhaging time as Sky lead the peloton downhill. The gap's down to two minutes.

 

137km remaining from 294km

The riders come off the descent and the gap is down to 1:40. It could be an early end for our nine breakaway men. 

 

Onto the Ligurian coast and the powers that be in the peloton realise that an early catch would be in no one's interest. The pace slows and things calm down, with the gap going back out towards three minutes now.

 

And like every year, the #spring blossoms in #Sanremo #laprimavera #msr https://t.co/RjHcLXTFeb https://t.co/pViWyP9tNE

@Dav_Evangelista Sat, 17th Mar 2018 13:03:50

 

120km remaining from 294km

The breakaway once again have five minutes on the peloton.

 

It seems there's a headwind blowing up the coast. That's going to play against the attackers and into the hands of anyone who's interested in controlling the race for a bunch sprint. 

 

Last year's Via Roma shot - a three-way photo finish between Kwiatkowski, Sagan, and Alaphilippe - was one for the ages. You can remind yourself about how it all unfolded with our 2017 report page, which also includes video highlights and a photo gallery.

 

 

 

110km remaining from 294km

The winding coastal roads are tipping gently downhill and the peloton is strung out as the gap comes down to four minutes. Peter Sagan is off the back after grabbing a musette but he's soon back up towards the middle. The roads are still soaking wet. 

 

Charles Planet is representing Novo Nordisk in the break. The Pro Conti team is unique in that it's made up entirely of diabetics, and that's what encouraged the Frenchman to make it as a road cyclist after starting out on a mountain bike. He's now 24 and in his fifth season as a pro. Still no win, but plenty of breakaways, including a few already this season in the Middle East across the Dubai and Abu Dhabi Tours. 

 

A photo from this morning to illustrate the conditions. It was expected to be brighter on the coast but it's clouded over again and the rain's coming down strongly now. 

 

 

Still sunny at the finish, though

 

#MSR For the moment the conditions at the finish on Via Roma are good… https://t.co/WboDIj8lLz

@MitcheltonSCOTT Sat, 17th Mar 2018 13:45:51

 

101km remaining from 294km

It's Luke Rowe riding on the front of the bunch for Team Sky, as the gap to the break starts to fall again to 3:45. Quite remarkable how the Welshman has come back from that awful leg break last summer. 

 

Worrying moments as a car appears on the course. It's at a standstill and clearly panicking, and luckily the riders manage to safely negotiate their way around it. 

 

100km remaining from 294km

Only/still 100 kilometres to go.

 

The race is bubbling along nicely ahead of the denouement and things will come to the boil soon enough. The intrigue was stoked up nicely this week by Sagan and Kwiatkowski, who went shoulder-to-shoulder on the Via Roma last year. Sagan said he wouldn't have been happy winning the way Kwiatkowski did, having sat mostly in the wheels in the final group of three before edging the sprint. Kwiatkowski came back sharply with the assertion that it's not always the strongest man who wins but the smartest. Stephen Farrand has the full story.

Peter Sagan and Kwiatkowski in a war of words before Milan-San Remo

 

90km remaining from 294km

The rain has eased off slightly. The nine breakaway riders are still leading the race down the Ligurian coast with a lead of 3:40. 

 

Jacopo Mosca comes through for a turn in the break. He's another Italian in an Italian Pro Conti team ( Wilier-Selle Italia) doing his bit to keep the sponsors happy. The 24-year-old rode as a stagiaire with Trek-Segafredo in late 2016 but turned pro with Wilier last year. He comes into Milan-San Remo fresh off a successful outing at Tirreno-Adriatico, where he infiltrated the breaks and won the points classification as well as finishing second in the mountains classification. 

 

Michal Kwiatkowski takes off his rain cape and grabs a bite to eat. He's sat in the middle of his Sky train, with Bora and Quick-Step the other teams sending riders up to the front to help with this chase. 

 

80km remaining from 294km

80 kilometres remaining and we're nearing the end of this sacred annual pre-amble. The riders will soon head through the second feed zone, and after that, with just over 50km to go, the race will come to life. The tre capi - the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo, and Capo Berta -  act as anitpasti before the Cipressa and then the all-important Poggio. 

 

 

Peter Sagan takes out a mini race leaflet and familiarises himself with what's to come. 

 

Serious question for people who know about these things: is it difficult to make a good cycling rain jacket in team colours - or at least not black? Asking for about 200 friends.https://t.co/YPEPjCmstz

@friebos Sat, 17th Mar 2018 14:32:36

 

75km remaining from 294km

The nine breakaway riders plough on, kicking up a spray on these wet roads. They still have 3:30 over the peloton. 

 

Continuing the breakaway watch, Guy Sagiv is one of the Israel Cycling Academy's Israeli riders. The team has made a string of notable signings in the last couple of years as it aims to grow but there's still an emphasis on home talent. Sagiv has been a national champion three years running - twice in the road race and last year in the time trial.The 23-year-old is in his third season with the team and will be hoping to ride the Giro d'Italia in May, which kicks off in Jerusalem. 

 

67km remaining from 294km

Juraj Sagan leads the peloton. He's done a solid job for his brother today, with as many kilometres as anyone in the wind. 2:45 is the gap now.

 

Running repairs for Peter Sagan now as he has a few issues removing his shoe covers. He has a couple of teammates to keep him upright and gets them off eventually. 

 

The layers are coming off because, all of sudden, the skies are blue and clear overhead. Spring is here.

 

Evgeny Kobernyak is our penultimate rider under the breakaway spotlight. The Russian is the most inexperienced of the lot, riding his first season as a professional with 'home' team Gazprom-RusVelo. 

 

The 23-year-old is compact and lightweight but that hasn't deterred him from taking to the break in one of the flattest and longest Classics. 

 

Just turned #MSR on. What have I missed? #msr2018

@daniellloyd1 Sat, 17th Mar 2018 14:51:41

Photo confirmation that Alexander Kristoff and Andre Greipel were caught up in the crash earlier in the day that saw Lukasz Wizniowski leave the race. Mitch Docker also hit the deck. 

 

59km remaining from 294km

The gap is down to 2:30 now with just under 60km left and less than 10km to the Capo Mele.

 

Still Juraj Sagan, Luke Rowe, and Tim Declerqc trading turns at the head of the peloton. 

 

54km remaining from 294km

We're about to hit the first of the Tre Capi. It's the Capo Mele, 1.8km long at 3.9%.

 

52km remaining from 294km

The climb is very gentle but every percentage will be felt in the legs of those breakaway riders after nearly six hours in the saddle. Their lead is down to two minutes. 

 

BMC, invisible for most of the day, make their way up to the front of the peloton now. Greg Van Avermaet can certainly have a say today. 

49km remaining from 294km

The riders are all over the top of the climb and now they dive back down towards sea level. 

No big action on the first Capo but the tone is changing - the tempo has been raised and the big names are starting to show their faces near the head of the peloton.

 

Just 1:40 for the break now, so we better shine the spotlight on our final breakaway rider. Lorenzo Rota is one of two Bardiani CSF riders in the break today, making it a good day's work for the Italian Pro Conti team. He's the youngest in the break at 22 years of age, but this is his third season as a pro. We've seen him in breaks before, notably at last year's Giro d'Italia. 

 

Chapeau to the breakaway men. They're quickly forgotten in the white-knuckle drama of the Poggio but they play their part in the slow burn that characterises Milan-San Remo. 

45km remaining from 294km

It's been Rowe, J.Sagan, and Declerqc versus the break for god knows how long now. 1:20 is the gap with 45 to go. 

 

The EF-Drapac duo of Dan McLay and Simon Clarke have come down on one of the bends.

 

#MSR: Road captain @SimoClarke and @McLAYDan have gone done in a bend. Looks like a touch of wheels. They both look ok but terrible timing.

@Ride_Argyle Sat, 17th Mar 2018 15:26:50

EF-Drapac still have Sacha Modolo, their main card, but they've lost their Plan B and their road captain. 

 

It seems bizarre that we had such miserable conditions for so much of the day as the sun beams down on the Ligurian coast. Bare legs and arms all round as the last of the outer layers are off. 

 

40km remaining from 294km

The breakaway riders hit the Capo Berta - the third of the three Capi - with a lead of 38 seconds. Maestri accelerates and this could be the end of the break as we know it. 

 

Another crash in the peloton as Alexander Vlasov hits the deck after a touch of wheels. It looks like the incident occurred a good few wheels up ahead but the knock-on effect held up a few others. It's getting tense in there. 

 

Maestri's acceleration has thinned the break down to four riders. His teammate Rota is there with him, along with Van Winden and Bono. 

 

The peloton is climbing too and Demare and Van Avermaet are among those seeking a position up near the front. 

 

Marcel Kittel dropped

 

The German loses contact with the back of the bunch and any excitement over his Milan-San Remo debut looks ill placed. If he's struggling here, it doesn't bode well for the Cipressa and Poggio. 

 

35km remaining from 294km

The four remaining breakaway riders try to eek this out for as long as possible but he gap is down to 25 seconds.

 

Kittel chases back on with Nils Politt but BMC have hit the front of the peloton and raised the pace. Arnaud Demare's FDJ are also coming up now to add to the pressure.

 

The Cipressa, a key part of Milan-San Remo, is not far away. Here's how it looks.

 

 

Will anyone be tempted to strike out on the Cipressa? Quick-Step have cards to play...

 

31km remaining from 294km

We're four kilometres from the foot of the Cipressa and the four leaders have just 12 seconds on the bunch. 

30km remaining from 294km

All together

 

The four remaining breakaway riders are caught by the rapidly advancing peloton and it's all together with 30 to go.

 

The pace is high on the approach to the Cipressa. Positioning very important. 

 

The climb is 5.6km long at an average of 4.1%, with some gradients nearer 10%. 

 

FDJ lead the way with a four-man train for Demare. Mitchelton-Scott doing something similar with Trentin and Ewan on the right-hand side of the road.

 

Cipressa time

 

The riders turn onto the climb and the gradients immediately begin to bite. 

 

Konovalovas leads for FDJ. Nibali looks alert, tucked in a few wheels back.

 

Kittel is immediately dropped. This time it looks like game over. 

 

Demare looks comfortable in fourth wheel behind his three teammates. Caleb Ewan is on the Frenchman's wheel. 

 

No casualties so far apart from Kittel. The pace is controlled at the moment.

 

Milan-San Remo is a real lottery. We've been riding for almost seven hours and we're no closer to knowing who might win the first Monument of the season. 

 

Konovalovas continues to lead the way for FDJ. The Cipressa was a source of controversy when Demare won two years ago, with some riders accusing him of hanging onto a team car up the climb. 

Team Sky head up to the front now and take over from FDJ. It's Van Baarle on the front, Kwiatkowski in second wheel.

 

Four Sky men on the front. They've upped the pace but it's nothing silly yet as the peloton remains a large group. 

 

No one looks minded to attack on the Cipressa this year.

 

Matej Mohoric brings Nibali up to the front. Astana also moving up now. 

 

Van Baarle pulls over near the top of the climb. FDJ back on the front.

 

Greipel is up there now a couple of places behind Demare.

 

The descent begins and FDJ lead them down it. 

 

Not one attack over the Cipressa climb, not even a publicity attempt

@inrng Sat, 17th Mar 2018 15:58:33

Are we heading for a bunch sprint on the Via Roma? It will all come down to the Poggio, but right now most of the big bunch sprinters are cleanly over the Cipressa without going anywhere near the red. 

 

20km remaining from 294km

20km to go. After this winding descent the roads flatten out until the foot of the Poggio. 

 

FDJ continue their aggression on the descent. As they hit the flat once again they briefly find themselves with three me off the front. 

 

Puncture for Michael Valgren.

 

Konovalovas comes back to the front now. FDJ are dominating the denouement to this race - can Demare take a second title?

 

Who's going to win it?

 

It's anyone's guess. Send yours in via Twitter @paddyfletch

 

16km remaining from 294km

Just a couple of kilometres to the foot of the Poggio. We all know it well enough but here's a reminder of the profile. 

 

 

Lotto Soudal take it up on the right-hand side, competing with FDJ over on the left. 

 

Peter Sagan is in the middle of the road near the front of the bunch. He has a couple of teammates nearby.

 

Kwiatkowski is right at the back of the bunch at the moment.

 

Sagan's Bora teammates hit the front now.

 

The pace is being ratcheted up another couple of notches now.

 

Kwiatkowski is showing no urgency to get himself towards the front or even the middle of the group.

 

We're almost at the Poggio

 

Cavendish still in the mix, Greipel too, and Demare, Cort, Ewan....everyone, basically. 

 

Crash in the middle of the bunch. That's a bad one.

 

More than 10 riders taken out there, and Mark Cavendish is on the ground. 

 

That's a horror crash. Cavendish his a yellow bollard in the middle of the road after a roundabout and goes flying over his bars, flipping over in the air. We hope he's ok.

 

Poggio

 

The race goes on and the riders swing right onto the Poggio - one of the most iconic sights in cycling.

 

Marcus Burghardt leads the way for Bora

 

Burghardt is actually riding away as Mohoric fails to hold the wheel.

 

Burghardt is out of the saddle now as he turns this into an attack. Jempy Drucker jumps across for BMC.

 

Drucker drops Burghardt and carries on alone.

 

Bahrain-Merida lead the bunch, which strings out in pursuit of Drucker.

 

Drucker is being reeled back in. No other attackers yet.

 

Another hairpin and they're all safely round. Still Bahrain set the tempo.

 

Kwiatkowski is well positioned now.

 

Nibali attacks!

 

Nibali latches onto a move from Krists Neilands.

 

Nathan Haas sets off in pursuit

 

Nibali drops Neilands

 

Nibali is roared on by his home crowd. He's riding away here.

 

This would be quite the addition to the 'Shark of Messina's impressive portfolio. 

 

Team Sky are chasing now but Nibali has a huge lead.

 

Nibali comes to the top of the climb and begins the white-knuckle descent. If anyone can hold an advantage on this downhill it's him.

 

Daniel Oss leads the bunch down, Sagan on his wheel.

 

5km remaining from 294km

Just 5km to go for Nibali.

 

Nibali taking the most aggressive lines on this descent, springing out of the saddle around every hairpin.

 

4km remaining from 294km

Nibali has 12 seconds!

 

This is going to be so tight but Nibali has every chance here. 

 

Attack from Trentin on the descent.

 

Another crash on the descent with riders from Lotto Soudal and Movistar on the ground.

 

Trentin has a few metres as Sagan leads the pursuit.

 

3km remaining from 294km

10 seconds now for Nibali with another kilometre to descend.

 

Trentin brought back. Sagan, Kwiatwkoski, Matthews all up there in the first few places.

 

2km remaining from 294km

Nibali pedalling hard as the gradients ease. 9 seconds now.

 

2km remaining from 294km

Nibali hits the flat. 2.2km to hang on for a famous victory.

 

Seven seconds now. The lead is slipping.

 

Trentin has a gap again

 

Trentin is closing Nibali down. Lots of riders attacking now on the flat.

 

Nibali, arms folded over his bars, is in time trial mode.

 

The sprinters are waiting in the wings.

 

Nibali takes the flamme rouge. 1000 metres to go!

 

It's bunched up again behind. The peloton are closing in on Nibali.

 

600 metres to go. Nibali has a few seconds

 

This is going to be tight!

 

Nibali is going to hang on!

 

The sprint is winding up behind! Drama!

 

Ewan sprints but Nibali is already celebrating! WOW!!!

 

Vincenzo Nibali wins Milan-San Remo

 

Nibali is mobbed at the finish. He's keeled over in a mixture of exhaustion and sheer exhilaration. And now the smiles come. What a win.

 

Nibali has won all three Grand Tours and now he has three Monuments, after his two wins at Il Lombardia. 

 

Caleb Ewan was second from the bunch, followed by Demare.

 

Ewan flew past Nibali beyond the line. It's quite an image - the young Australian in full flight without it mattering one bit as Nibali is already sitting up and basking in one of the finest victories of his career. 

 

Top 10

 

1 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida 7:18:43
2 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC Racing Team
6 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
7 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb
8 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana Pro Team
9 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo

 

Nibali. Wow. Great race!

@kirstenfrattini Sat, 17th Mar 2018 16:28:20

 

Vincenzo Nibali is asked for a few words in English in his winner's TV interview. 

 

“Today in Milan-San Remo it was all day water, rain rain rain, my sensations were very good but today I was working with Sonny Colbrelli and in the last 15km I had really good sensations. On the Poggio I worked with Colbrelli but in the last 5km I only followed the other rider. When my on my radio the director spoke with me and he said 20 seconds, I only thought ‘full gas’. It’s a fantastic day for me.

 

"I don’t have words," he says when asked what this means to him, and maybe not just English ones. Asked if this is his finest victory, he can only come up with 'no lo so' (I don't know), as he falls about laughing. He's on cloud nine. 

#MSR Unfortunately @AndreGreipel and @JasperDeBuyst crashed in the last kilometres! A lot of bad luck for us today, more info to follow!

@Lotto_Soudal Sat, 17th Mar 2018 16:44:02

Unfortunately, it wasn't to be today for @PhilippeGilbert in #MSR, who got caught behind the crash just before the Poggio https://t.co/vjGJoyCNEq

@quickstepteam Sat, 17th Mar 2018 16:39:34

.@vincenzonibali puts an end to the second-longest drought of Italian wins at the Milano-Sanremo: 11 editions. #MSR https://t.co/Zlmfe8h0Je

@Milano_Sanremo Sat, 17th Mar 2018 16:45:49

"I realise it's massive result but to come so close to winning it's a pretty big disappointment," says runner-up Caleb Ewan.

 

"To be honest I wan't really thinking about catching Nibali, I was just thinking about doing the best sprint I could and if I caught him it was a bonus. The team rode so well. I told Roger [Kluge] that I wanted him to get me in a good position to the bottom of the Cipressa and i was in the best position you could be in. I can't fault the team. This is a  race I was really targeting this year. I still didn't know how well I could go so hopefully this proves that I can win it in the future." 

And now we hear from the final podium finisher, Arnaud Demare.

 

"There was a headwind so I had to remain patient. I was on the wheel of the Quick-Step riders, but Nibali was very strong today, he stole a march on us and I had to settle for third.

 

"My team was very strong, they had confidence in me. I won two years ago and I knew it was possible to win again. They did a great job so I'm very proud of them. I can be happy with third place."

 

I have never experienced an atmosphere like that at the end of a road race. What a stunning win by @vincenzonibali… https://t.co/IVm3NqkRZW

@antmccrossan Sat, 17th Mar 2018 17:06:59

Mark Cavendish is being assessed by the medical team. No update as yet from Dimension Data. 

 

Here's our report page

 

Vincenzo Nibali wins Milan-San Remo

 

 

If you want to re-live the action, we have video highlights you can watch. 

 

 

Milan-San Remo 2018 highlights - Video

 

Thanks for joining us today, and if you were with us from the start, then chapeau. What a race that was, a Milan-San Remo that will live long in the memory. Ciao

 

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