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Alaphilippe wins Milan-San Remo

It may have been the first Monument of the season, but the story was the one we’ve seen so often already this year. Some 175 men fought for half the day to win a bike race, and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) ended up on the top step of the podium.

Milan-San Remo is the seventh victory of the season for the Frenchman, and the 19th for his team - no doubt the sweetest yet. Part of an elite group contesting the win in San Remo, Alaphilippe beat Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) and Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) to the top spot after a tense sprint to the line.

The Frenchman had played a major part in forming the elite group that made it to the finish, launching an attack over the top of Poggio and bringing a number of the strongest men in the sport with him. Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali and Kwiatkowski – they were all there – but it was Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida) who tried to make their mark on the run-in to the finish.

Both were caught, however, setting up the battle royal sprint to the line. Mohorič went again, flying past Sagan, who led the way to the line. Alaphilippe masterfully switched wheels before heading into the wind himself after seven hours in the saddle. Another win for the 26-year-old, his best yet.

“It’s difficult to realise what I did and what my team did,” Alaphilippe reflected after the race. “They protected me all day. Tim Declercq was pulling all race and in the final we controlled and made the race harder, and I had to do no mistakes.

“I was really focused to control the attacks, and with 600 metres to go when Mohorič went to attack I said ‘it’s now or never’. It’s unbelievable – I saw my teammates after the finish and everybody was crying.

“I made a big effort at the top of the Poggio to make a big selection, and to see what could happen. At the end I was only with strong riders and I tried to recover in the downhill. In the last two kilometres I said I want to win – no second place.

“I need time to realise [what I’ve achieved]. I’m very happy.”

How it happened

The riders signed under warm spring sunshine in the shadow of the Castello Sforzesco in the centre of Milan, happy to race in spring-like conditions after a rain-soaked start in 2018.

The 2018 winner Vincenzo Nibali, and world champion Alejandro Valverde, lined up at the head of the race, while the likes of Sagan, Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan preferred to stay out of the spotlight and lined up at the back of the peloton. All 175 riders on the start list signed on and started the 110th edition of Milan-San Remo.

The riders always consider Milan-San Remo a 300km race because they include the 7.5km neutralised sector out of central Milan as kilometres in the saddle. The official start is at an anonymous point on the Via della Chiesa Rossa that heads south out of Milan.

As soon as the flag dropped, the attacks to go into the early break began. But with the peloton facing seven hours in the saddle, 10 riders were quickly given their freedom and a moment in the Milan-San Remo spotlight.

The 10 were Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli), Mirco Maestri, Alessandro Tonelli (both Bardiani CSF), Guy Sagiv (Israel Cycling Academy), Luca Raggio, Sebastian Schönberger (both Neri Sottoli) with Joonas Henttala, Andrea Peron, Charles Planet and Umberto Poli all there for Novo Nordisk.

The peloton let them go and they opened a one-minute gap in 10km. After 30km, the gap was up to 10 minutes, but that was the maximum the peloton allowed before upping the pace and starting to control the breakaway. The average speed for the first hour on the Lombardy plane near Pavia and the River Po was a quick 44.4km/h.

A number of teams agreed to share the work, with Adam Hansen riding for Lotto Soudal, Tim Declercq for Deceuninck-QuickStep, while UAE Team Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe also helped with the hard graft. The gap to the break began to fall as the Passo del Turchino began to loom on the horizon.

Nathan Van Hooydonck of the CCC Team was the first rider to abandon after Novi Ligure as the 100km sign approached. The first feed zone came after 134km as the gradient of the Passo del Turchino began to hurt just a little. The break reached the 120-metre long tunnel at the summit with a lead of 5:50 and dived down to the sun soaked Mediterranean coast.

With 154km covered, there was 137km left to race along the coast west to San Remo. The break worked smoothly together, desperate to maintain as much of their lead as possible. The gap was 5:45 with 100km to go but the peloton gradually upped the pace as the tension rose and the kilometres clicked down.

The break reached the second feed in Ceriale after 221km with their lead down to 3:30. Musettes were grabbed quickly as the speed stayed high. There was time to take on fresh bidons and some final food before the final of Milan-San Remo began on the Capi climbs.

The Capo Mele comes the first with 51km to go. The difference between the 10-rider break and the peloton was clearly noticeable, and the gap fell below 2:30 for the first time. The Capo Cervo caused no problem but the break fell apart on the harder Capo Berta when Schönberger attacked with 40km to go. But the peloton was rapidly closing them down, hitting the Capo Berta at 62km/h.

Masnada hunted down the pursuing Bardiani CSF riders before passing Schönberger and cresting the summit of the Berta alone. He had the now-traditional flare cloud to battle through, with the smoke wafting in a direction indicating a cross-headwind along the coast.

Hitting the bottom of the Cipressa, with 27km to race, Masnada was alone as the peloton swallowed up the remains of the break. His brave effort lasted until around halfway up the climb, before he too was swept up as Astana and Groupama-FDJ led the way.

The pace was perhaps not as high as it could be on the Cipressa, with the peloton not lined out. Some of the more climb-averse sprinters would certainly have been happy with how things were progressing, at least, though Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) looked to be hanging on at the rear of the group.

Local boy Niccolò Bonifazio (Direct Énergie) launched a daring attack on the descent, racing the lead motorbike down to the flat road before to the Poggio. He had a 20-second advantage at the bottom, but was caught before reaching the foot of the Poggio.

Team Sky and Deceuninck-QuickStep led the way onto the final hill of the race, setting a high pace for their men, Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe. The first attack came seven kilometres out as Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) launched.

Alaphilippe soon followed, with Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in close pursuit. Cresting the summit, the trio were together with Trentin, Valverde, Naesen and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).

Several more riders chased on down the descent, including Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Mohorič, Nibali (both Bahrain-Merida), and Simon Clarke (EF Education First).

Trentin tried a solo move on the flat, but was chased down by race debutant Van Aert under the flamme rouge. Mohorič went next, 800 metres from the line, before a relative lull in the proceedings as the contenders looked around for the next move.

Sagan hit the front in the final 500 metres, with Alaphilippe glued to his wheel before the brief game of cat and mouse ended as Mohorič went for it again. In a flash, Alaphilippe switched wheels, getting to Mohorič before Naesen could.

In the final 150 metres, Alaphilippe hit the wind once again, as he had on the Poggio. This time, though, he wouldn’t be caught. As it has been so many times already this season, it was just a question of who would be the runner-up.


Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep6:40:14
2Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
3Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
5Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
6Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
7Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
8Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First
10Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
11Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb0:00:03
12Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb0:00:08
13Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe0:00:24
14Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates0:00:27
15Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
16Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
17Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
18Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
19Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
20Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
21Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
22Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
23Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
24Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
25Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
26Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
27Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
28Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
29Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
30Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
31Simone Velasco (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
32Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
33Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
34Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
35Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
36Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First
37Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Katusha-Alpecin
38Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie
39Jos van Emden (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
40Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data
41Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
42Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
43Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
44Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First
45Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky
46Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb
47Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
48Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb
49Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Dimension Data
50Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
51Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data
52Soren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
53Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
54Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
55Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ0:00:35
56Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie
57Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data
58Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team0:01:01
59Stefan Kung (Swi) Groupama-FDJ0:01:15
60Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
61Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
62Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
63Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
64Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
65Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:01:27
66Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
67Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
68Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
69Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy0:01:29
70Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R La Mondiale
71Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
72Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
73Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
74Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
75Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
76Jose Goncalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
77Umberto Marengo (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
78Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
79Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:01:33
80Matteo Busato (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:01:36
81Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First0:01:54
82Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo0:02:06
83Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo0:02:13
84John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo0:02:37
85Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:02:39
86Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team0:02:54
87Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
88Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
89Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
90Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
91Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team0:03:11
92Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
93Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
94Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
95Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
96Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
97Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro Team
98Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team
99Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
100Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
101Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
102Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck-QuickStep
103Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
104Oscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
105Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First
106Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida0:03:39
107Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida0:03:51
108Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:04:46
109Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin0:05:22
110Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo0:05:26
111Michael Schar (Swi) CCC Team
112Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
113Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott0:05:27
114Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Sky0:06:31
115Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky
116Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
117Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
118Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education First
119Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
120Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
121Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
122Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
123Zico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
124Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team
125Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
126Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
127Luca Pacioni (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
128Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data
129Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
130Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct Energie
131Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Direct Energie
132Mads Schmidt Wurtz (Den) Katusha-Alpecin0:07:45
133Matthias Brandle (Aut) Israel Cycling Academy
134Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb0:10:18
135Conor Dunne (Irl) Israel Cycling Academy
136Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy
137Sebastian Schonberger (Aut) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
138David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
139Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk
140Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk
141PŽter Kusztor (Hun) Team Novo Nordisk
142Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF
143Umberto Orsini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
144Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team
145Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky
146Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
147Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team
148Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
149Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team
150Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates0:13:56
151Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
152Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:14:42
153Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
154Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
155Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
156Paul Ourselin (Fra) Direct Energie
157Sam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk
158Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
159Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie
160Daniel McLay (GBr) EF Education First
161Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk
162Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
163Luca Raggio (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
164Edoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
165Umberto Poli (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk0:19:25
166Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott0:20:53
167Alessandro Pessot (Ita) Bardiani CSF
168Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal
DNFDylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain-Merida
DNFVincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFLorenzo Rota (Ita) Bardiani CSF
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe
DNFNathan Van Hooydonck (Bel) CCC Team
DNFLiam Bertazzo (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
DNFCasper Pedersen (Den) Team Sunweb

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