Wout van Aert wins thrilling Milan-San Remo

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) took victory at Milan-San Remo, beating defending champion Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) to the line in a two-up sprint on the Via Roma.

The pair had made it away over the Poggio, 6.5km from the line, with Alaphilippe launching from the front of the peloton as they neared the top of the decisive final climb of the extended 305km race. 

Only Strade Bianche winner Van Aert was able to follow, though he was forced to hang several seconds back over the top, such was the force of the Frenchman's move. He made it back on the descent, however, with the pair flying down and holding off the peloton despite the descending talents of Matej Mohorič (Bahrain McLaren) and Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) giving chase.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on! That was the only thing on my mind," Van Aert said of Alaphilippe's attack after the race.

“Actually, it didn't happen. He went quite early and I had to close a little gap. I dropped again but there was nobody behind me, so I had no choice but to keep pushing and I was rewarded because I came back on the downhill.

The two rode together to the line with the peloton bearing down but just not able to make the catch, while Alaphilippe cannily managed to manoeuvre himself behind Van Aert for the sprint finish. Despite being in prime position to come around, Alaphilippe didn't have quite enough left to take a second victory in as many years, inching alongside Van Aert but missing out by less than a wheel's length after seven hours and 16 minutes of racing.

"Julian played it really well, he put me on the front, and I needed to keep a bit of speed because the bunch was coming back," Van Aert said.

"It was hard to do the right pace and still keep something for the sprint but in the end it was enough, because it was only half a wheel.

"I'm super happy. I can't believe I've taken these two victories in a row. I don't have words actually. I know everyone says that when they win a Monument but to start the second part of the season like this... it's crazy."

The peloton crossed the line two seconds later, with Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) nabbing the final podium spot just ahead of Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe).

How it unfolded

The 2020 edition of Milan-San Remo, the 111th running of the race, was different in more ways than one. After being forced to move to August after the COVID-19 pandemic saw the season disrupted, the route also changed, with the Turchino and Capi climbs all gone after several mayors of coastal towns objected to the race passing through.

As a result, the race ballooned to a 305km inland route with a handful of new climbs added in – nothing too taxing, but everything would add up on the long road from Milan to San Remo.

With over 300 kilometres of racing ahead of the peloton, there wasn't a prolonged battle to make the break of the day, with six riders managing to get away in the first 20 minutes of racing.

 Like last year's race, Bardiani-CSF got two men in the break with Alessandro Tonelli and Fabio Mazzucco. The Italian duo were joined by Manuele Boaro (Astana), Héctor Carretero (Movistar), Mattia Bais (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Damiano Cima (Gazprom-RusVelo) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù-KTM).

The break's advantage only grew in the early kilometres as the riders traversed an unfamiliar inland route, pushed along by a tailwind. By the 50km mark, the breakaway were 6:30 up the road, while things were calm back in the peloton.

After 167km of racing, the riders hit the day's first climb, Niella Belbo, though there was no action aside from a softening up of their legs. It would be the same on the Turchino-like Colle di Nava too, another new climb which peaked at the 235km mark.

Several teams did the work up front, with Jumbo-Visma, Groupama-FDJ, Lotto Soudal and Deceuninck-QuickStep all putting in a shift at the head of the peloton. With 70km to race, at the top of the long, shallow climb of the Colle di Nava, the break's advantage had fallen to under two minutes.

On the climb, Carretero became the first man to drop back to the peloton, while Mazzucco did the same on the descent. Deceuninck-QuickStep took up the pace-making soon after, bringing the break back for good at the 35km mark on the flat run-in to the Cipressa.

The pace only upped as the peloton neared the penultimate climb of the day, with NTT Pro Cycling also contributing to the work as Alaphilippe suffered a mechanical 25km out.

Loic Vliegen (Circus-Wanty Gobert) and Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo) attacked at the base of the Cipressa, the first real action for a while, as Bora-Hansgrohe took it up behind to bring the duo back just before the top. Meanwhile, at the rear of the peloton, Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) were in trouble.

Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) led the way down the descent, opening up such a gap that he was out front alone on the run to the Poggio. Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) put in a brief attack before quickly being caught, before Bob Jungels (Deceuninck-QuickStep) took up the chase, 15 seconds behind Oss.

The Italian almost made it to the Poggio alone but was brought back metres before the climb started as Groupama-FDJ and Team Ineos made the pace. Trek-Segafredo and Circus-Wanty Gobert went on the attack once again, sending Gianluca Brambilla and Aimé De Gendt off the front.

De Gendt sat on before launching on his own with 7km to go, though his effort was in vain as the superstars began to fire behind. Reigning champion Alaphilippe made his move, with only van Aert able to follow.

The Frenchman crossed the top of the Poggio alone, with Van Aert trailing before making the catch on the descent. Ten seconds back, Mohorič was among the riders leading the charge at the head of a strung-out chasing pack.

In the end, nobody was able to catch the lead duo, with no major attacks coming from behind. Alaphilippe and Van Aert were able to contest the final between them. Despite leading from the front, Van Aert held on to take the win, his second in three races since the restart, and his first Monument victory.

Full results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo - Visma 7:16:09
2Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck - QuickStep
3Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:02
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora - Hansgrohe
5Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) NTT Pro Cycling Team
6Dion Smith (NZl) Mitchelton - Scott
7Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana Pro Team
8Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
9Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal
10Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain - Mclaren
11Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
12Tadej Pogačar (Slo) Uae Team Emirates
13Mathieu Van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix
14Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
15Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Ineos
16Davide Formolo (Ita) Uae Team Emirates
17Matteo Jorgenson (USA) Movistar Team
18Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Pro Cycling
19Zdeněk Štybar (Cze) Deceuninck - QuickStep
20Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Team Sunweb
21Aime De Gendt (Bel) Circus - Wanty Gobert
22Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana Pro Team
23Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek - Segafredo
24Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama - FDJ
25Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain - Mclaren
26Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton - Scott 0:00:08
27Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin - Fenix 0:00:13
28Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Vini Zabu KTM
29Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:00:14
30Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek - Segafredo
31Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team 0:00:16
32Ben Swift (GBr) Team Ineos 0:00:27
33Gianni Moscon (Ita) Team Ineos 0:00:30
34Xandro Meurisse (Bel) Circus - Wanty Gobert 0:00:36
35Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team 0:00:57
36Marco Canola (Ita) Gazprom - Rusvelo
37Geoffrey Soupe (Fra) Total Direct Energie 0:01:03
38Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic
39Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis 0:01:24
40Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Start - up Nation
41Jan Bakelants (Bel) Circus - Wanty Gobert
42Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Circus - Wanty Gobert
43Simone Velasco (Ita) Gazprom - Rusvelo
44Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Pro Cycling 0:01:26
45Amund Grøndahl Jansen (Nor) Jumbo - Visma 0:01:28
46Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie 0:01:46
47Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek - Segafredo
48Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Circus - Wanty Gobert 0:01:57
49Fausto Masnada (Ita) CCC Team 0:02:14
50Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Vini Zabu KTM
51Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora - Hansgrohe 0:02:42
52Stefan Küng (Swi) Groupama - FDJ
53Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora - Hansgrohe 0:02:43
54Roman Kreuziger (Cze) NTT Pro Cycling Team 0:03:44
55Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
56Nikias Arndt (Ger) Team Sunweb
57Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
58Dries Van Gestel (Bel) Total Direct Energie
59Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo - Visma
60Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck - QuickStep 0:04:26
61Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek - Segafredo 0:04:46
62Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Ineos
63Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain - Mclaren
64Lawrence Warbasse (USA) AG2R La Mondiale
65Michael Woods (Can) EF Pro Cycling 0:04:56
66Jonas Koch (Ger) CCC Team
67Alexander Edmondson (Aus) Mitchelton - Scott
68Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic 0:05:05
69Alexander Konychev (Ita) Mitchelton - Scott
70Dylan Teuns (Bel) Bahrain - Mclaren
71Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora - Hansgrohe
72Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck - QuickStep
73Bob Jungels (Lux) Deceuninck - QuickStep
74Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Ineos
75Felix Grossschartner (Aut) Bora - Hansgrohe
76Michael Gogl (Aut) NTT Pro Cycling Team
77Umberto Marengo (Ita) Vini Zabu KTM 0:05:47
78Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis
79Lawrence Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale 0:06:21
80Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
81Rick Zabel (Ger) Israel Start - up Nation
82Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Israel Start - up Nation
83Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Uae Team Emirates
84Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec 0:08:43
85Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek - Segafredo
86Eduardo Sepulveda (Arg) Movistar Team
87Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie
88Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama - FDJ 0:09:24
89Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama - FDJ
90Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start - up Nation
91Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) Uae Team Emirates
92Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana Pro Team 0:09:47
93Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Bahrain - Mclaren 0:10:59
94Daniel Savini (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane
95Scott Thwaites (GBr) Alpecin - Fenix
96Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis
97Roberto González (Pan) Vini Zabu KTM
98Koen De Kort (Ned) Trek - Segafredo
99Michael Valgren Hundahl (Den) NTT Pro Cycling Team
100Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) NTT Pro Cycling Team
101Magnus Cort Nielsen (Den) EF Pro Cycling
102Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
103Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama - FDJ
104Omar Fraile Matarranz (Spa) Astana Pro Team
105Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix 0:13:39
106Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal
107Paul Martens (Ger) Jumbo - Visma
108Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck - QuickStep
109Mattia Bais (Ita) Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec
110Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal
111Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Jumbo - Visma
112Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane
113Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
114Imerio Cima (Ita) Gazprom - Rusvelo
115Igor Boev (Rus) Gazprom - Rusvelo
116Nicola Bagioli (Ita) Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec
117Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane
118Stepan Kuriyanov (Rus) Gazprom - Rusvelo
119Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Arg) Uae Team Emirates
120Oliviero Troia (Ita) Uae Team Emirates
121Laurent Pichon (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic
122Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis
123Dario Cataldo (Ita) Movistar Team
124Michael Schär (Swi) CCC Team
125Cameron Meyer (Aus) Mitchelton - Scott
126Mitchell Docker (Aus) EF Pro Cycling
127Jhonatan Restrepo Valencia (Col) Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec
128Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin - Fenix 0:15:01
129Thomas Boudat (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic 0:15:02
130Michael Albasini (Swi) Mitchelton - Scott 0:15:05
131Florian Vachon (Fra) Team Arkea - Samsic
132Danny Van Poppel (Ned) Circus - Wanty Gobert
133Daniel Mclay (GBr) Team Arkea - Samsic
134Marco Frapporti (Ita) Vini Zabu KTM
135Vincenzo Albanese (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane
136G Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Pro Cycling
137Cees Bol (Ned) Team Sunweb
138Leonardo Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie
139Simone Consonni (Ita) Cofidis 0:15:34
140Dylan Van Baarle (Ned) Team Ineos 0:16:02
141Antwan Tolhoek (Ned) Jumbo - Visma
142Josip Rumac (Cro) Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec
143Oscar Riesebeek (Ned) Alpecin - Fenix
144Damiano Cima (Ita) Gazprom - Rusvelo 0:17:44
145Fabio Mazzucco (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane
146Maximilian Richard Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling Team
147Tosh Van der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
148Rory Sutherland (Aus) Israel Start - up Nation
149Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 148 - Cell 2
OTLJames Mitri (NZl) Vini Zabu KTMRow 149 - Cell 2
DNFNicola Venchiarutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli - SidermecRow 150 - Cell 2
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 151 - Cell 2
DNFMarco Haller (Aut) Bahrain - MclarenRow 152 - Cell 2
DNFIuri Filosi (Ita) Bardiani CSF FaizaneRow 153 - Cell 2
DNFOscar Gatto (Ita) Bora - HansgroheRow 154 - Cell 2
DNFMatteo Trentin (Ita) CCC TeamRow 155 - Cell 2
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama - FDJRow 156 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Dowsett (GBr) Israel Start - up NationRow 157 - Cell 2
DNFFrederik Frison (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 158 - Cell 2
DNFHector Carretero (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 159 - Cell 2
DNFGabriel Cullaigh (GBr) Movistar TeamRow 160 - Cell 2
DNFJasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team SunwebRow 161 - Cell 2

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