The Belgian got a gap, Søren Kragh Andersen (Team DSM) came across to him but Stuyven kicked again in the final 100 metres to hold off the chasers and win with his arms in the air.
Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal) just failed to catch him on the line and finished second, with Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) third, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) fourth and Mathieu van der Poel (Alepcin-Fenix) fifth.
The constant tailwind made for a fast race, with no real attacks on the Cipressa and only blunted attacks on the Poggio.
Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) was the first to accelerate in the final kilometre of the Poggio. Van Aert joined him and Van der Poel also surged across but they looked at each other and a strong-looking Ewan came across to them with others also closing the gap before the start of the descent.
For the first time in four years, the Poggio had not made a difference.
Everyone took the descent carefully with Tom Pidcock (Ineos Grenadiers) leading the way. However, Stuyven went all-in as the descent ended and opened a gap on the flat main road.
Behind they looked at each other and refused to chase, with only Kragh Andersen also playing his final card and surging across. His presence allowed Stuyven to catch his breath as they entered the final corners with one kilometre to go. Everyone else started thinking of the sprint and Stuyven and Kragh Andersen stayed away in a nail-biting finish.
As they entered the Via Roma, the chasers could see the two but they were just out of reach. With 200 metres to go Stuyven kicked and had the speed to hold off a resurgent Ewan and the rest. Kragh Andersen was caught and finished ninth.
Stuyven was able to throw his arms in the air as he hit the finish line, with everyone else behind him creating the perfect Milan-San Remo finish photo. He collapsed into the arms of the Trek-Segafredo soigneur and team doctor.
“I can’t describe how I feel. It’s unbelievable,” he said.
“We had a plan to go for it, to try to win. I felt really good all day and the finale went well. There were a lot of fast guys in the group after the Poggio, so I knew I had to try all or nothing. And I did.
"If it’d gone to the line I could have finished fifth or 10th, but I preferred to go all-in, so I took the biggest victory of my career. Eight times of 10, you get nothing but there are two times you can win.
“It’s amazing the guys put me in the perfect position in the kept parts of the parcous. My legs were completely empty but if you win by a mile or a metre, it’s enough.”
How it unfolded
The riders signed on and gathered in front the Milan Castello as usual but the COVID-19 pandemic is still a major problem in Italy, and especially in Milan, and so crowds were strictly limited.
The riders were happy to see the blue skies and spring conditions knowing it would make for a more enjoyable 299km race and nearly seven hours in the saddle.
They rolled out of central Milan, carefully avoiding the many tram tracks. The race officially began at 10:00 a.m., 7.6km out of the city, in Via della Chiesa Rossa, just as it did over 100 years ago.
The attacks came as soon as Race Director Stefano Allocchio waved his flag and the early break formed rapidly, following the usual Milan-San Remo script. Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo), Andrea Peron, Charles Planet (Team Novo Nordisk), Mattia Viel (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Taco Van der Hoorn (Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux) and Mathias Norsgaard (Movistar) were in the move and the big-name teams soon spread across the front of the peloton to let them get away. The Novo Nordisk riders were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin and again put their team and their cause on global television.
Filippo Tagliani (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè) was the only one to get away from the peloton and eventually got across to form an eight-rider early break as they ploughed across the Lombardy plain towards the Maritime Alps via Pavia and Tortona.
The eight opened a 7:30 lead but the peloton soon awoke, with Tim Declercq (Deceuninck-QuickStep), Paul Martens (Jumbo-Visma) and Senne Leysen (Alpecin-Fenix) taking up the chase. They pegged the gap to 7:00 and then slowly brought it down as the race route cut west to follow the new race route towards the Colle di Giovo climb that replaced the Passo Turchino due to a landslide.
The pace constantly remained high, with the three domestiques clearly under orders to keep the break under control and the speed up to create a hard race.
On the gradual but easy Colle di Giovo, the race favourites sat protected on their teammates’ wheels with Alaphilippe and Deceuninck-QuickStep along with Sergio Higuita and his EF Education-Nippo team moving up to the slip stream of Declercq, Martens and Leysen. Some riders stopped to take off clothes or for a natural break but faced a chase to get back into the bunch and wasted vital energy.
The break and the peloton dived down to the descent of the Colle di Giovo and saw the Mediterranean for the first time after 187km of fast riding, with 111km to go. The gap was 3:25 as the peloton split as riders stopped quickly for a final natural break.
Nacer Bouhanni rode into Arkea-Samsic teammate Thibault Guernalec on a hairpin corner with 100km to go. Bouhanni was angry but eventually got up and got back on. However, he would have no impact in the race.
As the Capi climbs approached and signaled the final 50km of Milan-San Remo, the speed rose even higher and teams gathered in lines to protect their team leaders. The tension and concentration was electric as the tail wind helped the rider speed along at close to 50 kph.
The Capi climbs mark the start of the finale
The break began to fall apart as the Capi neared, with Viel the first to be dropped and the gap down to just 1:45.
Just before the Capo Mele, the first of the three Capi, Van der Poel moved up close to the front. It was ‘race on’. Incredibly Declercq was still on the front leading the chase, with his teammates in formation behind him. The Belgian tractor gave his all for the Deceuninck-QuickStep cause.
The Capo Mele was climbed at 44 kph, the same average of the first six hours of the race, with the break quickly reduced to just four riders: Conci, Tonelli, Van der Hoorn and Norsgaard.
The pace in the peloton eased over the Capo Cervo but the tension stayed high. Sam Bennett punctured at the foot of the Capo Berta and so Deceuninck-QuickStep moved off the front. Alpecin-Fenix cruelly picked it up as Bennett chased back on through the long line of team cars and then moved up with the help of a teammate. That effort surely affected him later on.
The narrow streets of Imperia squeezed the peloton with 35km to go. The four attackers were still 1:00 clear but the Cipressa was only seven kilometres away.
High speed on the Cipressa
The break stayed away until the Cipressa, turning off the coast road with a lead of just 20 seconds. The peloton was flying, with Groupama-FDJ and Deceuninck-QuickStep fighting to get up to the front for the narrow, testing climb. Van der Hoorn was the last of the break to be caught with 25km to go, as the peloton powered up through the Ligurian olive and pine trees.
Sam Ommen lead for Jumbo-Visma, with Van Aert on his wheel. Ineos was also up there with Luke Rowe leading Dylan van Baarle, Tom Pidcock and Michał Kwiatkowski. Everyone else stayed tucked on the wheels.
There were no attacks on the Cipressa but the pace hurt several big-name riders. Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) was dropped. Alberto Bettiol (EF Education-Nippo) came to a stop, while Ewan and Alexander Kristoff went deep to stay in contact. However Ewan was soon back on and even found the time and energy to take a final natural break.
Démare and Matthews were both up front and well placed in the 35-rider front group, with a similar size group forced to chase back on along the flat coast road with 15km to go and five kilometres before the Poggio.
The Poggio attacks
The two groups came together in time for the sprint to the foot of the Poggio.
Filippo Ganna moved up to help Ineos and dragged them to the narrow deviation right up onto the Poggio. The time trial world champion just kept going, flattening the Poggio and lining out the group on the first half of the climb. Incredibly Ewan was up there in third place, showing he was a threat.
Van Aert was on Alaphilippe’s wheel while Van der Poel was further back at the steepest point of the climb. The Frenchman made the first attack and Van Aert went with him, while Van der Poel was forced to chase. However the attack lacked real punch and other riders came across as the big three briefly looked at each other.
A dozen or so riders formed at the start of the descent, the Poggio failing to split the riders or distanced some of the best sprinters.
Matthews, Ewan and Maximilian Schachmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) were there, with even Sagan joining the group early on the descent of the Poggio.
Pidcock lead down the descent and a sprint finish seemed most likely. Then suddenly, Stuyven went all-in. It was enough to set him up for a memorable victory in the Via Roma.
|1||Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo||6:38:06|
|2||Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal|
|3||Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma|
|4||Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|5||Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix|
|6||Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|7||Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech|
|8||Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|9||Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSM|
|10||Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|11||Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain Victorious|
|12||Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team Emirates|
|13||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|14||Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|15||Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|16||Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|17||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos Grenadiers|
|18||Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:0:06|
|19||Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|20||Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|21||Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|22||Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis|
|23||Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën Team|
|24||Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|25||Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar Team|
|26||Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ|
|27||Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSM|
|28||Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchange|
|29||Julien Simon (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|30||Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar Team|
|31||Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos Grenadiers|
|32||John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto Soudal|
|33||Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|34||Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:0:10|
|35||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo|
|36||Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-Nippo|
|37||Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep||0:0:12|
|38||Simon Clarke (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos||0:0:18|
|39||Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates||0:0:21|
|40||Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:0:29|
|41||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|42||Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|43||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation|
|44||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|45||Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier Tech|
|46||Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech|
|47||Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|48||Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|49||Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchange|
|50||Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJ|
|51||Umberto Marengo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|52||Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-Nippo|
|53||Guillaume Martin (Fra) Cofidis|
|54||Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|55||Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain Victorious|
|56||Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo||0:01:21|
|57||Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux||0:01:28|
|58||Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|59||Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic||0:01:38|
|60||Josip Rumac (Cro) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|61||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-Fenix|
|62||Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-Nippo|
|63||Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct Energie|
|64||Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers|
|65||Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech|
|66||Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ|
|67||Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up Nation|
|68||Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|69||Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis||0:01:45|
|70||Sam Oomen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|71||Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|72||Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|73||Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|74||Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-Segafredo|
|75||Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo|
|76||Michael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|77||Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|78||Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal||0:02:39|
|79||Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Team DSM|
|80||Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|81||Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|82||Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation||0:02:51|
|83||Andrii Ponomar (Ukr) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||0:03:00|
|84||Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:03:12|
|85||Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team||0:03:13|
|86||Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar Team|
|87||Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|88||Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|89||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|90||Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|91||Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team|
|92||Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|93||Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|94||Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Ineos Grenadiers|
|95||Jos van Emden (Ned) Jumbo-Visma|
|96||Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ|
|97||Pierre-Luc Périchon (Fra) Cofidis||0:04:30|
|98||Dries De Bondt (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:05:02|
|99||Kasper Asgreen (Den) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|100||Michael Schär (Swi) AG2R Citroën Team|
|101||Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal||0:05:15|
|102||Jasper De Buyst (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|103||Stefan Bissegger (Swi) EF Education-Nippo||0:06:25|
|104||Davide Martinelli (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech||0:07:14|
|105||Nicola Conci (Ita) Trek-Segafredo|
|106||Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|107||Matthias Brändle (Aut) Israel Start-up Nation|
|108||Sven Erik Bystrøm (Nor) UAE Team Emirates|
|109||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education-Nippo|
|110||Miles Scotson (Aus) Groupama-FDJ|
|111||Luca Chirico (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|112||Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|113||Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Col) UAE Team Emirates|
|114||Jasha Sütterlin (Ger) Team DSM|
|115||Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team DSM|
|116||Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana-Premier Tech|
|117||Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) Bahrain Victorious|
|118||Luke Rowe (GBr) Ineos Grenadiers|
|119||Otto Vergaerde (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix||0:07:56|
|120||Casper Pedersen (Den) Team DSM|
|121||Emil Vinjebo (Den) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|122||Nicola Venchiarutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|123||Romain Combaud (Fra) Team DSM|
|124||Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana-Premier Tech|
|125||Mathias Norsgaard (Den) Movistar Team|
|126||Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Cofidis|
|127||Frederik Frison (Bel) Lotto Soudal|
|128||James Piccoli (Can) Israel Start-up Nation|
|129||Ryan Mullen (Irl) Trek-Segafredo|
|130||Christopher Juul-Jensen (Den) Team BikeExchange||0:07:59|
|131||Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education-Nippo|
|132||Petr Vakoc (Cze) Alpecin-Fenix|
|133||Michael Hepburn (Aus) Team BikeExchange||0:10:30|
|134||Alexander Konychev (Ita) Team BikeExchange|
|135||Jan Tratnik (Slo) Bahrain Victorious|
|136||Alexis Gougeard (Fra) AG2R Citroën Team|
|137||Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Total Direct Energie|
|138||Amaury Capiot (Bel) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|139||Niki Terpstra (Ned) Total Direct Energie|
|140||Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) AG2R Citroën Team|
|141||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Bora-Hansgrohe|
|142||Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Team Qhubeka Assos|
|143||Péter Kusztor (Hun) Team Novo Nordisk|
|144||Albert Torres Barcelo (Spa) Movistar Team|
|145||Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation|
|146||Tom Scully (NZl) EF Education-Nippo|
|147||Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) UAE Team Emirates|
|148||Fred Wright (GBr) Bahrain Victorious|
|149||Adrien Petit (Fra) Total Direct Energie||0:10:58|
|150||Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|151||Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep|
|152||Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis|
|153||Attilio Viviani (Ita) Cofidis|
|154||Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux|
|155||Ramon Sinkeldam (Ned) Groupama-FDJ|
|156||Lorrenzo Manzin (Fra) Total Direct Energie|
|157||Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain Victorious|
|158||Edoardo Affini (Ita) Jumbo-Visma||0:13:17|
|159||Christoph Pfingsten (Ger) Jumbo-Visma||0:14:55|
|160||Thibault Guernalec (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic|
|161||Senne Leysen (Bel) Alpecin-Fenix|
|162||Clément Davy (Fra) Groupama-FDJ||0:16:33|
|163||Paul Martens (Ger) Jumbo-Visma|
|164||David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk||0:18:06|
|165||Umberto Poli (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk||0:19:37|
|166||Filippo Tagliani (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|167||Sam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk|
|168||Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk|
|169||Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNF||Mattia Viel (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|DNF||Guy Niv (Isr) Israel Start-up Nation|
|DNF||Brian Kamstra (Ned) Team Novo Nordisk|
|DNS||Mattia Bais (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec|
|DNS||Daniel Savini (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'|
|DNS||Connor Swift (GBr) Team Arkea-Samsic|
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