Stuyven surges on run-in to win Milan-San Remo

Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) held off the sprinters in the Via Roma to win Milan-San Remo after making a brave attack in the final two kilometres. 

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.” 

Milano Sanremo 2021 112th Edition Milano Sanremo 299 km 20032021 Jasper Stuyven BEL Trek Segafredo photo Tommaso PelagalliBettiniPhoto2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

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. 

Milano Sanremo 2021 112th Edition Milano Sanremo 299 km 20032021 Cipressa Sam Oomen NED Jumbo Visma Wout Van Aert BEL Jumbo Visma photo Luca BettiniBettiniPhoto2021

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

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.

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Full results
1Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo6:38:06
2Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto SoudalRow 1 - Cell 2
3Wout Van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-VismaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-HansgroheRow 3 - Cell 2
5Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-FenixRow 4 - Cell 2
6Michael Matthews (Aus) Team BikeExchangeRow 5 - Cell 2
7Alex Aranburu Deba (Spa) Astana-Premier TechRow 6 - Cell 2
8Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain VictoriousRow 7 - Cell 2
9Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team DSMRow 8 - Cell 2
10Anthony Turgis (Fra) Total Direct EnergieRow 9 - Cell 2
11Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain VictoriousRow 10 - Cell 2
12Matteo Trentin (Ita) UAE Team EmiratesRow 11 - Cell 2
13Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) AG2R Citroën TeamRow 12 - Cell 2
14Maximilian Schachmann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 13 - Cell 2
15Thomas Pidcock (GBr) Ineos GrenadiersRow 14 - Cell 2
16Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 15 - Cell 2
17Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Ineos GrenadiersRow 16 - Cell 2
18Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Team Qhubeka Assos0:0:06
19Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Team Arkea-SamsicRow 18 - Cell 2
20Pascal Ackermann (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 19 - Cell 2
21Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R Citroën TeamRow 20 - Cell 2
22Christophe Laporte (Fra) CofidisRow 21 - Cell 2
23Andrea Vendrame (Ita) AG2R Citroën TeamRow 22 - Cell 2
24Gianni Vermeersch (Bel) Alpecin-FenixRow 23 - Cell 2
25Gonzalo Serrano Rodriguez (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 24 - Cell 2
26Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJRow 25 - Cell 2
27Romain Bardet (Fra) Team DSMRow 26 - Cell 2
28Robert Stannard (Aus) Team BikeExchangeRow 27 - Cell 2
29Julien Simon (Fra) Total Direct EnergieRow 28 - Cell 2
30Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 29 - Cell 2
31Dylan van Baarle (Ned) Ineos GrenadiersRow 30 - Cell 2
32John Degenkolb (Ger) Lotto SoudalRow 31 - Cell 2
33Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 32 - Cell 2
34Davide Formolo (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:0:10
35Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-SegafredoRow 34 - Cell 2
36Sergio Higuita Garcia (Col) EF Education-NippoRow 35 - Cell 2
37Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep0:0:12
38Simon Clarke (Aus) Team Qhubeka Assos0:0:18
39Alessandro Covi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates0:0:21
40Lorenzo Rota (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux0:0:29
41Davide Ballerini (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 40 - Cell 2
42Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 41 - Cell 2
43Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Start-up NationRow 42 - Cell 2
44Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Arkea-SamsicRow 43 - Cell 2
45Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spa) Astana-Premier TechRow 44 - Cell 2
46Fabio Felline (Ita) Astana-Premier TechRow 45 - Cell 2
47Aimé De Gendt (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert MatériauxRow 46 - Cell 2
48Filippo Fiorelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'Row 47 - Cell 2
49Luka Mezgec (Slo) Team BikeExchangeRow 48 - Cell 2
50Kévin Geniets (Lux) Groupama-FDJRow 49 - Cell 2
51Umberto Marengo (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'Row 50 - Cell 2
52Michael Valgren (Den) EF Education-NippoRow 51 - Cell 2
53Guillaume Martin (Fra) CofidisRow 52 - Cell 2
54Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStepRow 53 - Cell 2
55Damiano Caruso (Ita) Bahrain VictoriousRow 54 - Cell 2
56Jacopo Mosca (Ita) Trek-Segafredo0:01:21
57Loïc Vliegen (Bel) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux0:01:28
58Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) Team Qhubeka AssosRow 57 - Cell 2
59Clément Russo (Fra) Team Arkea-Samsic0:01:38
60Josip Rumac (Cro) Androni Giocattoli-SidermecRow 59 - Cell 2
61Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Alpecin-FenixRow 60 - Cell 2
62Magnus Cort (Den) EF Education-NippoRow 61 - Cell 2
63Niccolò Bonifazio (Ita) Total Direct EnergieRow 62 - Cell 2
64Filippo Ganna (Ita) Ineos GrenadiersRow 63 - Cell 2
65Matteo Sobrero (Ita) Astana-Premier TechRow 64 - Cell 2
66Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJRow 65 - Cell 2
67Hugo Hofstetter (Fra) Israel Start-up NationRow 66 - Cell 2
68Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'Row 67 - Cell 2
69Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis0:01:45
70Sam Oomen (Ned) Jumbo-VismaRow 69 - Cell 2
71Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-HansgroheRow 70 - Cell 2
72Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto SoudalRow 71 - Cell 2
73Filippo Zana (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane'Row 72 - Cell 2
74Quinn Simmons (USA) Trek-SegafredoRow 73 - Cell 2
75Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-SegafredoRow 74 - Cell 2
76Michael Gogl (Aut) Team Qhubeka AssosRow 75 - Cell 2
77Ben Swift (GBr) Ineos GrenadiersRow 76 - Cell 2
78Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Soudal0:02:39
79Martijn Tusveld (Ned) Team DSMRow 78 - Cell 2
80Timo Roosen (Ned) Jumbo-VismaRow 79 - Cell 2
81Victor Campenaerts (Bel) Team Qhubeka AssosRow 80 - Cell 2
82Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Israel Start-up Nation0:02:51
83Andrii Ponomar (Ukr) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec0:03:00
84Luke Durbridge (Aus) Team BikeExchange0:03:12
85Nelson Oliveira (Por) Movistar Team0:03:13
86Davide Villella (Ita) Movistar TeamRow 85 - Cell 2
87Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert MatériauxRow 86 - Cell 2
88Daniel McLay (GBr) Team Arkea-SamsicRow 87 - Cell 2
89Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team EmiratesRow 88 - Cell 2
90Stan Dewulf (Bel) AG2R Citroën TeamRow 89 - Cell 2
91Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar TeamRow 90 - Cell 2
92Jonas Koch (Ger) Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert MatériauxRow 91 - Cell 2
93Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Bora-HansgroheRow 92 - Cell 2
94Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Ineos GrenadiersRow 93 - Cell 2