Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) claimed the biggest one-day race victory of his career in Strade Bianche, distancing breakaway companion Peter Sagan (Cannondale) on the final climb to the finish with a blistering attack.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rounded out the podium to take third place.
"I didn't expect to drop him," Kwiatkowski said after he crossed the line.
"I knew the final pretty well. As a team we were so good today, we had five riders in the front with 50km to go and we controlled the race. I can't describe how I feel. Winning in Siena is an amazing feeling.
"I didn't have any problems in the winter and was focused on my work. I started late compared to last year but I'm really happy with my condition."
Kwiatkowski and Sagan, clearly the two strongest riders in the race, broke clear with 21km remaining after a dangerous move including Cadel Evans (BMC) and Ian Stannard (Team Sky) was caught inside the final 30 kilometres.
Sagan, who was riding with little team support in the final 50 kilometres, was the first to attack, with Kwiatkowski the only one capable of bridging across to the Cannondale rider.
From there the pair set about building on an advantage that peaked at over one minute over the final three sections of gravel roads ahead of the finish in Siena.
Alejandro Valverde, Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), who all had no answer when the leading pair broke clear, formed a late chasing move but they were unable to reel back the two leaders.
Approaching the final climb, and with Sagan and Kwiatkowski working well together throughout their break, it was the Slovak champion who lead onto the final ascent with the gradient rising to over 16 percent. However, Sagan, who has been subject to numerous transfer stories in recent weeks, had no answer when the Polish champion unleashed a ferocious attack.
Four-man early escape
Earlier in the race Marco Frapporti (Androni Giocattoli), Marco Canola (Bardiani-CSF), Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthcare) and Andrea Fedi (Yellow Fluo) formed the early break, with the foursome quickly establishing a lead close to 11 minutes.
At the half-way point the lead dropped to just under eight minutes, with the majority of the difficult gravel sections still to come. Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) was a high-profile retiree, pulling out at the feed zone, but Sagan, Evans, Kwiatkowski and last year's winner Moreno Moser (Cannondale) were still in contention with 70 kilometres remaining.
Kwiatkowski punctured on the sixth section of dirt roads but the Pole was quickly paced back to the peloton just as the favourites began to play their hands.
Team Sky, without Bradley Wiggins, who pulled out on the eve of the event, along with BMC set to work on the front of the peloton but it was on the longest section of gravel - 11.5km in total - where the race began to fracture.
The leaders had an advantage of a little over two minutes, but the break began to splinter as the road ramped up with sections close to 20 percent and would soon be neutralised.
Evans and Valverde went out on the attack, joined by Stannard, Kreuziger and two riders from QuickStep. While the moved spelled danger for an isolated Cancellara and Sagan, the pair were soon back with the leaders at the conclusion of the sector. However, it was now a vastly reduced bunch with less than 40 riders still in contention.
Only Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli), Damiano Cunego and Diego Ulissi (Lampre-Merida), Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels, Matteo Trentin and Rigoberto Uran (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Warren Barguil, Tom Dumoulin, Simon Geschke and Georg Preidler (Giant-Shimano), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Salvatore Puccio and Ian Stannard (Sky), Daniele Bennati, Christopher Juul Jensen, Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Angelo Pagani (Bardiani-CSF), Alejandro Valverde and Andrei Amador (Movistar) had made the split but with five riders in the front group, QuickStep quickly took control.
After setting the initial pace the Belgian team sent Trentin clear with Stannard, Amador, Evans, Geschke and Vicioso bidding to chase.
As the move peaked at an 18-second advantage, Kreuziger took off. However, the Czech only succeeded in bringing the race back together and providing Sagan and Kwiatkowski with their launch pad to attack.
|1||Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team||5:20:33|
|2||Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale||0:00:19|
|3||Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team||0:00:36|
|4||Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:00:40|
|5||Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|6||Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing||0:00:59|
|7||Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team||0:01:44|
|8||Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano||0:02:02|
|9||Wout Poels (Ned) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team||0:02:11|
|10||Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano||0:02:51|
|11||Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky|
|12||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano|
|13||Matteo Trentin (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team||0:02:54|
|14||Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|15||Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Team Katusha||0:03:02|
|16||Ian Stannard (GBr) Team Sky||0:03:16|
|17||Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team||0:05:40|
|18||Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:05:56|
|19||Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|20||Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Giant-Shimano|
|21||Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:06:12|
|22||Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani CSF||0:09:15|
|23||Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team|
|24||Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Colombia|
|25||Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|26||Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|27||Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team|
|28||Calvin Watson (Aus) Trek Factory Racing|
|29||Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|30||Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling|
|31||Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team|
|32||Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN - Qhubeka|
|33||Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling|
|34||Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team|
|35||Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha|
|36||Dmitriy Kozonchuk (Rus) Team Katusha|
|37||Oscar Gatto (Ita) Cannondale|
|38||Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team|
|39||Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) BMC Racing Team|
|40||Rodolfo Andres Torres Agudelo (Col) Colombia|
|41||Dario Cataldo (Ita) Team Sky|
|42||Tanel Kangert (Est) Astana Pro Team|
|43||Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team|
|44||Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale|
|45||Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|46||Hayden Roulston (NZl) Trek Factory Racing|
|47||Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia|
|48||Mauro Finetto (Ita) Yellow Fluo||0:12:05|
|49||Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling||0:12:15|
|50||Tobias Ludvigsson (Swe) Team Giant-Shimano|
|51||Daniele Bennati (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|52||Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|53||Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky|
|54||Nicolas Roche (Irl) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|55||Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|56||Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team||0:12:18|
|57||Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|58||Angelo Pagani (Ita) Bardiani CSF||0:14:08|
|59||Paolo Colonna (Ita) Bardiani CSF|
|60||Martijn Maaskant (Ned) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|61||Alexey Lutsenko (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|62||Simone Ponzi (Ita) Yellow Fluo||0:16:41|
|63||Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Yellow Fluo|
|64||Marc de Maar (AHo) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|65||Nicola Testi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|66||Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|67||Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Trek Factory Racing|
|68||Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka|
|69||Dominik Nerz (Ger) BMC Racing Team|
|70||Marcel Aregger (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|71||Lawrence Warbasse (USA) BMC Racing Team|
|72||Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Giant-Shimano|
|73||Sebastian Henao Gomez (Col) Team Sky|
|74||Alexander Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha|
|75||Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN - Qhubeka|
|76||Edward Fabian Diaz Cardenas (Col) Colombia|
|77||Jonathan Paredes (Col) Colombia|
|78||Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) BMC Racing Team|
|79||Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|80||Jens Voigt (Ger) Trek Factory Racing|
|81||Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Astana Pro Team|
|82||Tom Stamsnijder (Ned) Team Giant-Shimano|
|83||Johnny Hoogerland (Ned) Androni Giocattoli|
|84||Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team Sky|
|85||Marco Bandiera (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|86||Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale|
|87||Enrico Barbin (Ita) Bardiani CSF|
|88||Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|89||Filippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani CSF|
|90||Davide Frattini (Ita) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team||0:17:37|
|91||Nathan Earle (Aus) Team Sky||0:20:07|
|92||Manuele Boaro (Ita) Tinkoff-Saxo||0:20:17|
|93||Michael Morkov (Den) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|94||Andrea Fedi (Ita) Yellow Fluo|
|95||Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha|
|96||Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:20:33|
|97||Alberto Bettiol (Ita) Cannondale||0:20:47|
|98||Matthias Krizek (Aut) Cannondale|
|99||Ian Boswell (USA) Team Sky||0:22:17|
|100||Eugenio Alafaci (Ita) Trek Factory Racing|
|101||Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia|
|OTL||Marco Coledan (Ita) Bardiani CSF|
|OTL||Donato De Ieso (Ita) Bardiani CSF|
|DNS||Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale|
|DNF||Alan Marangoni (Ita) Cannondale|
|DNF||Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|DNF||Matteo Di Serafino (Ita) Androni Giocattoli|
|DNF||Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Swe) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team|
|DNF||Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani CSF|
|DNF||Darwin Ferney Pantoja Tobar (Col) Colombia|
|DNF||Pirmin Lang (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Patrick Schelling (Swi) IAM Cycling|
|DNF||Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|DNF||Luca Dodi (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|DNF||Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|DNF||Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|DNF||Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Enrique Sanz (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team|
|DNF||Jani Tewelde (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwa) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Meron Russom (Eri) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Dennis van Niekerk (RSA) MTN - Qhubeka|
|DNF||Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|DNF||Mark Renshaw (Aus) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team|
|DNF||Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Giant-Shimano|
|DNF||Maxim Belkov (Rus) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Rudiger Selig (Ger) Team Katusha|
|DNF||Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Tinkoff-Saxo|
|DNF||Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing|
|DNF||Benjamin Day (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|DNF||Lucas Euser (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|DNF||Christopher Jones (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|DNF||Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team|
|DNF||Samuele Conti (Ita) Yellow Fluo|
|DNF||Francesco Failli (Ita) Yellow Fluo|
|DNF||Fabio Taborre (Ita) Yellow Fluo|
|DNF||Mirko Tedeschi (Ita) Yellow Fluo|
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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