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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 18, 2018

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

He who speaks without modesty will find it difficult to make his words good. - Confucius

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Milano-San Remo team reports

We'll start with winner Vincenzo Nibali's Team Bahrain-Merida race update:

San Remo, 17th of March, 2018 – “I’m not a fast rider, I had to invent something”. Vincenzo Nibali smiles happily on the podium of the 109th edition of the Milan-Sanremo.

The Italian champion arrived solo on Via Roma’s finish line after having attacked on Poggio and started the swooping on Sanremo with only 12 seconds ahead of the pursuers.

“I attacked – says Vincenzo – also to favor Sonny Colbrelli (then 9th overall) who was feeling very well. At one point, I turned round and I saw that I had a good advantage and so I insisted “.

“The most difficult moment was the last 2 kilometers: I never turned back and on the radio the sport director Alberto Volpi was saying '10/11 seconds, push, push'. I only thought about giving everything I had. When I was with 50 meters to go I looked back and I enjoyed the moment!".

“I arrived at this “Sanremo” with so much tranquility, I knew that I had finished the Tirreno-Adriatico in growth and this morning I had confidence. You do not win alone and for this I have to thank all my teammates for the great work of today. They were fundamental”.

Vincenzo Nibali

Vincenzo Nibali wins in San Remo

“This morning – commented Head of Performance Paolo Slongo – Vincenzo had that expression that he has usually before his great victories. The season did not start as we wanted, but in these two months Vincenzo has worked hard and today’s result confirms it“.

Second-place Caleb Ewan's Mitchelton-Scott team sent me this report:

Giro d'Italia stage winner Caleb Ewan came devastatingly close to his first monument victory for Mitchelton-SCOTT at Milan-San Remo today, sprinting to second place as the race came alive over the Poggio climb.

A strong team performance from Mitchelton-SCOTT saw Ewan protected and cresting the key climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio in a strong position at the front of the bunch before an attack on the Poggio by eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) blew the race apart.

Matteo Trentin tried to chase Nibali down the descent to San Remo but was caught by the bunch that contained South African champion Daryl Impey and Ewan with Nibali holding out for the solo win just ahead of Ewan who convincingly won the sprint for second.

San Remo podium

The podium, from left: Caleb Ewan (2nd), Vincenzo Nibali & Arnaud Demare (3rd)

Decisive Moments:
A breakaway of nine riders jumped out of the neutral zone as the peloton eased out of Milan, happy to let the group go on ahead in the cold and wet conditions.

After 75kilometres of racing the leaders had stretched their lead out to six minutes and 30seconds over the bunch. No change occurred until the first of the climb of the day the Passo del Turchino with 150kilometres to go, the leaders hit the descent to the coast with their lead down to four minutes 30seconds.

The rain continued to fall heavily along the coast with the riders also dealing with a headwind that persisted over the 'Tre Capi' climbs 50kilometres to go with the rain finally starting to ease off.

Bora-Hansgrohe and Team-Sky controlled the front of the peloton for most of the day, the catch was made on the approach to the Cipressa as the race finally came alive with Ewan maintaining a prime position at the front, protected by Roger Kluge and Chris Juul Jensen.

Nibali attacks on the Poggio and Ewan comes close:
The tension was palpable as the race stayed together over the Cipressa before Nibali unleashed two devastating attacks on the final climb over the Poggio and flew into the descent.

Trentin jumped into the chase but couldn't make contact and slipped back into the bunch that contained Ewan. Nibali soloed onto the Via Roma with only a few seconds advantage, managing to hold on as Ewan launched himself into the sprint for a commendable second place.

Caleb Ewan - 2nd place:
"I know it is still a massive result to finish in second place but to be so close to the win is a little bit disappointing.

"To be honest I was just thinking of doing my own sprint and if we caught Nibali, we caught him, if we didn’t, we didn’t so I was just focusing on my sprint as there were still good sprinters there and I knew it would be tough to beat those guys.

“My team put me in a good position on both the Poggio and Cipressa so I did need to fight too much. After this year I know I can potentially win this race so I can come back next year and the year after and try to win.”

Matt White - Head Sports Director:
"It was an incredible team effort, a very very long day for everyone. I think our guys rode with a lot of composure and used their racing nous to put our key guys into position when they needed to be.

"It is always hard if you come off the Poggio with any kind of gap and it is very very hard to bring back, particularly Vincenzo the class bike rider that he is, and we came up just a little bit short.

"It was about shutting stuff down and if Trentin had bridged to Nibali then it would have been a good situation for us regardless. He didn’t make it but slotted back in and did all he could to bring it back for Caleb. Then Daryl put Caleb in a very good position for the sprint and then Caleb did his thing and was the best of the rest.

"Caleb has come a long way since he’s been on the team and for his second appearance in San Remo to come so close. Sure he will be frustrated, all winners are, and we came here to win today but we did all that we could. I think in a couple of days he can appreciate that it is his first time on the podium of a monument and certainly not his last."

Possible collar fracture for André Greipel; Lotto-Soudal sent me this news:

Lotto Soudal set a strong collective performance between Milan and Sanremo, but unfortunately bad luck struck in the last ten kilometres of La Primavera. André Greipel, Jasper De Buyst and Jens Keukeleire crashed in the finale.

As expected, it was a traditional Milan-Sanremo. The early breakaway consisted of nine riders and got a maximum advantage of seven minutes. André Greipel crashed in the feed zone after 130 kilometres, but only had some abrasions. On the top of the Turchino he joined the peloton again.

It was raining all day until the riders reached the Capi. With thirty kilometres to go, the escapees were all reeled in. André Greipel began the ascent of the Cipressa on the first rows of the bunch. First FDJ and then Sky set a very high pace on the climb, which wasn’t encouraging for riders to attack. Greipel was one of the first ten riders to reach the top. Lotto Soudal came to the front to lead Greipel in the best possible position to the bottom of the Poggio. Just before the start of the climb Jens Keukeleire was involved in a crash. Vincenzo Nibali attacked on the Poggio and could only just stay ahead of the sprinting peloton. Caleb Ewan beat Arnaud Démare for the second place. Greipel couldn’t defend his chances anymore as he had crashed on the descent of the Poggio, together with Jasper De Buyst.

Vincenzo Nibali

Nibali scoots away. Sirotti photo.

André Greipel has probably broken his left collarbone. Jens Keukeleire hurt his hip, but the damage doesn’t seem to be too bad. Jasper De Buyst has abrasions on the left side of his body and he hurt his hand, wrist and arm. Greipel and De Buyst will undergo further examination.

Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “Of course we are disappointed that we had such bad luck today. As a team we probably rode one of our best editions of Milan-Sanremo. Until ten kilometres from the finish Jasper De Buyst, Jens Debusschere and André Greipel were still part of the first group. Jasper and André crashed on the descent of the Poggio. Jens Debusschere got held up because of that crash. We had already lost Jens Keukeleire just before the foot of the Poggio. He had already done a lot of work by that point, just like Bak, Maes and Sieberg. As a team we performed very well. Everyone was strong, but luck was not on our side.”

Alexander Kristoff's UAE-Team Emirates sent me this update:

It was a bittersweet fourth place for Norwegian Alexander Kristoff, who just missed the podium in Milano-Sanremo. The European champion, 2014 race winner, took third place in the group sprint behind solo winner Vincenzo Nibali.

“On one hand, I’m pretty upset for not being able to get on the podium, but on the other, I can’t help but be content for this fourth place since I pulled out of Paris-Nice with the flu and I had to take antibiotics,” Kristoff said.

“During the race, I didn’t feel super. On the Cipressa, my legs felt empty, then on the Poggio, it seemed to me that I was slightly better, but in the sprint, my legs weren’t that great. Anyway, I’m upset for not having got that podium spot, but satisfied nonetheless. And today, I also fell on the ground during the feed zone, but luckily, the crash didn’t have any consequences.

“The team worked truly well, above all Ben Swift, who in the final helped keep me at the front for the last curve. This is a fourth place different from last year since I won the sprint behind the escape of three riders. If I repeated that this time, I would’ve been second. The podium was my minimum goal, but since I didn’t have super legs, this placing is not that bad either. Now, I’ll concentrate on the Northern Classics.”

Behind the solo winner Nibali, Caleb Ewan took the sprint ahead of Arnaud Démare.

Matteo Bono stood out for his fourth escape over the years in Milano-Sanremo. He was free for 260 kilometres today, starting off with eight other riders at three kilometres after the start.

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