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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, March 24, 2019

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2018 Tour de France | 2018 Giro d'Italia

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Milano-San Remo team reports

We posted the report from Peter Sagan's Bora-hansgrohe team with the results.

Here's the report from winner Julian Alaphilippe's Deceuninck-Quick Step team:

The best rider and the best team celebrated on the Italian Riviera on Saturday afternoon, when after nearly seven long hours and a nerve-wreaking finale, Julian Alaphilippe punched the air in celebration as he captured a memorable win at Milano-Sanremo and continued his period of unprecedent success, which sees him sit on seven victories since the end of January, having taken a win at every single race he had started this season.

Julian Alaphilippe

Julian Alaphilippe wins in San Remo. Sirotti photo.

“It’s very difficult to realise what I achieved today together with this amazing team! Tim pulled the entire race and then, on the Poggio, we tried to make the race very hard and I attacked to male an important selection. On the downhill I tried to recover and remain focused, then in the last two kilometers I said I want to win and when Mohoric went with 600 meters to go I said it’s now or never. It’s unbelievable”, an emotional Julian Alaphilippe said to the melee of journalists at the finish.

At 291 kilometers, Milano-Sanremo is the longest one-day race of the calendar, starting early in the morning, when the bunch leaves behind foggy Milan and head to the sunny and vibrant Sanremo, as the race slowly unfolds for six hours, covering the Turchino and Tre Capi, before building up like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller for the final 30 minutes, which take the riders over the Cipressa and Poggio.

Tim Declercq confirmed his “El Tractor” nickname, heading the front of the peloton as soon as a ten-man breakaway formed and setting a steady tempo – which resulted in the escapees being brought back on the Cipressa – for more than 250 kilometers. The headwind on this penultimate ascent meant no attacks, only move launched before the Poggio coming on the descent, where Niccolo Bonifazio (Direct Energie) opened a gap that eventually melted under the formidable impetus of Deceuninck – Quick-Step.

Belgian Champion Yves Lampaert then took over and led into the 3.7km-long hill, before Philippe Gilbert and Zdenek Stybar set a brutal pace that inflicted pain and suffering, stretching the field and dropping the sprinters. Once the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad champion peeled off the front, Alaphilippe attacked, tearing the bunch apart and creating the decisive split, eliminating the threat of a bunch sprint in the process.

Eleven riders rushed towards the finishing straight with a clear gap over the remnants of the peloton, nullifying a late acceleration of Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) ahead of the flamme rouge. The first to show his intentions was Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida), turning on the gas on the left side of the road. Sensing the opportunity, Julian jumped onto his wheel and opened his sprint some 200 meters from the line, holding the charge of Oliver Naesen (AG2R) and Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky), as he dashed to victory, outclassing all his opponents en route to the most important victory of his career.

Third-place Michal Kwiatkowski's Team Sky had this to say about the race

Michal Kwiatkowski sprinted to an impressive third place at Milan-San Remo following a tense finish on the Via Roma.

Michal Kwiatkowski

Kwiatkowski, on the far left, was close.

The Polish national champion was alert to the attack of rival Julian Alaphilippe on the Poggio, and after following the move Kwiatkowski found himself amongst an elite 10-man group which contested the finish. The Team Sky rider waited at the back of the group, opting to come from deep in the headwind sprint, but was just unable to overhaul victor Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) and fellow podium finisher Oliver Naesen (Ag2r-La Mondiale).

Kwiatkowski received strong support throughout the longest one-day race of the year, with Team Sky ensuring they were in a perfect position at key points in the first Monument of the season.

Owain Doull, Filippo Ganna and Tao Geoghegan Hart drove the team to the head of the bunch following the Tre Capi, giving Kwiato a clear run into the Cipressa and the final 35km.

Luke Rowe and Salvatore Puccio were able to monitor the moves, and despite a headwind discouraging attacks, the day’s break were caught on penultimate climb. It was Puccio and Rowe again who led the race onto the Poggio.

Kwiato had the legs to follow the acceleration of Alaphilippe on the Poggio, in a move which dragged clear an elite selection. Seven riders became 10 on the descent, before the eventual sprint to decide the victory.

“That’s a good result to be on the podium. But when you’re so close to the victory of course you always think if you could have done anything better to win it – that would have been a dream today. Julian was the strongest rider today in my opinion. I think everybody saw what he did on the Poggio, and then having the legs to sprint that was quite impressive from him.

“Being again amongst the best riders in this front group was a nice feeling. There were plenty of attacks and I think that was a great race to watch. I’m really happy that Team Sky gave me the opportunity to go for another one.” - Michal Kwiatkowski

And world road champion Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team posted this:

Always there. Despite having spent the last three weeks with no racing, feverish after the UAE Tour and unable to take the start of the Strade Bianche, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) again wore his rainbow colours up to a very good result in the 110th edition of Milano-Sanremo, the first ‘Monument’ of the classics campaign as well as the longest race in the world with its 291 kilometers.

Nibali and Valverde

2018 Milano-San Remo winner Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde at the race's start.

The marvel from Murcia rode with extreme attention, always in a good position in the finale and well supported at times, with Lluís Mas covering him from the wind in the approach to the key climbs and the rest of the Blues staying with him through the Riviera Ligure.

An attack by Julian Alaphilippe (DQT) into the final slopes of the Poggio, seeking to chase down a previous move from Alberto Bettiol (EF1), left at the front a seven-man group at the top, the World Champion always on the wheel of the top contenders. The selected field’s sprint saw ‘Bala’ taking 7th place, as Alaphilippe conquered his first Monument victory ahead of Oliver Naesen (ALM) and Michal Kwiatkowski (SKY).

A top-ten finish -his first-ever in the ‘Classicissima’- marked the start of the World No. 1’s spring campaign, Valverde now heading to the Volta a Catalunya before racing his second ‘Monument’, arguably the one he’s been most asked for by the fans, in just two weeks’ time.

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“It’s been a spectacular Milano-Sanremo, both because of the high level of racing and the great weather – even a bit surprising, so warm for this time of the year. Being up there with the top contenders and finish inside the first group, after 20 days with no racing, is something to be really happy about. It’s been mostly flatout in the finale, with no respite, which helped create that selection. Even if I was gaining some terrain on those launching the sprint from the front into the final meters, I wasn’t able to gain back more places and had to stay content with that seventh place. Hats off to Alaphilippe for that huge victory. Now it’s on to this long travel down to Catalunya, another important race in this early part of the season for me, before some more big classics.”

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