March 23, 2019
Milano-Sanremo 2019 – Milano – Sanremo : 291 km
Form, pedigree, aptitude; all signs seem to point to a Julian Alaphilippe victory at Milan-San Remo on Saturday,
March 23, 2019
Milano-Sanremo 2019 – Milano – Sanremo : 291 km
Form, pedigree, aptitude; all signs seem to point to a Julian Alaphilippe victory at Milan-San Remo on Saturday, but the most straightforward Monument to ride also tends to be the most complicated to win. Therein lies its enduring appeal. With six wins to his name already this season, Alaphilippe will line up outside Castello Sforzesco on Saturday morning as the outstanding favourite to triumph on the Via Roma seven hours later. At Strade Bianche, the Frenchman used his talents as a puncheur to good effect. At Tirreno-Adriatico – most notably in the bunch sprint at Jesi – he showcased his finishing speed. Backed by a Deceuninck-QuickStep team that has seemingly forgotten how to lose, Alaphillipe has no obvious gap in his armoury. And yet, Milan-San Remo has never been one to faithfully follow a preordained script. Instead, the fraught, frantic finale over the capi has the feel of commedia dell’arte. The scenario and the stock characters are always familiar, but the scope for improvisation means that the plot can veer off in some unexpected directions.
It may have been the first Monument of the season, but the story was the one we’ve seen so often already this year. Some 175 men fought for half the day to win a bike race, and Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) ended up on the top step of the podium.
Milan-San Remo is the seventh victory of the season for the Frenchman, and the 19th for his team – no doubt the sweetest yet. Part of an elite group contesting the win in San Remo, Alaphilippe beat Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) and Michał Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) to the top spot after a tense sprint to the line.
The Frenchman had played a major part in forming the elite group that made it to the finish, launching an attack over the top of Poggio and bringing a number of the strongest men in the sport with him. Peter Sagan, Alejandro Valverde, Vincenzo Nibali and Kwiatkowski – they were all there – but it was Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) and Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Merida) who tried to make their mark on the run-in to the finish.
Both were caught, however, setting up the battle royale sprint to the line. Mohorič went again, flying past Sagan, who led the way to the line. Alaphilippe masterfully switched wheels before heading into the wind himself after seven hours in the saddle. Another win for the 26-year-old, his best yet.
“It’s difficult to realise what I did and what my team did,” Alaphilippe reflected after the race. “They protected me all day. Tim Declercq was pulling all race and in the final we controlled and made the race harder, and I had to do no mistakes.
“I was really focused to control the attacks, and with 600 metres to go when Mohorič went to attack I said ‘it’s now or never’. It’s unbelievable – I saw my teammates after the finish and everybody was crying.
“I made a big effort at the top of the Poggio to make a big selection, and to see what could happen. At the end I was only with strong riders and I tried to recover in the downhill. In the last two kilometres I said I want to win – no second place.
“I need time to realise [what I’ve achieved]. I’m very happy.”
How it happened
The riders signed under warm spring sunshine in the shadow of the Castello Sforzesco in the centre of Milan, happy to race in spring-like conditions after a rain-soaked start in 2018.
The 2018 winner Vincenzo Nibali, and world champion Alejandro Valverde, lined up at the head of the race, while the likes of Sagan, Fernando Gaviria and Caleb Ewan preferred to stay out of the spotlight and lined up at the back of the peloton. All 175 riders on the start list signed on and started the 110th edition of Milan-San Remo.
The riders always consider Milan-San Remo a 300km race because they include the 7.5km neutralised sector out of central Milan as kilometres in the saddle. The official start is at an anonymous point on the Via della Chiesa Rossa that heads south out of Milan.
As soon as the flag dropped, the attacks to go into the early break began. But with the peloton facing seven hours in the saddle, 10 riders were quickly given their freedom and a moment in the Milan-San Remo spotlight.
The 10 were Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli), Mirco Maestri, Alessandro Tonelli (both Bardiani CSF), Guy Sagiv (Israel Cycling Academy), Luca Raggio, Sebastian Schönberger (both Neri Sottoli) with Joonas Henttala, Andrea Peron, Charles Planet and Umberto Poli all there for Novo Nordisk.
The peloton let them go and they opened a one-minute gap in 10km. After 30km, the gap was up to 10 minutes, but that was the maximum the peloton allowed before upping the pace and starting to control the breakaway. The average speed for the first hour on the Lombardy plane near Pavia and the River Po was a quick 44.4km/h.
A number of teams agreed to share the work, with Adam Hansen riding for Lotto Soudal, Tim Declercq for Deceuninck-QuickStep, while UAE Team Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe also helped with the hard graft. The gap to the break began to fall as the Passo del Turchino began to loom on the horizon.
Nathan Van Hooydonck of the CCC Team was the first rider to abandon after Novi Ligure as the 100km sign approached. The first feed zone came after 134km as the gradient of the Passo del Turchino began to hurt just a little. The break reached the 120-metre long tunnel at the summit with a lead of 5:50 and dived down to the sun soaked Mediterranean coast.
With 154km covered, there was 137km left to race along the coast west to San Remo. The break worked smoothly together, desperate to maintain as much of their lead as possible. The gap was 5:45 with 100km to go but the peloton gradually upped the pace as the tension rose and the kilometres clicked down.
The break reached the second feed in Ceriale after 221km with their lead down to 3:30. Musettes were grabbed quickly as the speed stayed high. There was time to take on fresh bidons and some final food before the final of Milan-San Remo began on the Capi climbs.
The Capo Mele comes the first with 51km to go. The difference between the 10-rider break and the peloton was clearly noticeable, and the gap fell below 2:30 for the first time. The Capo Cervo caused no problem but the break fell apart on the harder Capo Berta when Schönberger attacked with 40km to go. But the peloton was rapidly closing them down, hitting the Capo Berta at 62km/h.
Masnada hunted down the pursuing Bardiani CSF riders before passing Schönberger and cresting the summit of the Berta alone. He had the now-traditional flare cloud to battle through, with the smoke wafting in a direction indicating a cross-headwind along the coast.
Hitting the bottom of the Cipressa, with 27km to race, Masnada was alone as the peloton swallowed up the remains of the break. His brave effort lasted until around halfway up the climb, before he too was swept up as Astana and Groupama-FDJ led the way.
The pace was perhaps not as high as it could be on the Cipressa, with the peloton not lined out. Some of the more climb-averse sprinters would certainly have been happy with how things were progressing, at least, though Dylan Groenewegen (Jumbo-Visma) and Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) looked to be hanging on at the rear of the group.
Local boy Niccolò Bonifazio (Direct Énergie) launched a daring attack on the descent, racing the lead motorbike down to the flat road before to the Poggio. He had a 20-second advantage at the bottom, but was caught before reaching the foot of the Poggio.
Team Sky and Deceuninck-QuickStep led the way onto the final hill of the race, setting a high pace for their men, Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe. The first attack came seven kilometres out as Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) launched.
Alaphilippe soon followed, with Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in close pursuit. Cresting the summit, the trio were together with Trentin, Valverde, Naesen and Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma).
Several more riders chased on down the descent, including Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb), Mohorič, Nibali (both Bahrain-Merida), and Simon Clarke (EF Education First).
Trentin tried a solo move on the flat, but was chased down by race debutant Van Aert under the flamme rouge. Mohorič went next, 800 metres from the line, before a relative lull in the proceedings as the contenders looked around for the next move.
Sagan hit the front in the final 500 metres, with Alaphilippe glued to his wheel before the brief game of cat and mouse ended as Mohorič went for it again. In a flash, Alaphilippe switched wheels, getting to Mohorič before Naesen could.
In the final 150 metres, Alaphilippe hit the wind once again, as he had on the Poggio. This time though, he wouldn’t be caught. As it has been so many times already this season, it was just a question of who would be the runner-up.
1 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck-QuickStep 6:40:14
2 Oliver Naesen (Bel) AG2R La Mondiale
3 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
5 Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida
6 Wout Van Aert (Bel) Team Jumbo-Visma
7 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team
8 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
9 Simon Clarke (Aus) EF Education First
10 Matteo Trentin (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
11 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:00:03
12 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Sunweb 0:00:08
13 Daniel Oss (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe 0:00:24
14 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates 0:00:27
15 Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
16 Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
17 Marco Haller (Aut) Katusha-Alpecin
18 Mike Teunissen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
19 Davide Ballerini (Ita) Astana Pro Team
20 Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Dimension Data
21 Amund Grondahl Jansen (Nor) Team Jumbo-Visma
22 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy
23 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
24 Clement Venturini (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
25 Luka Mezgec (Slo) Mitchelton-Scott
26 Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) Dimension Data
27 Nils Politt (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
28 Sam Bennett (Irl) Bora-Hansgrohe
29 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto Soudal
30 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Lux) Bora-Hansgrohe
31 Simone Velasco (Ita) Neri SottoliÐSelle ItaliaÐKTM
32 Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
33 Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
34 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
35 Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
36 Alberto Bettiol (Ita) EF Education First
37 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Katusha-Alpecin
38 Lilian Calmejane (Fra) Direct Energie
39 Jos van Emden (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
40 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Dimension Data
41 Anthony Turgis (Fra) Direct Energie
42 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) CCC Team
43 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
44 Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First
45 Tao Geoghegan Hart (GBr) Team Sky
46 Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Sunweb
47 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
48 Marc Hirschi (Swi) Team Sunweb
49 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Dimension Data
50 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
51 Tom-Jelte Slagter (Ned) Dimension Data
52 Soren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Sunweb
53 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Lotto Soudal
54 Sven Erik Bystrom (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
55 Jacopo Guarnieri (Ita) Groupama-FDJ 0:00:35
56 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Direct Energie
57 Stephen Cummings (GBr) Dimension Data
58 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CCC Team 0:01:01
59 Stefan Kung (Swi) Groupama-FDJ 0:01:15
60 Laurens De Vreese (Bel) Astana Pro Team
61 Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
62 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
63 Carlos Barbero (Spa) Movistar Team
64 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe
65 Elia Viviani (Ita) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:01:27
66 Yves Lampaert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
67 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Deceuninck-QuickStep
68 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep
69 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Israel Cycling Academy 0:01:29
70 Larry Warbasse (USA) AG2R La Mondiale
71 Tom Van Asbroeck (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
72 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
73 Marco Marcato (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
74 Viacheslav Kuznetsov (Rus) Katusha-Alpecin
75 Cyril Lemoine (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
76 Jose Goncalves (Por) Katusha-Alpecin
77 Umberto Marengo (Ita) Neri SottoliÐSelle ItaliaÐKTM
78 Dylan Groenewegen (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
79 Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:01:33
80 Matteo Busato (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 0:01:36
81 Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First 0:01:54
82 Edward Theuns (Bel) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:06
83 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:13
84 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo 0:02:37
85 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 0:02:39
86 Lukasz Wisniowski (Pol) CCC Team 0:02:54
87 Taco van der Hoorn (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
88 Yevgeniy Gidich (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
89 Anthony Roux (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
90 Giovanni Carboni (Ita) Bardiani CSF
91 Carlos Betancur (Col) Movistar Team 0:03:11
92 Dorian Godon (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
93 Luis Mas Bonet (Spa) Movistar Team
94 Tomasz Marczynski (Pol) Lotto Soudal
95 Danny van Poppel (Ned) Team Jumbo-Visma
96 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
97 Manuele Boaro (Ita) Astana Pro Team
98 Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Den) Astana Pro Team
99 Gijs Van Hoecke (Bel) CCC Team
100 Tosh Van Der Sande (Bel) Lotto Soudal
101 Mattia Cattaneo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
102 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Deceuninck-QuickStep
103 Luke Rowe (GBr) Team Sky
104 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Bora-Hansgrohe
105 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) EF Education First
106 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) Bahrain-Merida 0:03:39
107 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Bahrain-Merida 0:03:51
108 Nikolas Maes (Bel) Lotto Soudal 0:04:46
109 Reto Hollenstein (Swi) Katusha-Alpecin 0:05:22
110 Koen de Kort (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 0:05:26
111 Michael Schar (Swi) CCC Team
112 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Team Sky
113 Christopher Juul Jensen (Den) Mitchelton-Scott 0:05:27
114 Filippo Ganna (Ita) Team Sky 0:06:31
115 Owain Doull (GBr) Team Sky
116 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Bahrain-Merida
117 Roger Kluge (Ger) Lotto Soudal
118 Julius van den Berg (Ned) EF Education First
119 Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
120 Robert Stannard (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
121 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
122 Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) Groupama-FDJ
123 Zico Waeytens (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
124 Guillaume Van Keirsbulck (Bel) CCC Team
125 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
126 Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
127 Luca Pacioni (Ita) Neri SottoliÐSelle ItaliaÐKTM
128 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Dimension Data
129 Nans Peters (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
130 Jerome Cousin (Fra) Direct Energie
131 Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Direct Energie
132 Mads Schmidt Wurtz (Den) Katusha-Alpecin 0:07:45
133 Matthias Brandle (Aut) Israel Cycling Academy
134 Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Sunweb 0:10:18
135 Conor Dunne (Irl) Israel Cycling Academy
136 Guy Sagiv (Isr) Israel Cycling Academy
137 Sebastian Schonberger (Aut) Neri SottoliÐSelle ItaliaÐKTM
138 David Lozano Riba (Spa) Team Novo Nordisk
139 Joonas Henttala (Fin) Team Novo Nordisk
140 Charles Planet (Fra) Team Novo Nordisk
141 PŽter Kusztor (Hun) Team Novo Nordisk
142 Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF
143 Umberto Orsini (Ita) Bardiani CSF
144 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Movistar Team
145 Michal Golas (Pol) Team Sky
146 Markel Irizar (Spa) Trek-Segafredo
147 Mikel Landa (Spa) Movistar Team
148 Olivier Le Gac (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
149 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Movistar Team
150 Jasper Philipsen (Bel) UAE Team Emirates 0:13:56
151 Julien Duval (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
152 Tim Declercq (Bel) Deceuninck-QuickStep 0:14:42
153 Bert Van Lerberghe (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
154 Oliviero Troia (Ita) UAE Team Emirates
155 Kenneth Vanbilsen (Bel) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
156 Paul Ourselin (Fra) Direct Energie
157 Sam Brand (GBr) Team Novo Nordisk
158 Alessandro Tonelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
159 Fabien Grellier (Fra) Direct Energie
160 Daniel McLay (GBr) EF Education First
161 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk
162 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Neri SottoliÐSelle ItaliaÐKTM
163 Luca Raggio (Ita) Neri SottoliÐSelle ItaliaÐKTM
164 Edoardo Affini (Ita) Mitchelton-Scott
165 Umberto Poli (Ita) Team Novo Nordisk 0:19:25
166 Michael Hepburn (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott 0:20:53
167 Alessandro Pessot (Ita) Bardiani CSF
168 Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Soudal