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Milano-Sanremo: Van Aert snatches sprint win from Alaphilippe

Van Aert and Alaphillipe went clear over the Poggio and held off a dramatic late chase, with Matthews taking third.

Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) grabbed a thrilling victory at Milano-Sanremo on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Belgian backed up his victory at Strade Bianche last weekend by edging defending champion Julian Alaphilippe (Dececuninck-Quick-Step) by a tire’s width on the Via Roma after the pair went clear on the descent of the Poggio.

The pair held off a late chase from a powerful group that finished just a handful of seconds behind, after trimming van Aert and Alaphilippe’s advantage in the closing kilometers. Michael Matthews (Sunweb) rounded out the podium, taking third.

Van Aert’s victory marks his first monument win and completes a remarkable comeback from his serious injury at last year’s Tour de France.

“Of course, I’m super-happy, my second win [after Strade Bianche],” van Aert said after the race. “I don’t have words. I know everyone says that when they win a monument, but to start the second part of the season like this, it’s crazy.”

Alaphilippe sparked the race into life over the summit of the Poggio in a throwback to his victory in 2019. The Frenchman accelerated clear and looked to be forging a gap over the descent, however, van Aert managed to bridge back as Alaphilippe plummeted around the sharp bends of the iconic descent.

“Hold on, hold on .. was the only thing in my mind [on the descent],” van Aert said. “Alaphilippe went quite early and I had to close a little gap on him. I dropped again but there was nobody behind me, so I had no choice but to keep pushing, and I got rewarded, because on the downhill I came back.”

Alaphilippe was wily as ever going into the final kilometer, leaving his Belgian rival to lead out the sprint. However, with a bunch of around 25 riders including Matthews, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC-Team), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal) mounting a fearsome chase, there was no time for cat-and-mousing.

“Julian played it really good, he put me on the front and I needed to keep the speed as the bunch was coming back,” van Aert said. “It was hard to do the right pace and keep something back for the sprint, but in the end it was just enough as I won by just half a wheel.”

Alaphilippe, who was downplaying his chances before the race, nearly pulled the first double at San Remo since Erik Zabel won back-to-back editions in 2000 and 2001.

“Of course, my feelings are mixed,” the Frenchman said. “I am very happy to be on the podium. I knew that Wout van Aert would be very strong. He was the big favorite and in the end, he really deserves his victory. I went all out in the Poggio. After that, it was a very difficult sprint. We fought well, but in the end, the strongest won. That’s how it is.”

After over seven hours of racing, Milano-Sanremo was won by the finest of margins. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
After over seven hours of racing, Milano-Sanremo was won by the finest of margins. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

The race played out in the mid-summer sun as Italy basked in the middle of a heatwave. As if the originally-planned 299-kilometer parcours for the race wasn’t enough in the mid-30-degree heat, a late change to the route earlier in the week bumped the race to a monster 305km.

With a long day ahead, the peloton let a break of seven riders go away early and build a large gap as the long slow burn and building of anticipation began.

As the bunch entered the final 90km and the newly-added Colle di Nava approached, Matteo Trentin was brought down in a touching of wheels in the bunch and withdrew from the action, leaving CCC Team without one of their co-leaders.

The race remained under control as the peloton slowly chipped away at the now-fracturing breakaway’s lead. With Deceuninck-Quick-Step driving the pace, the action began hotting up at 40km to go as the race approached its return to its traditional route and the closing salvo of the Cipressa and Poggio.

With the break caught by the bottom of the Cipressa, the race sprang into life as teams looked to position their riders into the climb.

An opportunistic attack on the Cipressa by Loic Vliegen (Circus Wanty) drew out Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo), with Tadej Pogacar (UAE-Team Emirates ) and Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) among those to react.

Bora-Hansgrohe lifted the pace to bring the attackers back to heel over the summit, however, the accelerations put Caleb Ewan (Lotto Soudal), Fernando Gaviria (UAE-Team Emirates) and a number of others in trouble as the race strung out and the lead group thinned.

Daniel Oss (Bora-Hansgrohe) was next to throw the dice off the bottom of the Cipressa, taking a gap on the bunch on the flatlands approaching the Poggio. Around 10 seconds behind him, Deceuninck-Quick-Step and Mitchelton-Scott took control of the 60-strong peloton.

Oss was inevitably caught at the base of the Poggio as the decisive final phase of the race began, with Gianni Moscon (Ineos) attacking first, and Gianluca Brambilla (Trek-Segafredo) and Aime de Gendt (Circus Wanty) next to go. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) was the next of the sprinters to suffer under the pace, clinging onto the back of the bunch and struggling to regain contact.

Alaphilippe drew out van Aert with an attack over the top of the Poggio. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images
Alaphilippe drew out van Aert with an attack over the top of the Poggio. Photo: Tim de Waele/Getty Images

In a harkening back to 2019, Alaphilippe brought on the decisive move in the final kilometers of the short climb. The Frenchman accelerated once, with only van Aert able to stay close as a handful of others lingered a split second behind. Alaphilippe accelerated again a hundred meters later, shaking off an attempt by Greg van Avermaet (CCC Team) to respond.

Having topped the climb alone, Alaphilippe descended like a wildman off the Poggio, railing the corners and taking no precautions. However, van Aert kept composed and was able to make contact by the base of the climb.

From there, the pair went into the final on the Via Roma, with van Aert taking the spoils after seven-and-a-quarter hours of racing.

The race was yet another near-miss for Sagan who placed fourth. The Slovakian has now raced Milano-Sanremo 10 times, placing in the top-10 in all but two appearances.

“I don’t have yet the condition I had at this race in the past,” he said. “My form is steadily getting better, but I’m not in a position yet where I could have responded to Van Aert and Alaphilippe on the Poggio. I think my season starts at the Tour de France this year and, in my view, I’m on the right track.”

Milano-Sanremo Results

Stage
RankNameTeamTime
1VAN AERT WoutTeam Jumbo-Visma7:16:09
2ALAPHILIPPE JulianDeceuninck - Quick Step0:00
3MATTHEWS MichaelTeam Sunweb0:02
4SAGAN PeterBORA - hansgrohe0:02
5NIZZOLO GiacomoNTT Pro Cycling0:02
6SMITH DionMitchelton-Scott0:02
7ARANBURU AlexAstana Pro Team0:02
8VAN AVERMAET GregCCC Team0:02
9GILBERT PhilippeLotto Soudal0:02
10MOHORIČ MatejBahrain - McLaren0:02
11VENDRAME AndreaAG2R La Mondiale0:02
12POGAČAR TadejUAE-Team Emirates0:02
13VAN DER POEL MathieuAlpecin-Fenix0:02
14NAESEN OliverAG2R La Mondiale0:02
15KWIATKOWSKI MichałTeam INEOS0:02
16FORMOLO DavideUAE-Team Emirates0:02
17JORGENSON MatteoMovistar Team0:02
18BETTIOL AlbertoEF Pro Cycling0:02
19ŠTYBAR ZdeněkDeceuninck - Quick Step0:02
20BENOOT TiesjTeam Sunweb0:02
21DE GENDT AiméCircus - Wanty Gobert0:02
22IZAGIRRE GorkaAstana Pro Team0:02
23NIBALI VincenzoTrek - Segafredo0:02
24DÉMARE ArnaudGroupama - FDJ0:02
25CARUSO DamianoBahrain - McLaren0:02
26STANNARD RobertMitchelton-Scott0:08
27SBARAGLI KristianAlpecin-Fenix0:13
28ROTA LorenzoVini Zabù - KTM0:13
29TURGIS AnthonyTeam Total Direct Energie0:14
30CICCONE GiulioTrek - Segafredo0:14
31DE MARCHI AlessandroCCC Team0:16
32SWIFT BenTeam INEOS0:27
33MOSCON GianniTeam INEOS0:30
34MEURISSE XandroCircus - Wanty Gobert0:36
35VILLELLA DavideMovistar Team0:57
36CANOLA MarcoGazprom - RusVelo0:57
37SOUPE GeoffreyTeam Total Direct Energie1:03
38BOUHANNI NacerTeam Arkéa Samsic1:03
39VIVIANI EliaCofidis, Solutions Crédits1:24
40BOIVIN GuillaumeIsrael Start-Up Nation1:24
41BAKELANTS JanCircus - Wanty Gobert1:24
42PASQUALON AndreaCircus - Wanty Gobert1:24
43VELASCO SimoneGazprom - RusVelo1:24
44CLARKE SimonEF Pro Cycling1:26
45JANSEN Amund GrøndahlTeam Jumbo-Visma1:28
46BONIFAZIO NiccolòTeam Total Direct Energie1:46
47BRAMBILLA GianlucaTrek - Segafredo1:46
48VLIEGEN LoïcCircus - Wanty Gobert1:57
49MASNADA FaustoCCC Team2:14
50VISCONTI GiovanniVini Zabù - KTM2:14
51BURGHARDT MarcusBORA - hansgrohe2:42
52KÜNG StefanGroupama - FDJ2:42
53BENEDETTI CesareBORA - hansgrohe2:43
54KREUZIGER RomanNTT Pro Cycling3:44
55LUTSENKO AlexeyAstana Pro Team3:44
56ARNDT NikiasTeam Sunweb3:44
57KRAGH ANDERSEN SørenTeam Sunweb3:44
58VAN GESTEL DriesTeam Total Direct Energie3:44
59ROOSEN TimoTeam Jumbo-Visma3:44
60BENNETT SamDeceuninck - Quick Step4:26
61MOSCA JacopoTrek - Segafredo4:46
62PUCCIO SalvatoreTeam INEOS4:46
63COLBRELLI SonnyBahrain - McLaren4:46
64WARBASSE LarryAG2R La Mondiale4:46
65WOODS MichaelEF Pro Cycling4:56
66KOCH JonasCCC Team4:56
67EDMONDSON AlexMitchelton-Scott4:56
68RUSSO ClémentTeam Arkéa Samsic5:05
69KONYCHEV AlexanderMitchelton-Scott5:05
70TEUNS DylanBahrain - McLaren5:05
71OSS DanielBORA - hansgrohe5:05
72ASGREEN KasperDeceuninck - Quick Step5:05
73JUNGELS BobDeceuninck - Quick Step5:05
74GANNA FilippoTeam INEOS5:05
75GROßSCHARTNER FelixBORA - hansgrohe5:05
76GOGL MichaelNTT Pro Cycling5:05
77MARENGO UmbertoVini Zabù - KTM5:47
78LEMOINE CyrilCofidis, Solutions Crédits5:47
79NAESEN LawrenceAG2R La Mondiale6:21
80VANDENBERGH StijnAG2R La Mondiale6:21
81ZABEL RickIsrael Start-Up Nation6:21
82HOLLENSTEIN RetoIsrael Start-Up Nation6:21
83KRISTOFF AlexanderUAE-Team Emirates6:21
84GAVAZZI FrancescoAndroni Giocattoli - Sidermec8:43
85CONCI NicolaTrek - Segafredo8:43
86SEPÚLVEDA EduardoMovistar Team8:43
87PETIT AdrienTeam Total Direct Energie8:43
88SINKELDAM RamonGroupama - FDJ9:24
89SCOTSON MilesGroupama - FDJ9:24
90CIMOLAI DavideIsrael Start-Up Nation9:24
91GAVIRIA FernandoUAE-Team Emirates9:24
92MARTINELLI DavideAstana Pro Team9:47
93GARCÍA CORTINA IvánBahrain - McLaren10:59
94SAVINI DanielBardiani-CSF-Faizanè10:59
95THWAITES ScottAlpecin-Fenix10:59
96SABATINI FabioCofidis, Solutions Crédits10:59
97GONZÁLEZ Roberto CarlosVini Zabù - KTM10:59
98DE KORT KoenTrek - Segafredo10:59
99VALGREN MichaelNTT Pro Cycling10:59
100BOASSON HAGEN EdvaldNTT Pro Cycling10:59
101CORT MagnusEF Pro Cycling10:59
102LAPORTE ChristopheCofidis, Solutions Crédits10:59
103GUARNIERI JacopoGroupama - FDJ10:59
104FRAILE OmarAstana Pro Team10:59
105LEYSEN SenneAlpecin-Fenix13:39
106MAES NikolasLotto Soudal13:39
107MARTENS PaulTeam Jumbo-Visma13:39
108DECLERCQ TimDeceuninck - Quick Step13:39
109BAIS MattiaAndroni Giocattoli - Sidermec13:39
110DE BUYST JasperLotto Soudal13:39
111LINDEMAN Bert-JanTeam Jumbo-Visma13:39
112FIORELLI FilippoBardiani-CSF-Faizanè13:39
113EWAN CalebLotto Soudal13:39
114CIMA ImerioGazprom - RusVelo13:39
115BOEV IgorGazprom - RusVelo13:39
116BAGIOLI NicolaAndroni Giocattoli - Sidermec13:39
117TONELLI AlessandroBardiani-CSF-Faizanè13:39
118KURIANOV StepanGazprom - RusVelo13:39
119RICHEZE MaximilianoUAE-Team Emirates13:39
120TROIA OlivieroUAE-Team Emirates13:39
121PICHON LaurentTeam Arkéa Samsic13:39
122VANBILSEN KennethCofidis, Solutions Crédits13:39
123CATALDO DarioMovistar Team13:39
124SCHÄR MichaelCCC Team13:39
125MEYER CameronMitchelton-Scott13:39
126DOCKER MitchellEF Pro Cycling13:39
127RESTREPO JhonatanAndroni Giocattoli - Sidermec13:39
128DE BONDT DriesAlpecin-Fenix15:01
129BOUDAT ThomasTeam Arkéa Samsic15:02
130ALBASINI MichaelMitchelton-Scott15:05
131VACHON FlorianTeam Arkéa Samsic15:05
132VAN POPPEL DannyCircus - Wanty Gobert15:05
133MCLAY DanielTeam Arkéa Samsic15:05
134FRAPPORTI MarcoVini Zabù - KTM15:05
135ALBANESE VincenzoBardiani-CSF-Faizanè15:05
136CRADDOCK LawsonEF Pro Cycling15:05
137BOL CeesTeam Sunweb15:05
138BONIFAZIO LeonardoTeam Total Direct Energie15:05
139CONSONNI SimoneCofidis, Solutions Crédits15:34
140VAN BAARLE DylanTeam INEOS16:02
141TOLHOEK AntwanTeam Jumbo-Visma16:02
142RUMAC JosipAndroni Giocattoli - Sidermec16:02
143RIESEBEEK OscarAlpecin-Fenix16:02
144CIMA DamianoGazprom - RusVelo17:44
145MAZZUCCO FabioBardiani-CSF-Faizanè17:44
146WALSCHEID MaxNTT Pro Cycling17:44
147VAN DER SANDE ToshLotto Soudal17:44
148SUTHERLAND RoryIsrael Start-Up Nation17:44
149DUVAL JulienAG2R La Mondiale29:52

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.