Today, Milan-Sanremo was organized for the 108th time. After 291 kilometres eternal fame was waiting for the winner on the Via Roma.
Almost immediately after the start the traditional early break was already established. It consisted of ten riders. The peloton didn’t give them more than four and a half minutes lead. On the top of the Passo del Turchino 2’15” advantage was left. As it was still about 150 kilometres to go till the finish and the peloton didn’t want to catch the break too early, the gap got bigger again. This time over five minutes. The route ran along the Ligurian coast towards the Capi, where the front group had only one and a half minutes lead left. In the run-up to the Cipressa Lotto Soudal moved up to the front of the peloton. Marcel Sieberg raised the pace before the bottom of the climb. On the Cipressa the last escapees got reeled in. Tim Wellens joined an attack. When the peloton was about to close the gap, the Belgian accelerated again. Unfortunately, the bunch came back again. Together with Tony Gallopin Tim was positioned at the front of the bunch when starting the descent of the Cipressa. In that descent Tony Gallopin decided to take his chance and he attacked. He was accompanied by some riders, but BORA – hansgrohe – the team of Peter Sagan – made sure they got caught. It lasted until one kilometre from the top of the Poggio before anyone attacked again. It was world champion Peter Sagan who took the initiative. Only Julian Alaphilippe and Michal Kwiatkowski could follow him. The peloton wouldn’t catch them anymore. In a thrilling sprint Kwiatkowski succeeded in beating Sagan. Tim Wellens was the first Lotto Soudal rider to cross the finish, he was eighteenth.
Tim Wellens: “We knew before the start that if we wanted to have a chance to win, we should not race passively. We tried to start up the race on the Cipressa. I was the first of our team to attack. I hoped to get away with a group, but the teams of the sprinters kept the pace too high. In the descent Tony attacked, unfortunately with no success either. Also on the Poggio it was impossible to ride away, except for the trio that did: they are on a different level. I could never have followed them, that’s why I decided to anticipate. From the past weeks in Italy I will remember my great début at Strade Bianche where I got third. In Tirreno-Adriatico it went less smoothly, but today I had good legs. Unfortunately the race developments made it impossible to benefit from it. Who knows, I might be able to follow the best in one of the next editions.”
Marc Sergeant, sports manager Lotto Soudal: “The riders executed our plan. That was not sufficient to set a good result. Peter Sagan was riding very impressive once again. He took Alaphilippe and Kwiatkowski on his wheel for most of the time, because he knew he would not be able to win the sprint of the reduced peloton. All three have performed so strong the past few weeks. They are the best riders of the moment.”
“On the Cipressa the pace was raised, which made it impossible for riders to stay ahead. Tim and Tony did what they had to do. Milan-Sanremo is probably the most difficult of the Classics to win. Tim is our first rider in the ranking. He got eighteenth. That’s not a success of course, but when you take a look at the results, you see that it are all sprinters behind the top three. Now it’s time for the cobblestone Classics for which we have a strong team. We are looking forward to what is coming.”