23/03/19 - 8:10 PM
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Road race - Men
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Milano - Sanremo • Stage1
avant-match

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Road race - Men
Milano - Sanremo - 23 March 2019

Milano - Sanremo – Follow this cycling race live with Eurosport. The action starts at 20:10 on 23 March 2019. Our live coverage lets you follow all the key moments as they happen.
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Highlights 
 
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15:58

Here's the top 10 from that thrilling finale.

 

Alaphilippe was so confident and comfortable of the win that he sat up before the line to start his celebrations. He really is the man to beat at the moment - what a performance.

15:55

Confirmation that Julian Alaphilippe took the win ahead of Oliver Naesen and Michal Kwiatkowski, with Peter Sagan edged out for fourth place.

15:54 

And what scenes as QuickStep riders Viviani, Lampaert, Gilbert and Stybar all cross the line together in a line with their arms raised to celebrate Alaphilippe's win.

0km

The Frenchman made that look so easy as he nonchalantly roared to his first Monument victory. He's in tears after his seventh - and biggest - win of the season. And QuickStep's run keeps on going.

0km

Victory for Julian Alaphilippe of Deceuninck-QuickStep!

0.5km 

Nibali is back! Kwiatkowski now opens it up...

1km

We have about 10 riders out ahead of the pack now. It's Mohoric and Alaphilippe and Sagan on the front under the flamme rouge.

1.5km 

Van Aert leads the chase on Trentin now.

2km 

Trentin has a pop!

2.5km 

Oliver Naesen ups the tempo. Daniel Oss, Matej Mohoric, Michael Matthews and Simon Clarke are all there, too. But the pack is also closing in!

3km 

Dumoulin has now made contact with Sagan, Trentin, Kwiatkowski, Alaphilippe, Valverde, Naesen and Van Aert. A few more are about to join them. One of them was Degenkolb, but he's just had a mechanical and that's his race over...

3.5km 

We're hearing it's Wout van Aert!

4km 

Still no idea who the Jumbo-Visma rider is in this leading group of six.

5km 

Tom Dumoulin is trying to bridge over with another five riders chasing behind ahead of the front of the 'pack'.

5.5km 

Over the top they go and the gap is small - but it's all blown apart behind. It's Naesen from Ag2R. But there's a lot of looking behind to check the gap.

6km 

Sagan bridges over and we now have a group of seven riders. Sagan, Kwiatkowski, Alaphilippe, Valverde, Trentin and a rider from Ag2R and Jumbo-Visma.

6.5km

Now Alaphilippe attacks! The Frenchman zips past Bettiol. Kwiatkowski and Sagan are in pursuit. Amazing stuff.

7km 

Viviani is sliding away... and there's an attack near the summit by Bettiol of EF Education First and a Direct Energie rider, who is promptly dropped.

7.5km 

So strong, are QuickStep. Stybar is giving it his all. Groenewegen, we hear, is still just holding on.

8km 

QuickStep have three on the front now: Gilbert, Stybar and Alaphilippe. Their pace has put their teammate Elia Viviani in trouble - the Italian champion is quite far back but still in touch, unlike Groenewegen, who has been dropped.

8.5km 

Now Deceuninck-QuickStep come to the front with Stybar setting tempo and Alaphilippe just behind. The Frenchman is expected to attack here - and he has Kwiatkwowski on his wheel. Valverde, Gaviria, Trentin, Dumoulin, Sagan are all there, Gilbert too.

 
9km 

Team Sky now have two riders on the front - Puccio and Stannard - paving the way for their man Michal Kwiatkowski ahead of the Poggio.

10km 

With 10 clicks to go there's a bit of argy-bargy between old sparring pals Sagan and Van Avermaet. I'd say it was the calm before the storm - but there's nothing calm about this.

11km 

The CCC team of Greg Van Avermaet have come to the front alongside three riders from Katusha-Alpecin. Bonifazio's brave effort comes to an end inside a long tunnel so it's all back together now ahead of the Poggio.

13km 

The lone leader stretches his lead to 22 seconds now. He's a fast finisher, that much is sure, but his climbing is not the best - and there's the small matter of the Poggio before the finish. He'll need more time if he wants to win this - unless his plan is to have a second wind in a reduced sprint?

15km

Bonifazio, the Italian sprinter who finished fifth on the Via Roma in his maiden appearance here in 2015, has 15 seconds to play with and 15km remaining.

20km

ATTACK: Niccolo Bonifazio (Direct Energie) zips clear on the descent, throwing caution to the wind and throwing himself into these corners. He's a local lad and sprinter by trade, but he's clearly decided his best chances lie in going early. A brave effort and one we applaud. But will it stick?

21km 

They're onto the technical hairpin bends of the descent now and the pack is all strung out. It's not over if you're near the back - so Groenewegen and Nacer Bouhanni, who is with him, won't despair just yet.

22km 

Peter Sagan is now near the front alongside Demare, who has a few Groupama-FDJ team-mates with him as they go over the top of the false summit ahead of the real summit.

23km 

Meanwhile, the first sprinter to show some signs of difficulty is Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma. The Dutchman has been in superb form this season but he doesn't like these climbs and this is his maiden appearance in this race.

24km 

Philippe Gilbert now ups the tempo alongside Valverde and Lawson Craddock. It looked like the Belgian was about to put in an attack but he reined it in.

24km 

Three Astana riders now on the front setting a fast tempo. But the likes of Gilbert, Valverde, Bardet, Demare and Van Avermaet have all edged up to keep watch on things. And now it's Nibali who swings onto the front to pick up a bidon - and Krists Neilands is right there too: the two riders who zipped clear last year on the Poggio.

 

Of course, this is where the race really gets going. Here are the final 25-odd kilometres.

 

More info on this climb of La Cipressa.

25.5km 

It's over for Masnada, who is caught and done for the day. It's Laurens De Vreisse of Astana who is on the front, with Oliver Naesen of Ag2R-La Mondiale looming.

26km 

Chris Juul-Jensen comes to the front of the pack for Mitchelton-Scott. The pack has stretched out and many riders are off the back, their race over. Masnada's face is a picture of pain as he gives it his all - but he's about to be caught by the big boys, as Astana come to the front with Groupama-FDJ.

27km 

Correction: those five riders are still out - but only just. Actually, that's them eaten up just before the peloton swings onto the Cipressa. Now it's showtime. And poor Masnada has just 11 seconds to play with.

30km

Team Sky have a trio near the front as Masnada's gap comes down to 40 seconds. The other escapees have now been swept up.

31km 

Maestri, Sagiv, Schonberger, Planet and Tonelli are the five riders in pursuit of Masnada.

32km 

A pinch point in the road bunches the pack up and causes some to come to a standstill, including Kristian Sbaragli of Israel Cycling Academy, who will be hoping to feature at the finish today.

33km 

Interestingly, Julian Alaphilippe is near the back of the pack with two QuickStep team-mates, so perhaps he's had a problem or has been keeping out of trouble. Either way, he'll know now that it's time to edge up and get into a better position.

34km 

Masnada has a small gap over five chasers while the first two of the escapees have now been caught by the pack, who trail the lone leader by 1:05. Groupama, Ag2R and Bahrain are all on the front as the pace hots up.

36km 

The flames from those flares set fire to a bush and so there's a bit of a burn going on back on the Capo Berta but luckily the race passes by before it spreads. Let's hope they put that one out.

38km 

Masnada has 15-odd seconds over the other escapees over the summit. Further back the peloton has got a bit more animated as Team Sky come to the front to up the tempo for their man Michal Kwiatkowski. Many riders have been dropped including, surprisingly, Dylan Teuns of CCC.

39km 

Masnada catches and drops Schonberger before riding clear through the smoke of the flares near the summit.

40km

With the gap coming down to 1:25 the first move comes in the break. It's the Austrian Sebastian Schonberger who zips clear ahead of the Capo Berta. Bardiani duo Maestri and Tonelli try to follow but it's left to Masnada to try and close the gap.

46km 

We're onto the Capo Cervo and it's still Hansen leading the chase as one rider, Lorenzo Rota of Bardiani-CSF, drops a chain and is himself dropped by the peloton. The gap is still 2:10 for the leaders.

 

Today's break in the sunshine...

52km 

Adam Hansen has come to the front of the pack as they come onto the Capo Mele. The pack is just 2:10 down on the 10 leaders now and things should now start to spice up a little.

55km

We're about to hit the Tre Capi climbs – the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta. The gap is below three minutes now.

 
 
 

A few blasts from the Poggio past coming up...

60km 

Just over three minutes now for the leaders as they pass through Alassio and yet another sumptuous beach.

65km 

The pack rampages through the second feed zone of the day. On a day like this, when the race is so long and so incredibly backloaded, feeding strategy is extremely important. The gap is down to 3:15 so it looks like it won't be fourth time lucky for that man Maestri.

70km 

The French second-tier team Direct Energie have three riders near the front helping out with pacing duties. They have Niccolo Bonifazio if things come down to a sprint with the likes of Niki Terpstra and Lilian Calmejane as possible cards to play on the Cipressa or Poggio. That said, the Dutchman has never finished in the top 20 of Milano-Sanremo while the Frenchman is making his debut. But Bonifazio did make fifth in his first appearance in 2015.

75km 

A far cry from the snow-pummelled 2013 edition of the race, where the riders had to be bundled into buses on the Turchino and driven to the coast before the race resumed...

80km 

We have a rider each from Lotto Soudal and UAE Team Emirates on the front of the pack, too, ahead of the aforementioned Declercq and Bodnar. They will be working for Caleb Ewan and Fernando Gaviria respectively - although Emirates also have the 2014 winner Alexander Kristoff as a wildcard back-up option. The Norwegian has a great record here having finished fourth the past two years, sixth the year before that and runner up in 2015. Before his victory he finished 8th in 2013 and 131st in his debut in 2012. So, once he knew the ropes, Kristoff never finished outside the top 10 here. One to watch, surely?

 

A worthy companion to the race... especially while we wait for the late fireworks.

85km 

Poland's Maciej Bodnar is putting in a shift on the front of the pack, who trail the leaders by 4:15 - around one kilometre on the road. His Bora-Hansgrohe team have two cards to play today: the former triple world champion Peter Sagan - who has twice finished runner-up on the Via Roma - and the in-form sprinter Sam Bennett, who picked up a brace of wins last week at Tirreno-Adriatico.

90km

Belgian breakaway-hunter Tim Declercq of Deceuninck-QuickStep is putting in a shift on the front of the pack. The Belgian team have options aplenty today with Philippe Gilbert likely to attack on the Cipressa, Julian Alaphilippe on the Poggio and Elia Viviani the man should things come down to a sprint. They have won all the major classics so far this season - will they keep that run going today? They also have Yves Lampaert as a free spirit in what is a ridiculously strong line-up.

95km

Interesting stat: some familiar faces in the break today - Mirco Maestri is on the Milano-Sanremo offensive for the fourth successive year, while Guy Sagiv was also in the break in last year's race.

 

Meanwhile, in London...

100km

The riders have just passed through the 100km-to-go point with the gap a steady 5:45 for the 10 leaders. The action is now live on Eurosport so watch it all on the Player here...

 

We mentioned Alejandro Valverde earlier on: if the Spaniard wins he'll be the first world champion since Giuseppe Saronni in 1983 to win this race.

13:35

On top of the sunny conditions, we're hearing that there's going to be a favourable wind for those climbs later on - which could play into the hands of the puncheurs...

 

To contextualise that, Nibali won last year's race in a time of 7hrs 18min 43sec. That was 10 minutes quicker than Kwiatkowski's win, where as Demare's victory in 2016 was under the seven-hour mark.

125km

The average speed after four hours of racing is 42.950 km/h.

 

Late attack: Very occasionally an opportunist throws the dice and comes up trumps – as Fabian Cancellara did in 2008 when he attacked in the final few kilometres and held the sprinters at bay. Who in 2019? Niki Terpstra fits the bill.

 

Bunch sprint: It's what we saw three years ago with Demare, and the years before with Degenkolb and Kristoff. It's also how Oscar Freire won his three editions. Who in 2019? Take your pick from Ewan, Viviani, Bennett or Gaviria.

 

Reduced sprint: Mark Cavendish beat Heinrich Haussler in 2010 after the two went clear of the pack on the home straight – and it's not rare for the spoils to be fought between a handful of riders, as with Ciolek in 2013 or Paolo Bettini 10 years earlier. Who in 2019? A strong but not top-tier sprinter such as Sonny Colbrelli or Magnus Cort.

 

Poggio attack: Nibali managed it last year, Kwiatkowski the year before – it's not actually that rare, with Simon Gerrans also pipping Fabian Cancellara in 2012 after they broke clear on the climb. A variant of this is making a move on the descent, as we saw when Gerald Ciolek went clear with six riders in 2013 before beating Sagan in the sprint. The most famous example of this was Sean Kelly in 1992, the Irishman catching Moreno Argentin on the downhill en route to his ninth and final monument. Who in 2019? Nibali becoming the first rider since Erik Zabel in 2001 to win successive editions is unlikely. The likes of Kwiatkowski, Sagan, Alaphilippe, Romain Bardet or, going down, Matej Mohoric stand out.

 

Move on the Cipressa: again, very unlikely – the last rider to win after making his move just before the Cipressa was Gianni Bugno in 1990. Who in 2019? No one, although don't put it past Alaphilippe.

 

Long-range attack or breakaway win: this won't happen and hasn't really happened since the days of Fausto Coppi or Eddy Merckx in '66. Who in 2019? No one.

 

Let's take a quick look at the six possible scenarios that often play out in Milano-Sanremo...

13:10

We should add that it's a sunny and mild day on the Ligurian coast with the mercury pushing 18 degrees Celsius.

130km 

Schonberger picked up a puncture as the break rode through Voltri but has managed to change wheels and fight back to the leaders. They're on the coastal road now with a gap of just over five minutes.

 

Another rider had called it a day: Casper Pedersen of Team Sunweb.

 

Nibali memorably held on despite the rampaging peloton - taking a glorious win as Australian Caleb Ewan won the consolation sprint just metres behind.

 

Here's a reminder of Nibali's winning move from last year, the Italian from Bahrain-Merida latching onto an attack by Austria's Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy) on the Poggio.

 

Lining up on the front of the pack this morning at the start was the defending champion Vincenzo Nibali alongside the world champion Alejandro Valverde: riders who, if they want to win, will have to make moves on the Cipressa or Poggio rather than leave it to the final sprint.

 

It's worth adding that French newspaper L'Equipe have also given their man Julian Alaphlippe a five-star rating, with Peter Sagan and Michal Kwiatkowski on four stars, and teammates Elia Viviani and Philippe Gilbert on three stars. Two stars they give to Fernando Gaviria, Matteo Trentin, Alejandro Valverde, Greg Van Avermaet, while the single star goes to Caleb Ewan, Sonny Colbrelli, Sam Bennett, Dylan Groenewegen, John Degenkolb, Michael Matthews and Arnaud Demare.

 

Here are my rider ratings for today's race. Do you agree?

145km

The 10-man break crest the summit of the Turchino with a gap of 5:50 over the peloton. They will now drop down towards the port of Genoa - the home of pesto - before hugging the Ligurian coast all the way to the finish. Thankfully, the surface of the roads has improved since the early days of the race...

 

Going onto the Passo del Turchino, with its steady average gradient of 4%, the gap was down to 6:35. The first rider over the Turchino has gone on to win the race on only 14 occasions, the last time being Fausto Coppi way back in 1946.

 

Talking of CCC, their man Greg Van Avermaet seems to be keen to take a leaf out of defending champion Vincenzo Nibali's book and attack on the Poggio today. Here he was at the start...

 

There was an early withdrawal: Belgium's Nathan Van Hooydonck (CCC), owing to stomach issues according to his team.

 

The break - which includes six Italians, a Frenchman, a Finn, an Israeli and an Austrian - made their move early on inside the first kilometres and quickly established a lead on the pack. The maximum advantage was over eight minutes ahead of the first climb of the day, the Passo del Turchino.

 

Yes, you read that correctly: there are FOUR riders from Novo Nordisk in this break - that's more than half the entire team. Oh to have been a fly on the wall during their team talk this morning on the bus...

 

The leaders are: Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli), Mirco Maestri and Alessandro Tonelli (both Bardiani CSF), Guy Sagiv (Israel Cycling Academy), Luca Raggio and Sebastian Schonberger (both Neri Sottoli), Joonas Henttala, Andrea Peron, Charles Planet and Umberto Poli (all Novo Nordisk).

165km

We join the race live now with around 165km remaining after three hours in the saddle. We have a group of 10 riders up the road with a gap of just under seven minutes on the peloton.

291km 

Here's the familiar profile of today's race, which includes the Passo del Turchino, the Tre Capi climbs of Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta, the Cipressa, the Poggio and that heart-in-mouth descent towards the via Roma finale in the Ligurian seaside town of Sanremo.

Milano-Sanremo 2019 profile
12:20

It's that time of year again as 175 riders battle it out over 291km for the ultimate prize in La Primavera... La Classicissima... The bloody long one with the seaside finale. Call it what you want! After the fireworks of the Cipressa and the Poggio, and the long schlep over the Passo del Turchino and the Tre Capi staccato, who stands a chance of sprinting for the win on the Via Roma?

12:15

Ciao, buongiorno e benvenuto... to live coverage of the first monument of the season - the 110th edition of Milano-Sanremo.