PezCycling News - What's Cool In Road Cycling : Milan-Sanremo’18: Bellissimo, Beautiful, Brilliant – Vai Vincenzo!

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Milan-Sanremo’18: Bellissimo, Beautiful, Brilliant – Vai Vincenzo!
Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) - Caleb EWAN (Australia / Team Mitchelton - Scott) - Peter SAGAN (Slowakia / Team Bora - hansgrohe) - Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ) - Michael James MATTHEWS (Australia / Team Sunweb) - Alexander KRISTOFF (Norway / UAE Team Emirates) pictured during Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018
Race Report: Grand Tour and Classic wins puts Vincenzo Nibali in the 'Top Rider' bracket and on Saturday afternoon in Sanremo the 'Shark from Messina' swooped across the finish line after a brave late attack. Ed Hood describes la Primavera action.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) - Caleb EWAN (Australia / Team Mitchelton - Scott)  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Beautiful, Brilliant, Belissimmo, I’m not usually given to superlatives but those words have to be used to describe Vincenzo Nibali’s (Bahrain-Merida & Italy) win in the 2018 Milano-Sanremo to add to his 2017 Lombardia triumph.

He attacked on the Poggio, delivered a Kelly-esque descent off the hill, drove desperately through the streets of the City of Flowers then threw his arms high as he crossed the line before being engulfed by officials, team mates and hangers on.

Behind him the sprinters lunged in vain with an impressive Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott & Australia) second and previous winner Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ & France) third. But today was all about the Sicilian. . .

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Alexander Kristoff (NOR - UAE Team Emirates) - Peter Sagan (SVK - Bora - Hansgrohe) pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018



Break of the day? Nine riders went away within minutes of the wet and miserable start: Mirco Maestri (Bardiani CSF), Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani-CSF), Evgeny Koberniak (Gazprom Rusvelo), Guy Sagiv (Israel Cycling Academy), Dennis Van Winden (Israel Cycling Academy), Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Charles Planet (Novo Nordisk), Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), and Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Selle Italia); wrapped up tight against the chill and wet they followed the ‘early break script,’ traversed the plains and tackled the Turchino Pass with a six minute plus advantage.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  escape group Lorenzo Rota (ITA - Bardiani - CSF) pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

By the summit it was down to four minutes, rare in modern cycling are the days of breakaways staying away in a race like this. BMC, Bora-Hansgrohe and Quick-Step all had turns at holding the leash. The break tops the Turchino but Old Father Time is harvesting as the seconds rapidly running through the hour glass for the nine breakaways. The Ligurian Sea - and the sight of the sea lightens up the big watts men in the peloton, they gift the nine desperadoes back some seconds, five minutes now. No point in hauling them in, some other upstarts will just cause trouble.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - illustration - scenery - carte postal scenic shot - postcard sfeerfoto - sfeer - illustratie passage escape group Campo Ligure  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

The weather? ‘Dreich’ as we say in Scotland; grey, wet, miserable – a day for the Belgians? The rear of the peloton with Stevie Cummings as tail gunner – business as usual for the double British Champion.

Quick-Step, Bora-Hansgrohe and Sky are at the other end of the bunch as they ‘splash through’ (cliché warning there, Ed. editor.) the Riviera towns – the bars will be busy but the beaches will be quiet. Inside 100K now and the rain eases as Luke Rowe drives the peloton for Sky – nice to see him back from injury and grafting hard.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  illustration - scenery - carte postal scenic shot - postcard sfeerfoto - sfeer - illustratie start in Milano pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Inside 90K now and the road is drying with the break still 3:30 clear as Bora-Hansgrohe, Sky and Quick-Step remain on point through those tunnels and into that headwind; but I’ve seen the Ligurian a lot angrier than it is today.

Kwiato has taken his cape off and his jersey belongs on a soap powder ad. – ‘whiter than white.’ The bike manufacturers drum ‘aero’ into us in their ads, but just look at all those capes flapping in the breeze and all those lost watts – and as I write this a Bora rider dumps his rain jacket in the gutter, he must be a mind reader.

That’s 80K to go now, 50 miles with the gap at 3:15 for the nine as the road tracks the railway along the coast. Sagan adjusts his cape and checks the percorso card, this ‘slow’ race into a headwind is going to raise no complaints from the sprinters.

Another 10K roll under the tyres and status quo with the gap at 3:25 and the same three teams holding the reins. The break takes the feed at K 222, their second of the day; back in the peloton Sagan’s boys push him as he divests himself of his overshoes. The sun comes out at last, the gap goes under three minutes and the bars and caffs start to empty as the roadsides begin to find their voices.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  illustration - scenery - carte postal scenic shot - postcard sfeerfoto - sfeer - illustratie  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

That’s 60K to go now with dry roads and sunshine – not far now to the Capo Mele, the break will surely start to decay on it’s gentle slope. The break is on the Mele and they are still spelling well on roads damp in the shadows. Still Luke Rowe churns on at the head of the peloton, Nibali is keeping well up there and out of trouble as they fan across the road.

The gap to the break is inside two minutes now as we dip inside 50K to go; Capo Cervo next on the agenda. The sun is showing off now, strong and clear from a cloudless sky - and the gillets are coming off en masse. Tim De Clerq now back on the front for the flooring boys, so strong; 90 seconds now the advantage for the nine outlaws as they top the Cervo.

Dan McLay (EF-Drapac & GB) has crashed out, a great shame, not quick enough to win this but he’s a big strong boy.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  illustration - scenery - carte postal scenic shot - postcard sfeerfoto - sfeer - illustratie just after the start in Milano pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

That’s 40K to go now as the break hits the Berta with more minor crashes behind – the nerves are beginning to jangle. The break is doomed, splintering down to four riders and with less than 30 seconds advantage. Maestri punishes the other three break survivors and drags the gap back out to 37 seconds – Bardiani want that TV time.

The Cipressa is the next test - but it’s with a much higher exam board than the Capi. ‘Ciao Marcel’ as the third of the Capi does for the big German. BMC now on the front of the peloton with strongman Ventoso stoking the boiler as they close on the Cipressa. Groupama-FDJ bring Démare up as Kittel regains contact – chance of him getting over the Cipressa? Zero.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  illustration - scenery - carte postal scenic shot - postcard sfeerfoto - sfeer - illustratie pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

It’s getting frantic now back in the peloton, high speeds, no messing as the break dies almost bang on the 30K remaining mark. This is the start of the final act.

World Madison champion, big Roger Kluge leads the Cipressa approach with Mitchelton tiny team mate Caleb Ewan in his back pocket. The Cipressa and it’s over for Kittel. Groupama-FDJ drive it, big Lithuanian chronoman Konovalovas doing the damage as the string stretches; Ewan is still there, Sagan, Nibali, Kwiatkowski, Sky drive it with Van Baarle – but Stannard has gone.

Cav, Greipel and Kristoff are still there, the head wind their friend today – it’s an unusually big peloton deep into this climb. There’s the steeple, we’re over the summit with most of the quickest men still alive – Cav, Démare, Ewan, Greipel, Sagan. . .

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  crash val sturz fall - Mark CAVENDISH (GBR / Team Dimension Data) pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo VK/PN/Cor Vos © 2018

Are Groenewegen and Viviani still in there? Groupama-FDJ force it on the descent and it’s a long, long string coming off the hill. Het Nieuwsblad winner Valgren punctures – it’s over for him. We’re well inside 20K now and I’ve seen much more frantic approaches to the Poggio as the peloton fans out across the road and stragglers get back.

Lotto on the right, Groupama-FDJ on the left at 15K to go as Viviani shows face. Greipel is well there bearing the scars of having been on the deck. It’s still not frantic though, unlike like the usual crazed approach to the Poggio with riders gutter to gutter. Kluge shows again with Ewan in his jet wash. A huge crash right on 10K to go, it’s over for all of them; Cav is one of them, coming down hard on his back.

The Poggio and Burghardt drives for Sagan; Matthews is still there, surprising – Drucker joins then drops the German as the climb kicks up. Drucker opened a good gap but they’re hauling him back – still a decent sized group despite the crash.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - climb Poggio - Vincenzo Nibali (ITA - Bahrain - Merida)  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Big Latvian Champion Krists Neilands goes for Israeli Cycling Academy. Nibali follows but the man in the purple bands pops and it’s Nibali solo and looking very, very good. Matthews tries to counter, Sagan sets Oss to work but Nibali is round the left hander at the bar at the top and is on the descent – his favourite territory. Nibali has 11 seconds, he can win this.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - climb Poggio - Vincenzo Nibali (ITA - Bahrain - Merida)  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Matthews, Sagan, chase but it looks good for ‘The Shark.’ Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott) goes off in pursuit – but shouldn’t it be ‘all for Caleb, Matteo?’ - with Sagan marking him; Demare and Kwiatkowski are there too. Nibali doesn’t look back, he drives off the bottom of the Poggio and into the streets of Sanremo; Trentin is inching closer though – red kite.

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida)  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

The last 500 metres and the peloton is closing, mad, desperate, rapid - but he’s going to do it! Ewan is flying; but YES!

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida) - Caleb EWAN (Australia / Team Mitchelton - Scott) - Peter SAGAN (Slowakia / Team Bora - hansgrohe) - Arnaud DEMARE (France / Team FDJ) - Michael James MATTHEWS (Australia / Team Sunweb) - Alexander KRISTOFF (Norway / UAE Team Emirates)  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Nibali’s arms go high – what a race, what a finish!

Ewan second, Démare third. Not the fastest Primavera but a memorable finale to the world’s most beautiful bike race. Bravo Vincenzo!

Sanremo - Italy - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport -  Vincenzo NIBALI (Italy / Team Bahrain - Merida)  pictured during  Milano-Sanremo (1.UWT) a one day race  from Milano to Sanremo (291KM) - photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2018

Milan-Sanremo Result:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida in 7:18:43
2. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
3. Arnaud Demare (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
4. Alexander Kristoff (Nor) UAE Team Emirates
5. Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) BMC
6. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
7. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
8. Magnus Cort (Den) Astana
9. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
11. Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Sky
12. Matti Breschel (Den) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
13. Christophe Laporte (Fra) Cofidis
14. Sacha Modolo (Ita) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
15. Marco Canola (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini
16. Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Dimension Data
17. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC
18. Nathan Haas (Aus) Katusha-Alpecin
19. Elia Viviani (Ita) Quick-Step Floors
20. Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Quick-Step Floors at 0:04
21. Daryl Impey (RSA) Mitchelton-Scott
22. Jens Debusschere (Bel) Lotto Soudal at 0:05
23. Krists Neilands (Lat) Israel Cycling Academy
24. Jos van Emden (Ned) LottoNL-Jumbo
25. Matej Mohoric (Slo) Bahrain-Merida.

 

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