Julian Alaphilippe takes Milan-San Remo crown
ROME - Deceuninck – Quick-Step rider Julian Alaphilippe looked in imperious form as he outpaced his closest rivals in a sprint finish to take the 2019 Milan-San Remo crown.
The Frenchman, many people’s favourite coming into the race, continued his phenomenal recent run of form by claiming his seventh title of the season so far. This is Alaphilippe's first Monument crown, having previously finished second in both Liège-Bastogne-Liége and the Giro di Lombardia, and he will add the prize to his Strade Bianche and La Flèche Wallone Classics titles.
Alaphilippe looked untroubled for much of the race, before making his move on the slopes of the final climb of the 291-kilometre course.
While the Poggio has a relatively low, 3.7 per cent average gradient and only totals 4 kilometres in length, it has frequently proved a decisive moment of previous races, and so it did again this year.
Alaphilippe burst clear from the what was left of the peloton, with only ten riders able to match his pace and stay on his wheel and was well placed once he summitted the Poggio and began the 6-kilometre descent into San Remo to take the victory.
This was Alaphilippe’s first Milan-San Remo crown and in winning he took some major scalps. Peter Sagan was amongst those left disappointed as the Frenchman soared past. The Slovakian has for a number of seasons been the man to beat in a sprint but found himself boxed in while tracking Spaniard Alejandro Valverde.
Sagan, who eventually finished fourth, spoke to Cycling Weekly after the race, saying: “I got a little stuck on the front for the sprint. It was a sprint from a low speed. When we opened the sprint, I was looking for Valverde and they passed me on the left and I was on the right. Alaphilippe had two bike lengths and it was hard to get him back.”
Italian Matteo Trentin and last-year’s champion Vincenzo Nibali were both in contention, but were unable to get on the podium finishing tenth and seventh respectively.
Oliver Naeson of Ag2r La Mondiale finished in second place with Team Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowski coming in in third.
The Spring Classics season now moves onto Gent-Wevelgem on 31 March, before heading to the Tour of Flanders on the 7 April and then the famed cobbles of Paris-Roubaix on 14 March.