France’s Julian Alaphilippe of Deceunick – Quick-Step claimed his first Monument as he outsprinted Belgium’s Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale), arch-rivals Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Peter Sagan (Bora – Hansgrohe) in a front group of ten riders that took shape on the Poggio following attacks made by the eventual winner. He’s the third rider to win Strade Bianche and Milano-Sanremo back to back after Fabian Cancellara in 2008 and Kwiatkowski in 2017.
1 – Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) – 291km in 6h40’14”, average speed 43.625km/h
2 – Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) s.t.
3 – Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) s.t.
The winner, Julian Alaphilippe, said in the press conference: “I came with the goal of winning this race. I’m just as proud of my win as I am of the work of my team today. What they’ve done for me is absolutely exceptional. I rode for the victory at the end bearing their dedication in mind. I recovered in the downhill after I sped up on the Poggio but I still thought it would be complicated to win considering the quality of the riders I was away with. I made a little effort to close the gap on Matteo Trentin as I knew he was very fast. Then I stayed calm and remained next to Peter Sagan. When Matej Mohoric launched the sprint, I knew I had to take his wheel straight away. Had he taken 20 metres, it would have been game over. I capped it off the nicest way I could. It’s pure joy.”
Second classified, Oliver Naesen, said: “Second in Milan-Sanremo is an unbelievable result for me. It’s my first podium in a monument. It’s something I will cherish. Alaphilippe was untouchable today. He was the strongest on the Poggio. He launched the sprint from very far away with a headwind against very fast riders like Kwiatkowski, Sagan and Trentin. He’s for sure the rightful winner. I had a lot of confidence going into this race but I was confident to make the top ten. I was hoping for a podium but I didn’t really expect it. It means I’m ready for a big win because the cobbled classics in Belgium, my home country, suit me even more than Milan-Sanremo.”
Third classified, Michal Kwiatkowski, said: “It’s a good result to be on the podium but being so close to the victory leads to thinking about what I could have done better. I dreamt to win today but Julian was the strongest rider today. I think everybody saw what he did on the Poggio. Having the legs to sprint the way he did after that is absolutely impressive. It was a nice feeling for me to be with the best riders in the front group. I’m really happy that Team Sky gave me the opportunity to go for another one.”