Michal Kwiatkowski became the first Polish winner of Milano-Sanremo Namedsport after he out-sprinted Peter Sagan – the man who followed Kwiatkowski’s 2014 rainbow jersey with two of his own in 2015 and 2016 – and Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, who was making his debut in La Primavera.
Sagan launched a huge attack on the Poggio, led the trio on the downhill to avoid the peloton reeling them in and opened the sprint, but Kwiatkowski timed his sprint to perfection to claim his first Monument.
1 – Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) – 291km in 7h08’39”, average speed 40.732km/h
2 – Peter Sagan (Bora – Hansgrohe) s.t.
3 – Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) s.t.
The winner, Michal Kwiatkowski, said in the press conference: “In every classic it’s better to have several cards to play. After the Cipressa, the bunch looked huge and I thought there was a 95% chance of a bunch sprint. But on the Poggio, Sagan attacked. Elia [Viviani, teammate] told me over the radio to go after Sagan. I’m probably in a better position than most of the other riders to race against Sagan because we’ve competed together since we were juniors. Half of the bunch thinks he’s from another planet, but I truly believe he’s beatable. He was impressive on the Poggio but, wearing the rainbow jersey, he was in the worst situation [because he was the main target]. Alaphilippe and me put pressure on him. I was gambling a bit with his mind. I knew from last year that winning alone was impossible but following Sagan, yes. I left a little gap to make him launch his sprint from very far out. I’m just happy how it went.”
Second classified, Peter Sagan, said: “I gave my maximum to try and win Milano-Sanremo. Thanks to my team who did a good job preparing for the finale. They kept me out of trouble; in this race, it’s important to avoid crashing. I was very close to crashing as I crossed the finishing line! The spectacle is important for the people who watch the race. Everybody is happy, I think. My attack on the Poggio was dictated by instinct. I just tried. I realized I was alone, then [Julian] Alaphilippe came across and we descended very quickly. It was a good show.“
Third classified, Julian Alaphilippe, said: “I’ve been beaten by very strong riders, so I’m very happy to come third in my debut Milano-Sanremo. I was close to victory; I did my best and, looking at the two guys in front of me on the finishing line, I can’t have any regrets. I did everything right but, at the end, my legs were empty. I was full gas when Sagan attacked on the Poggio. He was super strong. I had to catch him before the summit and I tried to recover a little bit on the downhill. But I was also full gas trying to follow Sagan on the descent! In the last two kilometres, I wouldn’t pull for two reasons: I needed to recover and my sprinter was behind. We were racing for [Fernando] Gaviria. I’m satisfied. I hope to win this race one day.“