Belgium’s Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma) pipped Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick Step) on the line of Milano-Sanremo presented by Vittoria to claim the first Monument of his career. He followed the path of the Frenchman who won both Strade Bianche and La Classicissima last year. Australia’s Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) rounded out the podium in spectacular fashion as he won the bunch sprint after a bad crash on the Poggio.
1 – Wout van Aert (Team Jumbo – Visma) – 305km in 7h16’09”, average speed 41.958 km/h
2 – Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) s.t.
3 – Michael Matthews (Team Sunweb) at 2″
The winner, Wout van Aert, said in the press conference: “The effort on the Poggio was horrible for my legs. But last year it was similar to hold the wheel, and Strade Bianche last week also put me in a lot of pain. Luckily, nobody stayed in my wheel. When I reached the top, somehow I tried to believe that Julian was also on his limit. Then everything was to my advantage. It would have still been possible to come across to him on the flat but as I came back on the downhill I had a good chance to win. Today is a special day as I won my first Monument. By the end of my career, I’d be happy to have very diverse achievements to my credit on the road as well as in cyclo-cross. As a Belgian, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix are on top of my list. I climb quite well and I have a good TT. Everything except Grand Tour victories should be within my capabilities.”
Second-placed Julian Alaphilippe said: “I have mixed feelings about today, overall I am happy to be on the podium. Wout was very strong and he deserved the victory. I went full gas on the Poggio but in the downhill, I understood I could have not made the difference on my own so I worked together with Wout. It was a very hard sprint, fighting against each other. The strongest rider won.”
Third-placed Michael Matthews said: “On the second part of the Poggio I wanted to attack but a couple of riders in front of me closed me and I scraped my hand and shoulder against the wall. From that point, I could not hold the handlebar properly, but I knew my team did such a great job today and I did not want to give up. Obviously, I wanted to win today, I think I had the legs to do it but this is racing, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. In the final sprint, I gave everything, being on the podium is nice.”