Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe won the 110th edition of the classic Milan-Sanremo, the first 'monument' of the season and the first of the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider's record.
Alaphilippe, 26, dominated the small front group at the conclusion of the 291-kilometer Italian race, beating theoretically faster men in the sprint, as world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and predecessor Peter Sagan (BORA) -hansgrohe). The Slovakian was fourth, behind the Belgian Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale) and the Polish Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky).
The most successful man at the start of the season, he reached the seventh triumph of the year after triumphs at Strade Bianche in early March and two stages in the Tyrrhenian Adriatic, and became the second Frenchman to win at Sanremo in the 21st century after Arnaud Démare to have won in 2016 the group of the five 'monuments' with Return to Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Tour of Lombardy
In 2017, Alaphilippe had already disputed the triumph, but finished behind Kwiatkowski and Sagan. Last year, there was no discussion because no one was able to respond to the Italian Vincenzo Nibali's attack, who finished eighth today, just after Valverde, in a group of 10 credited with the same time as the winner, 6:40:14.
Now it was Alaphilippe's turn to inscribe the name among the winners of the classicissima, in a race well controlled by his team and in which the only Portuguese present, José Gonçalves (Katusha-Alpecin), was 76th, at 1.29 minutes.
"I was protected, the team had confidence in me. We hardened the race and in the sprint I thought above all of not making mistakes," said the Gaul, who before the final 200 meters took the wheel of the Slovenian Matej Mohoric: "When I saw Mohoric , I said to myself, 'It is now or never.' "
The event was largely marked by an escape of 10 runners, from 'minor' teams invited by the organization, who remained in front until the zone of small elevations that punctuate the last hour of race. One of them, Fausto Masnada, walked 260 kilometers in front, resisting to the Cipressa, penultimate obstacle of the test.
In the Poggio, the last climb, Alaphilippe's team set the pace, and the French made an attack that formed a group of excellence ahead, with Sagan, Valverde, Kwiatkowski, Naesen, Wout Van Aert and Matteo Trentin. there was understanding and other men came forward again for the final discussion.