Alexander Kristoff surprised many by winning the 105th edition of the Milan San Remo. Raced in terrible conditions, riders coped with freezing temperatures and driving rain before a bunch sprint decided the eventual winner.
Kristoff (Katusha) beat Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), Ben Swift (Sky) and the rest of the 200 strong peloton after 294km from the Lombardian capital of Milan to the small town of San Remo.
Kristoff emerged as the strongest from a bunch which contained the majority of the world’s top sprinters, including defending champion Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka), Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and Andre Greipel (Lotto-Belisol).
[quote_center]”I was super happy when I saw I’d taken the win,” said Kristoff after the stage.[/quote_center]
“It was the best moment in my life. Right now I’m enjoying this moment and I’m super happy. It’s the highlight of my career.
As expected, the race once again came down to a mass sprint, with most of the top names making it through to the end. However, Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) finished only fifth, last year’s winner Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka) ninth, and heavy favourite Peter Sagan (Cannondale) only 10th in a rain-affected race that split and regrouped several times as the peloton tackled a more traditional looking edition of the race.
The top sprinters had all survived up until the foot of the final climb of the Poggio, at which point an attack from Vincenzo Nibali – who had attacked on the Cipressa – was neutralised. John Degenkolb unluckily punctured near the base of the climb but Team Sky, BMC and Belkin all attempted to split the field on the fast run-in to San Remo. It was Katusha who took control. Paolini powered to the front inside the final kilometre at a crucial moment when discipline and calmness were required.