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Milan-San Remo highlights - Video - Dramatic finish to first monument of the season

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) took the first monument of his career with victory on the Via Roma at Milan-San Remo. Kwiatkowski edged out world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) in a photo finish, after passing Sagan in the final few metres.
Kwiatkowski and Sagan were part of a three-man group that got away on the final climb of the Poggio, along with Quick-Step Floors' Julian Alaphilippe.
It was Sagan that ignited the move, jumping clear on the upper slopes of the Poggio with Kwiatkowski and Alaphilipp battling across the void. With three such strong riders clear up front, the bunch behind was unable to bring together a coherent enough chase to catch them.
Former winner, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) was the best of the rest, taking the sprint from the chasing group.
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Kwiatkowski outwits world champion to Milan-San Remo victory - Pole proves he's on par with Sagan in three-up sprint

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) has one important advantage when he races against Peter Sagan: while some of the world champion's current rivals see him as virtually unbeatable, Kwiatkowski knows he can get the better of Sagan in certain situations, having done so when they raced at the junior and Under 23 level in the Czech Republic and Poland.
In the crux of Milan-San Remo, Kwiatkowski and Team Sky used every possible tactical advantage they could find to create a winning edge. Kwiatkowski produced a huge effort to make sure he got across to Sagan when he attacked on the Poggio. Then on the descent he could play mind games and miss turns, forcing Sagan to do more work because Elia Viviani was waiting in the peloton in case the race came back together for a bunch sprint finish.
When Kwiatkowski realised the three-rider attack was going to go all the way to the finish, he focused on beating Sagan in the sprint.
Sagan was well into his tactical trap and generously dragged the three-rider attack to the finish. Then Kwiatkowski rode the sprint up the Via Roma perfectly, putting out - according to his Strava file - a staggering maximum power of 1220W after more than seven hours of racing (17.9W/Kg).
Those numbers aren't surprising for the Pole, whose characteristics are more like Sagan's than their physiques show.
"As juniors, we were at a very similar level, I had more chances to race against him than any other guy perhaps. I know that Peter is beatable. You just have to believe it," Kwiatkowski said.
"Maybe half the bunch think that he's from another planet, but I know that I'm able to follow him, just like on the Poggio today."
"When we talked about tactics before the race, we don't think about who's going to make it when Sagan goes, we know that I can follow him," Kwiatkowski explained quietly but with the innate self-confidence that helped him become world champion in 2014.
"It's all about winning, not being second or third. It's always better to have two cards to play and both me and Alaphilippe had sprinters behind who could win. We came here with two leaders, and I'm always happy to have that excuse of having a good sprinter behind. I knew that I could wait and not go to the front. Alaphilippe was the same. I don't think Sagan was thinking about Sam Bennett, he was making his effort. In the Classics when you have a few cards to play, you can go for the win."
"Elia was impressive today. We talked a lot on the radio and he said I had to follow any moves. I thought that it'd be a bunch sprint and so I'm thankful to Elia that he kept me awake, gave me the wake-up call on the Poggio and that I could follow that attack from Peter."
Thanks to his years of racing against Sagan, his confidence, and his tactical superiority, Kwiatkowski was able to find the edge in the sprint to the line and beat Sagan.
"I always believe I can beat anyone if you make things right," he explained carefully.
"I was really trying to focus on the sprint. For sure, I was gambling a bit with Sagan's mind and for sure, he was under big pressure. I know that wearing the rainbow jersey puts you in a hard situation.
"A bunch sprint and a one-to-one sprint are very different. I was 100 percent sure that Sagan has better acceleration and he's just a better sprinter. But he is beatable."
"I did my very best in the sprint. I left a little gap before the sprint, forcing him to lead out. He looked behind and I knew that when he saw the gap he'd start the sprint first. On the track, if you are directly behind the wheel, you will lose a couple of metres when a faster guy starts a sprint. I was trying to stay relaxed and have enough space to get up to a higher speed before the finish line. In the end, that worked out by a couple of centimetres. I'm happy how it went…."
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Few regrets for Quick-Step Floors after Alaphilippe takes third in Milan-San Remo - Frenchman goes with Sagan's attack, while Gaviria finishes fifth

Seconds after the finish of Milan-San Remo, on the second part of the Via Roma, Julian Alaphilippe and Fernando Gaviria crossed paths and touched hands. The Frenchman was on his way to the podium after taking third in the sprint behind Michal Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan, while Gaviria rode on to the Quick-Step Floors team bus after finishing fifth and second behind Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) in the sprint. It was a moment of mixed emotions.
The atmosphere at the team bus was one of defeat and regret. Some lamented that Gaviria's saddle had come loose before the climb of the Cipressa. He was unable to change bikes in such a key moment in the race and so it perhaps affected his performance. However, there was also satisfaction with Alaphilippe's third place.
The Belgian team had taken on the race as it likes to do. Perhaps Gaviria was a stronger card to play but Sagan's attack on the Poggio completely changed the race, and his work on the descent and on the streets of San Remo ensured that the three-rider attack stayed away.
Alaphilippe was rightly proud of his ride after going close to victory in the three-rider sprint.
"It was my first participation in San Remo, so this was a good experience. We respected our role, as a team with a sprinter in Gaviria. It was my role to be vigilant on the ascent of the Poggio. To cover the attacks there. I did that, so I'm happy with my performance," the Frenchman explained.
"The final was really hard. Sagan was very, very strong when he attacked. I gave my maximum in order to begin the descent in front. I saw we rapidly made a difference and so I wanted to recover in the descent. But Sagan attacked on every corner. When we arrived in the flat, my legs were full. I have no regrets today."
"In the sprint, I felt immediately that the legs weren't exceptional. There is no disappointment. You have to take things as they come. There are two great champions in front of me, so I'm happy to be on the podium with them."
The eventual full post mortem at Quick-Step Floors might not be so bright, but Philippe Gilbert, who was aggressive after the Cipressa and helped keep the race together there and before the Poggio, tried to be upbeat.
"We had Alaphillipe take third and Gaviria was fifth and so we have to see it as a good result," the Belgian national champion insisted.
"We thought that Sagan would attack because he'd be beaten by certain sprinters. We knew he would do something and he did it. I didn't see what happened but I imagine he was super strong, he's a 'grosse moteur'."
Alaphilippe agreed.
"Frustration? No. I gave everything I had. The legs have spoken today. I was beaten by two guys who were stronger. Peter was very strong. I just spoke with Michal and he said the same thing: Peter was so strong," he said.
Gaviria spoke briefly at the team bus, with signs of his crash in training still evident on his face and wrist.
"Sagan's attack was spectacular. He clearly had the legs to do it and he showed," Gaviria said.
"This is a complicated race bit it's a spectacular race. It's not easy to get right but I think it's a race for me in the future."
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Milan-San Remo: Kwiatkowski owes me a few beers, says Sagan - World champion says he was strongest, but lacked cooperation

Peter Sagan claimed he was the strongest rider in Milan-San Remo but sportingly accepted defeat, shaking Michal Kwiatkowski's hand soon after crossing the finish line in Via Roma.
The Bora-Hansgrohe rider made the attack of the race with his powerful acceleration on the Poggio, dragging the Polish rider and Julian Alaphilippe away. Yet after being forced to do most of the work to ensure the move stayed clear, Sagan was not able to beat Kwiatkowski in the sprint.
Sagan is one of the most feared riders in the peloton, and for good reason. Over 558 races, he's been on the podium 204 times, has, 92 wins and 78 second places. It's put him in the unenviable position of being the one rider nobody wants to work with, because the only way to beat him is to wear him down. He could have been angry with the lack of cooperation, but true to character he accepted defeat sportingly.
"I'm satisfied. The result is important but so is putting on a show for the fans. The strongest doesn't always win," Sagan said after the podium ceremony, clearly convinced he was the strongest despite not winning.
"The only thing missing today was a little bit of co-operation from some other riders. But it's okay. I did my bit and I'm happy with what I did. That's cycling. You race for 300km and you can win by a little or lose by a little. I did my best."
"I did a lot of work in the last five kilometres. They did one turn each but that's normal and it's clear that they recovered more than I did. I produced a lot of watts in the sprint but I didn't win."

An instinctive attack on the Poggio
Sagan seemed keen to preempt any moves on the Poggio by launching the attack himself. His long surge in the second half of the Poggio decided the race and left most of his rivals struggling. Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe eventually got on to his wheel. The trio had 13 seconds at the top of the Poggio and extended it on the descent.
Sagan revealed that his attack was not planned but came instinctively.
"I hadn't planned anything because racing depends on the legs you have. I didn't think to go so well. I thought other riders would attack, I don't know why they didn't. Perhaps they didn't have the legs…." he explained.
"I tried it this year because there was a tailwind on the Poggio. I had nothing to lose, I tried. I got away and then Kwiat and Alaphilippe came across. I still thought I was faster than them. I thought we'd go away but it's hard to get some help from different teams. But that's cycling. Not always the best can win."
Sagan joked that Kwiatkowski now "owes me a few beers".
He also tried to look to the rest of the spring Classics, where, thanks to his ability, he will still have several chances of victory in Belgium and Northern France.
"We've only really started today with Milan-San Remo," Sagan said. "Now I've got to recover. At the weekend we've got Harelbeke and then Gent-Wevelgem, then Flanders and Roubaix."
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Kwiatkowski wins Milan-San Remo - Sagan, Alaphilippe settle for podium in breakaway trio

Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) won an excruciatingly close photo-finish sprint on the Via Roma in Milan-San Remo, topping world champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), with Julian Alaphilippe (QuickStep) in third.
"After previous editions in 2013 and 2014 when I've been unlucky, winning Milano-San Remo is an incredible feeling," Kwiatkowski said. "I'm thankful to my teammates, they did an incredible job today. I didn't expect Sagan to attack on the Poggio. After he did, I expected a bunch sprint but he maintained a high speed at the front. I focused only on my own sprint. I can't believe I've beaten Sagan!"
Sagan sparked the breakaway over the top of the Poggio, and was quickly joined by Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe, two daring descenders who could keep up with the world champion's legendary skills.
Leading the entire descent, Sagan looked to his companions to take a pull, but they only briefly obliged, leaving Sagan to do the majority of the work to hold off the hard-charging peloton. As they took the final curve and had the finish line in sight, the peloton came into view behind them, but they had left it too late.
Sagan wiggled his elbow for Kwiatkowski to pull through with 500m to go, but the Pole wisely declined, and as Sagan charged hard for the finish line, Kwiatkowski drew alongside. Sagan violently strangled his bicycle trying to squeeze out just a few more watts, but the Sky rider threw his bike to the line, snatching the elusive Milan-San Remo victory from the Bora-hansgrohe rider.
Alaphilippe finished narrowly behind for third place, and the peloton crossed the line only five seconds later.
"The only thing missing today was a little bit of co-operation from some other riders," Sagan said. "But it's okay. I did my bit and I'm happy with what I did. That's cycling. You race for 300km and you can win by a little or lose by a little. I did my best."

Brief Results
1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky 7:08:39
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe
3 Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Quick-Step Floors
4 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha-Alpecin 0:00:05
5 Fernando Gaviria (Col) Quick-Step Floors
6 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
7 John Degenkolb (Ger) Trek-Segafredo
8 Nacer Bouhanni (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits
9 Elia Viviani (Ita) Team Sky
10 Caleb Ewan (Aus) Orica-Scott
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Aero, light, and versatile, there's a lot to love about the new Enve SES 3.4 wheels.
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Boeckmans pushing incident brings up the age old question of peloton etiquette.
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