Wout van Aert beats Julian Alaphilippe in Milan-San Remo
Saturday, August 8, 2020 at 6:25 PM
Wout van Aert has won the 111th edition of Milan-San Remo. The Jumbo-Visma rider defeated his flight buddy and title defender Julian Alaphilippe after a very exciting final. Both riders managed to get away on the flanks of the Poggio.
In the Italian cities of Milan and San Remo, it was mainly about cycling today. Today the 111th edition of Milan-San Remo was on the program. The match underwent a real metamorphosis, with the scrapping of the Turchino, the three Capi and a long passage along the Ligurian coast, but the final remained unchanged. La Classicissima also ended in this strange cycling season after a traditional final over the Cipressa and the Poggio.
Six Italians and one Spaniard go on an adventure
The official go-ahead for Milan-San Remo was given at 11 a.m. and after barely ten minutes of course, Radio Corsa already gave the names of the early breakers. The leading group was almost completely Italian with Mattia Bais, Manuele Boaro, Alessandro Tonelli, Damiano Cima, Fabio Mazzucco and Marco F Rapporti. These home riders were still joined by the Spaniard Héctor Carretero. The seven adventurers managed to get a maximum lead of about six minutes.
The riders managed to cover almost 44 kilometers in the first hour of racing. It soon became clear that Caleb Ewan and Philippe Gilbert were driving around with profit ambitions, as the servants of Lotto Soudal settled at the head of the peloton to do the dirty work. Jumbo-Visma (for Strade Bianche winner Wout van Aert) and Groupama-FDJ (Arnaud Démare) also decided to sacrifice a man in the hunt for the seven leaders.
Shadow favorite Trentin gives up after crash
On the ascent to the hamlet of Niella Belbo, a new climb in the course after scrapping the coastal passage, the breakaway’s lead continued to fluctuate around six minutes. The race went a bit further towards the Cipressa and the Poggio, but with 87 kilometers to go the peloton was suddenly startled by a crash. The most famous and primary victim was Matteo Trentin, pre-labeled as one of the shadow favorites.
The unfortunate CCC rider eventually had to be taken to hospital. Without Trentin, the other riders continued towards the Colle di Nava. The favorites decided to keep their powder dry on this climb, knowing that the toughest was yet to come. However, the pace was quite high, as the lead of the escapees had dropped to one minute. A regrouping took place before the Cipressa.
Nervousness increases in the run-up to the Cipressa, Ewan and Gaviria drop out
In the run-up to the penultimate climb in this Milan-San Remo, nervousness in the peloton increased, the favorites all wanted to start in a good position on the Cipressa. Likewise Julian Alaphilippe, but the defending champion first had to deal with mechanical breakdown. However, the Frenchman was brought back to the peloton in time. Danny van Poppel saw his chances disappear after a crash.
On the Cipressa we saw attacks by Loïc Vliegen and Jacopo Mosca, but even more striking was Caleb Ewan’s very early dropout. The number two of 2018 and one of the big favorites for the victory had a bad day and ran into the man with the hammer on the Cipressa. Fernando Gaviria, another sprinter to take into account, suddenly stopped completely. At the very front, Vliegen and Mosca were still in the lead.
Fireworks on the Poggio
The lead of the Belgian and Italian, however, was limited to ten seconds, which were swallowed up not much later. Daniel Oss took a little more risk in the descent of the Cipressa, which allowed him to run fifteen seconds on a thinned peloton. However, the Italian with the distinctive curls was not able to reach the foot of the Poggio first. A fairly large group, with Van der Poel and Van Aert, started the last climb.
Gianluca Brambilla increased the pace when turning up the Poggio, but the Italian could not do much damage, although sprint cannon Sam Bennett saw stars. At 6.5 kilometers from the finish line, defending champion Alaphilippe decided, in his own words not in top form, to put his gear in and the Deceuninck-Quick-Step rider even proved strong enough to knock top favorite Van Aert off the wheel.
Alaphilippe attacks, Van Aert sprints to victory
Alaphilippe was the first to start the descent of the Poggio, but Van Aert was certainly not without a chance for the victory. The Belgian surfaced only three seconds later and managed to reconnect in the descent. Alaphilippe and Van Aert did have a nice bonus on a chasing group with Van der Poel, who was unable to follow the two leaders on the Poggio. Yet the differences were still playable towards San Remo.
Alaphilippe and Van Aert decided not to left ball towards the finish, as the lead (about eight seconds) was very small. For a moment Van der Poel and co seemed to still connect, especially because Van Aert and Alaphilippe stopped their legs in the last hundreds of meters. However, the pursuers came too late and so the Belgian and French were allowed to sprint for a very prestigious victory. Van Aert turned out to be the fastest after an exciting sprint.
For the Belgian it is his second big win since the corona break, as he was also the best in Strade Bianche last week. Alaphilippe finished second, Michael Matthews won the sprint of the chasing group. Van der Poel failed to secure a close place of honor. Van Aert is the first Belgian to win Milan-San Remo since Andrei Tchmil, who was the best in 1999 after a late withdrawal.