Wout van Aert beats Julian Alaphilippe in Milan-Sanremo and …


Wout van Aert has done it again. Our fellow countryman won Milan-Sanremo after a burning sprint against Julian Alaphilippe. Van Aert is thus the first Belgian winner of La Primavera since Andreï Tchmil in 1999 and now wins his second major Italian race in one week: what a phenomenal achievement.

La Primavera, that’s how Milan-Sanremo has been known for years. But due to the outbreak of the corona virus, the race was not held at the beginning of spring this time, but in the well of summer. And just like with the Strade Bianche last week, it had its consequences: it was again very hot in Italy. And that while a few years ago the peloton in this race had to stop for a while due to snowfall: it could be.

6 Italians, 1 Spaniard

The peloton was preparing for a long day, because there had to be overcome no less than 305 kilometers. Not everyone could laugh about this in these summer temperatures: Adrie van der Poel, Mathieu’s father, among others, criticized the organization before the start. The peloton took it easy in the early hours. Six Italians were given a safe-conduct: Alessandro Tonelli and Fabio Mazzucco (Bardiani), Mattia Bais (Androni), Damiano Cima (Gazprom), Marco Fverslagi (Vini Zabu) and Manuele Boaro (Astana) formed together with the Spaniard Hector Carretero (Movistar) the flight of the day.

In a sprint with two, just ahead of the oncoming peloton, Van Aert beat Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, last year’s winner on the Via Roma.

As is often the case, the kilometers were counted down to the foot of the Cipressa, about 30 kilometers from the finish, where the final could begin. Long before that, however, one of the favorites had to drop out: Matteo Trentin, together with Greg Van Avermaet leader at CCC, crashed 85 kilometers from the finish. At first sight, the damage seemed to be not too bad for the Italian, but Trentin would no longer get on the bike.

Ewan and Gaviria soon fall off

Just before the Cipressa, the remaining front runners were seized. And then the alarm bells suddenly went off at Deceuninck-QuickStep when Julian Alaphilippe, last year’s winner, had a puncture. But the Frenchman was able to return to the peloton fairly quickly with the help of Tim Declercq, who had already been released: beautiful work by El Tractor. Danny Van Poppel was less lucky: the fast man of Circus-Wanty Gobert disappeared from the foreground after a crash.

The peloton turned rapidly up the Cipressa. There the first attack was one with a Belgian touch: Loïc Vliegen (Circus-Wanty Gobert) took off alone. A little later he was joined by Jacopo Mosca (Trek-Segafredo). In the meantime, the door in the back of the peloton was wide open: favorites Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates) found their Waterloo at the Cipressa.

Fly and Mosca were soon seized again. Daniel Oss then tried it in the descent of the Cipressa. With some breakneck speed – the Italian almost went out of the corner – Oss gained a few seconds lead. But the sturdy Italian did not get far either. A heavily thinned peloton, along with a fair amount of fellow countrymen, started the important climb of the Poggio.

Alaphilippe attack, Van Aert goes along

On the Poggio a Belgian from Circus-Wanty Gobert attacked again with Aimé De Gendt. He even took the lead alone, but then the race exploded behind him: Julian Alaphilippe took off with a sharp attack. Only Wout van Aert could keep up with all the effort in the world. The two cut down the Poggio together on the way to Via Roma.

The duo entered the final kilometer together, with the remainder of the peloton a short distance. A sprint with two announced itself. Alaphilippe played poker: Van Aert had to try and manage from the head. But our compatriot did not let his head turn around: in the sprint he settled without mercy with Alaphilippe! Michael Matthews narrowly stopped Peter Sagan for third place. Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert finished eighth and ninth.


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