Van Aert sprints to Milan-San Remo victory
August 09 2020 12:02 AM
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Wout van Aert
Team Jumbo-Visma rider Belgium’s Wout van Aert celebrates on the podium with the trophy after winning the one-day classic cycling race Milan-San Remo in San Remo yesterday. (AFP)

AFP/Milan

Belgium’s Wout Van Aert won a sprint finish to clinch the Milan-San Remo, his first victory in one of cycling’s ‘Monument’ classic races yesterday.
The Jumbo-Visma rider pipped last year’s winner Julian Alaphilippe of France on the line after the gruelling 305km race in hot and sunny conditions through north-western Italy.
Van Aert crossed the finish line on the Italian Riviera after 7hrs 16min and 09sec in the saddle, just a week after winning his first major one-day race, the Strade Bianche, in Tuscany.
Australian Michael Matthews of Team Sunweb finished third, two seconds behind the leading pair, with Slovak Peter Sagan, of Bora-Hansgrohe, in fourth.
“It’s unbelievable to win Milan-San Remo after Strade Bianche,” said 25-year-old Van Aert.
“On the Poggio (hill), I was at the limit. Alaphilippe attacked earlier than I expected and I couldn’t hold his wheel so I had to go and chase him down.
“He played it very well. Luckily I just had enough power left to beat him on the line. It’s a beautiful restart of the season for me.”
The race was six kilometres longer than normal to avoid the city of Alessandria, 190km east of San Remo, which had been hit by heavy thunderstorms in recent days.
Seven Italian riders built up an early advantage in a race which had been postponed for five months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The peloton picked up heading into the final 36km, where the race resumed its classic course.
Alaphilippe suffered a puncture on the Cipressa climb, the penultimate difficulty of the race.
The French rider ignited the attack on the Poggio, the last ascent, at the threshold of the final six kilometres.
But Van Aert, who had been trailing four seconds behind the Deceuninck-Quick Step rider, hit back on the downhill with the pair battling it out until the line.
The Belgian was able to position himself on the foot of the climb with the three-time cyclo-cross world champion holding on to emulate Alaphilippe, who also won the Strade Bianche and Milan-Sanremo last year.


Results
1. Wout Van Aert (BEL/JUM) 7hr 16min 09sec (average: 41.9km/h), 2. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/DEC) same time, 3. Michael Matthews (AUS/SUN) at 02sec, 4. Peter Sagan (SVK/BOR) 02, 5. Giacomo Nizzolo (ITA/NTT) 02, 6. Dion Smith (NZL/MIT) 02, 7. Alex Aranburu (ESP/AST) 02, 8. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/CCC) 02, 9. Philippe Gilbert (BEL/LOT) 02, 10. Matej Mohoric (SLO/BAH) 02


Selected
15. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL/INE) 02, 23. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/TRE) 02, 39. Elia Viviani (ITA/COF) 1:24




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