This week, it’s the first of the monuments, with an absolutely thrilling finale to Saturday’s Milan Sanremo. Tirreno Adriatico wraps up and the Women’s WorldTour continues in Italy. We have a small taste of things to come in Belgium, plus the Tour de Taiwan concludes and the Tour de Langkawi begins.
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Before we get on with the big one, a quick wrap up of Tirreno Adriatico – Michal Kwiatkowski took his biggest overall stage race win to date there, beating Damiano Caruso and teammate Geraint Thomas. No surprise to see Rohan Dennis win the final TT, upsetting Jos Van Emden for a 2nd year in a row, whilst on the penultimate stage, Kittel won his second race of the year.
But that already feels like a long time ago, as last week the cycling world’s eyes were all on la Classicissima, La Primavera, the first monument of the year, Milan Sanremo.
At two hundred and ninety four kilometres, it’s the longest one day race of the year. We all get rather excited about it, and yet little happens until the final thirty k’s. This year was no different, despite some quite horrendous weather conditions over first part of the 7 hour race. In fact, on the first of the two main climbs, the Cipressa, we literally didn’t have a single attack.
Now, that was partly down to the headwind, and partly down to the extremely high tempo that Groupama FDJ and Team Sky set, but it did make you start wondering if these climbs just really aren’t hard enough to make a difference in the modern peloton.
But then, we had the Poggio, and things got a lot more interesting. The pace was furious at the start, with Burghardt and Drucker making a move, but as they were reeled in, we saw an impressive attack from little known Krists Neilands. Just 23 years of age, he basically sparked the winning move – Vincenzo Nibali jumped across, and despite a brave attempt from the Latvian Champion, he was unable to stick with the Italian, who took a 10 second lead over the top of the climb.
From there, it was a nail biting experience for everyone, the riders, the teams and the fans watching too. The question of will he or won’t he hold off the group behind was hanging in the balance, and not really answered until the final one hundred metres of the race. But Nibali managed to do what many of us thought was no longer possible in this race, to win it as a climber.
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