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Wout Van Aert earns first Monument at Milan-San Remo

Belgian follows up Strade Bianche victory with La Primavera title

For the second Saturday in a row, Wout Van Aert won a one-day race in Italy. This week, after taking the WorldTour’s return at Strade Bianche, the Jumbo-Visma rider earned his first Monument trophy at Milan-San Remo. He outsprinted Julian Alaphilippe in a thrilling, hot, high-summer edition of the season’s first Monument.

The Route

Officials of coastal towns didn’t want to close the roads in summer, so the race was rerouted inland. This made the race 305-km and added some climbing to the latter half of the race.

Canadian Contingent

Teams were only allowed six riders, and Guillaume Boivin and Michael Woods, in his Primavera debut, were among their squad’s half dozen.

Middle Climbs

Seven fugitives–mostly Italians from wildcard teams–shuffled away and held a 7:00 gap before the first climb, 13.3-km, 3.5 percent Niella Belbo. A long, uncategorized drag led to the second climb, Colle di Nava (3.9-km at 2.9 percent). By the crest of the Nava, the breakaway’s gap was down to 2:30 and 74-km remained. Lotto-Soudal, Deceuninck-Quickstep and Jumbo-Visma did most of the pulling on the climb and Quickstep led on descent.

The last escapee was lassoed before the peloton reached the traditional road leading to the Cipressa.

All the race principals were at the front for the dash up the Cipressa. Trek-Segafredo put a couple of men up the road, and the pace to bring back the move shelled a few sprinters out the back.

The Poggio

Would a winning move come on the 3.6-km, 3.7 percent Poggio? With Bora-Hansgrohe’s Daniel Oss up the road as a rabbit, Deceuninck-Quick Step led the streamlined peloton to the foot of the famed climb.

Several attacks flared off the front, including another endeavour from Trek. Alaphilippe, having survived a flat, flew away with Van Aert. The Belgian lost contact but found the Frenchman among the greenhouses.

With 2-km remaining the duo had only 6-seconds. Cat and mouse games looked to be dangerous with the chase on its heels. Van Aert led Alaphilippe out in the sprint but the Frenchman couldn’t get around Jumbo-Visma’s ace.

Boivin was 40th and Woods 65th.

2020 Milan-San Remo
1) Wout Van Aert (Belgium/Jumbo-Visma) 7:16:09
2) Julian Alaphilippe (France/Deceuninck-QuickStep) s.t.
3) Michael Matthews (Australia/Sunweb) +0:02
40) Guillaume Boivin (Canada/Israel Start-Up Nation) +1:24
65) Michael Woods (Canada/EF Pro Cycling) +4:56

What’s next for the WorldTour

With the Tour of Poland soon to wrap up, the next stage race is a shortened Critérium du Dauphiné starting Wednesday. Antoine Duchesne, who recently finished La Route d’Occitanie-La Dépêche du Midi in France, is penciled in for Groupama-FDJ’s Dauphiné squad.

Next Saturday is the final of this curious August trio of one-day Italian races: Il Lombardia. Can Wout do the sweep?

The Tour de France is three weeks away.