Kwiatkowski wins Milano-Sanremo by a whisker

Michal Kwiatkowski, aboard his fi’zi:k Antares VS saddle and competing for Team Sky, continued his superb start to the 2017 season on Saturday by claiming a stunning victory at Milano-Sanremo. The 26-year-old beat reigning world champion Peter Sagan by the smallest of margins over the longest Monument of the season with Julian Alaphilippe in third.

After nearly 300km of race action over 7hrs, Kwiatkowski edged Sagan in a photo-finish and, in the process, became only the second Team Sky rider to win a Monument after Wout Poels (fi’zi:k Antares VS saddle) won Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2016. It was also Kwiatkowski’s second major victory in a fortnight after his success at Strade Bianche.

‘I knew from 2016 that winning alone was impossible but following Sagan, yes,’ the Polish rider said after the race. ‘I left a little gap to make him launch his sprint from very far out… I’m just happy how it went.’

The race unfolded under beautiful skies with 10 riders feeling particularly invigorated by the Italian sun, leading a breakaway after only 5km. The group included Nico Denz (fi’zi:k saddles and FDJ) plus William Clarke (fi’zi:k Antares VS saddle) and Tom Skujins (fi’zi:k Aliante VSX), both of Cannondale-Drapac.

The leading group’s advantage hovered between 4-5mins until about 120km to go when the lead dropped to around 2:20mins. With 39km to go, the brave group began to unravel and, come the Cipressa, they’d been caught by the peloton. Its 5.6km length and gradient that kisses 9% in places often dictates the outcome of Milano-Sanremo and once again played a pivotal role this year.

However, it was the final climb, the Poggio, that proved decisive. Just prior to cresting the climb and on one of the steepest sections, Sagan took off in what, for moments, looked like a race-winning move. The peloton seemed to stop, apart from Kwiatkowski and Alaphilippe who flew after him – and caught him.

So it was left to these three down the final sprint. The odds were stacked in Sagan’s favour but Kwiatkowski timed his stretch to perfection to take a truly remarkable victory.