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Milan-Sanremo: Wout van Aert takes the somewhat belated first Monument of the season

A new date, a new route – but still the same finish

Today, somewhat later than planned, the peloton set off for what is still somehow the first Monument of the season. However, while the 2020 Milan-San Remo may have been forced to adopt a new date and a new route, it retained its familiar climax.

Huge changes were made to the Milan-Sanremo route just over a week ago, after mayors of a number of coastal towns objected to the passage of the race as they seek to rebuild their tourism industries following the COVID-19 crisis.

The route then had to be modified further just a couple of days out from the start after heavy thunderstorms struck Alessandria.

While the race crossed the Po Valley and the Apennines further west than usual, it returned to its classic route in Imperia and its now traditional crescendo on the Cipressa and the Poggio.

Last year's winner, Julian Alaphilippe, was among the favourites, and he lined up alongside former winners Vincenzo Nibali (2018), Michał Kwiatkowski (2017), Arnaud Demare (2016) and Alexander Kristoff (2014).

Other notable names included Wout van Aert, the winner of last week’s Strade Bianche, Peter Sagan and Philippe Gilbert, plus Olympic champion, Greg Van Avermaet.

The race rolled out of Milan this morning and a seven-man break soon formed.

The decisive moments came in the closing kilometres, however.

Alaphilippe pushed the pace near the top of the Poggio and went over the top alone.

He was joined on the descent by Wout van Aert and the two of them worked together to hold off the chasing group.

The Belgian was the quicker of the two and so added a first Monument to last weekend’s Strade Bianche victory.

Speaking at the finish, van Aert said: “It's unbelievable to win Milano-Sanremo after Strade Bianche.

"On the Poggio, 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."

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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