The Moment Milan-Sanremo Was Won

Vincenzo Nibali, Poggio 2018 Milan Sanremo

They’ve no government following indecisive elections, they’ve no team left in the World Tour but Italy can still count on Vincenzo Nibali. His attack on the Poggio won him the race and brought the first home victory in Sanremo since 2006.

The day began with eight riders from wildcard teams plus Matteo Bono as the lone World Tour representative, going in the early breakaway like he did for three of the last four years and allowing bored viewers to pass the time making wisecracks about his name.

Passo Turchino tunnel

The move was close to being caught over the Turchino presumably they wanted to save energy and the bunch was stressing about the descent and the gap fell to 1.45 but then grew back beyond five minutes back on the coastal road, the Via Aurelia.

The rain was sluicing down but the prayers of the Sanremo tourist agency were heard as the rain eased once the 100km to go point was passed, commencing the slowest strip tease ever as riders peeled of rain jackets, gloves, overshoes and other accessories. For a long time this formed the highlight of the viewing experience but little else could be expected, there was a headwind and the kilometres were being racked up in the legs.

Juraj Sagan was working hard at the front of the bunch and joined by Quick Step’s Tim Declerq as well as Team Sky. As they went over the third of the three capes the sun was out and Groupama-FDJ took up the pace en masse like a sprint train settling into place.

The Cipressa came and went, not a single attack. Groupama-FDJ and Sky set the tempo, not necessarily too fast to attack, the headwind kept a lid on things too. Marcel Kittel was dropped early but others in trouble during the climb such as Ag2r’s Alexis Gougeard were able to get back on. The Cipressa descent without incident and if you tuned in with 10km to go you’d have missed nothing as a large group, unusually large headed for the Poggio rendez-vous.

Just as they left Bussana to reach the foot of the Poggio the riders exited a roundabout and there was an island in the road, some went left, others right and Mark Cavendish tried to avoid it but ended up hitting it and did a 360° somersault in the air before landing several metres later. There’s no news at pixel time on his health but he started the race with a cracked rib. Fingers crossed.

Onto the Poggio and Marcus Burghardt got to work. He he opened up a gap, not an attack but a tactic by Bora-Hangrohe as it forced others to chase. BMC fired Jempy Drucker in pursuit and he soon caught and passed the German champion. When Drucker began to feel the pressure it was Krists Neilands of the Israel Cycling Academy team who had a go and the peloton and viewers alike could be forgiven.

Krists Neilands, Nibali attacks

Then with 7.1km to go Vincenzo Nibali took off. At 1m89 tall Neilands made a perfect shelter and in no time Nibali was being carried up the Poggio by Saint Krists, at least for a few seconds and enough to help establish a gap.

Behind Simon Špilak tried a move and the others were watching each other in zugzwang. Despite the sizeable group that reached the Poggio by now there were few at the front. Nibali took over from Neilands and kept glancing back at him wondering just who the 23 year old Latvian might be.

As the road ramped up for the last time into the village of Poggio Nibali shook him off. This was vintage Nibali, bent over his bike with his hands high on top of the brake hoods like a hurried waiter carrying an invisible tray. Now he was free, unlike in 2012 when he looked around after Poggio attack to Fabian Cancellara and Simon Gerrans on his wheel.

Behind Michał Kwiatkowski tried a move, Peter Sagan closed him down and the others around them watched, a scenario the French call a “first class burial”. Nibali began the descent himself with a lead of ten seconds on the chase. It’s slim but it’s been a winning margin before. Kwiatkowski and Sagan tried to force things on the descent but again marked each other out, Matteo Trentin surged away, proof that the descent wasn’t full speed and just behind Sagan kept looking backwards to see who would chase. As the descent ended Nibali had ten seconds.

Rolling on the flat roads and seemingly never in the drops Nibali still had ten seconds coming into Sanremo’s centre as the others watched each other in stalemate. Groupama-FDJ’s Davide Cimolai picked up the chase and the gap was down to seven seconds at the flamme rouge. Quick Step suddenly had the numbers and led the chase, they Nibali in their sight and Viviani on their wheels. Caleb Ewan launched and surged clear of the sprinters but it was too late and Nibali lifted his arms aloft on the Via Roma to cross the line in celebration.

The Verdict
Nothing until the final 10km, no outsiders went in the early breakaway and when the peloton looked to be closing in on the move too early they eased up to give the breakaway more space. Even the Cipressa was sterile and you feared a tame Poggio and an inevitable bunch sprint. The race was saved on the Poggio by Vincenzo Nibali’s attack. We hadn’t seen a victorious solo attack on the Poggio since Giorgio Furlan in 1994 and this was the first Italian win since 2006. The chase behind was hesitant but that’s part of the rationale of an attack, as well as barging clear in a show of strength it’s a way to avoid the politicking behind as riders mark each other. Ewan took a fine second place, surging clear of all the other sprinters with Démare back on the podium.

It’s another entry in the rich palmarès of Nibali, his won all the three grand tours, Lombardia and more and who knows what he’ll do in the Tour de France or the Worlds in Innsbruck later this year. He could still win last year’s Vuelta too. He’s enlivened many more races along the way. This time he showed panache and got the trophy.

2018 Milan-Sanremo podium (L-R) Ewan, Nibali, Démare

118 thoughts on “The Moment Milan-Sanremo Was Won”

  1. Great win for Nibali.

    I felt he received a lot of motor pacing though.
    After his attack he had the camera bike directly in front of him for the whole rest of the climb.

    • Like everyone who leads a race. And everyone who leads a race is confronted with same allegations. If there’s no moto, same people are the first to complain that we only have blurry heli shots. Maybe you people should decide what you want. maybe switch to track and cross only, no cam motos involved.

      • It’s not black and white…

        From the quick heli shot the Moto was only a few metres ahead of Nibs. Cameras do have telephoto lenses. It’s possible to have a Moto in front but 10 metres away from the rider rather than right in front helping them.

        • On a winding road you’d need mirrors rather than a telephoto lens… the Poggio is always like this. You can check every single edition in recent years, they’re available on Youtube (and I suggested where you can see a very similar situation in each of them, look some posts below).
          It’s an advantage which whoever attacks on the Poggio is going to have, frankly not a huge problem at all in a race so tilted against attackers.

    • I thought the same thing. One in front & one behind. Might well have been caught by the bunch without them. Maybe it’s jsut me not liking Nibali much.

    • The exact same camera was in the exact same position for Drucker and Neilandts… As it would have been for any other rider who dared to attack.

      Fortune favours the brave.

      I was rooting for Nibali, but disappointed Alaphillipe, GvA and Kwiat did absolutely nothing to try to win the race – not even tactically if they didn’t have the legs. They look around on the Poggio… Nibali is 10 seconds up the road… Kristoff, Demare and Ewan are in the group… And they did… Nothing.

  2. Another great and memorable win for Nibali. I hope he has some more racing years in his body and mind and shifts his focus even more to one day events and tries to win the other three monuments, too.

    Imagine he hadn’t done this attack, your resume of another version which ended in a bunch sprint would have been much shorter.

    For his own sake and that of his family (and also those of his competitors who get involved in his crashes) I really hope Cav hangs up his cleats now. He was always the crash kid but now his unforced beginner errors leading to severe crashes happen even more often. Today’s crash was so unbelievably stupid I can’t believe it happened to such a seasoned professional. Before I even noticed it was Cav I said to my mates that the UCI should consider introducing temporary bans to riders who cause crashes like that because they obviously lack the skills / maturity for “safer” racing.

    • Yeah, it wasn’t just bad luck – no, the guy who’s won this race before, 30 stages at the Tour, 15 at the Giro, 3 at the Vuelta, a few world championships & national championships across road & track, an Olympic silver medal on the track, and a few other measly chipper races to boot obviously does just ‘lack the skills’ for safe riding…

        • Yup, this does seem to be a pattern for Cavendish (and many other sprinters) – when the results are coming then they take fewer risks and have better judgement. When form’s s bit iffy they make mistakes in their desperation to land a win…

      • If you happen to know some licensed amateur road racers ask them what happens to you if you ride in any road race like Cav did here, changing your line of riding in the peloton abruptly without any reason.

        You will hear some strong words from your competitors and probably given a proper schooling.

        And at no point did I question his talent and palmares.

        • I happen to know a lot of licensed amateur road racers, myself included, and I can tell you very confidently that *none of us* have even the remotest idea about the skills required to race, let alone win, at the World Tour level. Whether or not you like him a a person, his palmares alone should earn him everyones respect as a bike racer. At the very least it surely grants him the right to not have his skills questioned by armchair pundits.

          When you’re travelling in a bunch of 50+ riders, at over 60kph, having already done 250km, shit happens.

      • Cav is a legend. Period. Nonetheless, he crashed in every single race in 2018. And in a few of 2017. Also he caused a crash in the Olympic Madison, without penalty. Of course, STS comment is over exaggerating, but Cav is over his zenith, also a fact.

    • It had nothing to do with cav he was following the wheel of a drapac guy to get up to the front but the drapac guy cut and so cav didn’t see the bollard before it was too. Furthermore Cavs crash in Abu Dhabi was not in the slightest his fault. If you actually watch his crashes you can see that they aren’t generally his fault. And as pelican VC said you can’t really be someone with that palmares and be one of the worst bike handlers in the professional peloton especially being a successful track rider.

      Anyway chapeau Nibali!

      • This one was totally his fault. He was recklessly following wheels of a guy who was darting about and got caught out. Sure he didn’t have a sight line on the bollard due the guy in front, but he had to know that moving sideways that quickly was frought with danger – particularly as this is the road leading into the Poggio. A road anyone with aspirations to win the race should have taken a look at, and/or know already. It’s not like he hasn’t ridden it before. They were exiting a roundabout, as a pro you must know you can’t move sideways that much after a roundabout due to road furniture. Hence why no one else was doing it, except the guy in front of him who also crashed. The definition of reckless riding. I’m not for a second questioning his record or ability (you simply cannot), but this one was poor judgement on his part. Too far back and taking risks.

      • In isolation, every crash can be debatable, but Cav has a rich history of crashing and causing crashes. In totality, the pattern seems to speak for itself, especially over the past two years.

    • Watched it on YouTube, looks like Cavendish was jumping kerbs that were in fact the central road divider leading into the roundabout (approaching the roundabout from the other way, as normal traffic would). Looks like he couldn’t handle them like the other riders just in front and he just went straight. His own fault I guess.

    • Obv the full distance of Paris-Roubaix isn’t the same as the stage in the 2014 TdF, but remember how well Nibali did that day.

      Plus, with Flanders having a lot of punchy climbs, Nibali would have solid chance to contend in that.

      I’m not sure how he rides in colder weather though…

  3. This is turning into a strange season to predict.
    Is it the reduced team sizes that are contributing to this?

    Regardless, Sagan and Kwiatkowski want their heads banging together after that show.

    • I was really surprised to see pretty much all of Sky and Quick Step lingering at the back on the way to the Poggio. Kwiatkowski got away with it but it did for Gilbert in one of the only two races he’s bothered about winning any more, which seems like a ridiculous error. Maybe they thought they’d let the sprinters teams do the work for them but Cav’s crash showed why being at the front is the first rule of road racing.

      • Gilbert declared after the race he didn’t have the legs. The cold did him in he said.

        Also Greipel broke his clavicular in a crash on the descent of the Poggio. For once he makes it over the top in a good position…

        • Quickstep arrived near the end with three riders, including Viviani.
          Alaphilippe got caught out on Sagan / Kwiatkiowski watch, as did virtually everyone else.
          It was almost farcical really, ride almost 300km and then, when it matters, no one wants to do a proper turn?
          As good, and versatile, as Nibali is, should a GC rider be winning Milan – Sanremo in this day and age?

          • Shouldn’t a GC rider be able to shine in several other forms of racing, too? Definitely, (s)he should, as the best ones tend to do.

          • That’s the beauty of Sanremo, it can smile on anyone in the right circumstances. The race is surely all the richer from having names like Coppi, Merckx, Poulidor, Gimondi, Fignon and now Nibali.

            Sagan and Kwiatkowski certainly cancelled each other out. Don’t forget that Sagan and Nibali are friends and were team mates at Liquigas.

          • Yes is the short answer.
            As for the others, it’s the usual catch 22, if you do all the work to bring Nibali back, you can’t win – therefore, it requires a large group of riders to spontaneously agree to all work together, taking equal turns. Sometimes that happens, others it doesn’t.
            And even having said that, when Quick Step came onto the front with three riders it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.
            Plus, you only have the last 2.3km on the flat to really make a difference – if you haven’t done it before the descent.

          • GvA wasted Drucker and had Roelandts at the finish.
            Kristoff wasted Haas in a futile attempt to bridge to Nibali.
            Kwiat had Van Baarle set tempo and only dropped himself and Kittel.
            Sagan wasted Burghardt.

            The only reason why they had to do turns themselves was because they wasted their team-mates.

          • Oh yes, Nibali is a worthy winner. It’s often the case that riders cancel each other out in big races, but don’t forget that Nibali out foxed every team, not just Sagan and Kwiat. Michelton Scott, FDJ, Quickstep, etc. all rode super hard to catch him and no one was able to. A lesser rider would have been caught.

    • Not surw Sagan is that unhappy, he sjowed everyone that he will not be the train for other fast men and that he will not pr defualt make the race for the punchers like last year.

  4. I’m as happy as Larry (T) that Nibali managed to stay clear. And even happier that Cav is ok after that horror crash. How some people can blame Cav stating his dangerous riding is beyond me. Unmarked bollards could have taken out any body. Surely organisation needs to improve with even a car on the course at an earlier stage.

    • I don’t know looking at that video I really doubt a marshal would have done much but been hit by the riders perhaps a hay bale in front of the barrier or further up in the median Cav looked to have been following the Cannondale rider who barely made it seems like no one else hit this barrier. I would agree race organizers can do a better job at creating safer courses (e.g. why on earth are press and VIP’s allowed to be soo close to the finishing line at the end of sprint stages, these guys are doing 47+ mph in a huge bunch and often have to brake and swerve to avoid hitting throngs of reporters) but this just looks to be a terrible racing incident. Agree on Nibali, so splint on that guy I think he can race like a total dick at times but I also love him as a true bike “racer” who’s not afraid to take risks.

    • Laughable. Ever watched *any* Sanremo before?
      For instance…
      Is Sagan Italian? 2017 race, 5.8 km to the line.
      Is Kwiatkowski? 2016 race, 5.6 km to the line.
      Are GVA or Thomas? 2015 race, 6.0 km to the line.
      The Poggio is very different from, say, some famous Flemish finales which are rather straightforward: here you sometimes need to stay close or the winding road will prevent spectators from seeing the riders. And you obviously can’t stay behind them.
      In the last decisive flat kms, Nibali was always filmed from the side or from back – it would have been very easy (and much more useful) to help him then, as we often see in so many cobbled classics. But he didn’t happen, not even for a single second.

      • Totally agree, this situation occurs in every edition, regardless of who the rider is. The effect is muted on the Pogio where drafting doesn’t help as much to power out of the turns or making the corner without crashing.

    • He is, for sure. He is a freaking legend.
      Maybe not for RonDe, who always bashes Nibali, for no good reason. Yes, his guy has won more TdF, but seriously, who rated the Tour the most exciting GT the last years? Nobody I know, who isn’t a die hard Sky/Froomey fan. Everyone favoured Giro and Vuelta.
      Nibs has all GT in his bag, Giro twice, 3 monuments now, 2 consecutive. Froome, puffs aside, will never reach such levels. He just doesn’t compete in these races. At least try, then you can reach champion levels. Winning Le Tour is nice, yeah, but not that special. Cycling is far more.

      • Agree with your Nibali comments, I would add he almost won LBL and Olympic road race. The most complete road bike racer since, I don’t know, Lemond, maybe Cadel Evans?

        Nevertheless, winning TdF is very special, not just nice.

        • Nibali is a classic bike racer, Froome is someone who can keep going on a bike when others start to crack. Both offer ways of winning nice and big but I also certainly prefer the first.
          SKY do have Poels and Kwiato, they are top notch racers as well but rarely get a chance to show it, Trek seem to be missing a leader these days, maybe…

    • Possibly the most complete in two or three (cycling) generations, even. You must go back to the very first Nineties.
      Valverde, Evans, Vinokourov, Jalabert, Cunego, Purito, Di Luca… just don’t come close (not to speak of S. Sánchez, Urán, Riccò, D. Martin etc. all excellent riders, versatile enough and, because of that, actually more deserving than what their palmarés says, but not quite on the same level as the foremontioned).
      Let’s keep an eye on Kwiatkowski for the future…

      • Was thinking the same thing myself about Kwiat. Look at the scenario if Froome is a) out of 2018 TdF or b) in decline. Kwiat is 27, so in theory has 5+ years in his prime left.

        Then, assume that Geraint Thomas crashes in the TdF (I know, what a stretch eh?). Then who takes over on GC? In 2017, Kwiat put in some extremely strong rides pulling for ages up and down mountain passes. Plus, clearly he can handle the stress of being a leader. He also clearly has one of the biggest engines on the team. Or, if Sky folds, he’d get a great opportunity elsewhere.

      • Dont forget that Nibali is doing this while at the same time doing great in GT. for example last year had two GT podiums + Lombardia, this year MSR and will obviously be a favourite for Tour and World Championship..

        We have not seen this level of adabtability from anyone recently.

        Jalabert (was a doper ) was a sprinter, then with years lost so much weight and become a GT rider (but wasnt a sprinter anymore)
        Di Luca (again a super doper) was a classic man and then started to win Giros but not at the same time.
        valverde has that incredible kick that make him the best classics man, but his GT is not as good as nibali…
        KWIA may transform in the year but for sure now is not a GT guy…
        cunego won giro , what an exploit , in 2004, when it was just an italian doping affair that competition… and he failed to replicate any GT podium in his career, although winning many monuments.

        Bugno maybe was the last man as complete as nibali….

        Nibali wins because has such a great talent in reading races and attacking, he is winning or performing well at GT without even being the best… or for example MSR, he didnt win the sprint, he just attacked at the right time. He knows how to race

        • Of course, I agree on most of what you say. Especially about Bugno, at least in the three season 1990-1992, while Nibali looks more convincing throughout his whole career, and hence has gathered a way better palmarés in GTs.
          Rominger might be another candidate, albeit clearly inferior to Nibali (also because he started late with cycling): a couple of Lombardia, a Liège podium, won 2 different GTs – Vuelta (3x)and Giro – besides being TdF runner up. Surely, he never came close to any third Monument. As Nibali, he was also very good in short stage races. We can add to his profile that against the clock he was really superb, way better than Nibali and true top class. No need to say that you could asterisk him, too, but it’s something that doesn’t matter too much for me in those general conditions. His career essentially developed between 30 and 23 years ago.
          No more recent case really applies: we had several good versatile riders, the ones I listed above, and they’re among my favourites, but none of them comes close to Nibali.

          However, for the future… what about Moscon? Next Bugno? 🙂

          PS Yet, I just wonder what “without even being the best” means. In cycling, “being the best” doesn’t just mean having the best W/kg ratio, or the raw watts for the ITT and the sprint.
          It’s far from being a merely physical sport. We’ve seen lots of athletes with huge physical values just failing to perform in a race situation.
          Obviously, the physical part is essential, but it’s far from being the only one.
          Besides, there are a lot of *physical* skills which are harder to recognise for the fans who only look at how fast you climb & time trial. Richie Porte is among the best climbing full gas and is very good against the clock, too (or anyway became such) – he raced 11 GT in 7 years, he’s now 33, and he got a top 5 in a GT only *once*… being 5th. He might win something big, he’d even deserve it I’d say, but there’s a obvious difference between his “boardgame potential” and his results.

    • Who would you say has the best palmares of the three?

      How would you rank the palmares, from top to bottom?
      Interested in people’s thoughts on this. Could Nibali arguably have the best palmares of the three?

      • Froome has the best Tour palmares of those 3.
        Bertie has the best looking GT palmares of them.
        Yet Nibali has the most complete looking palmares.

        It’s an impossible argument, but if versatility is a variable in the rider of the generation discussion, he would be up there, and probably ahead of Froome or Bertie.

        • Agreed.

          Nibali is the best cyclist, Contador the best stage racer (not limited to GTs…) and Froome is the best between Alps and Pyrenées in the second half of the 10s ^__^

          If you want to find a rider who *was* similar to Froome in terms of palmarés, you’ll need to go back more or less ten years.
          If you want to find somebody comparable to Contador (again, in terms of *approximate profile* of his results), you need to go back some 20 years.
          To find riders with a palmarés like Nibali’s, you need to look at 30 years ago.

        • yes but Contador Pre clen palmares is totally different from his post clen palmares. Nibali has been a better GT rider after Contador was caught…

          probably i put AC had more raw power on mountains that VN

          Froome is by far the best engine of the three , not the best rider…. palmares is subjective ..but we now know why he was the best engine …

          • Contador’s palmarés is different before the clenbuterol AAF, but far from being “totally different”.

            He still won 4 GTs (I include the Giro 2011 given that we’re speaking of sporting performances and he wasn’t caught positive or did anything wrong while riding that, taking it away was purely administrative) and 3 of the major short stage races.
            That’s *not* at all “totally different” from what he had won before even if it’s a bit less, for sure (4 GTs even before, but 2 were TdF, +1 if you count 2010; and 4 major s.s.races).

            Such a difference could also depend on the effect of time passing by, as simple as that, especially when you speak of a rider who was competitive with the best since a very early age, which normally implies declining sooner.

            AC was better suited to concentrated efforts, even if he tried to reinvent himself as a long-range attacker, while Nibali’s clearly got a superior lipid power.
            Froome has a huge engine, but I’m far from sure that it’s a *great* one or even “the best”. He’s a dragster monster car (among GC riders), Contador is a F1 and Nibali, dunno, a Dakar or WRC car? Or a road supercar like Bugatti and the likes… -__-

  5. “hands high ontop of the brake hoods like a hurried waiter carrying an invisible tray… part of the rationale of an attack… could still win last year’s Vuelta too”

    Well done by Nibali and Inrng.

  6. Nibali resurrects his career, again, in fine fashion. Gonna henceforth be callin’ him the Messinian Lazarus. His celebration was very much like Cancellara’s 2007 stage 3 TDF. Somewhat different set-up, but still some completely deserved GOTCHA! greatness.

  7. I am glad to hear/read that Cav is okay. That looked like one heck of a crash, and he could have easily broken his neck, had he not completed the 270. I wondered if his recent concussion may have played a role in his delayed decision making. Please, for your health and safety take some time off and recover fully. We want to see you back to enliven the sprints, but only when you are well.

  8. I think Nibali must have been reading the press that Sagan and Kwiatowski were have a war of words and used that to his advantage. He knew that if he attacked and Sagan wasn’t going to chase him down with MK sucking wheel, he would have a chance. Pretty smart tactics, using the animus of his fellow riders to allow him to get a gap. Chapeau!

    • I think he just went (at the right moment) to clear the path for Colbrelli and was surprised to be out in the front all by himself. Of course you go full gas alone and see where it gets you. Who knows, if it wasn’t for Colbrelli he might have attacked earlier and burned up on the Via Roma.

  9. Previous successful lone attack on the Poggio: 24 years ago.
    Previous GT winner getting a Sanremo: 23 years ago.
    Previous TdF winner doing it: 29 years ago.

    Few riders have ever been able to win at least two different Monuments besides winning more than one GT (whatever the latter might be): Merckx, obviously enough, Coppi & Bartali, for sure, Hinault, Binda, Girardengo, Brunero (between the two WWs), Gimondi (Nibali’s role model), and Saronni (quite below Nibali’s level). The last of them to win anything that big was Hinault… 33 years ago.

    • I cannot be described as a big fan of Nibali (even if I appreciate his versatility and riding style) but this, it was legend indeed. The figures you write down speak from themsleves.
      I had never thought it was possible for Nibali to win this race. Big champion. Hats off.

    • I have the greatest respect for all the legends of the past, but I dare say that Nibali’s win has a great significance because nowadays the competition is so much closer. He also has the talent of animating races, most often his wins are spectacular, alla grande, who can forget his 2016 win of the Giro ?

      As you might have guessed he is my favorite Italian rider, W Vincenzo!

  10. Before the race: Nibali not being a favorite because it was hard to see how He could win it…

    After the race: From now on, when there’s a climb & descent before the finish line, I will always consider Nibali a favorite.

    The vultures on Nibble’s heels before the line was true tension.

    I like Sagan not willing to tow. Sagan is not Kwiatkowski’s lead out man.

  11. I’d put an imaginary coin on Kittel being blown off before the Cipressa church, but instead he first lost contact on Capo Berta (where were the smoke bombs?) and of course that was it even if he was Pollited back to the bunch.

    Can Cav’s (with hindsight) bad decision to follow the EF-Drapac rider also be attributed to the wind coming from left ahead? I also noticed some not so good roundabout “taping off” earlier along the coast. Better to use fences to channel the race away from signposts, bollards and the like, no?

    Apart from that I’ve learned from inrng that 10 seconds at the phone booth corner should do. Exciting as hell, though. Vincenzo Nibali wins races the way I like to see races won.

  12. The last few kilometres were very tense. I had family over yesterday and had the race on the TV in the background. They’re not into cycling at all but the “will he?? won’t he??” nature of the last kilometres had everyone in the room glued to the TV. Is he going to win? Will he be caught? I didn’t think he’d do it as the group behind him was quite big, but fair play to him, he held on and took a great victory.

  13. Fascinating that the final trio from 2012 have all now won the race, and all very different riders: Cancellara the cobbled classics hardman, Gerrans the reduced group fast sprinter and Nibali the Grand Tour contender.

    Also great ride from Ewan showing he’s still growing in strength.

  14. That was a great race with a great finale. The moment when Nibali came on to the via roma with the pack just behind him and the crowd roaring him on is why I, and I presume we all, watch bike racing. It made all the bore fests, all the sleepy sprint days and mountain stages where nobody attacks until in sight of the line, worthwhile. It goes to show that they don’t need to be adding more hills to the route to prevent sprint finishes or to get ‘big name’ GC winners in the mix. Nibali won because he is a great rider who has great timing, confidence and skills, as well as strength. As fierce as his acceleration away from the Latvian was it’s not as if he produced some unfollowable mega-watt attack you’d associate with a Cancellara or Sagan and simply rode the field off his wheel. There’s no reason why other smaller/gc riders could not have produced the wins and performances he has in major one day races, they just need the bottle to line up in the first place, and the confidence/intelligence/bravado to have a go. I hope Bahrain go to Liege and make it as hard a race as possible.

    • It seems to me that you underestimate the quality of Nibali’s acceleration. No, we don’t have his numbers from yesterday and even if he decides to post that ride to Strava – he doesn’t post all rides there – we won’t know because his files as those of many pros don’t contain power data. But many other riders have tried before in the last 24 years to go solo on the Poggio and no one was successful. And that was Nibali who attacked not some rider of a smaller caliber who might be brought back easily. I think nearly everyone knew that this was a serious attack and some seconds after they missed the moment to follow him it was clear they would not make it back to his rear wheel without ruining their own chances for victory.

      • I’m not saying it wasn’t impressive or anything like that. I just meant it was more his timing and his panache etc that got him the win than his physical superiority. You’ve got to roll the dice. He’s done it a few times now and this time it worked. Credit to him for that.

        • Since 2010, it was the third fastest Poggio climb, and he rode it alone for longer than it usually happens – with a headwind.
          The Poggio was being climbed consistently faster only from 1992, or, more notably, 1994 to 2001 (make of that what you want).
          Nibali’s was not an all-time monster peformance like Sagan’s and probably not even on the level of the best personal ever by Gilbert and Pozzato, respectively in 2008 and 2009, but as fast as the rest of performances offered by those two riders – and faster than Bettini, Cancellara or Van Avermaet.
          I’d agree that timing and the bility to go full throttle and beyond whatever might happen were *more decisive*, if we can say so, yet the 10′ wattage was probably impressive and equally essential.

          • It looked believable.. he wasn’t just stomping out a mega-power like Sagan.. but going full gas, all-in.. once Nielands was distanced. I’d expect his 100% effort to be quicker uphill than Bettini, Fabian & GVA.

          • @ChrisSK
            Sagan was the most impressive things seen on that climb in more than 20 years… Or even *ever*, if you take into account other aspects besides sheer time.
            I wouldn’t have given it for granted that Nibali could be quicker than those guys we’re naming in a 5-6′ effort on a 4% climb, it’s the sort of terrain where kgs help rather than harming.
            Surely, he’s got an edge when lipid power factors in.

    • indeed nibali was hardl the strongest rider (i mean Roglic, Yates etc all come out better from Paris nice and Tirreno) ….

      nibali and many others have already done similar attacks on the poggio, but this time because

      7 riders instead of 9
      more looking at each other between contenders
      teams packing team with fast riders and wanting to go to the sprint (instead of having riders who could follow nibali)
      the fact nobody followed nibali

      meant he got the win…

  15. Considering how strong Ewan’s sprint was, you have to ask yourself, what was Trentin doing ? Pulling for the peloton instead of attacking could have made the difference.
    But what a win for Nibali, truly one of the greats. I’m not his biggest fan but I was shouting him to the line.

    • I thought it was a good move actually;
      If it works, he catches Nibali and beats him in the sprint.
      If it doesn’t work, other teams have had to burn their riders closing him down as opposed to him pulling everyone to close Nibali down.
      Impey was still with Ewan.

      Worse tactics for me were;
      Haas trying to bridge to Nibali when Kristoff needed him in the bunch.
      Burghardt attacking earlier (and it was a Pierre Rolland attack) when Sagan needed him later.
      Van Baarle riding the front and managing to drop nobody other than Kittel.

      • I think it was Špilak, not Haas, you could see the number on his back from the TV cameras. Also Burghardt’s move was deliberate: to make others chase so Sagan could cover and to up the pace so that rival sprinters would suffer right from the start of the climb.

        • Ahhhh, Rob Hatch called it as Haas, I was on my Turbo so couldn’t focus on the numbers.

          I agree Burghardt’s move was deliberate and I know the theory of it, I just think it was wasted as no one actually needed to chase him.

  16. Is my memory deceiving me or didnt nibali tried this poggio attack almost every time he rode msr? Normally reeled in quite quickly but not yesterday. A classic win that will be remembered for a long time.

  17. Contrary to what Rob Hatch said and others have repeated, Nibali’s team mates didn’t block the road when he attacked, they just stayed where they were. There was plenty of room to go around them – they were only two – proven by the fact that Nathan Haas did just that.

  18. Nibali has always been an exciting rider, however I feel that his Grand Tour ambitions have blunted some of the “attack” in him. I hope that he will return to race wins before time has its call and leave the big ambitions to the boring 3 week grinders, as we have witnessed over past decades.

    • I’d love to see him dedicating himself to the cobbles, you need experience, and even ending up with some top-ten would be exciting.
      I guess he thinks this year might be his last shot to a TdF podium. And perhaps he might come back to the Giro later as his home race.
      However, it’s not like he’s not been strenuously attacking in Giro 2016 (or 2011, or 2010…), TdF 2015 & 2014 or Vuelta 2013… just to name some.
      Of course, even if sometimes one could think so, he’s far from being a Rolland (whom I appreciate a lot, but *systematic* attacks lose a bit of interest, in a sense) – he often tries daring attacks when he feels he’s got decent chances to bring a result home, but he can also be conservative when needed.
      Sometimes Bardet made me think he might be someway similar to Nibali, in terms of attacking spirit, despite their evidently different build and character.

  19. For Nibali this was just sweet. Having a buddy and race favorite who will work for you, Sagan marking Kwiato, made it even nicer. What a fantastic finish.

  20. Ok, I finally get MSR! I’ve watched it for years, mainly to re-learn to recognise who’s who and in what form for the ‘real’ classics in the next few weeks. But that was absolutely tremendous for the last 30 mins. It really is a race any type of rider can win, I now see what you people go on about 😉

    Really glad Cav is ok, he’s having a fucking nightmare of bad luck. Shame on people above saying he can’t handle a bike, ffs.

  21. This was the most exciting finish to a race for a long time and I’m so pleased for Nibali and Italian cycling.
    Hopefully sponsors will come forward and give Italy the world tour teams it deserves.

  22. Chuffed for Nibali one of my favourite riders in any conditions in any race

    Appalled for Cav hope he heals well i am still wanting him to get the record for the most TDF stage wins

  23. MSR turns into an amazing race once the riders reach the Cipressa. It’s like the 6+ hours they were riding before was a just a long warm up ride to get all muscles tired, and build up tension in the peloton.

    Sweet ride towards the end from Nibali. Any rider that tries a win from the distance will always have my support.

  24. Monday morning driving to work and I was still buzzing from that knife-edge finale!
    I actually felt quite emotional when Nibali attacked: partly the romance and grandeur of the great man putting himself out there and partly just relief at someone finally lighting the race up. And he kept burning right to the finish. A brilliantly distinguished win and an outstanding addition to his already remarkable palmares.
    It guess it was apparent to many before, but this win has made it self evident to me that he’s pretty much one of a kind among his contemporaries. Valverde comes close but doesn’t have the same top GT pedigree, and the classics men don’t match his GC. Dumoulin, although different, has a lot more wins to get before he gets close.

  25. Imagine Sagan had a team as strong and fit—for—purpose as Movistar is for guaranteeing the same predictable ending for Valverde on L—B—L or Sky for Froome at the Tour….

    • Come on Fredi – Have you seen that Bora roster now – This isn’t Bora from 2 years ago!?

      Also, are you saying that Oss, Burghardt and Juraj were used correctly and when absolutely needed?

      Oss essentially finished in the lead group.
      Burghardt launched a telegraphed folly attack way too early and lacking watts.
      Juraj burned out dragging the bunch down the coast road 50km from the finish.

      Sagan, although heavily marked, called it wrong for me – unless he actually wasn’t that bothered about winning and was more interested in teaching the others a lesson.

      • They’re a decent team, but not (yet) fit for the purpose of selecting the race over the Cipressa and Poggio enough for Sagan being the fastest man left on Via Roma (which is what Movistar manages to do for Valverde in Ans). It surprised me to see FDJ towing the bunch, and left me thinking that surely there must be a pace that Sagan is able to follow and that Démare isn’t.

  26. Awesome ride from the Shark! When he jumped I expected a TV attack. But the vision of Nibali with his arms up and the sprinters gunning it behind him is a fantastic image. What a versatile racer. As a British fan the background has been a bit glum with the various Sky affairs but the racing this year has been ace. Long may it continue!

  27. Any thoughts on the great tactical mistake by Michelton-Scott to send Trentin up the road instead of put him on the front? Trentin’s attack seemed promising but quickly extinguished and he should have known he could not hold for such a distance – had he pulled the bunch, they probably would have caught Nibali and Ewan would have won. Was Trentin’s attack on team orders or a personal attempt at glory?

    • With hindsight we know what Ewan was able to do in the sprint but was it obvious on the Poggio? Perhaps the team wanted to play different cards rather than go all in for Ewan, less a case of Trentin going rogue and more him trying something while the others were sitting tight, especially as Sagan and Kwiatkowski were cancelling each other out.

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