Degenkolb edges Kristoff to win Milan-San Remo classic
MILAN (AP) — John Degenkolb sprinted to victory in the Milan-San Remo classic on Sunday, edging defending champion Alexander Kristoff on a wet and rainy course for the biggest win of his career.
Degenkolb burst through the middle in the closing meters to win the 293-kilometer (182-mile) race in 6 hours, 46 minutes, 16 seconds after Kristoff had started his sprint too early.
Kristoff was almost a bike length behind the German, with Michael Matthews third.
“It was pure emotion,” Degenkolb said. “At first I couldn’t believe it. Fifty meters from the line I thought I wouldn’t be able to beat Alex because he started the sprint really strongly. But I continued to believe in myself. There was still a difference in power and speed but he ran out of gas just before the line and I managed to win.”
There were several crashes along the route, including one on the final descent down the Poggio that took out three of the pre-race favorites in Philippe Gilbert, Zdenek Stybar and 2013 winner Gerald Ciolek.
Fabian Cancellara, who won the race in 2008, finished seventh. It was the first time in five years that the Swiss cyclist completed a monument classic without finishing on the podium.
There was an early break of 11 riders who built a lead of 10 minutes. But they all dropped off one by one and there were several attacks on the Cipressa but none stuck.
Geraint Thomas and Daniel Oss forged clear after the Cipressa and had built a gap of 30 seconds with 11K (6.8 miles) remaining before the peloton started to reel them in on the approach to the Poggio.
Thomas broke free on the ascent but was caught by Greg Van Avermaet shortly before the summit. He sped down the descent but couldn’t shake off the others before the road flattened and prevent a mass finish.