Cold, rain, sleet and snow had the effect of dramatically changing the 104th edition of Milan-Sanremo. A race, in two parts for survivors that produced a surprise winner on a shortened route of 245 km rather than than the normal 298 km .
To win in Sanremo you have to take risks or be prepared to lose: and that's how German Gerald Ciolek (MTN - Qhubeka) took advantage of Sagan and sneaked past him over the finish line. "It's incredible," Ciolek kept repeating. "An amazing win for me and my team. A great day. We were invited to the race and now we can bask in the winner's glory. I knew I had to tail the best riders up the Poggio and the plan worked out perfectly." Cancellara rounded out the podium saying, "We're all winners today".
Snow on the Turchino climb forced the race director to cancel the biggest, and first climb, of MSR. The race was neutralized from the 117km to 163 km points as cyclists bordered their team buses in Ovada to bypass the Turchino. At the time the race was neutralized there was a breakaway with a 7'10" lead that contained Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Diego Rosa (Androni), Filippo Fortin (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Lars Bak (Lotto) and Pablo Lastras (Movistar) leading the race.
See photographs by Jered Gruber of the conditions in Ovada here. Obviously, continuing to the Turchino was impossible. Taylor Phinney's photo of himself ice covered once on the bus:
The restart was then held in Cogoleto with the breakaway group being giving the start flag and the peloton being held for 7'10" before being allowed to start. Some riders would not start again, among them Tom Boonen.
The break was caught with 30km to go and before the Cipressa. Varrious attacks took place on the Cipressa and Poggio but with 2km to go the race was down to Ciolek, Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale, Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard, Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma Quick Step, Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha, and Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Pro Cycling
The last 10km (in French):
The last 3km (in English):
Top 10 GC:
1 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka 5:37:20
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha
6 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
7 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
8 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 0:00:14
9 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team
10 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling
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