Kwiato in sprint mix at Milan-San Remo

24 Mar 2018

Kwiato in sprint mix at Milan-San Remo

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Michal Kwiatkowski led Team Sky home in 11th place as Milan-San Remo reached a thrilling conclusion on the Via Roma.

The defending champion found himself towards the head of the race on the famous Poggio climb, and despite attempting a pair of attacks, neither Kwiatkowski or a strong group of favourites were able to overhaul a stinging late acceleration from Vincenzo Nibali.
The Italian (Bahrain Merida) pushed clear on the final climb and quickly opened up an advantage. A sizeable group behind came back together on the final run-in, but the massed ranks of sprinters could not bring back Nibali, who came home arms raised, fractions before the chasing pack.
Kwiatkowski was unable to influence the sprint and finished just outside the top 10 after 294 kilometres of action. Gianni Moscon also clung on to the lead group and finished 29th, five seconds back.

After the race Kwiatkowski talked us through the day, and how the moves played out in the closing stages.

He told "It was a really tough day at the office. I felt quite alright, but it was quite a strange final. Nibali was strong, and as an Italian racing at Milan-San Remo it's quite a big thing. When he went away and got the advantage there were not really many movements in the peloton. 

"I was waiting in that moment for the steeper section of the Poggio. I tried twice to attack. I had Sagan directly on my wheel, and then I tried a second time. I was going nowhere with a really strong headwind, and I knew the advantage of Nibali was quite huge. In the end I was counting that some sprinters' teams would try to close it. I tried one more time to accelerate on the descent but that was quite risky, and straight away I was marked. 

"It was a long and difficult race. I hope everyone is fine and I know Lukasz crashed. The team rode really well and I'm very thankful to everyone, especially to Luke who was pulling for a very long time. He was also helping us before the Tre Capi so it was a really impressive ride for him. 

"We were there in the right place on the Cipressa and also there on the Poggio. We just missed the right move from Nibali, and with our sprint abilities of course it's difficult to fight against those guys."
Michal Kwiatkowski

Michal Kwiatkowski

I was waiting in that moment for the steeper section of the Poggio. I tried twice to attack. I was going nowhere with a really strong headwind.

Team Sky worked well to set a tempo in the first Monument Classic of the season. Continuing his remarkable comeback from injury, Luke Rowe helped represent the team at the front, with the day’s nine-man breakaway reeled in with 30km to go.

As the action reached the closing stages, Salvatore Puccio moved Kwiatkowski into position on the penultimate climb of the Cipressa, with Dylan van Baarle setting an impressive pace in a bid to thin out the group and nullify attacks.
Kwiatkowski was forced to regain positions, with a large crash also stretching the peloton ahead of the final climb. Nibali made his move with 6.5km to go and would not be caught. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) came home in a tantalising second place, besting the bunch sprint ahead of Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ).
Team Sky found themselves a man down ahead of the half-way point, with a crash in the first feed zone at Campo Ligure sadly forcing Lukasz Wisniowski out of the race. The Pole, who put in a superb performance 12 months earlier on the Poggio, was quickly up, but pain in his wrist prevented him from continuing.

Despite the result not going the team's way, Sport Director Matteo Tosatto was full of praise for the riders. He said: "It was a long day. We had really bad weather at the start and for the first five hours. Luke Rowe was very strong and pulling well. The other guys were trying to stay at the front and in the wheels for recovery.

"It was important to be there ahead of the Tre Capi and the Cipressa. On the Cipressa we were pulling with Dylan. Nibali attacked on the Poggio and Kwiato also had the option to attack. He tried a couple of times, but with a lot of contenders on his wheel he opted to wait in that moment. Then it was a roulette whether it came back together for the sprint.

"The team were very strong today. It was bad luck that Lukasz crashed in the first feed zone. We ended up using other guys to ride earlier, but in the final it didn't change anything."
Final standings:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) 7:18:43
2. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-Scott) s.t.
3. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)
4. Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates)
5. Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal)
11. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)