Ewan sprints to an impressive second in Milan-San RemoSat 17 Mar 2018
Giro d'Italia stage winner Caleb Ewan came devastatingly close to his first monument victory for Mitchelton-SCOTT at Milan-San Remo today, sprinting to second place as the race came alive over the Poggio climb.
A strong team performance from Mitchelton-SCOTT saw Ewan protected and cresting the key climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio in a strong position at the front of the bunch before an attack on the Poggio by eventual winner Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) blew the race apart.
Matteo Trentin tried to chase Nibali down the descent to San Remo but was caught by the bunch that contained South African champion Daryl Impey and Ewan with Nibali holding out for the solo win just ahead of Ewan who convincingly won the sprint for second.
A breakaway of nine riders jumped out of the neutral zone as the peloton eased out of Milan, happy to let the group go on ahead in the cold and wet conditions.
After 75kilometres of racing the leaders had stretched their lead out to six minutes and 30seconds over the bunch.
No change occurred until the first of the climb of the day the Passo del Turchino with 150kilometres to go, the leaders hit the descent to the coast with their lead down to four minutes 30seconds.
The rain continued to fall heavily along the coast with the riders also dealing with a headwind that persisted over the 'Tre Capi' climbs 50kilometres to go with the rain finally starting to ease off.
Bora-Hansgrohe and Team-Sky controlled the front of the peloton for most of the day, the catch was made on the approach to the Cipressa as the race finally came alive with Ewan maintaining a prime position at the front, protected by Roger Kluge and Chris Juul Jensen.
Nibali attacks on the Poggio and Ewan comes close:
The tension was palpable as the race stayed together over the Cipressa before Nibali unleashed two devastating attacks on the final climb over the Poggio and flew into the descent.
Trentin jumped into the chase but couldn't make contact and slipped back into the bunch that contained Ewan. Nibali soloed onto the Via Roma with only a few seconds advantage, managing to hold on as Ewan launched himself into the sprint for a commendable second place.
Caleb Ewan - 2nd place:
"I know it is still a massive result to finish in second place but to be so close to the win is a little bit disappointing.
"To be honest I was just thinking of doing my own sprint and if we caught Nibali, we caught him, if we didn’t, we didn’t so I was just focusing on my sprint as there were still good sprinters there and I knew it would be tough to beat those guys.
“My team put me in a good position on both the Poggio and Cipressa so I did need to fight too much. After this year I know I can potentially win this race so I can come back next year and the year after and try to win.”
Matt White - Head Sports Director:
"It was an incredible team effort, a very very long day for everyone. I think our guys rode with a lot of composure and used their racing nous to put our key guys into position when they needed to be.
"It is always hard if you come off the Poggio with any kind of gap and it is very very hard to bring back, particularly Vincenzo the class bike rider that he is, and we came up just a little bit short.
"It was about shutting stuff down and if Trentin had bridged to Nibali then it would have been a good situation for us regardless. He didn’t make it but slotted back in and did all he could to bring it back for Caleb. Then Daryl put Caleb in a very good position for the sprint and then Caleb did his thing and was the best of the rest.
"Caleb has come a long way since he’s been on the team and for his second appearance in San Remo to come so close. Sure he will be frustrated, all winners are, and we came here to win today but we did all that we could. I think in a couple of days he can appreciate that it is his first time on the podium of a monument and certainly not his last."
Milan - SanRemo RESULTS:
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) 7:18:43
2. Caleb Ewan (Mitchelton-SCOTT) ST
3. Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ) ST
Photos courtesy of Getty Images.