Mar 22, 2015 – Germany’s John Degenkolb dominated a bunch sprint to win the 106th edition of the Milan-SanRemo one day classic, held over 293 km, on Sunday.

AFP/Yuzuru Sunada

Degenkolb, of Team-Giant, finished nearly a bike’s length ahead of defending champion Alexander Kristoff of Norway, with Australian Michael Matthews completing the podium in a time of 6hr 46min.

It was Degenkolb’s maiden Milan-San Remo title but he becomes the second German in two years to triumph, following on from Gerald Ciolek’s 2013 win. An 11-man breakaway provided some early drama in the season’s first of five ‘monuments’ but after building a lead of just over ten minutes their bid would gradually fritter away.

They were reeled in before the final, decisive climbs of the Cipressa and Poggio set the scene for a number of breakaway attempts which ultimately came to nothing. Welshman Geraint Thomas was one of three Team Sky riders who pulled away from the main bunch on the Cipressa and when they were joined by five other riders they went on to build a small advantage.

But counter-attacks by BMC and then Etixx rider Zdenek Stybar ultimately brought the peloton back together with 24.5km remaining. Their pace on the way to the summit left several big names hanging off the back of the peloton, with Kristoff and Britain’s Mark Cavendish, the 2009 champion, looking in trouble.

Although Italy’s last race winner, Filippo Pozzato, pushed the pace on the descent, an attack by BMC’s Daniel Oss tempted Thomas into another counter. With the final climb, the Poggio, still to come the pair managed to build their lead on the peloton to 30sec but they were never allowed to break free.

They started the ascent with a 17sec lead and, soon after, Thomas took things into his own hands when he drove away from Oss to go it alone. Thomas’s effort, however, was over at the 4.6km to go mark as the peloton began the winding descent towards the finish line on Via Roma.

On the 400-meter long home straight, Kristoff was pushed into launching his sprint with 300 meters to go. Degenkolb, on the left of the Norwegian’s wheel, bided his time before hitting top speed in the closing 100 meters to win convincingly.

“At first I thought I had no chance of winning this race because the sprint went really early,” said Degenkolb.

“Kristoff was really strong but he started to sprint early and it was just a little bit too long for him. I was lucky he died just before the finish line so I managed to overtake him.”

Final 10 Kilometers

Gerald Ciolek Smashes Helmet

Milan-San Remo Results

GER 1 DEGENKOLB, John (GIANT – ALPECIN) 6:46:16
NOR 2 KRISTOFF, Alexander (KATUSHA)
AUS 3 MATTHEWS, Michael (ORICA GreenEDGE)
SVK 4 SAGAN, Peter (TINKOFF – SAXO)
ITA 5 BONIFAZIO, Niccolo (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
FRA 6 BOUHANNI, Nacer (COFIDIS, SOLUTIONS CREDITS)
SUI 7 CANCELLARA, Fabian (TREK FACTORY RACING)
ITA 8 CIMOLAI, Davide (LAMPRE – MERIDA)
FRA 9 GALLOPIN, Tony (LOTTO SOUDAL)
NOR 10 BOASSON HAGEN, Edvald (MTN – QHUBEKA)