Vincenzo Nibali wins another monument
The BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM sent a strong line-up to the Milano-Sanremo spring classic. After a strong team effort throughout the final hour of racing, Vincenzo Nibali placed his decisive attack on the Poggio on his way to win yet another of cycling’s monuments.
In terms of topography, there may be harder races than the spring classic Milano-Sanremo. But since the distance to be covered between Northern Italy’s commercial capital and the spa town on the Ligurian coast sums up to a staggering 294 kilometers, this race is demanding in its own ways. After a lackluster performance at the Tirreno-Adriatico stage race, the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM was looking to make amends, and the riders in red, gold and dark blue had a couple of strategic options to play with. Both Vincenzo Nibali and Matej Mohoric could try to go for a solo win with a late attack. And if the race should be decided in a bunch sprint, there was Sonny Colbrelli as a fast man who was unlikely to lose contact on the Cipressa and Poggio climbs. This trident of protected riders could rely on the able support of domestiques such as Heinrich Haussler, Kristijan Koren, Franco Pellizotti and Luka Pibernik.
The riders left Milano in the pouring rain, and for a long time, a nine-man lead-group that had attacked from the very start took charge of things, building a maximum lead of seven and a half minutes. Meanwhile, the riders of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM stayed within the peloton, keeping their powder dry for the finale. The last four attackers were caught with 30 kilometers to go right after the Tre Capi section of the course, and from there the riders in red, gold and dark blue showed an impressive team effort: On the approach to the Cipressa it was up to Luka Pibernik and Kristijan Koren to keep Nibali well-sheltered in the leading positions of the peloton. As for the Cipressa and the Poggio climb and the descent in between, Franco Pellizotti and Matej Mohoric took over to protect their captain. On the upper slopes of the Poggio climb, Nibali countered an attack of Latvia’s national champion Krists Neilands, leaving the latter behind and cresting the Poggio with an advantage of 12 seconds.
On the final six kilometers, Vincenzo Nibali made good use of his superb handling skills: The Sicilian defended his lead on the twisting, technical descent through the greenhouses. The flat final three kilometers turned into a real nailbiter as the teams with strong sprinters tried all they could to get back to the race leader. Meanwhile, Nibali was profiting from MERIDA’s aerodynamically refined REACTO bike and Vision’s particularly streamlined «Metron 6D» handlebar. His lead was shrinking gradually, but Vincenzo Nibali dug deep, mobilized all the reserves his body had to offer and kept believing in his chances. In the end, he even found time to sit up and celebrate his victory in style, the sprinting peloton breathing down his neck. With Sonny Colbrelli in 9th, another rider of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM finished within the top10. For Nibali, this was the second consecutive victory at one of cycling’s monuments after his win at last year’s il Lombardia.
109TH MILANO-SANREMO, 294 KILOMETERS
1. Vincenzo Nibali, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 7:18.43 hours
2. Caleb Ewan, AUS, st
3. Arnaud Démare, FRA, st