Belgium’s Wout Van Aerta won the 111th edition of Milan-Sanremo, the first major classic of the cycling season, on Saturday 8 August, ahead of last year’s Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe.
When he returned to a very high level, Julian Alaphilippe finally stumbled upon the Belgian Wout Van Aert, who won Milan-Sanremo on Saturday, the first major classic of the cycling season, and robbed him of a second victory. “He really deserves his victory,” greeted the Frenchman in front of a wheel at the end of the season’s longest race, 305 kilometers under a summer sun.
In eight days, “an incredible week” according to the smiling Belgian, Van Aert imitated Alaphilippe who also won the Strade Bianche since Milan-Sanremo last year. Triple world champion in cyclo-cross before he mainly devoted himself to the road, the Belgian at the age of 25 won his first “monument”.
“I’m still happy, but it’s a little frustrating to be close to victory,” said Alaphilippe, who ignited the race just like in 2019. He was the one who went on the attack on the threshold of the last 6 kilometers, in Poggio, the last difficulty of the course.
“I knew it would be difficult”
Van Aert, stuck on the Frenchman’s violent acceleration, fell to the top in 4 seconds. But he returned to the descent. “I felt I had crossed the line,” Alaphilippe explained to the L’Equipe channel. “I was waiting for Wout and trying to get the best sprint possible. I knew it was going to be difficult.”
If the first pursuers had the duo in sight on the streets of Sanremo, they observed an observation time that forbade them to make the intersection, to within 2 seconds. For third place, the Australians Michael Matthews Slovakia Peter Sagan settled in a group that also included the Frenchman Arnaud Démare, one of the few sprinters who had not been left in Poggio.
“It’s the strongest who wins,” said Alaphilippe after completing his most convincing result of the season. Overwhelmed by punctures at Strade Bianche, where he had not been able to play the lead roles, he had a low profile at the start of Milan.
Seven hours later, on a very long day, the doubters were removed. “A podium in a monument is good, even if it sucks in the eyes of some people,” he said, visibly calm. “I feel better and better. It’s still a surprise to get so close to victory and it feels very good.”
The best and worst for Jumbo
Van Aert congratulated his runner, praising him: “Julian played very well. He pushed me in the lead. He was in my wheel and I had to set the pace just enough for the peloton to come back. In the sprint, it did not really win. . “
However, Belgium, in the broad register, is among the fastest, especially after a hard race. Last year, he had won a massive sprint uphill in the Tour stage that arrived in Albi, for his first participation in the Grande Boucle, before losing heavily in the Pau trial. .
For his team Jumbo, the week changed the best and worst. Between the performances of Van Aert and the Slovenian Primoz Roglic, stage winner of the Tour de l’Ain and candidate for the yellow jersey in the next Tour, and also the dramatic sprint of Katowice on the Tour of Poland, where the responsibility of the Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen (temporarily suspended) is engaged.