MILAN (AP) — Belgian rider Jasper Stuyven beat the favorites to win the Milan-San Remo classic on Saturday and claim the biggest win of his career.
Stuyven, who rides for the Trek-Segafredo team, made a brave attack with 3 kilometers remaining and held off the sprinters to edge Caleb Ewan and defending champion Wout van Aert.
The 28-year-old Stuyven took six hours, 38 minutes and six seconds to complete the 299-kilometer (186-mile) classic, which is the longest professional one-day race in modern cycling.
“I can’t describe how I feel. It’s unbelievable,” Stuyven said. “We had a plan to go for it, just to try to race for the win. I felt really good all day and the finale was going well. There was a lot of fast guys, so I knew I had to try all or nothing, which I did.
“If it had gone to the line,” he continued, “I maybe would have finished fifth or 10th but I preferred to go all in and take the biggest victory of my career. Maybe eight times out of 10 you get nothing but there are two times, or even one time, you get everything.”
There was an early break of eight riders and their advantage hovered around seven minutes for much of the opening stages.
But that had been halved by the halfway point of the race and the lead group started to break up on the series of short climbs heading to the finale.
The last of the escapees were swept up on the penultimate climb, the Cipressa, with 24.5 kilometers remaining.
There were several attacks on the final climb up the Poggio but nothing stuck. Van Aert led on the fast descent, with Ewan on his wheel, but the race was wide open until Stuyven made his move and managed to get a gap.
Søren Kragh Andersen came across to him but Stuyven kicked again inside the final 100 meters to win his first Monument. It was the 112th edition of the race.
“Like always it was fast descent of the Poggio,” Van Aert said. “Straight at the bottom Jasper went on the attack. It was a really good move and then afterwards it was a bit hard for me to chase because I didn’t want to waste my chances in the sprint.
“Of course a lot of guys were looking at me but I just came up short. In the end, Caleb was a bit faster than me in the sprint from our group. It’s always a difficult final few kilometers but today I gambled wrong.”
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