Here's today's top 20.
Road race - Men
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And that's how close it was for today's top three... what a finish!
Alexander Kristoff won the sprint for fourth place ahead of Fernando Gaviria as the pack crossed the line five seconds down.
So, amid all the storms there's a sweetener for Sky as Kwiatkowski takes the first Monument of his career and adds to his Strade Bianche victory from earlier in the month.
What a finish that was - and the replays shows Sagan almost crashing after his lunge before reaching out to shake Kwiatkowski's hand and congratulate his rival. Alaphilippe takes third place on his debut.
Victory for Michal Kwiatkowski of Team Sky. The Pole has more in the tank in the final moments - and his lunge does it!
Peter Sagan opens up the sprint - but he tires and it looks like Kwiatkowski has taken the win!
Sagan is going to have to do it alone. He's on the front with the other two on his wheel - and the pack are chasing on behind, but they won't reel them in...
Under the flamme rouge they go - and surely they will hold on here?
It's almost 20 seconds now as Kwiatkowski starts to commit as well. It's between these guys for the win.
Now Alaphilippe comes through - he's starting to share the load. The gap is up to 16 seconds. And that's the descent done...
Neither Alaphilippe nor Kwiatkowski are willing to help out Sagan. Are they racing for second place?
No time check just yet. The trio make their way down as Colbrelli leads the chase now behind. It was a big gamble though - should it come back together Sagan could regret this...
Over the top of the Poggio goes Sagan with Alaphilippe and Kwiatkowski behind. Van Avermaet is leading the chase back with the others.
ATTACK BY SAGAN! The world champion goes early and has shed the peloton. Alaphilippe and Kwiatkowski lead the chase.
Dumoulin is done - he pulls wide, his job done for the day.
Dumoulin looks pretty frustrated - he can't open up a gap and has no teammates behind him. Sky have van Poppel, Kwiatkowski, Viviani and one more on the front, ahead of Sagan and Degenkolb. Demare is still there, with Matthews further back. It seems they're all here except Cavendish and Kristoff.
Dumoulin is really going for it but he can't shed the Sky train: Danny van Poppel leads three teammates on this climb, with Sagan right behind.
POGGIO TIME: Luke Rowe leads the pack onto the 3.7km climb (at 3.7%, max 8%). But Tom Dumoulin comes through now for Sunweb.
Actually, that wasn't Katusha but Cofidis - so much red in the pack. It's Trek who have four riders on the front now ahead of FDJ. And Sky are there too with five riders.
FDJ and Sky now edging up ahead of the climb - and there's Kristoff, after all. He has one Katusha teammate with him.
Almost Poggio time. Gaviria moves up the outside to join his three Quick-Step teammates on the front: Boonen, Alaphilippe and Trentin, perhaps.
It looks like Bouhanni is there, but no sign of Kristoff yet. Quick-Step Floors have now come to the front with Tom Boonen setting a fast tempo. He'll be paving the way for Alaphilippe on the Poggio, with Gaviria kept in reserve for the sprint.
There's a slight lull now as the pack seems to reform. Bora have four men on the front - matched by FDJ. Tom Boonen and Fernando Gaviria are there, and the likes of Degenkolb and van Avermaet. No sign of Cavendish yet, but Dimension Data have Boasson Hagen. There's about 70 riders here - including almost an entire Sky team near the back.
We have 10 riders on the front but Sagan has two Bora-Hansgrohe riders leading the chase. And it works - the Gallopin group is neutralised.
It's all strung out on this descent with its numerous hairpins and turns. And that's it over, with Greg van Avermaet in third wheel. And straight away there's an attack by Tony Gallopin of Lotto Soudal, who is being chased down by Belgian national champion Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors).
We'll get a better sense of who's there and who's not after this descent. For now, it's Enrico Gasparotto of Bahrain Merida who leads the way.
Dumoulin grabs a fresh water bottle on the front of this main pack, which is about 60 strong. FDJ have men here, with Demare on the front. Sagan is there too, as is Degenkolb. But it's a Bahrain Merida rider who leads the pack over the top of the Cipressa. Now time for some hairpins...
Mark Cavendish is one of the sprinters who has been shelled out the back. It's not a disaster quite yet, but he'll have his work cut out to return to the fold ahead of the Poggio.
The Wellens duo has been swept up by the Simon Geschke-led pack. Julian Alaphilippe is right there, as is Tom Dumoulin. They're driving a fast pace to sap the strength of the sprinters, who are being forced to dig deep into their reserves. The bunch is really whittling down.
Attack by Tim Wellens as the pack closed in. He has an Androni rider on his wheel but it's fizzing out. The Team Sunweb rider doing the damage if Nikias Arndt, with Oss right on his wheel.
It's all happening on the Cipressa. Tim Wellens is in this break for Lotto Soudal, as has Tom Dumoulin. It's sparked a response by the pack as Greg van Avermaet leads the chase. And it might come back together again.
Rovny has been joined by Skujins and Amezqueta - but they have now been swept up by the pack, which has all strung out. And it's Team Sunweb who set the tempo here as a small break forms. Team Sky's Luke Rowe is breaching over. Daniel Oss of BMC is there, as was Matteo Trentin of QuickStep.
The break turn right onto the Cipressa with just a few seconds to play with. Ivan Rovny attacks from the outset. This is a 5.6km climb at 4.1%.
Dimension Data are already there for Mark Cavendish, while FDJ have formed a little train too. Sagan, the world champion, is on the wheel of Edvald Boasson Hagen and Cavendish.
The gap is down to 18 seconds now for the escapees ahead of the Cipressa. Katusha and Cofidis are doing dual leadouts to the foot of the climb, with Lotto Soudal edging forward too - the three red teams.
Cofidis also on the front for Bouhanni as Manuele Boaro sets a tempo for his Bahrain Merida leader Sonny Colbrelli.
Katusha now muscling themselves to the front for Kristoff ahead of the Cipressa. Bahrain-Merida also fairly active.
It's really strung out in the peloton now as we approach the business end of this race. Next big rendez-vous is the Cipressa...
The seven remaining escapees are over the top of the Berta with 50 seconds to play with. Here are those flares I mentioned - usually followed by fireworks...
Zurlo is the latest escapee to be dropped, while Gougeard has been swept up by the pack after his short-lived attempt. There are loads of flares being lit by fans on the side of the road. Meanwhile there's a mechanical issue for Mikael Delage of FDJ, who will need to chase back on to help out his leader Demare.
CAPO BERTA: Poli, who has been really struggling, is dropped by the leaders. He's the youngest rider and has diabetes, so we'll let him off. Mattia Frapporti is also distanced by the escapees.
Gougeard is not really making much headway. The pack is approaching him quicker than he is catching the break. Meanwhile, Fabio Felline (Trek Segafredo) is riding back to the peloton after a wheel change or tactical stop with the team car. Now the leaders are onto the Capo Berta...
One hour until the riders reach the finish... Who will cross the line first?
Gougeard is one minute behind the leaders and 20 seconds ahead of the pack. Two of the Capi down, just the Berta to go.
ATTACK: Alexis Gougeard (Ag2R-La Mondiale) jumps clear of the pack on the Capo Cervo.
Quick-Step Floors, Dimension Data, FDJ and BMC are controlling things on the front of the pack, which trails the leaders by 1:20.
The break are over the Capo Mele with their 1:25 lead intact. The youngest man in the race, Umberto Poli, is on the back. He was the first rider to make a move today but is clearly feeling a bit spanked in his maiden Monument.
CAPO MELE: It's a quite benign 3km climb at 2% but it's here where things usually start to get a little feisty. The Cannondale duo of Skujins and Clarke come to the front of the break.
BMC and Trek Segafredo have come to the front of the pack ahead of these three preliminary hills. It's bunching up quite considerably ahead of the tests ahead.
Right, it's showtime...
Rivals Sagan and Van Avermaet chewing the fat in the peloton...
For stats lovers, here are some details about the climbs coming up before the finish...
The gap is down to 2:05 for the 10 leaders now. We have those three small hills coming up...
The break passes through the second feed zone at Ceriale. There's been a fair amount of road furniture and roundabouts but so far no one has come a cropper.
The Capo Mele comes in about 10km time - that's when we'll start to see a bit of action. The gap for the 10 leaders is 2:35. They are: Nico Denz (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Mattia Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), William Clarke, Tom Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Fantini), Umberto Poli (Novo Nordisk), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), Julen Amezqueta (Wilier-Selle Italia).
Cofidis begin to show their heads near the front. They're working for Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni, who has finished 6th and 4th on the Via Roma on his two appearances. It's still Alexis Saramotins setting the tempo for Bora on the front.
The gap is 2:40 for the 10 leaders as they pass some kind of mine ahead of the second feed zone. Peter Sagan is all smiles in the middle of the pack. His Bora team are following the wheels of John Degenkolb's Trek Segafredo outfit. So far this has been far from vintage - but all the fun bits are still to come, so don't worry too much just yet.
A lone wolf winning Milan-San Remo is almost as rare as a successful attack on the Poggio. There have been three solo winners since 1994 – Giorgio Furlan (by 20 seconds), Andrei Tchmill (by zilch after being all-but swept up by the line) and Fabian Cancellara (by four seconds). Gone are the days when Fausto Coppi can solo clear of a break on the Turchino and win by 14 minutes (as he did in 1946). Solo attacks nowadays tend to form as the pack splinters near the summit of the Poggio and a rider crests the summit before opening a gap on the descent. This could feasibly be a tactic for the likes of last year's third place rider Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal), fellow Belgian Greg van Avermaet (BMC), Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen (Dimension Data), 2012 winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) or a fearless buck like Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors). Of course, there's also the possibility of an iconoclast like Steve Cummings (Dimension Data) channelling Coppi and having a pop from distance...
Bit of a mix up on the front as Dimension Data, Quick-Step and Bora-Hansgrohe come to the front. The scenery is pretty stunning as the pack hugs the coastline with cliffs to their right and the Ligurian sea to the left. Numerous riders have slowed down to take off their gilets, including Sagan and Degenkolb.
Loads of gilets on display because it's not quite the 20 degrees initially expected, plus there's a bit of a wind coming off the coast. The Ag2R-La Mondiale team of Jan Bakelants, Mathias Frank, Alexis Gougeard and Stijn Vanderbergh have come to the front to help out with FDJ. Remember, they have Nico Denz in the break, which is still 2:20 out ahead.
Four world champions have won Milan-San Remo while sporting the rainbow stripes: Alfredo Binda (1931), Eddy Merckx (1972 and 1975), Felice Gimondi (1974) and Giuseppe Saronni (1983). Runner-up in 2013 and twice fourth, can Peter Sagan join the illustrious list on Saturday? After his stellar start to the season, he's many people's favourite despite the relative weakness of his Bora-Hansgrohe team.
We're down to the final 100 kilometres! They've already been riding for the best part of five hours...
Mark Cavendish is being paced back by Dimension Data teammate Bernie Eisel after dropping back to his team car for something. The peloton is really strung out as the gap comes down to 2:25. Meanwhile, there's a flat for one of the Astana riders - it's Truls Korsaeth.
The gap is down to four minutes now as FDJ and Sky continue their marshalling of the race. They're passing through the town of Savona, renowned for its iron industry despite its soapy connotations. Eddy Merckx - the seven time winner of this race - won't have too good memories of the Hotel Excelsior in Savona - it was here when he was kicked out of the 1969 Giro d'Italia because of a prohibited substance found in a urine sample he gave during the race...
The oldest winner on record is Belgian Andrei Tchmil, who broke clear of the pack with 600 metres remaining to hold on to victory in 1999 aged 36 and two months. Runner-up in 2010 and third in 2007, Tom Boonen may be better suited to the cobbled classics but the Belgian veteran is part of a strong Quick-Step Floors team that also boasts Gaviria and Philippe Gilbert. Should 36-year-old Boonen pass under the radar and pick up an unexpected win in the 40th Monument of his career, he'll beat Tchmil's record by a few months.
A reminder of the 10 leaders, who broke clear shortly after the start today: Australian William Clarke and Latvian Toms Skujins (both Cannondale-Drapac), Italians Mattia Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Fantini), Umberto Poli (Novo Nordisk) and Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), Spaniard Julen Amezqueta (Wilier-Selle Italia), Germany's Nico Denz (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Russian Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-Rusvelo)
The FDJ team of defending champion Arnaud Demare still control things with six riders on the front of the peloton. There's one Dimension Data rider there too, with the Team Sky squad of Messrs Kwiatkowski, Stannard and Viviani tucked in just behind.
The gap is back up to five minutes for the 10 escapees as order is restored on the Ligurian coast. The prospect of the race coming back together too early and then a counter attack forming was clearly too much for the teams of the big favourites, who took their collective feet off the gas back in the pack.
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If Cannondale have two riders in the break they have options for later in the race with Simon Clarke and Alberto Bettiol no doubt willing to try something on the Cipressa and Poggio climbs... Still without a WorldTour win for two years, is it? A remarkable barren run for such a large team...
On paper, Ewan is the fastest finisher but he's only once won a race over 200km and the lumpy finale may suit his Danish team-mate Neilsen better. Enger has done next to nothing this year and so it would be a huge surprise were he to win, but Alaphilppe was in the form of his life en route to picking up a first WorldTour win in Paris-Nice meaning the Frenchman will be full of confidence. Whatever happens, Ugo Agostini's record of being the youngest winner – aged 20 in 1914 – is not under threat. Record seven-time winner Eddy Merckx was also 20 when he won on his debut – but there are no riders that young in contention this weekend.
What of the new kids on the block? Since the first edition of Milan-San Remo in 1907 a total of 16 riders have won on their debut – the latest being that man Cavendish in 2009. That could change this year with the likes of Orca-Scott duo Magnus Cort Nielsen and Caleb Ewan, Sondre Holst Enger (Ag2R-La Mondale) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quck-Step Floors) all in line to take a bow. CORRECTION: Enger did not start the race despite being on early start lists.
And here's where it will all happen in about two and a half hours' time - perhaps longer, if this slow average pace continues... The Via Roma in San Remo.
Right, back to weighing up the contenders for today's race... and so far we haven't really mentioned the Italians - besides a fleeting reference to Pippo Pozzato. Now if the Peacock of Sandrigo, for all his apparent confidence, doesn't look likely to add to his 2006 triumph then many are backing his young Wilier-Triestina team-mate Jakub Mareczko as a dark horse. That said, he finished 179th last year and is largely unproven over such long distances (291km this year). Better Italian stallions to back are Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida), Elia Viviani (Team Sky), Sacha Modolo (UAE Team Emirates) or Matteo Trentin (Quick-Step Floors).
So, the gap has come down quite dramatically on the Turchino: just 2:15 for the leaders now. The average speed for the fourth hour was down again to 36.1km/h.
Meanwhile, TV viewers will be pleased to know that Rob Hatch and Matt Stephens are making their way to the commentary box... we're almost ready to rumble! Just as the riders are about to drop down onto the Ligurian Coast.
And here's a snap of the leaders on the Passo del Turchino...
Gap down to four minutes near the summit of the Turchino...
CRASH: We're hearing that Salvatore Puccio (Team Sky) has gone down.
The gap is 4:40 as the escapees continue scaling the Passo del Turchino. The quiet before the storm...
Here's that man Mark Cavendish chatting to a reporter at the start of the race. Can he make it two today?
We're onto the long Passo del Turchino climb that the riders scale before dropping down to the Ligurian Coast for the second phase of this race. It's here where Fausto Coppi launched his audacious solo attack in 1946 en route to winning his first of three Milan-San Remo titles by a stonking gap of 14 minutes.
We've mentioned former winners Degenkolb, Kristoff and Demare - but there are another three former winners featuring in today's race. Aussie veteran and 2012 winner Simon Gerrans (Orica-Scott) is very much an outsider, as is the 2006 winner Filippo Pozzato (Wilier-Triestina), but Britain's Mark Cavendish of Dimension Data - who pipped Heinrich Haussler by a few millimetres in 2009 - is there and could well feature in the finale, after building up his form at Tirreno-Adriatico. All six would become double winners if they prevail today, joining seven others who have won this race twice.
The pace was down again for the third hour of racing - an average speed of 37.8km/h. The reason for this is a reported headwind as the pack heads towards to foot of the Passo del Turchino.
Picking up from the tweet below, and it's a good call because Ben Swift should not be discounted. The Briton has twice finished on the podium in this race including last year, when he finished second behind Demare. Now at UAE Team Emirates, perhaps he can go one better? As for his former team, Sky have a few cards to play: Ian Stannard is a powerhouse who could hold a chasing pack at bay, Michal Kwiatkowski - a recent winner at Strade Bianche - could try his luck on the Poggio and go from distance, while Elia Viviani is the sprint option, although the Italian does not have a great record here, his best finish being 84th place last year.
Right, let's get back to running through the favourites for this race. We've already touched on Sagan, Gaviria, Demare and Kristoff, but what of the other fast men who can have high hopes of a win today? Frenchman Nacer Bouhanni (Codifis) had to retire from Tirreno-Adriatico because of illness but he's twice finished in the top ten here and, on paper, has what it takes to win. Ditto Germany's John Degenkolb of Trek-Segafredo, who did indeed win on the Via Corsa back in 2015. Injuries have derailed his progress since, but Degenkolb - who went on to win Paris-Roubaix in the same season - is slowly getting back to his best. Another rider in a similar mould is the man brought in to replace Degenkolb at Team Sunweb: the Australian Michael Matthews. He finished on the podium the year Degenkolb won, but crashed out last year on the Cipressa in the same incident that held up eventual winner Demare.
CORRECTION: Sean Kelly is not the last Grand Tour winner to have won Milan-San Remo... three years after the Irishman's second win we saw Laurent Jalabert take the crown. Like Kelly, the Frenchman was a winner of the Vuelta a Espana.
Talking of Coppi, he's responsible for one of the most audacious Milan-San Remo victories in the history of this great race: in 1946 Coppi was part of a break which formed early in the race. He then rode clear on the Passo del Turchino before soloing to victory with a gap of more than 14 minutes. You don't have winners like that nowadays... Incidentally, Coppi is one of the many Grand Tour winners who have also triumphed in this Monument - an illustrious list that also includes the likes of Girardengo, Gino Bartali, Louison Bobet, Laurent Fignon, Francesco Moser and, of course, the great Eddy Merckx (the all time record winner of Milan-San Remo with seven scalps). That said, the last Grand Tour winner to have triumphed on the Via Roma is Eurosport's own Sean Kelly back in 1992. Since then, the race has suited the sprinters and classics specialists more than the all-rounders.
The peloton has passed through the sleepy Tortona, the home town of the great Fausto Coppi, who used to deliver salamis from the local delicatessen on his bike. It's a nice place which I visited a couple of years ago - and the cycling museum at nearby Novi Ligure (the home town of Costante Girardengo) is very much recommended. Of course, Girardengo was a five-time winner of Milan-San Remo while Coppi took three wins and could have had more but for the two-years interruption during the Second World War.
The Bora-Hansgrohe team of Peter Sagan and the Quick-Step Floors team of Fernando Gaviria have been joined by the FDJ team of defending champion Arnaud Demare on the front of the peloton. Demare, the shock winner last year despite crashing badly on the Cipressa, has been in great form this season and is also one of the favourites for today's race. Should the Frenchman win then he'll be the ninth rider to win back-to-back Milan-San Remo titles. The most recent? Erik Zabel, who did so in 1997/98 and again in 2000/01. Zabel's son Rick is part of the Katusha-Alpecin team of another big favourite, Alexander Kristoff - the Norwegian who won in 2014.
With 200km remaining the gap is still just over four minutes for the 10 escapees, who are: Cannondale duo William Clarke and Toms Skujins, Italians Mattia Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Fantini), Umberto Poli (Novo Nordisk), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), Spaniard Julen Amezqueta (Wilier-Selle Italia), Germany's Nico Denz (Ag2r La Mondiale) and Russian Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-Rusvelo).
So, who are the favourites? Well, I mentioned that man Sagan - the world champion from Bora-Hansgrohe has been in superb form this year and has the ability to win this race in a sprint, by attacking on the Poggio, or by zipping clear on the descent. But could his versatility be a hindrance: he has so many options he could easily make a hash of things. The other name on people's lips is Fernando Gaviria of Quick-Step Floors, the fast Colombian who could well have won last year had he not inexplicably crashed in the finale. Gaviria beat Sagan to a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico recently but is also carrying a slight knock to his wrist after a fall in training this week. Only time will tell...
Who do you think will win? Can the break go the distance? Are the bookmakers right to make Peter Sagan the big favourite? Share your thoughts and predictions with me on Twitter: @saddleblaze.
The riders have been going for just over two hours now - in a race which often pushes seven hours in total. The average speed for the opening hour was 41.5km/h which came down to 39km/h in the second hour. Still quite a while to go in this slowbuilder that is notoriously difficult to predict.
No surprise to see two Cannondale riders in this break: their big name classics riders Sep Vanmarcke and Taylor Phinney are out of the race through illness and injury and so they have had to take a different approach to this opening Monument of the season. Tom Skujins and William Clarke are both making Milan-San Remo debuts they're bound to remember.
While you're waiting for the action to really get going, how about checking out our preview to the race - including 12 different scenarios and all the big names to watch...
After 50km of racing the gap was pushing five minutes for the 10 escapees.
A break of 10 riders formed early in the race shortly after leaving Milan: Nico Denz (Ag2r La Mondiale), Mattia Frapporti (Androni-Sidermec), Mirco Maestri (Bardiani-CSF), William Clarke, Tom Skujins (Cannondale-Drapac), Ivan Rovny (Gazprom-Rusvelo), Alan Marangoni (Nippo-Fantini), Umberto Poli (Novo Nordisk), Federico Zurlo (UAE Team Emirates), Julen Amezqueta (Wilier-Selle Italia).
A reminder of today's route - and look, the sun is out, with temperatures set to hit 20 degrees this afternoon. As usual, the riders will tackle the Passo del Turchino before hitting the coast. Following the "tre capi" lumps the pack will hit the famous Cipressa and Poggio climbs ahead of the fast finale on the Via Roma at San Remo.
Peter Sagan, today's favourite, was alongside defending champion Arnaud Demare at the start of the race today. A headwind over the plains of Piedmont and Lombardia is scheduled to turn into a tailwind along the Ligurian Coast later today.
Hello and welcome to live coverage of the first Monument of the season - Milan-Sanremo, Il Classicissima di Primavera - the longest one-day race of the WorldTour calendar and the so-called Sprinter's Classic.