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Alexander Kristoff wins Milano-Sanremo

It was a race that ended in a sprint between all the big-name sprinters and yet they all got taken to the cleaners by the Norwegian sprinter/classics hardman. A tough race in the rain claimed it's victims as the final sprint became a test of who had the most left in the legs and not necessarily of who was fastest. Kristoff of Katusha takes his biggest victory to date ahead of Cancellara and Ben Swift who took second and third.

Bryn Lennon - Velo/Getty Images

Some had suspected a big groupsprint of 70-80 riders but some hard tempo all the way from the three Capi climbs managed to whittle down the peloton in the wet and nasty conditions on the Italian coast. After Cannondale putting pressure on the Cipressa and Vincenzo Nibali putting in a a hard but predictable attack halfway up the backdoor was wide open as riders ran out of steam. Nibali got himself a decent gap of just under a minute as he caught and passed the last remnants of the early break. Driving the pace between Cipressa and Poggio alone killed his chances though as Cannondale and Katusha kept the pace fast behind.

On the Poggio a strange calm spread over the small group of about thirty riders eventhough the big sprinters like Cavendish and Greipel were still there looking like golden candidates for the win. Only near the top did we see some fruitless attacks, first from Gregory Rast who caught a dying Nibali and Enrico Battaglin.  Just as they crested the Poggio LP Nordhaug and Greg van Avermaet tried to sneak off but apart from leading the pack down the descent they didn't achieve much.

Towards the line the group was led by Katusha's Luca Paolini who sheltered Kristoff on his wheel in a move that looked doomed to get swamped as they reached the final hundred meters. As the sprint was unleashed though Kristoff timed his dash to perfection, letting riders like Cavendish fire their sprints early only to overtake them with ease in the end. The top ten saw a slew of rather unexpected names with Ben Swift of Sky getting his best result and Sonny Colbrelli of Bardiani continuing his run of good form. Juan Jose Lobato also keeps on impressing while the expected big sprinters, Cav, Greipel, Sagan and Démare all had to settle for lower placings.

The win will definitely count as the big breakthrough for Alexander Kristoff eventhough he has an olympic bronze from London already. With this win he will be firmly in the spotlight at the big cobbled monuments in the coming weeks.

TOP 20

1. NOR KAT Alexander Kristoff
2. SUI TFR Fabian Cancellara
3. GBR SKY Ben Swift
4. ESP MOV Juan Jose Lobato
5. GBR OPQ Mark Cavendish
6. ITA BAR Sonny Colbrelli
7. CZE OPQ Zdenek Stybar
8. ITA LAM Sacha Modolo
9. GER MTN Gerald Ciolek
10. SVK CAN Peter Sagan
11. LTU GRS Ramunas Navardauskas
12. ITA SKY Salvatore Puccio
13. BEL BMC Philippe Gilbert
14. NED GRS Sebastian Langeveld
15. NOR BEL Lars Nordhaug
16. FRA FDJ Yoann Offredo
17. ESP MOV Francisco Ventoso
18. ITA TCS Daniele Bennati
19. SUI TFR Grégory Rast
20. ITA TFR Fabio Felline