Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka did well to protect its designated leaders for the final sprint but a late attack over the top of the last climb completely changed the outcome of the race.
The day started our very calmly with a group of 10 riders getting away early on. The peloton let the break establish a gap of five minutes, but never more than that. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka helped setting the pace in the pack, while constantly keeping its team leaders near the front. This was the scenario for the majority of the first 250 km of the race. Hereafter, the peloton upped the tempo and as the riders took on the Cipressa climb, with 27 km left to go, it all came back together.
A few riders tried to distance the pack on the slopes towards the top but no one succeeded. It was only when the peloton began to see the top of Poggio, the final climb of the day, that a decisive move occurred. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) attacked full-throttle and only Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) and Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) were able to follow the World Champion. The trio quickly got a gap on the peloton, which, despite a furious chase, never managed to reel in the late break. In the three-man sprint for the win, Kwiatkowski proved to be the strongest, while the peloton crossed the finishing line five seconds later with Edvald Boasson Hagen (photo) taking 19th place on the day.
Roger Hammond – sports director:
“We came here with high hopes, aiming to win the race, so, obviously, this is a disappointing result for us. However, I saw some good performances out there by the guys. It was just a pity that we couldn’t match the attacks on Poggio. Unfortunately, Mark [Cavendish] was a bit sick but I think Eddy [Boasson Hagen] did a great ride today. Now, we have to digest the result but I think everybody is just really disappointed”.