The first monumental classic of the 2018 season, the 109th edition of Milan-San Remo, was a wet, windy and hard-fought battle for Team Sunweb Saturday, with the team’s leader Michael Matthews sprinting to a well-earned top-10 finish in Italy on his TCR Advanced SL.
At nearly 300km and 8 hours long, it was an impressive performance for Matthews in just his second race of the season. The Aussie missed some early season racing with a fractured shoulder.
“I think it was a good day,” Matthews said. “For my second race of the season the feelings are really good and my shoulder felt OK today, which is already a big improvement from the last few days.”
Known as “La Classicissima” (The Spring Classic) in Italy, the 294km Milan-San Remo is the longest of the spring classics. One of five monumental classics, it’s usually a race for the sprinters with a mostly flat course—and it often comes down to a selection made on two climbs near the finish, the Cipressa and the Poggio.
Team Sunweb rode a strong race and had five riders in position going into the decisive final kilometers. But Italian all-rounder Vincenzo Nibali, winner of the 2014 Tour de France, attacked on the Poggio and ended up holding off the sprinters to take the solo win.
“I think we rode a really good race,” said Matthews, who sprinted to the top-10 finish wearing his Rivet aero helmet. “We were hoping for a bit more speed on the Cipressa and Poggio, but with the headwind it made the race hard for the pure sprinters. I tried to place an attack on the Poggio but it wasn’t enough to make a difference. I then started the sprint and maybe went a bit early, but I thought all or nothing to catch Nibali and go for the win.”
Matthews ended up finishing seventh. “I had good legs and I tried, so all in all it’s a good day and I can look forward to the next races,” he said.