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"If luck had gone his way G could have potentially been in a position to take the win. If (Luca) Paolini hadn't committed fully to go and catch him. But it was a really good ride from G and all the guys."

Photo: Sirotti






22.03.2015 @ 20:36 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Team Sky put in a gutsy and attacking display at Milan-San Remo but were unable to pull off an elusive monument victory.


Geraint Thomas led over the top of the famous Poggio by a slender margin after attacking not once but twice in the closing stages.


The relentless Welshman had jumped clear of the pack alongside Daniel Oss (BMC Racing) and raced onto the mythical climb alongside the Italian. But with the peloton bearing down the Welshman had no choice but to push on, attacking again with 7.7 kilometres to go.


Thomas's exploits allowed Ben Swift to sit in the peloton, and as the race came back together on the technical descent Team Sky had two riders in the top 10 positions as a group of big-name contenders crashed out behind.


Thomas led a reduced group onto the Via Roma finish but with Swift battling to move forward 13th was the end result for the Brit in a blanket finish.


John Degenkolb (Giant-Alpecin) timed his kick best to claim La Primavera, with 2014 victor Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) and Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge) rounding out the podium.



Team Sky showed great teamwork during the marathon (and mostly wet) 293km event as they endeavoured to make the race hard for the opposition.


Hitting the front ahead of the 'Tre Capi' with Andy Fenn leading the line, the men in black and blue began to push the pace on the Capo Berta. Luke Rowe strung out the bunch but as the peloton plunged onto the slick descent there were a number of crashes.


Both Ian Stannard and Salvatore Puccio hit the deck for Team Sky, with the confusion enabling Rowe, Thomas and Swift to go clear. With daylight behind them the trio pushed on, with Rowe unleashing a heroic turn to ensure both Thomas and Swift were right to the fore as things came back together on the Cipressa.


Not content to sit back it was Lars Petter Nordhaug who moved up on the penultimate climb, lining out the field before Thomas took over at the summit. The effort put a number of contenders into the red and saw the last of the day's early escapees caught.


Thomas jumped on a powerful move from Oss to begin the final act, but once solo 'G' saw his advantage slashed by attacks on the Poggio.


Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx - Quick-Step), Zdenek Stybar (Etixx - Quick-Step), Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) and Gerald Ciolek (MTN Qhubeka) all came to grief on the final descent, but it was Degenkolb who saw his arms raised at the finish.



After the race Sports Director Dario Cioni talked through a rollercoaster day in Italy.


"The guys rode really well as a team," he confirmed. "Ben was a little disappointed for the final result. He felt good all race but didn't find the space he needed in the sprint at the end. That's how sprints go. You need to make split-second decisions and sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't.


"If you take into consideration that we lost Puccio and Ian who were important guys in the race to a crash we found ourselves in a good position. If luck had gone his way G could have potentially been in a position to take the win. If (Luca) Paolini hadn't committed fully to go and catch him. But it was a really good ride from G and all the guys. We just missed the final part in the sprint.


"It was not ideal to lose two guys ahead of the Cipressa.


"Luke did a really good job pulling and getting both Swifty and G onto the Cipressa in a good position. The fact they didn't have to fight to be at the front helped set them up well - especially G. One thing I was really happy with was the fact that we made a plan in the morning and we executed it pretty well. We decided we didn't want to have to pull early so that we could commit everything in the last 40km. That's what we did."


Team Sky Doctor Richard Usher also gave an update on both Ian Stannard and Salvatore Puccio after their crashes.


He confirmed: "Both riders went down and suffered cuts, abrasions and bruises. They are both sore but thankfully there's nothing serious that required hospitalisation.


"We'll follow up with both riders medically this week and monitor their progress."


“I chose the wrong side to go up, I had to start my sprint quite early and then I just got blocked, which was quite frustrating after what the day was and all the effort I put in,” Swift told Cycling Weekly after the race.


“The legs were fine, I just chose the wrong side.


“It was a great showing, I think the team rode fantastically, but it would have been nicer to get a result. I’ll still chip away at it, and hopefully I’ve got a few more years left!”



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