Demare in disbelief at Milan-San Remo win


Arnaud Demare expressed his disbelief after clinching victory in an incident-packed Milan-San Remo on Saturday.

The Frenchman recovered from a crash earlier in the near-300 kilometre trek, which was subject to a diversion due a landslide near the coastal town of Arenzano, to win a thrilling sprint in which a crash from Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-Quickstep) proved crucial.

Gaviria's hopes came to an end in the final bend after touching wheels in the pack and his tumble disrupted the line of world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff), while the much-fancied Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) cruelly suffered a mechanical problem with the line approaching.

Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto Soudal) subsequently led a disrupted sprint, but it was FDJ rider Demare that came through perfectly to snatch the win ahead of Ben Swift (Team Sky) - Roelandts settling for third.

And Demare was scarcely able to believe his victory at one of cycling's iconic "Monuments", saying: "It's amazing. There are days like this where everything works out despite the bad luck, like crashing at the bottom of the Cipressa.

"I made it across at the bottom of the Poggio and the entire way I felt fantastic. I became the Under-23 world champion in similar conditions after crashing.

"I'm delighted to win Milan-San Remo. This is a big one and has been running for over a century. It's extraordinary. I'm extremely happy." 

Swift spoke of his satisfaction at making the podium, but was unable to hide his disappointment at missing out on top spot.

"It's quite disappointing to be second and so close to the win, but you've got to be happy to be back on the podium in a Monument," he said. "The team was brilliant, we rode a great attacking race [and] did what we wanted to do.

"I just tried to stay as relaxed as possible and I followed Roelandts as much as possible. I was close to the crash at the finish, but it is what it is."