Alaphilippe claims first monument with Milan-San Remo win
Julian Alaphilippe continued his remarkable 2019 by winning his first monument with victory in the Milan-San Remo.
The Frenchman went into Saturday's 291-kilometre classic with six wins to his name this year.
And the Deceuninck–Quick-Step rider duly made it seven with a late surge in a chaotic sprint finish, emerging victorious in a classic for the fourth time in his career.
Oliver Naesen was second, claiming his first podium in a monument, ahead of Michal Kwiatkowski and Peter Sagan.
The day's breakaway was finally reeled in on the penultimate climb when Fausto Masnada was caught.
A combination of an increase in pace on the final climb up the Poggio and attacks from numerous riders saw the race splinter again, with Zdenek Stybar and Philippe Gilbert working hard to get Alaphilippe in position.
The Frenchman followed Kwiatkowski in attacking with 6.4km remaining and he was in a group of 11 who entered the final kilometre after the descent with victory in his sights.
None of those riders seemed sure when to launch a final attack, but Alaphilippe had the legs when he finally went for it, emphatically punching the air as he crossed the line.
"It's difficult to realise what I did and what my team did," Alaphilippe said after the race. "They protected me all day. Tim Declercq was pulling all race and in the final we controlled and we make the race harder and I have to do no mistakes.
"I was really focused to control the attack and with 600m to go when [Matej] Mohoric went to attack I said its now or never. It's unbelievable - I saw my team-mates after the finish and everybody was crying.
"I made a big effort at the top of the Poggio to make a big selection and to see what could happen. At the end I was only with strong riders and I tried to recover in the downhill. In the last 2km I said I want to win - no second place.
Asked what winning a monument meant to him, a clearly emotional Alaphilippe said: "I need time to realise [what I've achieved] - I'm very happy."
1. Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) 06:40:14
2. Oliver Naesen (AG2R La Mondiale)
3. Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky)
4. Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe)
5. Matej Mohoric (Bahrain-Merida)
6. Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)
7. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
8. Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)
9. Simon Clarke (EF Education First)
10. Matteo Trentin (Mitchelton-Scott)