The racing calendar is in tatters. First the Italian March races went, then the Giro d’Italia, before one-by-one the spring Classics followed suit.
Now, cycling fans are left to dwell on what could have been. Would Philippe Gilbert have won his fifth Monument at Milan – San Remo? Who would have dominated the cobbles to claim victory at Paris-Roubaix? Unless the UCI and race organisers come up with some very savvy end of season calendar reshuffling, we may never know.
Or will we? Thanks to Pro Cycling Manager we can simulate the races to see what might have happened. Sure, it pales in comparison to the real thing, but ‘footage’ from the ‘race’ and our report to go along with it will go a small way to tiding us over until everything settles down.
Watch ‘Milan San Remo 2020’ below:
How it happened
As the peloton rolled out of Milan the attacks began in earnest. Movistar’s Antonio Pedrero was the first to make a move and was followed off the front by Astana’s Laurens De Vreese, Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma) and Edoardo Affini (Mitchelton-Scott).
Simon Pellaud (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermic) had missed out on the move but soon made his way across to make a front group of five who built up a lead of over six minutes during the first 80km.
The quintet remained restless, however, as both Pedrero and De Vreese consistently attacked their breakaway counterparts to keep them all on their toes and the peloton at bay.
Marcus Burghardt (Bora-Hansgrohe) was doing a lot of work on the front of the bunch for Peter Sagan, with UAE Team Emirates also present for their fast man Alexander Kristoff.
The escapees’ advantage had come down to around two minutes with 80km to go and then 40km later it was under a minute. Affini wasn’t quite ready to call it a day and so attacked the break on the approach to the Cipressa. At this point Pellaud couldn’t hold the pace and was swept up by the peloton, leaving four men off the front.
However, just as the break made it on to the Cipressa they were also caught by the peloton, with Deceuninck – Quick-Step coming to the fore and driving a hard pace.
20-year-old Remco Evenepoel led the peloton up the lower slopes before Kasper Asgreen turned the screw near the summit, which had the effect of splintering the bunch on the resulting descent. A number of riders were caught out, including Bahrain-McLaren’s Mark Cavendish, Davide Formolo (Bora-Hansgrohe), Domenico Pozzovivo (NTT Pro Cycling) and Magnus Cort (EF Pro Cycling).
Deceuninck – Quick-Step continued to control the pack in the kilometres leading up to the Poggio, with all the main contenders now present at the front.
As the peloton began the climb the race erupted into life, Peter Sagan attacked, taking a number of riders with him, while others were caught up in a crash. Sunweb’s Tiesj Benoot, coming off the back of his strong performance at Paris-Nice was caught up, as was Victor Campenaerts (NTT Pro Cycling), Alessandro De Marchi (CCC), Lukas Pöstlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott).
Three riders had peeled off the front alongside Sagan, Ag2r La Mondiale’s Oliver Naesen, Omloop He Nieuwsblad winner Jasper Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo) and Philippe Gilbert (Lotto-Soudal), the Belgian looking to complete his five Monument victories.
As the quartet accelerated away, Greg Van Avermaet (CCC) countered in the peloton to try and bring them back, but to no avail.
With 5km to go, Sagan’s group had built up a minute gap over the bunch and the four riders were set to contest the sprint between themselves.
Sagan led under the flamme rouge and attacked, with only Stuyven able to follow. The Slovakian opened up a gap but the Belgian fought back, nearly drawing level but not doing enough to overcome the three-time world champion, who took his third different Monument victory on the line by the smallest of margins.
Gilbert finished in third with Naesen behind him, while Deceuninck – Quick-Step’s Sam Bennett was the best of the rest behind, finishing ahead of Caleb Ewan (Lotto-Soudal) and Fernando Gaviria (UAE Team Emirates).
1. Peter Sagan (Svk) Bora-Hansgrohe, in 5-10-48
2. Jasper Stuyven (Bel) Trek-Segafredo
3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Lotto-Soudal
4. Oliver Naesen (Bel) Ag2r La Mondiale
5. Sam Bennett (Irl) Deceuninck – Quick-Step
6. Caleb Ewan (Aus) Lotto-Soudal
7. Fernando Gaviria (Col) UAE Team Emirates
8. Michael Matthews (Aus) Sunweb
9. Elia Viviani (Ita) Cofidis
10. Matteo Trentin (Ita) CCC