World champion Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) instigated the winning move and led into the finishing straight at Milan-San Remo, but fell short of the win, ruing the lack of cooperation from other leading riders.
Sagan led down hairpins and on the seaside road to the sprint. He looked at his two companions, but only Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) would contribute to the pace-setting while Michal Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) watched and waited for the kill, eventually taking a narrow victory.
“The only thing missing today was a little bit of cooperation from some other riders. But it’s okay. I did my bit and I’m happy with what I did,” Sagan said on the Via Roma in San Remo.
“I’m satisfied. The result is important but so is putting on a show for the fans. The strongest doesn’t always win.”
Sagan has previously finished second to Gerald Ciolek in 2013 and four years later he gambled it all with a Poggio attack leading to Italy’s famous casino time.
He already with many green jerseys from the Tour de France, a Tour of Flanders win and two world titles, Sagan attacked with 6.3km to race, the crowds at the finish line breaking into applause as they watched on the big screens.
Watch: Milan-San Remo 2017 highlights
“I hadn’t planned anything because racing depends on the legs you have,” Sagan said.
“I tried it this year because there was a tailwind on the Poggio. I had nothing to lose. I tried. I thought we’d go away, but it’s hard to get some help from different teams.”
They had 13 seconds with 5.4 kilometres to race from the Poggio hilltop town. The chasing lost more time on the descent, trailing by 17 seconds going into the final two kilometres.
Sagan rode much of the 3.1-kilometre Poggio descent and flat run to the finish on the front, as Alaphilippe and Kwiatkowski refused to cooperate as they had their team sprinters, Gaviria and Viviani respectively, in the group behind.
“That’s cycling. You race for 300 kilometres and you can win by a little or lose by a little. I did my best. I did a lot of work in the last five kilometres,” explained Sagan.
“I still thought I was faster than them, but they didn’t do a lot of work with me.”
Sagan knows Kwiatkowski well as they grew up racing many of the same races. Kwiatkowski’s star shined brighter before they turned professional, when Sagan’s went towards supernova.
Kwiatkowski raced coldly today, but with winning tactics. Asked about them, Sagan added, “I think he owes me a few beers now.”