Michael Woods put in a staggering attacking performance to win Milano-Torino 2019 in the final 300 metres.
The EF Education First rider hounded his rivals on the climb to Basilica di Superga, launching multiple efforts that were wound in, before he finally pulled away from an elite five-rider group to claim glory.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) was pinned ominously to Woods’s wheel in the final kilometre, but couldn’t match the final attack and took second, while Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) held on to take a strong third place.
How it happened
The 2019 Milano-Torino covered a similar but shorter route to last year’s edition, covering 179km from Magenta to the Basilica di Superga in Turin, in the northern Piedmont region of Italy.
Following a flat and fast opening 150km, the peloton then faced the first test, BV di Superga (4.3km at nine per cent average), which topped out around 20km from the line.
After a fast descent, the race was then to be decided on the final climb to Superga, 4.9km-long at 9.1 per cent.
Last year’s edition was won by Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ), who went on to win Il Lombardia just a few days later, but with the absence of the reigning champion the race was wide open.
Early in the day five riders set off away from the peloton to form the breakaway – Rémi Cavagna (Deceuninck – Quick-Step), Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Nicolas Della Valle (UAE Team Emirates), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF), Joan Bou (Nippo Vini Fantini Faizanè) making up the move.
The break pulled out a considerable advantage, reaching four minutes in the final 100km.
But approaching the penultimate climb, the peloton wound the escapees to within two minutes, as Cavagna launched an attack on the climb.
The breakaway was unable to follow the Frenchman who held a 30 second advantage near the top of the climb as his companions were swept up by the bunch.
Cavagna’s attack was shut down by the peloton with 20km to race, which left Team Ineos to take control of the race with Tao Geoghegan Hart leading his team on the descent, working for Egan Bernal, with the peloton following the red and black jerseys.
On the flat run to the final climb, EF Education First helped to set the pace alongside the Ineos train.
Hitting the final climb, the selection came early, as Michael Woods launched an attack with just over 3km to race and was joined by Gorka Izagirre (Astana) and Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott).
The move faltered at 2.6km but Woods kicked again as the peloton almost made contact, the Canadian dropping the hangers sharply, but being joined by David Gaudu (Groupama-FDJ) who quickly bridged across from the bunch.
Behind Bernal fired out of the peloton with Adam Yates and Alejandro Valverde on his wheel. That trio caught Haig and Izagirre, with the group then latching on to Woods and Gaudu, to set up a seven-rider unit at the front with 1.7km to go.
Woods sparked once more but was countered by Gaudu, with Valverde, Yates and Bernal stalking behind.
Inside the final kilometre and those five regrouped, with Bauke Mollema(Trek-Segafredo and Tiesj Benoot (Lotto-Soudal) joining them, as Gaudu attacked yet again but stalled inside 500m.
With 300m to go, Woods launched one last full gas attack with Valverde on his wheel and it looked for a brief second like the Spaniard would hold on to steal victory in the sprint.
But Woods refused to be denied and kept the power on, dropping Valverde and riding in with both arms raised.
Valverde finished just off his wheel in second, with Adam Yates securing third.
Milano-Torino 2019, Magenta to Torino (179km)
1. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First, in 4-04-48
2. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at same time
3. Adam Yates (GBr) Mitchelton-Scott, at 5 seconds
4. Tiesj Benoot (Bel) Lotto-Soudal, at 10s
5. David Gaudu (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
6. Egan Bernal (Col) Team Ineos, all at same time
7. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 23s
8. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, at 33s
9. Kevin Rivera (CRc) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, at same time
10. Enric Mas (Esp) Deceuninck – Quick-Step, at 38s