Nibali had attacked on the key flashpoint of the Poggio climb within six kilometres of the finish – putting in a daring move to distance all of his rivals.
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He then managed to keep a star-studded chase group at bay to take the victory in Italy’s biggest single-day race.
Nibali’s attack on the Poggio is shown in Strava’s Poggio di Sanremo Strava segment.
The 33-year-old may have been the quickest rider on the ascent of the Poggio this year, but his time of 6-05 on the 3.62km segment is well short of Michal Kwiatkowski’s mark of 5-47, set when he won the race in 2017.
In fact, it wasn’t even Nibali’s quickest time up the iconic climb – he posted 6-02 in 2016.
Perhaps what is more interesting are the stats for the segments on the way down the Poggio and into the finish.
Nibali is renowned as a strong descender, so it is surprising to see that he tackled the Poggio downhill slightly slower than key riders in the chase group.
Nibali’s time of 3-43 on the 3km Poggio (Descent) Strava segment puts him in 13th place of the riders tackling the race in 2018. Davide Cimolai (Groupama-FDJ) was quickest on the day with 3-19, and with Alexander Kristoff (UAE Team Emirates), Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) and Kwiatkowski (Team Sky) all among those quicker than Nibali.
Nibali was evidently fatigued after his huge attack on the Poggio ascent, with his rivals catching him up on the descent.
By the time Nibali hit the final segment of the race – the Via Roma MSR Sprint – he was significantly slower than the rapidly accelerating chase group behind him, dragged in by Australian sprinter Caleb Ewan.
After the finish, he described the finale of the race, saying: “the last kilometres were endless – pure suffering.”
Démare finished in third pot just behind Ewan, and his time of 17 seconds (equating to 60.8kmh) is significantly quicker than Nibali’s time of 22 seconds (or 47kmh) to the line.
Of course, it hardly matters. Nibali had given himself just enough time to ease up before the line slightly and raise his hands in the air as a worthy champion of the 2018 edition of Milan-San Remo.
One last note: Despite Nibali’s amazing effort over the seven hours and 18 minutes he took to complete the 191km race – average speed 39.9kmh – he did not claim a single Strava KOM.