Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) claimed victory in Milano-Torino with a late attack on the final climb of the race. The win was not without controversy as Pinot’s winning move came just as one of his main rivals and runner-up Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) crashed into one of Pinot’s teammates just before the winning attack was made. World champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) rounded out the podium and finished third in a race that was decided by the two climbs of the Superga as much as it was the late crash and Pinot’s formidable form.
“It’s a great victory for me,” Pinot said. “Milano-Torino is a race I really like. I really like the Classics so to finally win one is very important for me.”
The incident involving Lopez came after Astana and FDJ had broken up the race on the final ascent. A group containing Pinot, Lopez, Valverde, Jakob Fuglsang, and David Gaudu (FDJ) had forged clear and just as Gaudu swung off the front after his final turn Lopez put his head and attacked. The two riders collided, and with Fuglsang already out the back only Valverde and Pinot remained at the front of the race. The Frenchman was left at the head of affairs and without even attacking he saw his pace setting distance Valverde. Lopez quickly remounted but despite a spirited chase Pinot had enough to take the prestigious win. Lopez crossed the line 10 seconds later, with Valverde a further 18 seconds in arrears.
The first ascent of the Superga had set the tone for the finale. The 9 per cent average gradient, with pitches of 14 per cent in sections, saw Valverde open up the afterburners with 21km to go. The new world champion was clearly in fine fettle and intent on breaking up the race but although his first acceleration was matched by a number of rivals, none of the riders who initially made the juncture were willing to work him.
Before the final climb the race had been defined by a four-man break that contained Willie Smit (Katusha-Alpecin), Umberto Orsini (Bardiani-CSF), Krists Neilands (Israel Cycling Academy), and the Chuck Norris of breakaways, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal).
The foursome established a lead of almost six minutes but they were swept up as the road steepened on the Superga.
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