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Jasper Philipsen wins fastest ever Milan-Sanremo in epic photo finish

Jasper Philipsen gets over the line to win by a fraction
Jasper Philipsen gets over the line to win by a fractionAFP
Jasper Philipsen (26) of Alpecin-Deceuninck won the fastest-ever Milan-Sanremo Classic in a photo finish on Saturday to claim the first Monument of the season, a 288-km ride from Pavia to Sanremo.

In what had been billed as a battle between last year's winner Mathieu van der Poel and five-times Monuments winner Tadej Pogacar, it was Philipsen who surged ahead in the sprint on the final kilometre to clinch victory after nearly six hours and 15 minutes.

The average speed was measured at 46.11 kph, breaking the record set by Gianni Bugno 34 years ago when he averaged 45.8 kph.

"It's an incredible feeling to win Milan-Sanremo. It makes me really proud and happy, especially after the lead out I got from Mathieu van der Poel," Philipsen said in a post-race interview.

"It was a fast race all day but I was feeling very good all the time. I believed in myself but everything had to go to perfection. I managed to come back."

Pogacar had launched an attack with 5.8 km to go, with Van der Poel chasing him on the final descent from the summit of the Poggio before Bahrain Victorious's Matej Mohoric attempted an attack of his own.

However, the final kilometre saw Bora-Hansgrohe's Matteo Sobrero and Ineos Grenadiers' Thomas Pidcock attempt to lead.

But Belgian Philipsen squeezed between Jayco-AlUla's Michael Matthews and the barrier to take the win while Pogacar was third for UAE Team Emirates.

The photo finish captured Philipsen's front tyre just centimetres in front of Matthews's bike.

"I wasn't used to a sprint after 300km and I could feel the difference," added Philipsen, whose previous best finish at a Monument was second at Paris–Roubaix last year.

"I didn't expect Michael Matthews to be that good but I'm glad I managed to beat him."

Pogacar, who has yet to win the Milan-Sanremo Classic, tried to attack twice in the final stages but had to settle for third.

"We had a plan and we stuck to it. But we missed a little bit, maybe 10%," the Slovenian said.

"I tried two times to attack; I had incredible legs but this year was not hard enough for it to be a climber's race. I think I did everything I could to be third place. In this situation, I couldn't have done much better but it was close."

Milan-Sanremo is the longest Monument race. The other Monument races are the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Giro di Lombardia.

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