Arnaud Demare wins Milan-San Remo 2016; Ben Swift 2nd

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Mixed emotions for second-placed Ben Swift as Arnaud Demare wins Milan-San Remo 2016

Brit hails team's tactics but admits disappointment at not winning on Via Roma

Ben Swift admits he has mixed emotions after finishing second to Arnaud Demare at Milan-San Remo but believes Team Sky got their tactics spot on.

The Brit, 28, sprinted to his second podium place in the race – earning Team Sky their best finish at a Monument, and the best British result at Milan-San Remo since Mark Cavendish’s 2009 victory.

Arnaud Demare celebrates his first Monument win, flanked by Ben Swift and Jurgen Roelandts (pic: Sirotti)

Runner-up in 2014, Swift – who had to swerve to avoid Fernando Gaviria’s late crash on the final straight – believes staying calm on the finishing straight paid dividends.

“Obviously it’s quite disappointing to get second – so close to the win,” he told the team website.

“That said I’ve got to be happy and I’m back on the podium in a Monument. I’m slowly chipping away. We’ve had a second, a third and we’ll keep on trying in the next few years.

“The team was brilliant today. We rode a great attacking race and we did what we wanted to do. When Ian went on the Cipressa it set it up perfectly. Then Michal went on the Poggio so we couldn’t have done it any better.

“I just tried to stay as relaxed as possible in the last kilometre and I tried to follow Jurgen Roelandts. Last year I think I stressed a little bit too much. This year I was a bit more relaxed. I was close to a crash at the finish there but it is what it is.”

As ever a large break had been allowed to go clear early on, but they had been reeled back in before the Cipressa where Team Sky showed their attacking intent.

Having seen British champion Peter Kennaugh and in-form Geraint Thomas both suffer earlier spills, it was left to Stannard to drive the pace hard over the top.

A small number of riders did earn a gap, but the race was back together before the Poggio where this time Michal Kwiatkowski surged clear.

Demare sprints to victory on the Via Roma (pic: Sirotti)

The Pole’s huge solo effort, though only ever holding a marginal gap over the peloton, was enough to panic the chasers as they looked at each other for answers.

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) drove hard to cut the deficit, but found he was a marked man, as was Fabian Cancellara (Trek-Segafredo) when the peloton finally caught Kwiatkowski on the flat run-in.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Dimension Data) was next to try his luck from long-range, and was still on the front as they hit the Via Roma.

Gaviria was also well placed, but a touch of wheels brought him down and disrupted the sprinting efforts of several others, including world champion Peter Sagan (Tinkoff).

It left Jurgen Roelandts (Lotto-Soudal) to lead out the sprint, while a mechanical denied Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis).

Swift admitted there were mixed emotions after finishing second (pic: Sirotti)

Bouhanni’s fellow Frenchman and former team-mate Demare had no such misfortune though, catching and passing the Belgian.

Swift was on his wheel, having swerved to avoid the crash, but could not get round Demare as he celebrated a maiden Monument win; Roelandts held on to take third.

Milan-San Remo 2016: result

1) Arnaud Demare (FRA) – FDJ – 6.54.45hrs
2) Ben Swift (GBR) – Team Sky – ST
3) Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) – Lotto-Soudal
4) Nacer Bouhanni (FRA) – Cofidis
5) Greg van Avermaet (BEL) – BMC Racing
6) Alexander Kristoff (NOR) – Katusha
7) Heinrich Haussler (AUS) – IAM Cycling
8) Filippo Pozzato (ITA) – SouthEast-Venezuela
9) Sonny Colbrelli (ITA) – Bardiani-CSF
10) Matteo Trentin (ITA) – Etixx-QuickStep

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