Alex Aranburu sprints to a stunning seventh place at Milan – Sanremo
As excepted, the first Monument of the season had its big showdown on the Poggio climb, 20 kilometeres before the finish line, when attacks were launched from the group of favourites. Astana – Premier Tech rider Alex Aranburu was up there, showing incredible form yet again, sprinting to seventh place after a brutal 300 kilometres in the saddle.
Following tradition, a group of eight riders went up the road early in the race opening up an ample gap of eight minutes. Astana – Premier Tech stayed in the main bunch, saving energy and waiting for the usual decisive moment, the two short but tricky climbs, Cipressa and Poggio, in the final part of the race.
The peloton controlled the breakaway and 180 kilometres before the finish line, the gap had come down to five minutes. With the gap steadily dropping in the second half of the race, it was clear that the peloton would close the gap after the Cipressa. Meanwhile, Matteo Sobrero, who made his Milan – Sanremo debut, did a great job for the team’s leaders, as did Manuele Boaro, who celebrated his eighth participation today.
Fabio Felline and Aranburu were positioned well as the race arrived at the penultimate climb of the day. As expected, there were fireworks on the Poggio when the fast pace caused many riders to drop while up ahead, Aranburu dug deep to remain close to the front of the race as attacks started to fly.
On the descent, Belgian Jasper Stuyven made what would be the winning move and was able to hold on narrowly to take his first Monument, while Aranburu sprinted to an incredible seventh place surrounded by the pre-race favourites. As in 2020, where the young Basque rider rode the Italian Monument for the first time, he finished inside the top ten for the second consecutive year.
Gorka Izagirre and Felline showed strong form to finish 29 seconds down on Aranburu’s group.
“It was a really fast race. Really, really fast. In the Poggio, I started a bit behind so I had to get to the front. We were four or five seconds behind at the top of the climb but on the downhill we came together. In the sprint, I did what I could. It was a strange finish and it is what it is. But I am happy to be in the top ten again. I think I raced well and the team helped me to be in a good position in the finale. When you look at the names I finished with, then I think I have to be happy and to finish in seventh places two years in a row shows that this is a good race for me,” said Aranburu.
“We are satisfied with Alex taking seventh place again, like last year. We were hoping for maybe a spot inside the top five but this Monument always has its own rules and you also need to have the luck on your side. Nevertheless, seventh place is a strong result and when you look at the start list, then we can be really satisfied with today´s result and also the team´s performance. Everyone finished the race and worked really hard the whole 299 kilometres. Next year we will try again.” – said Sports Director Stefano Zanini
Milan – Sanremo (299km)
Top 3: 1.J. Stuyven (Trek-Segafredo); 2. C. Ewan (Lotto-Soudal), 3.W. Van Aert (Jumbo -Visma)
Astana – Premier Tech Top 3: 7. Alex Aranburu. 45. Gorka Izagirre, 46. Fabio Felline
Photo credit: GettySport