Nibali wins Milan-San Remo classic with solo attack

Vincenzo Nibali celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the Milan-San Remo cycling race, in Sanremo, March 17, 2018. Nibali carried off a daring solo attack to perfection to win the Milan-San Remo classic Saturday and add to his long list of major achievements in cycling. (Luca Bettini/ANSA via AP)
From left, winner Vincenzo Nibali, second placed Caleb Ewan and third placed Arnaud Demare celebrate on the podium of the Milan-San Remo cycling race, in Sanremo, March 17, 2018. Nibali carried off a daring solo attack to perfection to win the Milan-San Remo classic Saturday and add to his long list of major achievements in cycling. (Luca Bettini/ANSA via AP)
Vincenzo Nibali celebrates on the podium after winning the Milan-San Remo cycling race, in Sanremo, March 17, 2018. Nibali carried off a daring solo attack to perfection to win the Milan-San Remo classic Saturday and add to his long list of major achievements in cycling. (Luca Bettini/ANSA via AP)
Vincenzo Nibali celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the Milan-San Remo cycling race, in Sanremo, March 17, 2018. Nibali carried off a daring solo attack to perfection to win the Milan-San Remo classic Saturday and add to his long list of major achievements in cycling. (Luca Bettini/ANSA via AP)

SAN REMO, Italy — Vincenzo Nibali carried off a daring solo attack to win the Milan-San Remo classic on Saturday and add to his long list of major cycling achievements.

The Italian rider accelerated away from the pack on the Poggio, the final climb of the 294-kilometer (183-mile) race, with 7 kilometers to go.

Nibali then showed off his downhill skills and narrowly held off a pack of chasing sprinters on the flat finish.

He looked back only once, with 50 meters remaining, and realized he had time to raise his arms in celebration before crossing the line in a time of 7 hours, 18 minutes, 43 seconds.

"I saw I created a gap," Nibali said. "When I looked back it was a special emotion. It's a race I didn't expect to win because I'm not (a sprinter)."

Caleb Ewan of Australia was second and Arnaud Demare of France finished third, both with the same time as the winner.

Nibali, who rides for the Bahrain Merida team, has also won all three Grand Tours: the Giro d'Italia twice, the Tour de France and the Spanish Vuelta.

Always looking for the fastest lines, he came so close to the fences at one point that he knocked a cell phone out of a fan's hand.

"When I pull these things off sometimes even I don't know how I'm able do it," Nibali said.

Mark Cavendish, the top British sprinter, slammed into a road bollard with 10 kilometers to go and flipped his bike onto the asphalt.

Team Dimension Data said Cavendish sustained a rib fracture on the same side as the one he damaged in the opening stage of the Tirreno-Adriatico race last week.

The winner of 30 Tour de France stages also has bruising and abrasions as well as a possible ankle injury that will require further assessment, the team said.

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