(Reuters) - Frenchman Arnaud Demare claimed the biggest win of his career when he sprinted to victory in the Milan-San Remo despite having crashed earlier in the 295-km classic on Saturday.
FDJ rider Demare held off several big names in the final sweep into the Mediterranean resort, crossing the line ahead of Team Sky’s Ben Swift and Belgian Juergen Roelandts.
Demare is the first French rider to win the opening monument of the season since Laurent Jalabert in 1995.
Coming off the final climb and with the peloton strung out, Sky’s Michal Kwiatkowsi burst into the lead and stayed out in front until the final two kilometers.
The Pole was reeled in though by Swiss veteran Fabian Cancellera before Demare powered through to win.
Colombian Fernando Gaviria (Etixx-Quick Step) had looked in prime position to claim victory but crashed heavily and rolled across the line in tears.
World champion Peter Sagan was also in the mix but again failed to deliver a victory on one of the sport’s classics.
A landslide had caused the race to be re-routed, with the riders sent on to the A10 motorway, before it reverted to the usual route that hugs the Italian coast.
Eleven riders formed a breakaway but Tinkoff and BMC drove the peloton which swallowed up the front-runners with 25km left.
The race was littered with crashes, one of which, with 30km remaining, took down Demare but he quickly recovered.
Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Clare Fallon