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Ciolek lands snowy Milan-SanRemo

SANREMO, Italy (AFP) –

Gerald Ciolek (yellow) crosses the finish line to win the 104th Milan San Remo spring classic on March 17, 2013

German Gerald Ciolek (yellow) crosses the finish line to win the 104th Milan San Remo spring classic cycling race on March 17, 2013 in San Remo.

Gerald Ciolek of Germany, riding for South African team MTN-Qhueka, won the first cycling classic of the season, the Milan-Sanremo, triumphing in a race curtailed by heavy snow.

The poor conditions forced the event to be temporarily halted after 117km.

Organisers elected to restart the race for the final 126.5km from Cogoleto, meaning participants would still need to tackle the succession of hills along the Ligurian coast after proceedings were initially halted after 117km.

Ciolek saw off the pre-race favourite, Slovakia’s Peter Sagan, and Swiss star Fabian Cancellara, after the 245km test as the weather shortened the longest race of the season by 53km, crossing the line in 5hr 37min 20sec.

The race had to be stopped initially at Ovada, at the foot of the Turchino climb which had become unmanageable and the racers had to transfer to their buses before matters could resume.

After a six-strong morning breakaway the weather prompted Omega Pharma-Quick Step notably not to resume, scuppering any hopes of a win for Tom Boonen.

The 2011 winner Matthew Goss and Vincenzo Nibali also abandoned the struggle.

The leading group were caught some 30km from the line and Belgian champion Philippe Gilbert chose his moment to launch a challenge before Sylvain Chavanel, Britain’s Ian Stannard and Russia’s Eduard Vorganov made their own bid at Poggio, 10km out, as they opened up a 27sec lead.

But as the finish line loomed Cancellara, with Sagan on his wheel, went for broke with Ciolek, who just nudged through in the final 30 metres.

“I was on Sagan’s wheel – and that was the best place to be,” said the 26-year-old German, tasting his first Classic success.

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