Simon Gerrans made it consecutive Australian victories in the Milan-San Remo classic as Mark Cavendish failed to finish.
The Australian national champion
edged Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara in a thrilling sprint finish.
MILAN-SAN REMO PROFILE
- The longest single-day event on the cycling calendar
- First spring classic of the season
- Six more classics follow over March and April in Belgium, France and the Netherlands
- Gerrans repeated compatriot Matthew Goss's feat from last year
Cavendish, 26, and his Team Sky colleagues called time on their chase 48 kilometres from the end.
GreenEdge rider Gerrans was part of a three-man pack that hit the front with six of the 298km remaining.
Cavendish was never in contention for a repeat of his
2009 Milan-San Remo win
and first dropped behind the peloton on the mild Le Manie climb 97km from the finish line.
Colombian rider Carlos Julian Quintero briefly lost consciousness after a crash at the bottom of the Le Manie descent with 85km left of the event. The Colombia-Coldeportes rider was tended to by paramedics on the side of the road.