From the song ‘Ciao Ciao’ written on his special helmet, he had a strong mind, a strong heart, and legs. Only the luck was missing.

For the majority of the race, basically for 290 of the 294 kilometers, things looked promising for Giacomo Nizzolo in Milano-Sanremo. The Italian sprinter followed the attacks of his strong competitors, survived the final climb, but then crashed in the descent of the Poggio.

“I thought I survived it all, and that I had a chance to sprint for the finish. Then I made a mistake and crashed.”

With so few kilometers to the line, coming back to the front group he was originally in was impossible. Nizzolo finished 18th, 21 seconds from the winner.

On the Cipressa, the penultimate climb, and the Poggio, the last one, the Italian sprinter was well-positioned. With help of his teammates, particularly Krists Neilands in the final, Nizzolo was very much in the game.

Nizzolo bent over his handlebars after the finish with a face that showed he could barely believe what happened to him in those last kilometers of the Monument. Right after the finish, he said:

“I don’t know what happened. I did not take any risk in the descent. I felt in control. And then it happened.”

With a penchant for understatement, he added:

“This is quite a pity.”

Till that 290-kilometer mark, Nizzolo rode quite possibly the best Milano-Sanremo of his career. His presence in the action when favorites like Pogacar, Van Aert, and Van Der Poel moved was a show of good legs and sheer willpower.