The German raced to victory, beating Alexander Kristoff to the title, the first of five 'momentum' events this year. The next race of the series takes place in April.
John Degenkolb wrestled the first monument win of the season at Milan-San Remo from defending champion Alexander Kristoff on Sunday.
The 26-year-old emerged fastest of a bunch sprint at the end of the race to take the title with just half-a-bike margin between the German and Kristoff. After the Norwegian failed to make gains on the leading riders, Degenkolb timed his sprint to perfection in order to secure his first La Primavera title.
"I still can't believe it," said Degenkolb. "Today was amazing. It was really fast on the Poggio and I had to dig in and suffer there but my shape was good and the hard work over the past weeks and months paid off here.
"I managed to make it into a good position over the top of the Poggio and avoid the crashes and then in the final two kilometers it was just fighting for position and relying on instinct. Everything came together today."
Degenkolb was one of 11 riders who led from the front, breaking away from the peloton early in the race. But a series of crashes and challenging ascents cut the number down at the front as the race wore on.
There were several failed attacks from Team Sky's Geraint Thomas and German Andre Greipel, leading to a tight bunch sprint for the final few kilometers before Degenkolb edged out Kristoff. Michael Matthews of Team Orica-Greenedge and Peter Sagan (Tinkoff-Saxo) finished third and fourth, respectively.