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By Fabio
Date: 3/24/2007

98th Milano - San Remo Live Part 2


Welcome to the second part of the live report, the first part is here.

14:54 cet the Lampre-led pack keep closing down the gap on Sella, Kunitski, De Kort, Brutt and Aitor Hernández, whose advantage fell to 03'35" at the Ceriale check (70 km to go).

14:55 cet It stopped raining at Via Roma, but the risks of having some weather-linked unwelcome surprises in the last portion of the race are still quite high.

15:00 cet 64 km to go as the five fugitives keep a slim margin of three minutes on the group of well-organized chasers (with plenty of teams helping) on the wet streets of Alassio. And - here we go again - there's one more pile-up inside the field. The tarmac took its toll on the bunch again. Riccardo Riccó is caught in the pile-up. He's soon back in the saddle, as much as all other riders involved but Sebastien Hinault of France.

15:05 cet The Fab Five up front hit the first small coastal climb, the Capo Mele. The peloton is almost completely back together after the abovementioned pile-up. Boonen's Quick Step and Bennati's Lampre are now driving the chase. It won't take too many minutes for the pack to bring the fugitives back. The gap hovers around two minutes.

15:11 cet No more cooperation in the front group. Pavel Brutt the Golden Boy from Russia attacks the break as they make it to the second "Capo". In the meantime Francisco Ventoso had a flat. And Paolo Bettini looks like he's riding well inside the bunch, regardless of his broken rib.

Sella and Kunitski countered the move from Brutt. We have got three men in the lead now. And two more slightly back; and the bunch coming!

1515 cet Liquigas' Alex Spezialetti leads the peloton charge while coming down the Capo. The gap is down to a mere 75 seconds. The next small climb, Capo Berta, will follow.

1517 cet Strangely enough Davide Rebellin is sitting in last wheel back in the bunch. There must be something wrong with the Italian, who had a great ride at Paris-Nice only a few days ago.

15:19 cet The "orange" guy in the lead trio was Aitor Hernández the Basque and NOT Emanuele Sella, who was dropped and caught by the bunch,

15:20 cet One thing we got right: Davide Rebellin isn't having a good time. The Italian was amongst those caught in the past pile-up and hit his back. And he's currently bearing the consequences of such accident. His chances to have a good result at Via Roma are likely down to zero.

15:22 cet The three leaders (Brutt, Kunitski, Hernandez) reached the Capo Berta slopes. It's still the Russian setting the pace, and looking the one with more gasoline left. Five Milramen mixing up with other riders as the peloton got past Diano Marina town and tackled Capo Berta too. One Discovery rider sits in second wheel as the going gets hilly there on the Capo Berta. It looks Popovych to me

And he's Popo indeed. He follows his Lithuanian teammate Tomas Vaitkus, both arguably working for the Aussie fastman Allan Davis. Their gap to the lead trio just fell down the minute.

15:27 cet More riders falling (sic). Now it's a couple waterboys falling on the descent. One Gerolsteiner is still on the ground, it's Kopp. David Kopp hit badly his back and collarbone. He's being assisted, and will get into an "ambulanza" soon. He hit a barrier to the left of the road. Thankfully he had his helmet on, or the consequences would have been much worse. The two other Gerolsteiner riders involved are back in the saddle again.

1531 cet Both the lead trio and the pack left Capo Berta behind. They are now entering the biggest town in the area: Imperia. Lampre still drives the chase to Andrei Kunitski (A & S), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff) and Aitor Hernandez (of the Basque "national" team aka Euskaltel)

1534 cet - AGAIN!! Another rider falling! And another rider badly hitting his back! It's Marco Zanotti of! A few more riders lost control of their bikes on the wet roads, and it was the Italian sprinter, that sustained the worst consequences.

30 km to go, and a few kms to the Costa Rainera hill slopes. Also Fabrizio Guidi and Giosué Bonomi ended up on the tarmac earlier, both were back in the saddle after though; but the latter hit his right arm, and he's subsequently having an unpleasant time.

1537 cet The breakaway is doomed to failure. Kunitski, Brutt and Hernandez will be reeled in soon. Paolo Bettini just slipped off the back the bunch. A mechanical or what? Yes, he's having some shoe problems, after he mistook a urn earlier in order to avoid hitting another rider; probs that someone in his team car is just about to fix. The Cricket is fighting his way back into the bunch now.

1540 cet - km 266 / 28 k to go The three leaders hit the Cipressa. And Aitor Hernández the orange warrior attacks! The Basque dropped Brutt and Kunitski by his wheel. The Basque dropped Brutt and Kunitski by his wheel. The peloton also hit the ascent, with Bettini trying hard to regain the top places. Paolo is now at the back of the field. The bunch is getting thinned down anyway.

1542 cet - Titi Voeckler makes the first move back in the pack. Liquigas' Quinziato counters. The boy from Bolzano is working for team leader Pozzato, who looks to have great legs today. Kunitski and Brutt were caught by the pack. And so was Aitor the Basque. We have two brand new leaders: Quinziato and Voeckler.

Bettini did a helluva effort to regain the bunch, but now is taking it a bit easier. No need to waste too many energies to move to the front in this moment.

1545 cet - The sprint is 25k or so away, but Petacchi is already on Tom Boonen's wheel. Quickstep (Roessler) and Lampre drive the chase. Well, perhaps Quickstep are BLOCKING the chase to help Bettini gain some places.

1546 cet - Titi Voeckler and Quinziato caught. But there's more from Liquigas on the move: Frnco Pellizotti attacks! Andrea Moletta from Gerolsteiner follows his move as the steepest part of the Cipressa is over. Popovych attacks the bunch! The Ukrainian gets across to join the two Italians up front. And Lampre can't help by putting in some more chasing efforts.

1549 cet It took 09 minutes and 57 seconds for Popo, Moletta and Pelizzotti to complete the ascent. Not the best time ever over there, but still they set a good pace. Paolo Bettini is slowly but steadily moving towards the front of the pack.

1551 cet - 20k to go. Milram get one man in the break. And their best choice in this portion : Mirko Celestino the Italian is from nearby Andora town and knows the Cipressa descent very well.
Andrea Moletta doesn't know that descent well, and maybe that's the reason why unfortunately mistook one turn ... and hit a pole on the left side of the road! He badly hit one of his legs. There must be something unbelievably wrong with Gerolsteiner today, half of them fell on the way to Sanremo! Moletta's left knee is bleeding. He too is about to get into an ambulanza. And thankfully Moletta succeeded in pulling his brakes before falling, thus avoiding even major consequences.

1556 cet - so we have got two men left up front: Pellizotti and Popovych; Patxi Vila and Mirco Celestino come next at 12 seconds. But Petacchi's teammate isn't much of help to his Spanish buddy. Not a surprise though.

The bunch, with about one hundred riders inside, is 26 seconds down on Popo and the Liquigas guy from Venice. All of them are riding on a flat section, on the way to the Poggio. And hopefully with NO MORE riders falling. If Tirreno-Adriatico reports looked like war bulletins, MSR is even worse, if possible.

1601 cet - Minute after minute, km after km, Paolo Bettini has made his way back to the front of the bunch, and it's his (and Boonen's) team taking over the chase to Popo and Pellizotti with a dozen km left.

Bettini sits in 20th wheel, but watch out for McEwen too; the Aussie is still there, inside the bunch, while the peloton cut the gap down to the two leaders to 50 metres; and the Poggio's 34 turns are about to come.

1603 cet - 10 km to go Here we go: Popo and Pellizotti hit the Poggio, It's CSC now on the front of the pack. Freire sits in the top places too. No moves yet. But we think it's just the quiet before the storm ...

1605 cet - Petacchi in 10th-12th position of the bunch, Riccó is not far from him. Neither Bettini is. Pozzato is a bit more behind. And this ain't good sign for the defending champion ...

1606 cet - 1600m into the climb, Popovych attacks Pellizotti and goes clear on his own. And Russia's Alex Efimkin attacks the field and starts his own chase of the Discovery man. All top sprinters are keeping an eye on each other. Tinkoff's Serrano picks up the pace.

1607 cet - Efimkin was quickly chased down by the field. Philippe Gilbert is also in the top spot. The Belgian is another dangerous man in case of a sprint.

1608 cet - RICCO' ATTACKS! Gilbert and Kessler follow his move. They caught and dropped Popovych. Riccó attacks again! Gilbert follows, Kessler can not.

1608 cet - TWO MEN in the lead atop the Poggio. The peloton came in about ten seconds behind Riccó and Gilbert. Schleck, Kirchen, Freire, Bettini are in the top places of the chase bunch.

Freire on the descent of the Poggio. Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

1610 cet - Philippe Gilbert took over in the descent - the two guys are working well together, or so it seems. And Paolo Bettini took over the chase! Ale Ballan, Patxi Vila and Kim Kirchen follow the Cricket. The gap hovers around 9-10 seconds as they are in the final descent into San Remo.

1612 cet - More Lampre riders are trying hard to drive Bennati to the front of the pack. Bettini is working for Boonen.

1613 cet - 2k to go, the descent is over for Riccó and Gilbert, but the bunch is on their heels, just six seconds back.

Lampre/Milram are doing a great chase job now Ricco and Gilbert go under pennant ... but they're caught. IT'S A SPRINT!

1615 cet - 800m to go, 600m now ... All Milramen left lining up for the leadout... it's Alejet v Boonen v McEwen and the winner is ... NONE OF THEM!



Victory Oscar Freire!   Photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti

The Spaniard pipped all other top favorites on the line with a SUPERB sprint. The Rabobank rider notched up his second win at Via Roma.

Zabel, Ongarato, Velo gave their leadout to Petacchi, but he didn't have the same legs as in 2005; Allan Davis of Discovery Channel took second (perhaps); yes it's Davis 2nd, Boonen 3rd, McEwen 4th, O'Grady 5th, Zabel 6th, Balducci 7th, Petacchi 8th.
Once more Alejet stopped pushing as he realized that he wasn't going to win anyway.

Some Italian Tv commentators are already criticizing the Milram leadoutmen who (in their opinion) left Petacchi in the wind too early. Marco Velo didn't seem to agree; in his own words the squad did everything well that they had to in order to get their leader in a good position.

Oscar Freire's winning time was 06 hours 34 minutes 59 seconds.

And Oscar Freire's first after-win words were "I was okay today, I had a easy time holding the right wheels (in the sprint), and in the end my legs did the rest. I'm very happy at this victory, also for my team".

Freire was very smart (is it news?) in the sprint today; he followed Petacchi's wheel until about 200m from the line, then switched to the left, got past AleJet and easily out sprinted Boonen. The Spaniard won by about a two-bike lengths.

The Top three finishers are getting rewarded on the podium. None of them is from Italy, and none of them is from an Italian team. Italians are the biggest losers today.

US cycling personality Fred Mengoni (aka the men who "discovered" the talent of George Hincapie years ago) briefly commented on the performance of the Discovery boys: "they have tried, but didn’t succeed as there were so many teams going fast today; they had a good race anyway".

Thanks for joining us for the live coverage of the 98th Milan - San Remo. Official results and photos to come.
Discuss the race and other cycling events with other fans and riders from around the world on the Daily Peloton Forums. It's Spring so get out on the road and have a good ride this afternoon.

  • 98th Milan San Remo - Preview & Start List;
  • Milano-Sanremo 2007: Latest Team News 2nd Edition;
  • Milano-Sanremo 2007: Latest Team News 1st Edition;
  • Milano-Sanremo 1907: Race Report, Photos, Reactions…
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