The podium 2007 Milan San Remo: Alan Davis (Discovery Channel), Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Tom Boonen (Quickstep/Innergetic) photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
The Rabo ProTeam was already performing well during the early stages of the season. So far, the team had already claimed nine victories, but, with Oscar Freire's victory and the team's tenth success, the pressure is now completely off. The first Protour-victory of the Rabos in the first spring classic was a nice one. Freire taught sprinting lessons in San-Remo after he had already made a good impression during the finale of the Primavera. Allan Davis and Tom Boonen finished in second and third place respectively at more than two bike lengths.
The bunch sprint in San Remo took place shortly after Riccardo Riccò and Philippe Gilbert, who had both escaped on the Poggio, were captured just before the finish. Team Milram seemed to be in an ideal situation with a group of helpers up front. Oscar Freire, as he has done so often before, rode alone during the final kilometers. He took Petacchi's wheel, which turned out to be the best decision, but, based on the domination displayed by the Spaniard, one may rightly wonder whether anyone could have prevented him from winning. Petacchi took the lead at the hundred and fifty meter mark from the finish, after which Freire turned on his turbo. No one was able to respond.
By throwing his weight on the pedals, turbo Oscar managed to claim his second victory in one of the most desired classics of the entire circuit. In 2004, he surprised Mr. Primavera Erik Zabel (in total four victories). Freire finished in fifth and sixth place in San Remo in 2005 and 2006. In those two years he excelled in the Tirreno-Adriatico. Freire even won the renowned Italian cycling stage race in 2005. He won four stages in those two editions, and even though Freire performed reasonably well during the Tirreno this year, he could only claim a second place.
It turned out to be an omen for a perfect Primavera. While Riccardo Riccò, thé surprise of the Tirreno, initiated a fierce attack on the Poggio with only Philippe Gilbert being able to follow, Oscar maintained his position in the group of favorites. He did that with so much conviction and ease, that a good ranking seemed to be in the making. During the descent of the Poggio, the two escapees created a margin of ten seconds, but on the ensuing flat roads, Team Milram and CSC gradually cut down on their lead. Oscar, in the meantime, positioned himself well, which turned out again to be the best recipe to repeat his victory of 2004.
The season only just kicked off, but it is already very successful for Oscarito. This, despite a disappointing Tirreno when we look at the results. It was during that race, however, that Oscar created a good feeling. "I might not have won, but I felt well. Things were actually going fine there, and before the start of this race, I knew I would have a big chance," said Freire. He fully lived up to the expectations, but the turbo during the final hundred and fifty meters, even surprised Oscarito: "I knew I was doing well, but this well…"
More from the race winner (interviewed by Gazzetta dello Sport)
* "I've raced Milan-Sanremo seven times, and sometime with legs as good as I had today, but I couldn't win because in the end I had some problems; problems that also other riders may have, that's the way cycling is, you just cannot change it".
* "To catch Petacchi's wheel before the sprint was crucial, notably as his leadoutmen never stopped, and subsequently nobody did hit or box me before I could start the sprint; such factor may be even more decisive than having a good sprint itself: if you get impeded or boxed, you just can't do well, no matter how good your legs are".
* "This victory was a bit different than my past one here at Sanremo, but what really matters is victory itself. Even if, on the other hand, I have to say that to clinch a race like the Centenary MSR, especially after all the problems I had the past year, makes me even happier. I want to dedicate this success also to the Mapei team. When I was with them we used to talk about this race all the time, but never managed to win it before the team had to stop".
* You've won three World Championships already, so how about scoring a hat-trick of MSR victories too? "That would be great, but I'd like to win other races too. The Classics of the North are different than Milan-Sanremo. No, they are not too hard for me, I even had some good performances there, but there's other riders competing, you know, and amongst them people the route suits better to ... Sure I wish I could win every (Classic) race, but I know that it's impossible".
The finish left to right: McEwen, O'Grady, Boonen, Freire, Zabel, and Davis.
photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
Zanotti seems ok
The Spaniard Oscar Freire (Rabobank) has won Milano-SanRemo today. Freire was the best in a bunch sprint on the Via Roma and beat Allan Davis (Discovery Channel) and Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic). Jeremy Hunt (Unibet.com) finished seventeenth.
Marco Zanotti (Unibet.com) crashed at 30 kilometres from the finish line. "Fortunately nothing's broken", said Andrei Mikhailov, Unibet.com team doctor. "Zanotti wasn't knocked unconscious and just broke his helmet. He will undergo some X-ray scans to check on his skull, neck and pelvis."
Here are the Unibet.com results: Jeremy Hunt ended seventeenth, Arnaud Coyot 49th, Laurens ten Dam 56th and Sergey Kolesnikov 74th. Gorik Gardeyn (112th), Michal Golas (128th) and Jimmy Casper (139th) came in eight minutes later.
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Kim Kirchen was the best placed T-Mobile rider in 12th. The in-form Luxembourg Champion was very active on the Poggio, driving at the front in an effort to break up the field and maybe take his chance in a small group. However, the sprinter’s teams kept the race under control and it was gruppo compatto on the outskirts of Sanremo.
Young sprinter Gerald Ciolek also finished in the front group on his first appearance at Milan-Sanremo. "The field was blown apart on the Poggio. I found myself in the second group, and it took a lot out of me to get back again to the front group. That cost me in the sprint," said the 20-year-old Ciolek.
Flu bugs have been sweeping through the European peloton in recent sweeps, and it didn’t spare Andreas Klier and Jacob Piil. Axel Merckx and Marco Pinotti replaced the missing duo.
And indeed Pinotti was part of four man break that jumped off the peloton at km 56, getting a 12 seconds gap before being reeled back in by the bunch.
A daring attack by Italian phenom Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux) over the Poggio was reeled in with about 2km to go to set up the mass sprint on the Via Roma.
The 31-year-old Freire showed his class to derail a powerful Milram train in masterful fashion, coming off Alessanddro Petacchi’s wheel with 50m to go to win the season’s first big one-day race by a bike length. "I had good legs," Freire said at the finish stating the obvious.
Robbie McEwen was fourth in front of compatriot Stuart O'Grady to put three Aussies in the top-five, while four-time victor Zabel was relegated to sixth and 2005 winner Petacchi stalled with 100m to go, crossing the line in eighth.
Freire won Milan-San Remo three years ago after Zabel’s pre-mature celebrations allowed the Spaniard to stab his bike across the line to win. This time there are no question marks hanging over the Spaniard's victory in cycling's longest classic.
Fränk and Freire photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti
On Saturday Stuart O'Grady secured Team CSC's best result so far in Milano-San Remo, when he took a fifth place in the 98th edition of the Italian classic, which was won by Rabobank's Oscar Freire for the second time in his career.
Team CSC delivered a strong team effort and everyone did their share of hard work. Fränk Schleck was up front on both Cipressa and Poggio and O'Grady never lost sight of the front group either.
"We managed to deliver Stuart as planned and he was clearly strong, so it was too bad that he didn't make it all the way to the top. But once again he showed that he is in great shape at the moment and hopefully he'll soon find himself in the front group in a race, which isn't decided in a bunch sprint. He'll definitely be one of the main contenders in some of the oncoming races judging by his current form," said sports director Scott Sunderland after the race.
The longest break was caught on Cipressa and after that there were another two or three attempts, but no one managed to get more than 30 seconds on the main peloton, where Team CSC was one of dominant teams. Karsten Kroon and Fabian Cancellara both worked really hard in the front group between Cipressa and Poggio, so they are both regaining their form after recent crash and illness.
A group of about 50 riders sprinted for the victory, which as mentioned earlier went to Freire ahead of Allan Davis (Discovery Channel).
A bad day at the office
Stefan Schumacher, despite a cold was the top sparkling water boy today "I started to sprint too late, a second earlier and I would have been amongst the top men, however for the future this is a race I can de well in” said the 25 year old.
However given the bad luck for the team over the day Christian Henn commented “The result today is secondary. I will be happy when my boys are fully recovered and back in thr saddle. Their health is my first priority”
Most badly injured was Andrea Moletta. The 28 year old Italian was in a three man breakaway when he over cooked a corner while descending and hit a wall and a signpost.
The heavy fall saw him break his thigh bone, and his season is probably finished. However the Italian showed grinta and told Team boss Hans-Michael Holczer , "Hans, I will see you in the Vuelta a Espana”
David Kopp also fell heavily. However his facial injuries fortunately seem the extent of his injuries and he seems to have avoided serious injury.
Also in the wars were Davide Rebellin , Heinrich Haussler and Fabian Wegmann all of whom also fell.
Gerolsteiner will be hoping they had a seasons bad luck all in one race.
The race over 294 kilometers was very fast, in the first two race hours the average speed was 46 km/h. Team MILRAM was concentrated all the time. Christian Knees and Alessandro Petacchi belonged to the first break. But this group was outpaced quickly. When it was about to catch the last escapees with the Russian Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff), Team MILRAM showed itselves most active. Especially on the last 40 kilometers, when the main group split up, Alessandro Petacchi and his team mates-were at the head of the peloton. And they kept cool at many attacks in the finale.
At the finish line however Petacchi lacked power after his team mates prepared the sprint excellently and caught the last escapees of the day, Riccardo Ricco (Saunier Duval) and Philippe Gilbert (Francaise des Jeux). “We were formed perfectly for the sprint, me, Marco Velo, Fabio Sacchi and Peta,” explained Erik Zaber after the race. “What a pity it wasn't enough. But these are the races,“ said Zabel.
How perfect the MILRAM-train worked could be seen by the gesture of Marco Velo, when he complied his work and encouraged Alessandro Petacchi. “Our team was fantastic,” said Erik Zabel, who finished sixth.
After a most active race Alessandro Petacchi lacked the power on the last 100 meters. “Unfortunately my legs were empty in the finale,” the 33 year-old said disappointedly. “But my team-mates worked fantastically. I don’t remember that six month ago may knee was broken. So I’m happy, because I came back at the race,” said Petacchi, regarding the eighth rank as a success. “Next year I will come back to win Milan – Sanremo,” he announced.
Daily Peloton and its readers wish Andrea Moletta a speedy recovery photo c. Gerolsteiner
A happy Oscar Freire with his Trophy photo c. Fotoreporter Sirotti