100th Milan-Sanremo - Live Coverage Part 1
Drama already as more stars fall: O'Grady crashes out, while sick Lorenzetto
doesn't make the start. Live coverage of the opening half of the race here.
graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport Click on map for a larger image
Buon mattino, and welcome to the Daily Peloton's live coverage of the
100th edition of Milano-Sanremo. There is no Classic quite like "La Primavera".
At 297 kilometres, it is the longest race out there. With its mix of hills,
cape and fast, flat coastal riding, the race suits both sprinters and
aggressive riders - in past years, we have seen a see-saw mixture of bunch
sprints and narrow breakaway victories. Last year, Fabian Cancellara powered
away late on.
graphic © 2009 Gazzetta dello Sport Click on profile for a larger image
Such is the history and prestige of this race that cycling lovers both know
and revere the lumps, bumps and landmarks of the route. They go in this order:
Turchino, Capo Mele, Capo Cerva, Capo Berta, Cipressa, Poggio, Via Roma.
However, there have been a few changes in recent years.
The addition of the climb of Le Manie (204km) in 2008, with its narrow turn
at the bottom, is expected to make things even harder and swing things in favour
of attacking Classics men like Pozzato, Rebellin, Schleck and Di Luca. However,
sprinters like Boonen, Bennati, Petacchi, Cavendish and Hushovd all have strong
teams prepared to line them up for a gallop at glory.
In recent years, it has come down to the Poggio: whether sprinters and their
teams can rein in the venomous attacks by the finish line; whether the attackers
themselves can drop like stones down the twisty descent of the Poggio and stave
off the chase. Changed last year, the finish will also be on the Lungomare Italo
Calvino, rather than the Via Roma as usual.
Lance Armstrong at the start this morning. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti
One other addition to the race this year is cycling's comeback king, Lance
Armstrong. There's been much press hullabaloo surrounding his return - the last
time he rode Milano-Sanremo was 2002. Don't be surprised if the seven-time Tour
de France winner attacks in the closing 40 kilometres: he's proven before this
year that he isn't just here to make up the numbers.
100th Milano-San Remo: Live Coverage Part 1
1230 CEST - Before a pedal was turned in
anger, there was already more drama in this centenary edition of "La
Classicissima". There are already a spate of absentees from Milano-San Remo:
Freire, Cancellara, Ballan, Millar. Fancied Mirko Lorenzetto is next on the list
- the sprinter was a non-starter, laid low by a nasty bug. This is a disaster
for Lampre, as their other leader, world champion Alessandro Ballan, withdrew
earlier in the week with a virus which may scupper his Classics plans.
Even in the usually quiet opening couple of hours, things have been eventful.
An opening attack from Cheula (Barloworld) was closed down; the first crash, at
the 29km mark, took down three riders: Fabio Sabatini (Milram), René Mandri
(AG2R) and, most importantly, Stuart O'Grady (Saxo Bank). In a blow for the
Danish team, the former Paris-Roubaix winner was forced to retire from the race.
An early attack goes off the front of the peloton, one of many before the first
group of 11 succeed. Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti
1245 CEST - 130 kilometres down/168 kilometres to go
- The average speed has been very high, 48 km/h for the first two
hours. Still, as is customary in Milano-San Remo, a hefty breakaway has gone
down the road during the opening flat 120 kilometres of racing. This year, we
have 11 men in the escape, tackling the first gentle slopes of the Turchino
- Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha), Bernhard Eisel (Columbia - High Road),
Alessandro Bertolini (Serramenti Diquigiovanni), Sebastian Lang
(Silence-Lotto), Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank), Christophe Le Mével (Francaise
des Jeux), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R-La Mondiale), Sebastien Turgot (Bbox-Bouygues
Telecom), Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld), Kasper Klostergaard (Saxo Bank) and, last but not least, Maxim Belkov (ISD). Their lead is hovering
around the 5 minutes mark.
1305 CET - The race hit Sanremo's own
region Liguria, but they're winding through the Genoa area, still far away from
the finish line.
1315 CEST - 155
kilometres/143 kilometres to go - The riders have crested the race's
highpoint, the Turchino, at 532 metres. Quick Step, Cervélo and LPR are keeping
the gap respectable at 5 minutes. We are over halfway, just as the race is about
to hit the Med-adjacent coastal road.
A cursory glance at Lance Armstrong's Twitter feeds reveals how important the
climb of Le Manie could be: "Just rode the Le Manie climb for tomorrow's MSR.
Climb's not bad but the turn off the coast??? Wow. 200 guys trying to go where 4
The peloton will hit it in about 35 kilometres.
1345 CEST - Stuey wasn't the only
top sprinter who has hit the tarmac so far: Tom Boonen also fell near Masone (km
140), on the first slopes of the Turchino ascent. Thankfully, unlike the Aussie
the Quick Step rider just had to change his bike and immediately got back in the
By the by folks, the oldest winner of Milano-San Remo is Andrei Tchmil,
at 36 years and 52 days. The possible man to break that record today is Davide
Rebellin (37 and a half). Less likely, but still possible, is fellow 37 year-old
1350 CET - Four hours into the race, the
eleven fugitives keep a more than excellent average speed: 45.8 km/h.
Nonetheless their advantage on the gruppo has dropped to just 02'50" as they
wind through Savona town, about 114 km from the finish.
On that note Fabio, another record: the fastest ever Milano-San Remo was when
Gianni Bugno took victory in 1990. The average speed that day? 45.8kph - exactly
what we have now. It may well drop on the lumps and bumps into Sanremo, though.
Riders assembled for the start in the square at the front of the Milan Castle.
The peloton paraded through the streets of Milan until Via della Chiesa Rossa
for the start.
Photo © 2009 Fotoreporter Sirotti
As the break hit Le Manie, their advantage has been cut to 3'00". Looking at
the composition of the break, there are several handy riders: Ignatiev, Eisel,
Le Mevel, Lang, Tjallingii, Bertolini... not the kind of men you want to allow
too much space.
During a connection with the RAI Lombardia regional news bulletin,
Italian TV's commentator Auro Bulbarelli mentioned also Tyler Farrar amongst the
riders who fell and dropped out of the race. We have no other confirmation of
the news, but should "Bulba" be right, that would be huge blow to fans of
the American sprinter, who just showed his mettle in a recent Tirreno-Adriatico
stage. To be fair, personally I don't feel winning a flat 166km road stage
equates to having a real chance in a 298-km Monument. But prove me wrong
Astana have come to the front and ramped up the chasing effort. The
deficit is tumbling..
1425 CET - The Manie climb is over, and
so is the adventure of seven (former) members of the breakaway group. Only
Cheula (Barloworld), Turgot (Bouygues Telecom), Ignatiev (Katusha) and Le Mevel
(Française des Jeux) stay on the front. But their advantage is down to the
minute on the way to the Finale Ligure seaside resort. Astana's efforts on the
front of the pack are apparently being fruitful.
It won't surprise me if Armstrong tries to emulate the greats of the
past with an attack on the Cipressa or the Poggio and attempt a solo victory...
but the odds are extreme at best for such a gambit, but we expect to see
Armstrong make his presence know at some point today... which may explain the
presence of Astana at the front controlling the gap.
1445 CET - The Manie is a matter of the
past, the gruppo travels towards the next uphill challenges: the three Capi and
the Cipressa. Quick Step are very active on the front. Boonen and Davis, both
fallen while climbing Turchino, are fine NOW.
The breakaway group is up to 6-7 men. And their advantage on the main peloton
rose to the two-minute mark again. The fugitives are riding along the Ligurian
sea coast, in between the towns of Albenga and Alassio. Ignatiev and Thomas
Bertolini are no longer in the front group instead.
1501 CET - Paolo Bettini is back on the
bike! Yes, on the RAI motorbike. The Cricket is acting as co-co-commentator for
the Italian TV today. Among his first comments, he pointed out how strong Lance
The gap went further up to 02'45" as the breakaway group are winding through
Alassio. It's eight riders in the lead now, with under 70k remaining.
The eight riders: Sebastian Lang (Silence-Lotto), Maarten Tjallingii
(Rabobank), Christophe Le Mével (Francaise des Jeux), Yuriy Krivtsov (AG2R-La
Mondiale), Sebastien Turgot (Bbox-Bouygues Telecom), Giampaolo Cheula
(Barloworld), Kasper Klostergaard (Saxo Bank-IT Factory) keep leading chasers by
close to three minutes.
1509 CET - About Tyler Farrar: yes, the
American unfortunately fell in the first half of the race, while the peloton was
near Ovada town. The T-A stage winner reportedly might have broken his
collarbone. We'll tell you more if - and as soon as- we get to know more.
Liquigas' Fabio Sabatini was also forced out of the race after hitting the
asphalt, while the good news is that both Boonen and Allan Davis are still in
the saddle despite their misfortunes.
1513 CET - Gap update: the
aforementioned fuggitivi stay 02'38" ahead of the pack as they are about to hit
the first Capo small climb, the Capo Mele. The finishing line - for the second
straight year located at Sanremo's Lungomare Italo Calvino - is 50 kilometres
Peloton Live Coverage continues in Part 2
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100th Milan-San Remo: Related Links
100th Milan San Remo - Start List
San Remo - The Contenders
San Remo - Rabobank
San Remo - Team Milram
San Remo - Liquigas
San Remo - Team Saxo Bank
San Remo - Barloworld
San Remo - Team Columbia - High Road
San Remo - Ballan and Cancellara Out
Links to previous Milan - San Remo on Daily Peloton
Milan San Remo - Primavera's History
Race Report, Photos, Reactions…
99th Milan Sanremo Live Coverage Part 1
Coverage Part 2
2007 & earlier...
-SAN REMO LIVE COVERAGE Part 1
-SAN REMO LIVE COVERAGE Part 2
SanRemo - Preview & Start List
2007: Latest Team News 1st Edition
2007: Latest Team News 2nd Edition
97thMilano-Sanremo Live Report
MilanSanremo - Live
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