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100th Milan-Sanremo - Live Coverage Part 1
By Staff
Date: 3/21/2009
100th Milan-Sanremo - Live Coverage Part 1

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 Pass:

  •   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 can fit."
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 saddle.

 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 Lance Armstrong...

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 Tyler...

 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 looks today.

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 away.

Daily Peloton Live Coverage continues in Part 2

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100th Milan-San Remo: Related Links
100th Milan San Remo - Start List
100th Milan San Remo - The Contenders

Team News:
100th Milan San Remo - Rabobank
100th Milan San Remo - Team Milram
100th Milan San Remo - Liquigas
100th Milan San Remo - Team Saxo Bank
100th Milan San Remo - Barloworld
100th Milan San Remo - Team Columbia - High Road
100th Milan San Remo - Ballan and Cancellara Out

Links to previous Milan - San Remo on Daily Peloton
Milan San Remo - Primavera's History
Milano-Sanremo1907: Race Report, Photos, Reactions…

99th Milan Sanremo Live Coverage Part 1
99th Milan-SanremoLive Coverage Part 2
99th Milano-SanremoStart List
99th Milano-Sanremo- The Contenders
99th Milano-SanremoTeam Comments

2007 & earlier...
98th Milan SanRemo - Preview & Start List
Milano-Sanremo 2007: Latest Team News 1st Edition
Milano-Sanremo 2007: Latest Team News 2nd Edition
97thMilano-Sanremo Live Report
96th Milano-SanremoLive Coverage
95th MilanSanremo - Live

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Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen - Stage 1 & 2
100th Milan Sanremo - Ballan & Cancellara Out
100th Milan-Sanremo - Start List

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