Welcome to the Daily Peloton's LIVE COVERAGE of the 94th Milano-San Remo, the "Classicissima di primavera" opening the 2003 UCI World Cup. We'll have frequent updates from the race until about 3PM CET (2PM GMT), then start a minute by minute coverage of the event ...
All Times CET
0925: Participants in the 94th Edition of the Milan-San remo race left Milan's Sant'Ambrogio square (in front of the Catholic University), heading for Via della Chiesa Rossa, where the race is set to start.
0935: The 94th Edition of the Milan-San remo race officially got underway as 194 riders (not including Giuseppe Palumbo of the De Nardi-Colpack team) took the startline in Italy's second largest city.
0948: Nothing worthy of a mention happened in the frist 5 kms. of riding, the peloton is still regrouped.
0959: The first breakaway group formed after 7 km. as 9 riders (none of them Italian) went clear: the escapees are Jacky Durand (Fra - FDJeux.com. Durand in a break: is it news ?), Stéphane Augé (Fra - Crédit Agricole), Carlos Da Cruz (Fra - FDJeux.com), Peter Wrolich (Aut - Gerolsteiner), Josè A. López Gil (Spa - iBanesto.com), Ignacio Gutiérrez Cataluña (Spa - Kelme-Costa Blanca), Wim Vansevenant (Bel - Lotto-Domo), Nicki Aebersold (Swi - Team Coast), Paul Van Hyfte (Bel - CSC). They quickly set up a lead of 38" over the peloton led by Paolo Bettini's Quick Step-Davitamon and Mario Cipollini's Domina Vacanze-Elitron.
1015: The nine leaders extended their advantage to 01'15". Two more riders (Ukraine's Volodymyr Bileka of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago and Italy's Michele Gobbi of De Nardi-Colpack) rode away from the chasing group.
1025: The nine escapees are now leading Gobbi and Bileka by 02' and the rest of the field by 03'45".
1041: The average speed after the first 60 minutes of riding is 41,700 km/h. At the km. 36 mark the 9 men in the break were 2'55" clear of Gobbi and Bileka, with the main bunch 4'30" down.
1055: After 50 km. of racing, the 9-man breakaway is leading Gobbi and Bileka by 03'35". The main peloton, with Rabos and team-mates of both Cipo and Bettini setting the pace up front, is some 5 minutes behind them.
1115: Italy's Michele Gobbi and young Ukrainian Volodymyr Bileka have been brought back by the chasing peloton. The gap between the 9-man break and the bunch is still hovering around 5 minutes.
1130:The chasing bunch has slightly cut down the gap to the 9-man breakaway group. Now Jacky Durand (Fra - FDJeux.com), Stéphane Augé (Fra - Crédit Agricole), Carlos Da Cruz (Fra - FDJeux.com), Peter Wrolich (Aut - Gerolsteiner), Josè A. López Gil (Spa - iBanesto.com), Ignacio Gutiérrez Cataluña (Spa - Kelme-Costa Blanca), Wim Vansevenant (Bel - Lotto-Domo), Nicki Aebersold (Swi - Team Coast) and Paul Van Hyfte (Bel - CSC) are leading by 04'45".
1147: France's Durand, Augé and Da Cruz, Austria's Wrolich, Spain's López Gil and Ignacio Gutiérrez Cataluña, Belgium's Vansevenant and Van Hyfte plus Switzerland's Nicki Aebersold are currently leading by 04'27". The average speed after two hours is 43.200 km/h.
1200: The gap has shrinked down to 04'12".
1220: The 9-man break is in the town of Ovada now. Their lead over the "chasing" peloton has increased again, and now it's no less than 04'45".
1240: The average speed after three hours is still high: 42.950 km/h. the nine riders still in the lead are now inside the Liguria region.
1245: Jacky Durand (Fra - FDJeux.com), Stéphane Augé (Fra - Crédit Agricole), Carlos Da Cruz (Fra - FDJeux.com), Peter Wrolich (Aut - Gerolsteiner), Josè A. López Gil (Spa - iBanesto.com), Ignacio Gutiérrez Cataluña (Spa - Kelme-Costa Blanca), Wim Vansevenant (Bel - Lotto-Domo), Nicki Aebersold (Swi - Team Coast) and Paul Van Hyfte (Bel - CSC) are leading by 5 minutes over the main bunch, now led by Erik Zabel's Team Telekom domestiques.
1255: The nine escapees just left the feeding zone behind, and are about to get to the top of the Turchino climb. The peloton is still a little less than 5 minuts behind.
1305: While the peloton has cut the gap down to 03'45", the leading bunch lost a member, as Spain's José Antonio López Gil (iBanesto.com) was dropped.
1311: The leading eight are now on the Turchino descent. The gap has gone down to about 03'30".
1320: Jacky Durand, Stéphane Augé, Carlos Da Cruz, Peter Wrolich, Ignacio Gutiérrez Cataluña, Wim Vansevenant, Nicki Aebersold and Paul Van Hyfte have left the Turchino descent behind and are on the coastal "Via Aurelia" road heading for Western Liguria. Their lead over the bunch is now 03'37".
1325: José Antonio López Gil (iBanesto.com) is now in between the leading eight and the main bunch, that is likely going to catch him quite soon anyway.
1335: Also the peloton is now on the "Via Aurelia" coast road. The gap between the leaders and he chasing bunch at the top of the Turchino ascent was of 03'35".
1340: Riders have covered 43.025 kms. in the FOURTH hour. The gap between the leading eight (Durand, Augé, Da Cruz, Wrolich, Gutiérrez Cataluña, Vansevenant, Aebersold and Van Hyfte) and the main bunch has shrinked down to 03'10"
1347: The eight men's advantage is now down to 02'45" with four teams (Rabobank, Fassa Bortolo, Telekom and Domina Vacanze), all of them featuring top-class sprinters, currently leading the chase.
1353:After 184 kms. of racing, 177 of which spent in the breakaway group, Jacky Durand, Auge, Da Cruz, Wrolich, Gutiérrez Cataluña, Vansevenant, Aebersold and Van Hyfte still keep a 2'31" lead over the bunch. The escapees are in the city of Savona.
1415:With less than 100 km. to go, the chasing peloton is now 02'10" down to the eight leaders.
1420: The gap is now less than two minutes. The eight-man break looks doomed. Don't know when the leaders will be brought back by the peloton, but it's certain that all or most of them will be.
1430: Durand, Auge, Dacruz, Wrolich, Gutiérrez, Vansevenant, Aebersold, Van Hyfte are about to get into the A10 highway for a small piece, after a landlisde on the Via Aurelia forced a route change. Their lead is now down to 01'33".
1440: After five hours of racing, the average speed still is high: 43.600 km/h. And the eight leaders have been in the breakaway for more than 210 kms. in spite of the often annoying winds. The gap has further gone down anyway, and is currently no more than 01'10".
1450: The eight leaders do not give up, or maybe it's the peloton not so eager to catch them a bit too early. In any case, the gap is now still around 01'10"-01'13", while the race is in the outskirts of Albenga.
1455: Less than 70 km. to go. The eight leaders (Durand, Auge, Dacruz, Wrolich, Gutiérrez Cataluña, Vansevenant, Aebersold, Van Hyfte) are in the A10 highway now, they just left behind the town of Albenga.
1500: The peloton is riding on the A10 highway as well, they-ll get back to Via Aurelia in the town of Andora. That route change turned this year's edition into the longest MSR ever.
1504: Both the leaders and the chasing bunch are on the highway now, with a little more than 60 km. to go.
1509: There was a massive pile up at the bottom of the bunch, no serious consequences, just a small loss of time. Only one rider is not yet back in the saddle after the pile-up. It's Gerolsteiner's Olaf Pollack.
1512: The leaders are now just 25" clear of the bunch. Expect the peloton to be regrouped in a while.
1513: UPDATE on PRIMAVERA ROSA - Results:
1. Zulfia Zabirova (Rus - Prato Bike)
2. Regina Schleicher (Ger)
3. Rochelle Gilmore (Australia)
1513: Zabirova soloed to victory after attacking on the Cipressa climb.
1515: Back to Milan Sanremo - After staying clear for more than 210 km. the eight escapees were eventually brought back by the bunch, it's GRUPPO COMPATTO again, in the town of Andora.
1516: The peloton is now in the seaside resort of Andora, hometown of Mirko Celestino.
1519: Just interviewed by Italian TV, Fassa's manager Giancarlo Ferreti sounded like there's no clear team leader, and he's a bit unsure about Petacchi's condition.
1520: The peloton is tackling the first ascent inside Liguria, Capo Cervo, a brief climb with gradient going up to a max. of 5%.
Jan Ullrich, looking mean and lean, on German TV says he is looking forward to getting back to racing and he is pleased that Team Coast's problems seem sorted out.
1521: Quite (little) surprisingly, the peloton has not YET caught the eight fugitives, but still stays about 100 metres behind. They can catch them anytime they want to anyway.
1522: A BAD CRASH NOW, an Acqua e Sapone (Domina Vacanze) man is currrently on the ground.
1523: The man still on the ground is Slovenia's Martin Derganc, while also LBC's Bileka was involved in the crash.
1524: Derganc (wearing the helmet at the moment of the crash) still not moving.
1528: Derganc is being assisted by the doctor. He moved his eyes and mouth, not the rest of the body, he's probably got some serious injuries.
1529: In the meantime, Kelme's Jordi Riera Vallas attacked on the Capo Berta ascent.
1530: Slovenia's Martin Derganc is on the ambulance now, going to the nearest hospital.
1532: 37 km. to go, Only two men in the lead now, Wrolcih and Aebersold, both part of the eight-man break.
1533: Peter Wrolich attacked in the outskirts of Imperia, but wasn't able to open a gap to Aebersold.
1535: The leading duo in the city of Imperia, Paul Van Hyfte is 6" behind, the peloton is 15" down.
1536: Van Hyfte rejoined Wrolich and Aebersold. 10 km. to the start of the Cipress climb.
1537: The leading trio has been clear for about 250 km. (!) The peloton, led by the Rabos, is now 18" down.
1538: Mario Cipollini is near the front of the bunch, with Vjatcheslav Ekimov near him.
1540: 30 KM. TO GO: IT'S OFFICIALLY "GRUPPO COMPATTO" NOW. The leaders have been caught, and Aebersold already lost the wheels of the bunch.
1540: The peloton is in San Lorenzo al Mare, 27 km. to go, but very few kilometers to the Cipressa.
1541: Another crash, now involving Alessio's Raffaele Ferrara.
1542: Looks like Ferrara, winner of the 2000 Baby Giro, unfortunately had his collarbone injured.
1543: The peloton is about to tackle the famous Cipressa ascent.
1544: Cipo and Bettini are now in the first places of the bunch, led by Saeco; seems that the "Red Army" is about to make things tougher for the Lion King.
1545: First attack in the Cipressa coming from Mirko Celestino, is he setting things up for Di Luca?
1546: Celestino has opened quite a significant gap, now only Russia's Alexandre Botcharov is trying to chase him down.
1547: Andrea Tafi is struggling at the bottom of the bunch instead.
1548: None of the main favourites seems to be in any trouble on the Cipressa anyway.
1549: Celestino is now leading Botcharov by 12" and the bunch by 20".
1550: BETTINI MADE HIS MOVE HALFWAY THROUGH THE CIPRESSA!
1551: Vinokourov and Rebellin countered Bettini's attack, while PETACCHI is in big trouble.
1552: Petacchi dropped, FREIRE joined the new leading quartet, also including Vino, Rebellin and Bettini, while Celestino has been caught and dropped.
1553: After Petacchi, also Fred Rodriguez got dropped.
A beautiful sight, the peloton in full flight, the white walled, red tiled houses which seem to grow from the surrounding hills while the deep blue sea and sky frames the riders' drama.
1554: The Cipressa is over for the FIVE leaders (Rebellin, Freire, Vinokourov, Bettini and the latest addition: Juan Antonio Flecha), and the peloton as well.
1555: The leaders took 09'50" to cover the Cipressa, not the best time ever for sure.
1556: Riders are on the 22-turn descent now, 9 km. to go to the final climb, the Poggio.
1557: Bettini and Freire attack on the descent, and put some meters on Rebellin and Vino, who are now joined by Celestino. Flecha no longer in the leading positions.
1558: POZZATO seemingly with mechanical problems. Not riding now. What a horrible day for Fassa.
1600: Bettini and Freire were just joined by Vinokourov, Celestino and Rebellin; five men in the lead, the Domina Vacanze-led peloton is 15" down.
1601: The five leaders increased the gap. It's 20" now, with 6 km. to the Poggio.
1602: Bettini's team-mates seen up front, just to slow down the pace.
1603: Now the Zebrato train of Domina Vacanze gets back to the front of the chasing bunch, with Bennati and Scirea leading the chase at a speed of more than 60 km/h.
1604: The gap is 19 seconds now.
1605 - BETTINI ATTACKS and gains a few meters, but is nevertheless caught by his four break mates soon later.
1606: 11.8 km. to go, and the 50-strong peloton just 9" down to the leaders.
Bettini - "Il Grillo" looks like an angel today in his world cup winner's shirt, he seems very confident to me but maybe he has made his move to soon?
1607: Bettini and the others were caught. It's "peloton regrouped" again.
1608: Two of Cipo's teammates now riding tempo, with 10 km. to go and just 1 km. to the Poggio climb.
1609: The Poggio has started, now it's the Saecos forcing the pace up front. Cipo looks in great condition anyway.
1610: Di Luca dropped Schefer, and is on a SOLO BREAK now.
1611: Great tactics by Saeco, great attack from Di Luca, he put 9" on the chasers even if he slightly mistook a couple of turns, Peron and Gonchar are the first chasers now.
1612: CSC's Peron still leading the chase to Di Luca. He's 10" down. No big name dropped on the ascent.
1612: Now it's Di Luca leading Peron and Gonchar by 8". Bettini, Paolini and Astarloa still very combative, come out of the chasing bunch and start the chase.
1613: DI LUCA CAUGHT BY BETTINI, PAOLINI and ASTARLOA.
1614: The leading quartet just got to the top of the Poggio, but the peloton is right behind them. Lorenzo Bernucci crashed but got back on his bike immediately.
1615: And the Poggio decent into Via Roma, Di Luca lost contact to Bettini, Paolini and the other Saeco guy who's not Astarloa but Celestino (again).
1616: The leading trio extended their advantage to more than 10".
1617: 3 to go, and still three Italians in the lead. Di Luca is 5" down. The peloton is 14" down.
1619: The gap is 16" now, with just 1 km. to go.
1620: A three-man sprint...
1621: The final sprint is about to start ... Paolni has started his leadout work for Bettini.
... and seems it worked, 'cause the winner is PAOLO BETTINI!!!!!!
1623: PAOLO "IL GRILLO" BETTINI HAS JUST WON THE 94th MILAN-SAN REMO!
Mario Cipollini has won the bunch sprint.
1626: As a sign of Quick Step's "team spirit" you might see Paolini's raising his arms in triumph even before Bettini crossed the line. Paolini is not new to huge leadout works anyway. Just remember how this "ideal teammate" played a fundamental part in the victory of Leonardo Giordani in the 1999 U23 World Championships in Treviso, when Paolini sacrified all of his chances of a final win to lead his team-mate out. Giordani took the title and Paolini was silver medallist.
So Bettini adds another monument to his impressive palmares - in 2001 he finished in 5th place in this race; he has won Liege Bastogne Liege twice and now adds Classicissima di Primavera.
1627: It's the second time that a World Cup reigning Champion kicks out with a MSR win, the first one being Erik Zabel. And talking of Zabel, the German came in slightly behind Cipo. Not a great MSR for him.
The Quickstep camp will be delighted, the two biggest day races of the year and so far both have gone their way - Musseuw at Omloop Het Volk and now "Il Grillo" at MSR.
Results - Top 25 places
1. PAOLO BETTINI (ITA - QUICK STEP DAVITAMON)
2. MIRKO CELESTINO (ITA - SAECO)
3. LUCA PAOLINI (ITA - QUICK STEP DAVITAMON) at 02"
4. MARIO CIPOLLINI (ITA - DOMINA VACANZE-ELITRON) at 11"
5. DARIO PIERI (ITA - SAECO) s.t.
6. ERIK ZABEL (GER - TEAM TELEKOM) s.t.
7. OSCAR FREIRE (SPA - RABOBANK) s.t.
8. JAN SVORADA (CZE - LAMPRE) s.t.
9. SERGUEI IVANOV (RUS - FASSA BORTOLO) s.t.
10. GUIDO TRENTIN (ITA - COFIDIS) s.t.
11. GIANLUCA BORTOLAMI (ITA - SIDERMEC SAUNIER DUVAL) s.t.
12. BERNHARD EISEL (AUT - FDJEUX.COM) s.t.
13. MARCUS ZBERG (SWI - GEROLSTEINER) s.t.
14. BADEN COOKE (AUS - FDJEUX.COM) s.t.
15. GRAZIANO GASPARRE (ITA - DE NARDI-COLPACK) s.t.
16. MATTHEW WILSON (AUS - FDJEUX.COM) s.t.
17. KIM KIRCHEN (LUX - FASSA BORTOLO) s.t.
18. MARC LOTZ (HOL - RABOBANK) s.t.
19. BEAT ZBERG (SWI - RABOBANK) s.t.
20. RUGGERO MARZOLI (ITA - ALESSIO) s.t.
21. STUART O'GRADY (AUS - CREDIT AGRICOLE) s.t.
22. MARIANO PICCOLI (ITA - LAMPRE) s.t.
23. FABIO SACCHI (ITA - SAECO) s.t.
24. DAVID MILLAR (GBR - COFIDS) s.t.
25. XAVIER FLORENCIO CABRE (SPA - O.N.C.E.-EROSKI) s.t.
Pieri was nowhere to be seen before the end, then came out and took fifth.
Poor Celestino; Paolini did a perfect ride for Bettini at the end with the perfect lead out that Celestino could only cover, knowing full well that Bettini was watching his every move. Once again the Quickstep team rode a perfect race that must leave the other teams wondering what they can do to stop them winning the Classic races.
It of course also means that Bettini will take the lead in this year's World Cup competition, although this year his major rival from last year, Museeuw, is on the same team.
The next race in the competition is the Tour of Flanders and the Quickstep team will enter the race as favourites there too. But full credit to Bettini today, he did seem a class above every other rider.
Milan San Remo - Complete Palmares
1907: Lucien Petit-Breton (Fra)
1908: Cyrille Van Hauwaert (Bel)
1909: Luigi Ganna (Ita)
1910: Eugene Christophe (Fra)
1911: Gustave Garrigou (Fra)
1912: Henri Pellessier (Fra)
1913: Odiel Defraeye (Bel)
1914: Ugo Agostoni (Ita)
1915: Ezio Gorlaita (Ita)
1917: Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
1918: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1919: Angelo Cremo (Ita)
1920: Gaetano Belloni (Ita)
1921: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1922: Giovanni Brunero (Ita)
1923: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1924: Pietro Linari (Ita)
1925: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1926: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1927: Pietro Chesi (Ita)
1928: Costante Girardengo (Ita)
1929: Alfredo Binda (Ita)
1930: Michele Mara (Ita)
1931: Alfredo Binda (Ita)
1932: Alfredo Bovet (Ita)
1933: Learco Guerra (Ita)
1934: Joseph Demysere (Bel)
1935: Giuseppe Olmo (Ita)
1936: Angelo Varetto (Ita)
1937: Cesare Del Cancia (Ita)
1938: Giuseppe Olmo (Ita)
1939: Gino Bartali (Ita)
1940: Gino Bartali (Ita)
1941: Pierino Favalli (Ita)
1942: Adolfo Leoni (Ita)
1943: Cino Cinelli (Ita)
1946: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
1947: Gino Bartali (Ita)
1948: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
1949: Fausto Coppi (Ita)
1950: Gino Bartali (Ita)
1951: Louison Bobet (Fra)
1952: Loretto Petrucci (Ita)
1953: Loretto Petrucci (Ita)
1954: Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)
1955: Germain Derijcke (Bel)
1956: Fred DeBruyne (Bel)
1957: Miguel Poblet (Spa)
1958: Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1959: Miguel Poblet (Spa)
1960: René Privat (Fra)
1961: Raymond Poulidor (Fra)
1962: Emil Daems (Bel)
1963: Joseph Groussard (Fra)
1964: Tom Simpson (GBR)
1965: Arie den Hartog (Hol)
1966: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1967: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1968: Rudi Altig (Ger)
1969: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1970: Michele Dancelli (Ita)
1971: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1972: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1973: Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1974: Felice Gimondi (Ita)
1975: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1976: Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1977: Jan Raas (Hol)
1978: Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel
1979: Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1980: Pierino Gavazzi (Ita)
1981: Alfons DeWolf (Bel)
1982: Marc Gomez (Fra)
1983: Giuseppe Saronni (Ita)
1984: Francesco Moser (Ita)
1985: Hennie Kuiper (Hol)
1986: Sean Kelly (Ire)
1987: Erich Mutschler (Swi)
1988: Laurent Fignon (Fra)
1989: Laurent Fignon (Fra)
1990: Gianni Bugno (Ita)
1991: Claudio Chiappucci (Ita)
1992: Sean Kelly (Ire)
1993: Maurizio Fondriest (Ita)
1994: Giorgio Furlan (Ita)
1995: Laurent Jalabert (Fra)
1996: Gabriele Colombo (Ita)
1997: Erik Zabel (Ger)
1998: Erik Zabel (Ger)
1999: Andrei Tchmil (Bel)
2000: Erik Zabel (Ger)
2001: Erik Zabel (Ger)
2002: Mario Cipollini (Ita)
2003: Paolo Bettini (Ita)
Don't forget to stay tuned to the Daily Peloton - we will soon be previewing the Setmana Catalana de Ciclisme which will feature Lance Armstrong, Beloki, Frigo and the "Terminaitor" himself, Aitor Gonzalez.
Thanks for reading the ticker; full race report later - don't touch that dial!
Thanks to podofdonny for additonal commentary.