Gabriele Colombo – the forgotten winner?
Although Messers Freire and Petacchi may not might like to be reminded of this fact, on the eve of the great race, Milan San Remo is not always decided in a mass, or even selective sprint.
The last time a rider broke away on the climbs to win the race was in 1996, when Gabriele Colombo made the decisive break on the Cipressa, 20km out. Only Gontchenkov, Sciandri and Coppolillo could respond but Colombo was in aggressive mood he attacked four times in all before he could finally shake off his companions to win alone.
Colombo comes from a family steeped in cycling tradition. Ambrogio Colombo, a "gregario" in Gianni Motta's (Giro winner in 1966) Molteni team between 1964 and 1966 watched his son take his most famous victory from the roadside
"When I saw my father in the crowd, on the Cipressa. I knew that was the spot where I should make my attack.".
However not only was Gabriele Colombo's father, a pro but his grandfather was too. Luigi-Macchi Colombo, was Alfredo Binda's room-mate rode five Giro d'Italia between 1933 and 1937 .
Gabriele became one of the youngest ever winners of the Primavera when he won in 1996 at just 23 years old. Today he is still riding in the peloton and will race in the 2005 edition of the race with his Naturino Sapore di Mare team .
Gabriele Colombo - Courtesy Naturino Sapore di Mare
Naturino Sapore di Mare Team for Milan San Remo
The team , who did not make the Pro Tour will be anxious too prove themselves against the top league and they bring a typical mix of youth and experience . The team will be Francesco Casagrande, Valerio Agnoli, Sergio Marinangeli, Filippo Simeoni, Gian Matteo Fagnini, Alessio Galletti and Gabriele Colombo.
Francesco Casagrande hopes that an early season knee problem will not hamper his race -
"My knee injury is now fully healed . Milan Sanremo is a race that fascinates me, but I am not at the peak of condition. Nevertheless I am looking for a good result”
The team may well be placing their hopes with fast man Sergio Marinangeli :
" I got good form from Tirreno - Adriatico, and I’m looking forward to the race.Its a great occasion and I want to make the most of it. If the race finishes in a sprint I am hoping for a podium spot”
Meanwhile the youngest member of the team Agnoli, just 20 years old is more modest in his ambitions "If I get to the finish it will be a nice victory for me!” he joked.
Courtesy Naturino Sapore di Mare
1996 Milan San Remo – Motorola report
Motorola certainly fulfilled their role as one of the favorite teams for
Saturday's first round of the World Cup, Milan San Remo. Max Sciandri took
fourth place after being one of the animators of the four man breakaway that
escaped in the final thirty kilometers of the race.
The breakaway was instigated by Italian Gabrielle Colombo, Gewiss, who forced
the pace on the climb of the Cipressa, which is situated just 30 kilometers
from the end. He was shadowed by Gontchenkov and on the descent the two were
joined by Sciandri and Coppollilo. Although the four leaders did not
collaborate perfectly, they stayed clear until the end.
On the final climb of the race, the Poggio, first Sciandri and then Colombo
tried to escape alone, but to no avail. Several strong attempts from the main
field to join the leaders failed to pull back the leading quartet and the four
headed into the Via Roma together. As the finish approached Colombo launched a
late attack, which caught the others off guard.
The young Italian, who was World time trial champion in 1994, sped to the
greatest victory of his young career. In the sprint for second place Sciandri
took fourth place behind the Ukrainian Gontchenkov. Lance Armstrong took
eleventh place in the main group behind, with Axel Merckx nineteenth.
After the finish a dejected Sciandri complained about Coppollilo's tactics,
"We were on the same team last year and today I felt as if he raced just to
make me lose. If you start a race just to make someone lose then I really
don't think it's worth starting at all."
The Belgian press were elated at the finish after the performance by Axel
Merckx. Although only nineteenth, Axel had played a key role in Sciandri's
performance and still managed to finish in the main group confirming that he
was in the Elite ranks on his own merit and not because of his father's name.
He will look forward to the Ardennes classics now with much more confidence.
In the team standings Motorola finished second place behind the Italian
Courtesy Naturino Sapore di Mare