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97th Milan - San Remo Preview
By Staff
Date: 3/17/2006
97th Milan - San Remo Preview

97th Milan - San Remo Preview
La Primavera 294 kms (176.4 miles)


”La Primavera" has changed very little over the ninety-odd years of its existence. Starting in Milan, it follows an easy course south for more than one hundred kilometres before tackling the first major obstacle, the Turchino Pass. The longest and the first of the Spring Classics and a monument of cycling stretches 294 kilometers from Milan to the coast to finish on the Via Roma in San Remo.

However, by the late 1950’s improved road surfaces and greatly improved fitness of the peloton had reduced the race to a certain bunch sprint, and interest was in danger of waning; therefore a number of short hill climbs in the last 50 kilometres of racing were added, including the famous "Poggio di San Remo". With a height of 162 meters and just 3,740 meters in length, Jalabert has the record time for the ascent in 5m 46s in 1995, when he won the race. The Poggio still remains the favored spot to attack after a mad dash up its lower slopes.

Altimetry (top) the race, bottom last 30 km Start list and Bib Numbers.

This year the race has 4 winners of the Spring Classic in the peloton. Eric Zabel who has won "la primavera" 4 times will ride with his new Milram mate Allesandro "Ale-Jet" Petacchi last years winner, no doubt a powerful duo with the experience and team to control the final charge to the finish as they did in the final stage of Tirreno - Adriatico this past week.

Oscar Freire Tirreno Adriatico                 photo c. Fotoreporter Serotti

Then again we have Oscar Freire twice former world champion and winner in 2004 who put an on form show in the same race this week and took the leaders jersey after Paolo Bettini (winner in 2003) crashed and retired from the race. Meanwhile at Paris Nice Super Tom Boonen the current wearer of the rainbow jersey, proved unbeatable in any stage that ended in a sprint to take three stages dominating the flat stages. Yet, in Tirreno - Adriatico it took the full race for the Petacchi/Zabel duo of super sprinters to best the Thor Hushvod and Freire and Bettini and get the new duo's mojo working for the final stage. Can Milram duo deliver again on Saturday?

Bettini stage 2 Tirreno Adriatico  photo c. Fotoreporter Serotti

While the race has been billed a showdown between Ale-Jet and Super Tom one can't forget that each are supported by a rider former winner... Petacchi/Zabel and the now the Quickstep duet of Boonen and Bettini who may end up being their own best competition if Paolo is recovered from his fall, and the odd chance that the fates and opportunity present an opportunity. Boonen has made the race his priority this year and if his performances at Paris Nice are any representation of his determination and form he will be hard to beat.

Ale-Jet and Zabel celebrate...McEwen           photo c. Fotoreporter Serotti

Thor Hushvod figured prominently in the sprints in Tirreno Adriatico and looks to be in good form for the race as well the Credit Agricole rider bested the Milram duo this past week to his credit. Robbie McEwen (Davitamon/Lotto) in spite of a fractured rib plans on riding the race, and as far as I know McEwen is not out to ride the race as pack fodder, so if he is anywhere near the finish Robbie will be one to watch as the peloton strings toward the finish line.

So who will dominate at the finish on Via Roam in San Remo is a bookmakers nightmare this year or dream if one can count the possibilities. With so many top sprinters, the sprinters teams should be working to establish control early and see that any break has succumbed to the sprinters trains of Quickstep, Davitamon/Lotto and Milram in the final kms.

Super Tom Boonen unstoppable in Paris Nice  photo c. Fotoreporter Serotti

T-Mobile may play another hand in the days race. Sporting director Valerio Piva said earlier this week the team would base its strategy by probing for chances to get riders in any break.
'La Primavera' is the race every Italian cyclist dreams of winning and Lorenzo Bernucci is one of T-Mobile's strongest cards. According to Piva, the Tuscany-native showed at Tirreno-Adriatico he is "in good shape" and has been riding his way into ‘the right condition’ for the epic classic. Together with Schreck and Wesemann, the Italian put in an extra training shift after stage four, and the trio also put in some extra training before Sunday’s time trial.

There are others who may warrant watching to attempt a break early and deny the sprinters the show they would like to give in the final kilometer, the chances of success are slim as recent history of the race shows but it has been accomplished in the past. (see the Forgotten Winner below)

Thor Hushvod  Tirreno Adriatico             photo c. Fotoreporter Serotti

Damiano Cunego (Lampre/Fondital) rides his first La Primavera this year, he downplayed his role as only wanting to gain the experience of the race in hopes of winning the race in the future. But his teamate Allesandro Ballan has figured well in the pre season by making his presence known in significant finishes and who better to sacrifice himself than the fast Damiano on the Poggio to present Ballan with his opportunity to lead the way to the finish?

A quick scan of last years top 25 (below) shows all the usual suspects that are likely to be gathered at the finish fighting for control of the race and the sprint. For the English speaking fans Allan Davis and Roger Hammond might be the favorite picks to improve on their last years performance.

Whatever happens it will be a thrilling race and finish on the Via Roma. Join us for race as the Daily Peloton starts its live coverage on Saturday morning.

History of Milan - San Remo
The Forgotten Winner
Live Ticker and Results 2005

2005 Top 25:
1 Petacchi Alessandro Fassa Bortolo 7:11'39
2 Hondo Danilo Gerolsteiner m.t.
3 Hushovd Thor Credit Agricole m.t.
4 O'Grady Stuart Cofidis m.t.
5 Freire Gomez Oscar Rabobank m.t.
6 Gilbert Philippe Française Des Jeux m.t.
7 Marzoli Ruggero Acqua&Sapone-Adria Mobil m.t.
8 Boonen Tom Quickstep m.t.
9 Pellizotti Franco Liquigas - Bianchi m.t.
10 Mori Manuele Saunier Duval - Prodir m.t.
11 Reynes Mimo Vicente Illes Balears m.t.
12 Silloniz Aresti Josu Euskaltel - Euskadi m.t.
13 Brochard Laurent Bouygues Telecom m.t.
14 Zabel Erik T-Mobile Team m.t.
15 Davis Allan Liberty Seguros Wurth m.t.
16 Van Bon Leon Davitamon - Lotto m.t.
17 Celestino Mirko Domina Vacanze m.t.
18 Klier Andreas T-Mobile Team m.t.
19 Guidi Fabrizio Phonak Hearing System m.t.
20 Edo Angel Saunier Duval - Prodir m.t.
21 Hammond Roger Discovery Channel m.t.
22 Geslin Anthony Bouygues Telecom m.t.
23 Arvesen Kurt-Asle Team Csc m.t.
24 Wrolich Peter Gerolsteiner m.t.
25 Sella Emanuele Ceramiche Panaria-Nav. m.t.

Previous Winners:
1907 Petit Breton
1908 Vanhauwaert
1909 Ganna
1910 Christophe
1911 Garrigou
1912 Pelissier
1913 Defraye
1914 Agostoni
1915 Corlaita
1917 Belloni
1918 Girardengo
1919 Gremo
1920 Belloni
1921 Girardengo
1922 Brunero
1923 Girardengo
1924 Linari
1925 Girardengo
1926 Girardengo
1927 Chesi
1928 Girardengo
1929 Binda
1930 Mara M.
1931 Binda
1932 Bovet
1933 Guerra
1934 Demuysère
1935 Olmo
1936 Varetto
1937 Del Cancia
1938 Olmo
1939 Bartali
1940 Bartali
1941 Favalli
1942 Leoni
1943 Cinelli
1946 Coppi F.
1947 Bartali
1948 Coppi F.
1949 Coppi F.
1950 Bartali
1951 Bobet L.
1952 Petrucci
1953 Petrucci
1954 Van Steenbergen
1955 Derycke
1956 De Bruyne
1957 Poblet
1958 Van Looy
1959 Poblet
1960 Privat
1961 Poulidor
1962 Daems
1963 Groussard J.
1964 Simpson
1965 Den Hartog
1966 Merckx
1967 Merckx
1968 Altig
1969 Merckx
1970 Dancelli
1971 Merckx
1972 Merckx
1973 De Vlaeminck R.
1974 Gimondi
1975 Merckx
1976 Merckx
1977 Raas
1978 De Vlaeminck R.
1979 De Vlaeminck R.
1980 Gavazzi
1981 De Wolf A.
1982 Gomez
1983 Saronni G.
1984 Moser F.
1985 Kuiper
1986 Kelly
1987 Maechler
1988 Fignon
1989 Fignon
1990 Bugno
1991 Chiappucci
1992 Kelly
1993 Fondriest M.
1994 Furlan
1995 Jalabert L.
1996 Colombo G.
1997 Zabel
1998 Zabel

1999 Tchmil
2000 Zabel
2001 Zabel

2002 Cipollini
2003 Bettini
2004 Freire
2005 Alessandro Petacchi


Related Articles
Paris Nice Stage 6
Tirreno Adriatico Stage 7
Milan - San Remo Start List

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