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Photo ©: Swift

First Edition Cycling News for March 16, 2006

Edited by Jeff Jones and Anthony Tan

La Classicissima: The most beautiful of Classics

By Anthony Tan

Alessandro Petacchi wins on the Via Roma in 2005
Photo ©: Sirotti
Click for larger image

La Classicissima or Milano-Sanremo, the first major classic on the spring calendar, is considered by many cycling fans - and without doubt, the Italian tifosi - as the most beautiful of the race on the entire cycling calendar. Remember, for Italians, it is about beauty first, and the challenge second - although no-one has ever said racing 294 kilometres is easy...

Far removed from the cobblestones of Flanders or Roubaix, the 2006 race is unchanged from last year, and begins from the traditional starting point in the heart of Milan, on the Via della Chiesa Rossa in Piazza San Ambrogio.

With a seven-plus hour journey in front of them, the peloton take on a mostly flat, sou'-sou'-west journey in the opening 130 kilometres, direction Genova, with the first major obstacle being the Turchino Pass that hits a modest 532 metres' altitude at km 143.

Coming so early on, the Passo del Turchino rarely breaks the bunch, and if so, only momentarily; what one often witnesses is the obligatory early break with their largest advantage at this point. From there, instead of going down into Genova, we make a right-turn to Savona, and begin the bellissima coast-hugging route that has made Milano-Sanremo molta famosa.

Invariably, the fastest part of the race is from km 150 to km 260, where the riders are whisked along at speeds exceeding 60 kilometres an hour, and the three 'Capi' - Mele (km 242,1), Cervo (km 247,4) and Berta (km 254,9) - are hardly even felt. But it's in the final 30 kilometres where the Campione di Sanremo is decided.

See also:
Full preview
Start list
Past winners

Live coverage

Cyclingnews will be covering the 97th Milan - San Remo live, beginning at 9.30am Central European time/ 3:30 EST (USA East)/00:30 PST (USA West)/19:30 AEDT (Australia East).

Milram, Quick.Step to Milan-San Remo

Defending M-SR champion Alessandro Petacchi will leave the grounds of Piazza San Ambrogio on Saturday as equal favourite, and for the first time, he will be supported by his once arch-rival and four-time winner Erik Zabel on Team Milram.

Riders: Alessandro Cortinovis, Maarten Den Bakker, Christian Knees, Alessandro Petacchi, Enrico Poitschke, Fabio Sacchi, Marco Velo, Erik Zabel
Directeurs-sportifs: Gianluigi Stanga, Antonio Bevilacqua

The Quick.Step-Innergetic team for Milan - San Remo is certainly one of the strongest on paper, and with world champion Tom Boonen centering his season around La Primavera, time will tell if he can pull it off the win in a race that has so far eluded him. If the Belgian's having an off-day and falters on the Cipressa or Poggio, there's always Paolo Bettini to assume a leadership role.

Riders: Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Davide Bramati, Wilfried Cretskens, Nick Nuyens, Filippo Pozzato, Matteo Tosatto, Guido Trenti.
Directeur-sportif: Serge Parsani

Di Luca out of M-SR

Liquigas counts on Garzelli, Pellizotti, Paolini and Nibali

Still suffering from the granuloma that was tormenting him during Tirreno-Adriatico, defending ProTour champion Danilo Di Luca has been forced out of the ProTour's first one-day race of the year, Milano-Sanremo. This morning, the rider from Abruzzo had an orthodontic radiograph and a medical check-up, and was diagnosed with granulomatous periodontitis. Doctors had to make an incision in the left superior dental arch, and Di Luca will require antibiotics for another five days.

Deprived of the 2005 ProTour winner, the Liquigas team will take to the start with the following squad: Magnus Backstedt, Kjell Carlström, Stefano Garzelli, Matej Mugerli, Vincenzo Nibali, Luca Paolini, Franco Pellizotti and Stefano Zanini. Roberto Amadio and Stefano Zanatta will act as team managers.

T-Mobile with modest expectations

As the classics season gets into full swing with Milan-San Remo this Saturday, German team T-Mobile is going into La Primavera with more modest expectations than some other teams. For the seven hour, 294 km race, the team management has chosen classics specialists Lorenzo Bernucci, Andreas Klier, Sergey Ivanov, Stephan Schreck and Steffen Wesemann, who have just completed the eight day Tirreno-Adriatico. They will be joined in Italy by Marcus Burghardt, Linus Gerdemann and Patrik Sinkewitz, who warmed-up for the event at last week's Paris-Nice in France.

T-Mobile sport and technical director Mario Kummer believes his team is going into this year's race as underdogs, however. In recent years the tendency has been for the race to be decided in a mass sprint on the Via Roma in San Remo, and Kummer doesn’t believe he has the hardware to challenge in a wide open bunch showdown: "Without a Petacchi, Freire or Boonen in our ranks, we don’t have the firepower," he said. "We are a compact team overall and we have options."

As usual, with teams without a sprinter, the strategy will be based around the Cipressa (km 272) and Poggio (km 288) climbs, where the race can often be won or lost. T-Mobile will be probing for chances and working hard to get a rider into any moves. "If we get the chance to stop this race ending in a bunch sprint then we should take it," said Valerio Piva.

'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 MSR. 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.

Hondo's attorney expects results of appeal soon

Danilo Hondo's attorney expects a ruling this month on the civil appeal of Hondo's doping ban. Michael Lehner filed the appeal with the Obersten Schweizer Kantonsgericht in Waadt, Switzerland, on February 15. The International Court of Arbitration for Sport handed down the two-year ban in January. "We delivered conclusive arguments," Lehner told dpa. "But I can't say anything about Hondo's possible chances."

Hondo asked the court to overturn the two-year ban and reinstate the one-year ban, which expires march 31 of this year, thus allowing him to start riding again as of April 1. However, a Kanton court has never overturned a CAS decision, according to dpa.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

Cannondale SEQ Tour launch

Four hundred cyclists vote with their cleats

By John Michael Flynn in Brisbane, Australia

The new Vinos Bar and Grill Team
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

In what may become a role model for domestic road racing in Australia, the new Cannondale SEQ Tour was launched in Brisbane on Wednesday night in the plush surrounds of Vino's Bar & Grill on the city's riverfront.

A significant facelift for the domestic road racing scene in South-East Queensland (SEQ), four hundred cyclists have already signed up for the competition which will feature sponsored trade teams and organised club teams competing for points at races throughout the season.

Loosely modelled on the ProTour concept in Europe, the focus won't just be on the elite category, with the system of points allocation and leader's jerseys, extending from the masters division right through to juniors.

"A lot of people were saying we need to do something more in cycling in South-East Queensland," Cannondale SEQ Tour promoter Damian Copeland told Cyclingnews at last night's launch. "I think, looking at the road season as a whole, it just seemed to lack something."

The launch featured a parade of teams modelling their strips for the 2006 season and there were promising signs with the addition of several new sponsored line-ups.

South-East Queensland's established teams including Flight centre, Health Works, Yellow Jersey Bike Shop and HIT Racing, will be joined by several new players, including Team Merida, Vino's Bar and Grill and the Wilson HTM-Leggera Cycles team headed by Jono Cantwell.

The tour concept has received the blessing of Cycling Queensland, which is eager to use the season long contest as a launching pad for the State's emerging riders. "I'm very excited about the whole concept, I think it's fantastic for cycling in South-East Queensland," C.Q. supremo Wendy Sanders said. "I believe it'll be great for our riders, our young riders especially. This teams concept is fabulous and as a vice president of Cycling Australia we are trying to develop this teams concept throughout Australia."

HIT Racing of Balmoral
Photo ©: John Flynn
(Click for larger image)

SEQ Tour numbers have been boosted by strong interest from the masters and women's divisions. The region's elite cyclist's also looking forward to a more professional style of competition. "This is definitely what Queensland needs," Leggera's Jono Cantwell said. "They do a lot of these kind of tours down south and it works really well."

Yellow Jersey's Jaaron Poad, one of the early series favourites, also giving the concept strong endorsement. "Cycling needs all the help it can get. It's probably the best thing that can happen at the moment." said Poad.

The SEQ Tour cranks into gear at the weekend with the staging of the Nathan O'Neill Classic near Toowoomba.

For full details go to the SEQ Tour website


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by John Flynn/

Landis and Yoisten lead NRC

Following the first four events on the USA National Racing Calendar (NRC), the rider standings have been released, with Floyd Landis (Phonak) and Laura Yoisten (Victory Brewing) leading the men's and women's categories. Points have been calculated based on the Tour of California, McLane Pacific Downtown GP, McLane Pacific Downtown Road Race and Central Valley Classic.

Current NRC standings

1 Floyd Landis (Phonak)                             630 pts
2 George Hincapie (Discovery Channel)               415
3 Dave Zabriskie (CSC)                              410
4 Bobby Julich (Team CSC)                           355
5 Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner)                    310
1 Laura Yoisten (Victory Brewing)                   152 pts
2 Dotsie Bausch (Colavita/Cooking Light Women's)     65
3 Laura Charemeda (McGuire Cycling)                  60
4 Laura Van Gilder (Team Lipton)                     60
5 Sarah Tillotson (Colavita/Cooking Light Women's)   59

The next race on the NRC Calendar is the Redlands Bicycle Classic March 24-26 in Redlands, Calif. classified as a 2.3 race. For more information about the NRC, visit

Boonen gets La Gazzetta's Oscar

Today (Thursday) at the offices of Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport, world champion Tom Boonen will receive the "Premio Oscar Gazzetta-Bici d'Oro Fausto Coppi 2005" award. The acknowledgement, now in its second year, is awarded to the best-performing rider of the previous season. The inaugural winner was Damiano Cunego after winning the Giro d'Italia and Giro di Lombardia in 2004.

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