92nd Milan - San Remo
Italy, March 24, 2001
Complete Live Report
Start time: 0945 CET
It's a beautiful warm spring morning here in Milan. The riders are all arriving for the 9:15 rolling start. Good weather is forecast for the race, with a headwind along the Via Aurelia. Most prognostics are for Zabel, but a lot of people think that Peter Van Petegem is dangerous.
There is also talk that the new climb - the Bric Berton - will split things up a lot more than the Turchino Pass. However, many are still predicting a chaotic sprint up the Poggio and down the other side. Look out for Telekom!
The race started at 0945 - later than advertised - because it will be better for the live TV coverage.
Mapei's Paolo Bettini might be one to watch on the Bric Berton climb, as he said "We'd be stupid to miss a chance like this...if we go fast there, it can make a difference."
Zabel hopes that everyone won't be racing against him. "That isn't what cycling is about," he said.
The 193 riders took the start in Milan today without any hematocrit controls by the UCI. However, the governing body for cycling will likely introduce full EPO testing in the Tour of Flanders on April 7 (round 2 of the World Cup). It is believed that riders with a hematocrit level of 47% will be then subjected to the EPO urine test.
One of today's 'dark horses' is Belgian Peter van Petegem, who could well ride into a top 5 finish. He rode Paris-Nice as preparation, winning a stage and leading for four days until Dario Frigo overtook him in the Col d'Eze time trial.
"I asked for an Italian program," he said, referring to Tirreno-Adriatico. "But I'm not complaining this new MSR preparation...I feel better than before last year's start."
He has targetted Paris-Roubaix and Milan-San Remo as the races he most wants to win, "But a second victory in the RVV is allowed too."
Today's race: "I think that the decision will be made on the Poggio. If Zabel is in the first grouop again, we can only fight for second place. So we have to isolate the German in the finale, that is our only chance."
During the first hour, the peloton covered just 31.1 kilometres. Only 256 to go... However, this is often the case in extremely long races. By the time the peloton is inside the last 50 kilometres, the speed along the flat will be 55-60 km/h. At the moment, no-one has chosen to attack.
Here's a little course analysis to tide things over:
Milan-San Remo is one of the most traditional of the classics. Its parcours hasn't changed much since the first race in 1907. Starting in Milan, do the Turchino Pass, descend to Voltri and then onto San Remo on the coast road. In 1960 and 1982, the organisers made it harder with the 'Capi' Mele, Cervo and Berta, as well as Poggio di Sanremo and Cipressa. They did that because most of the races ended in a mass sprint.
The same 'problem' has returned in the last few years (Boogerd says: it's a race for sprinters). In Although Tchmil won in 1999 with a last minute attack, no-one has come close to stopping the sprinters since Gabriele Colombo in 1996.
The parcours changed this year because of roadworks on the Turchino, due to an avalanche. After the feedzone, the peloton has to climb for 20 kilometres to the Bric Berton (270m higher than the Turchino). That means the coast road is 40 kilometers shorter, so there is less time for recuperation.
Can Telekom keep the peloton together till the Poggio? Will Fasso Bortolo, Rabobank, Mapei-Quick Step and Domo-Farm Frites work together? Organizer Castellano said the Turchino is only out of the parcours for one year. But if the fireworks are there today, he could change his mind next year.
1205 CET - 72 km gone/215 km to go
The MSR peloton is still "gruppo compatto" after 72 kilometres at an average of just over 30 km/h. The road starts to go upwards now, although the summit of Bric Berton is still 70 kilometres away. The current temperature is 17 degrees celsius.
Lampre finally decided to leave out Polish sprinter Zbigniew Spruch, who crashed last weekend in Tirreno-Adriatico. Latvian TT specialist, Raivis Belohvosciks takes his place.
1238 CET - 100 km gone/187 km to go
The pace has lifted in the last hour, although the peloton is still together. There is still over 40 kilometres to go to the top of Bric Berton.
We have the first serious escapes of the day. Lampre's Ludo Dierckxsens attacked a few kilometres back. Now, Sergey Matveyev (Panaria), Martin Rittsel (CSC), David Lasa (iBanesto.com) and Milan Kadlec (Mobilvetta) have countered and have a 30 second lead.
1327 CET - 118 km/169 km to go
The four riders, Matveyev, Rittsel, Lasa and Kadlec, now have 4'50 advantage on the peloton after approximately 118 kilometres.
1345 CET - 125 km/162 km to go
The breakaways are now on the long climb of the Bric Berton, which has its summit at kilometre 143 (773 m). Milan Kadlec won the first intermediate sprint at Molare, although he remains with his breakaway companions.
The peloton have increased the tempo.
1402 CET - km 142
The breakaway riders are nearly at the top of Bric Berton now, however their advantage has been reduced to four minutes by the vigilant peloton. Lampre are leading the chase.
Saeco's Mario Scirea falls, but gets back on his bike and rejoins the race.
1415 CET - km 148/139 km to go
Mapei-Quick Step are leading on the descent- the average speed after 4 hours has lifted to 34.35 km/h. The four leaders Sergey Matveyev (Panaria), Martin Rittsel (CSC), David Lasa (iBanesto.com) and Milan Kadlec (Mobilvetta) are still at 3'30.
1430 CET - km 158/128 km to go
As the peloton crest the Colle del Giovo, it can be seen that the Bric Berton did little to disrupt the harmony, despite being 773 m high with sections of between 8 and 10 percent. The main part of the group are all together, still around 4 minutes behind the leaders.
Peter van Petegem punctured, but got back on safely.
1452 CET - km 178km/109 km to go
After Mapei were leading, nobody helped them so they stopped. The four leaders have 7'20 now as they approach Savona with 110 kilometres to go.
At the moment, the race is 40 minutes behind the slowest schedule. After 5 hours, the average has crept up to 35 km/h.
1510 CET - km 190km/97 km to go
Dutch radio commentator Jacques Chappel commented on the slowness of the race. "Nothing happens. Even Mapei with Bartoli, who said in a press conference on Friday that 'I want to win Milan-San Remo once in my life,' knows to keep your nerves until the final. The peloton is taking it very slow."
The four leaders now have 9'50, with just 87 kilometres to go. Something will have to happen soon...
1530 CET - km 208 km/79 km to go
Mapei have taken up the chase again to bring the gap down to under 9 minutes. Jens Voigt (CA) has tried to go on his own. The leaders still have 80 kilometres to go until San Remo.
1539 CET - km 222 km/65 km to go
Telekom, Viatel, and Cantina Tollo tare on the front of the peloton, 6'30 behind the leaders at the second feed zone (km 222). David Latasa (iBanesto) is doing a fair bit of work in the break into the slight headwind.
La Primavera Rosa results: 1 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Vlaanderen-T-Interim; 2 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) Acca Due O; 3 Sara Felloni (Ita) Alfa Lum.
1549 CET - km 232 km/55 km to go
The gap to the four leaders is now down to 4'55, as the peloton are stretched out by Telekom and Mapei. The four riders: Sergey Matveyev (Panaria), Martin Rittsel (CSC), David Lasa (iBanesto.com) and Milan Kadlec (Mobilvetta) attacked at km 104, and have been away for 128 kilometres so far. They look like getting caught if this pace continues.
1601 CET - km 236 km/51 km to go
The riders are exiting Lassio and approaching the first of the Capi, the Capo Mele. On the front of the peloton is Telekom with Schaffrath, Rabobank, and Moreno (Liquigas). They are still 4 minutes behind.
1613 CET - km 252 km/35 km to go
At the base of Capo Cervo 2'30. As soon as the road went up, all of the Lampre's got to the front and set the tempo. Joachim and Ekimov are also up there looking after George Hincapie.
The break will probably get caught before the Cipressa, at Imperia.
1625 CET - km 256 km/31 km to go
Sergey Matveyev (Panaria) decides to go it alone on the Capo Berta and at least get some more TV exposure. He quickly establishes a gap on the remaining three riders, who are now just 30 seconds in front of the peloton. Matveyev still has 1'30 though.
Mapei's Andrea Tafi was pounding a huge gear on the Capo Berta with Bartoli and Bettini on his wheel. No prizes for guessing who's going to attack on the Cipressa...
1635 CET - km 260 km/27 km to go
After 155 kilometres away, Milan Kadlec (Mobilvetta) and Martin Rittsel (CSC) are finally caught by the swiftly moving peloton. Matveyev still has 40 seconds and is riding pretty smoothly - he is a former World Amateur Pursuit Champion. David Latasa (iBanesto) is in no-man's land between Matveyev and the peloton.
Romans Vainsteins has called the Domo team to the front to help drive the chase. Rabobank, Lampre and Mapei are still there as the riders jockey for position before the Cipressa.
Matveyev is caught on the Cipressa, and Sergio Barbero (Lampre) and Bo Hamburger (CSC) counterattacked.
1645 CET - km 265 km/22 km to go
Farazijn (Cofidis), Aerts (Lotto) and Nathan O'Neill (Panaria) have joined the leaders on the Cipressa. But halfway up, Francesco Casagrande attacked with Vinkourov (Telekom). Now Casagrande is going it alone, leaving the leading group for dead.
1649 CET - km 267 km/20 km to go
At the top of the Cipressa, Casagrande has 10 seconds on Farazijn, Vino, and Bettini, with Aerts and Hamburger a little further back and a peloton of about 120 riders. On the descent, Savoldelli has attacked from the peloton and passed the front group. He is up with Vinokourov et. al - the Khazakh is not working of course.
1653 CET - km 269/18 km to go
Casagrande has been caught and the leading group now consists of him, Vinokourov, Balducci, Savoldelli, Bettini, and Farazijn.
1657 CET - km 287/10 km to go
Bettini and Vinokourov stopped working, so the leaders were caught at Riva Ligure. Telekom has three guys on the front, with Zabel and another guy on his wheel. Cipollini, Vainsteins and Van Petegem are still in the leading group.
Nico Mattan (Cofidis) puts in an attack, with the Poggio in sight.
1704 CET - km 282/5 km to go
On the Poggio now. Telekom went to the front and rode hard tempo. Lanfranchi attacked a third of the way up but was caught. Van Petegem, Colombo, Rebellin, Petito and Bartoli have a gap now, but are caught over the top by 30 riders.
Pantani and Di Luca were caught behind a fall on the descent of the Cipressa, which caused a split in the peloton.
1706 CET - km 283/4 km to go
Bartoli leads on the descent, but all the big names are there. Then, Fagnini goes to the front with Zabel on his wheel. Where is Cipollini? He's 20 metres off the back, but he's chasing.
Van Petegem had good legs, but not good enough.
1709 CET - km 285/2 km to go
Credit Agricole get on the front with Bobby Julich now at the base of the descent. Bettini, Bartoli are up there, but Zanini might be the man that Mapei want to lead out the sprint. Zabel and Fagnini is ever present though
1713 CET - km 287/0 km to go
An attack on the right by Erik Dekker, but he is brought back. The peloton make a left hander under the 1km banner. Cipollini is back, as Zberg attacks.
Fagnini is leadding out Zabel, Vainsteins is there. A big crash - Zanini down, but gets up and rides to the finish. Konyshev, Rebellin, Larsen are amongst it.
Zabel, Cipollini, and Vainsteins are the top 3. Zabel wins by half a bike length from a resurgent Cipollini, with the World Champion in third place.
1 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Deutsche Telekom 7.23.13 (38.852 km/h) 2 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe' 3 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Domo-Farm Frites 4 Biagio Conte (Ita) Saeco Macchine Per Caffe' 5 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 6 Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Cantina Tollo Acqua & Sapone 7 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola 8 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 9 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 10 Rolf Sorensen (Den) CSC-World Online