Just like Jalabert Fabiano Fontanelli, one of the big stars of the season so far, has been forced to say no the first World Cup race of the season. Suffering from an injury in his right groin he will leave his place in the race to team mate Nicola Loda.
Laurent Jalabert has definitely scratched from the race and gone to Spain for treatment on his injured knee. The prognosis is that there is no serious injury and Jalabert hopes to ride the two-day, three-stage Criterium International March 30-31.
Mapei-GB's team for today's race: Ballerini, Bomans, Bortolami, Museeuw (team leader), Olano, Peeters, Tafi, Vandenbroucke
Rabobank directeur sportif Jan Raas, who has two riders in good form for today's race -- Rolf Sorensen and Edwig Van Hooydonck -- has a distinct view on the way the race will go. "In my view," he said Thursday, "the race won't be decided on the Poggio this year. In fact I think the sort-out will come much earlier."
MG Technogym's Fabiano Fontanelli, with five wins under his belt so far this year, will ride today despite having pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico Monday with a strained thigh muscle. Fontanelli rode five hours Thursday without any problem and is fit to ride as a lieutenant for Michele Bartoli and possible outsider for the victory. Gianni Bugno, who has yet to show form this season, is riding despite having been doubtful earlier, but only as a team rider. "He couldn't aspire to anything else for the moment," said directeur-sportif Giancarlo Ferretti.
Carrera's Claudio Chiappucci is riding today but without much hope of a high placing. He has suffered recently from haemorrhoids...
Thursday there was a traffic jam of riders and team cars on the Poggio reconnoitring the usually decisive hill. Among those getting their first sight of it was Chris Boardman, who flew in from England that morning.
"La Primavera" -- every year since 1907 except 1916 and 1945 1907 winner Lucien Petit-Breton (France) 1995 winner Laurent Jalabert (France)
The chasers include Berzin, Tchmil, Zulle, Baldato, Leblanc, Bugno, Chiappucci, Sorensen, Brochard, Museeuw and Cipollini.
Gabriele Colombo, the winner of today's Milan-San Remo, is 23 years old (the son of a 1970s pro) and in his second year as a pro with Gewiss. This was his first Milan-San Remo. He was 51st in the 1995 Tour de France and adds his victory in La Primavera to his other two pro wins, both this year -- stage 1 of the Tour of Calabria and the final overall in that race.
He has had a number of high finishes this year, including 4th in Trofeo Laigueglia, 3rd in stage 5 of Tour Mediterraneen (up Mont Faron), 4th in stage 5b (time trial) of Tirreno-Adriatico and 5th overall in that race.
1. Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Gewiss 7.00.27 (41,995 km/h) 2. Alexander Gontchenkov (Ukr) Roslotto + 0.01 3. Michele Coppolillo (Ita) MG-Technogym s.t. 4. Maximilian Sciandri (Eng) Motorola s.t. 5. Stefano Zanini (Ita) Gewiss + 0.32 6. Fabio Baldato (Ita) MG-Technogym 7. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco 8. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-GB 9. Laurent Brochard (Fra) Festina 10. Andrej Tchmil (Rus) Lotto 11. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola 12. Michele Bartoli (Ita) MG-Technogym 13. Gianluca Pianegonda (Ita) Polti 14. Gianluca Gorini (Ita) Aki-Gipiemme 15. Wladimir Belli (Ita) Panaria-Vinavil 16. Vjatjeslav Ekimov (Rus) Rabobank 17. Maurizio Fondriest (Ita) Roslotto 18. Neil Stephens (Aus) Once 19. Axel Merckx (Bel) Motorola 20. Franck Vandenbroucke (Bel) Mapei-GB 21. Laurent Dufaux (Sch) Festina 22. Abraham Olano (Spa) Mapei-GB 23. Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) San Marco Group 24. Alex Zulle (Sch) Once 25. Rodolfo Massi (Ita) Refin-Mobilvetta 26. Melchor Mauri (Spa) Once 27. Roberto Petito (Ita) Saeco 28. Evgeni Berzin (Rus) Gewiss 29. Sergei Outschakov (Ukr) Polti + 0.48 30. Bruno Boscardin (Ita) Festina + 0.49 31. Van Petegem (Bel) 32. Magnien (Fra) 33. Abdujaparov (Uzb) 34. Conte (Ita) 35. Dekker (Ned) 36. Tafi (Ita) 37. Gianetti (Sch) 38. Jaermann (Sch) 39. Zabel (Ger) 40. Bortolami (Ita) 41. Bontempi (Ita) 42. Serpellini (Ita) 43. Gallorini (Ita) 44. Hamburger (Den) 45. Sorensen (Den) 46. Diaz Zabala (Spa) 47. B. Zberg (Sch) 48. Ullrich (Ger) 49. Heppner (Ger) 50. Saligari (Ita) 51. Boogerd (Ned) 52. Wauters (Bel) 53. Peeters (Bel) 54. Scirea (Ita) 55. Gelfi (Ita) 56. Goubert (Fra) 57. Radaelli (Ita) 58. Den Bakker (Ned) 59. Peron (Ita) 60. Virenque (Fra) 61. D. Rebellin (Ita) 62. Colage (Ita) 63. Bugno (Ita) 64. Frattini (Ita) 65. Zen (Ita) 66. Bomans (Bel) 67. Ballerini (Ita) 68. Boardman (GB) 69. Puttini (Sch) 70. Hodge (Aus) 71. Zaina (Ita) 72. Furlan (Ita) 73. Gasperoni (Ita) 74. Cuesta (Spa) 75. W. Nelissen (Bel) + 5.50 76. Svorada (Cze) 77. Hincapie (USA) 78. Citterio (Ita) 79. Fidanza (Ita) 80. Saitov (Rus) 81. Van Bon (Ned) 82. Mentheour (Fra) 83. Zanette (Ita) 84. Lino (Fra) 85. Simon (Fra) 86. Michaelsen (Den) 87. Bettin (Ita) 88. Rodriguez (Por) 89. Casarotto (Ita) 90. Ledanois (Fra) 91. Pensec (Fra) 92. Sunderland (Aus) 93. Van Hooydonck (Bel) 94. Sierra (Spa) 95. Farazijn (Bel) 96. Jaskula (Pol) 97. Contrini (Ita) 98. Chiappucci (Ita) 99. Pelliconi (Ita) 100. Wesemann (Ger) 101. Loda (Ita) 102. Rodriguez (Col) 103. Knaven (Ned) 104. Moncassin (Fra) 105. Rue (Fra) 106. Sergeant (Bel) 107. Checchin (Ita) 108. Brasi (Ita) 109. Roux (Fra) 110. Hoffman (Ned) 111. Artunghi (Ita) 112. Benitez (Spa) 113. Spruch (Pol) 114. Miceli (Ita) 115. Indurain (Spa) 116. Ludwig (Ger) 117. Davidenko (Geo) 118. Savoldelli (Ita) 119. Faustini (Ita) 120. Dietz (Ger) 121. Manzoni (Ita) 122. Pedroni (Ita) 123. Holm (Den) 124. Dotti (Ita) 125. Skibby (Dan) 126. D. Bramati (Ita) 127. Calzavara (Ita) 128. Profeti (Ita) 129. Lombardi (Ita) 130. Barbagli (Ita) 131. Serrano (Spa) 132. Casero (Spa) 133. Rodriguez (Spa) 134. Podenzana (Ita) 135. Baronti (Ita) 136. Faresin (Ita) 137. Volpi (Ita) 138. Dominguez (Spa) 139. Fil. Casagrande (Ita) 140. Casagranda (Ita) 141. Salvato (Ita) 142. Mattan (Bel) 143. Vergnani (Ita) 144. Chiurato (Ita) 145. Bottaro (Ita) 146. Santaromita (Ita) 147. Tomi (Ita) 148. Redant (Bel) + 8.20 149. Pellicioli (Ita) 150. Fleischer (Ger) 151. Yates (GB) 152. Livingston (USA) 153. Patuelli (Ita) 154. Camenzind (Sch) 155. Nijboer (Ned) +10.40 156. Arrieta (Spa) 157. Chiesa (Ita) 158. Forconi (Ita) 159. M. Strazzer (Ita) 160. Arazzi (Ita) 161. Guerini (Ita) 162. Maggioni (Ita) 163. Cauz (Ita) 164. J. Jolydon (Sch) +12.54 165. Piziks (Let) 166. Van Heeswijk (Bel) 167. Vidal (Spa) 168. Edo (Spa) 169. Uriarte (Spa) 170. Gonzalez Arrieta (Spa) 171. Pavanello (Ita) 172. Dalla Costa (Ita) 173. Rodrigues (Por) 174. I. Raimondi (Ita) 175. Bo Larsen (Den) +16.27 Starting 198, 175 finishers.
1. Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Gewiss 50 pts 2. Alexander Gontchenkov (Ukr) Roslotto 35 3. Michele Coppolillo (Ita) MG-Technogym 25 4. Maximilian Sciandri (Eng) Motorola 20 5. Stefano Zanini (Ita) Gewiss 18 6. Fabio Baldato (Ita) MG-Technogym 16 7. Mario Cipollini (Ita) Saeco 14 8. Johan Museeuw (Bel) Mapei-GB 12 9. Laurent Brochard (Fra) Festina 10 10. Andrej Tchmil (Rus) Lotto 8 11. Lance Armstrong (USA) Motorola 6 12. Michele Bartoli (Ita) MG-Technogym 5
1. Gewiss-Playbus 12 pts 2. Motorola 9 3. Mapei-GB (Ita) 8 4. MG-Technogym (Ita) 7 5. Festina-Lotus (And) 6 6. Lotto (Bel) 5 7. Once (Spa) 4 8. Team Polti (Ita) 3 9. Roslotto-ZG (Rus) 2 10. Saeco (SMR) 1 Next World Cup-race: Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 7.
Aldag and Piccoli crossed the summit of the Turchino 1.55 ahead of Luc Leblanc (Fr, Polti) who was a little ahead of the peloton, where the work of chasing was being put in by Gewiss, particularly Mauro Santaromita and Evgeni Berzin. Aldag/Piccoli's maximum lead was 6 minutes at 125km, with Nicolai Bo Larsen (Den, Amore e Vita) and Fabio Roscioli (Refin) attempting a counter- attack for a while. The peloton -- with Gewiss and Saeco working at the front -- then pulled the Aldag/Piccoli break down to 2 minutes, holding it at that for a long stretch.
After having been away for 165km, Aldag and Piccoli were caught at the foot of the Capo Berta with 40km to go and the pace picked up significantly on the way to the Cipressa. After a preparatory softening up of the peloton by Berzin on the early bends of the Cipressa, Colombo attacked, being joined before the summit by Alexandre Gontchenkov (Ukr, Roslotto). The two crossed the summit (km272.4, 21.6km to go) with less than 10 seconds on a splintered peloton.
On the winding descent of the Cipressa, Michele Coppolillo (It, MG-Technogym) and then Max Sciandri (GB, Motorola) joined the breakaway pair, and the four had about 25 seconds on a 30-strong first group of chasers at the foot of the Poggio. Approaching the summit Colombo attacked but the other three pulled him back and the four crossed the summit (5,3km to go) 18 seconds ahead of the chasers. On the Via Roma, with 1300km to go, Colombo attacked with only Sciandri seeming to respond, but then hesitating (he says because [former team-mate] Coppolillo showed no sign of coming to his aid). Gontchenkov took second to Colombo, a second behind...
Gabriele Colombo's attacking move had been mapped out at a team briefing the afternoon before the race.
The dialogue is said to
have gone like this:
Emmanuele Bombini (Directeur-sportif): "Gabriele, you must strike
you blow on the Cipressa, come what may, OK?"
Colombo: "But that's a long way from the finish..."
Bombini: "It's necessary to take risks -- that way we'll at least get rid
of the sprinters before the peloton attacks the Poggio."
Colombo: "If I don't manage to do the job, the consequences will
come back to haunt me" [ a very loose translation -- probably wrong!
-- Je ne tiendrai jamais, ca reviendra sur moi]
Bombini: "You're going well at the moment, you can get there, but if
things don't work out, the ground will have been prepared for
[Gewiss sprinter] Stefano [Zanini]."
Zanini: "Wow, if I win I'll give all my prize money to the team."
Colombo (feeling under an obligation): "Well in that case I'll also
give them my money if I win."
Colombo's father -- Ambrogio Colombo, a "gregario" in Gianni Motta's Molteni team between 1964 and 1966 -- was standing fairly low down on the Cipressa. "When I saw my father in the crowd," said Gabriele, "I understand that that was the spot where I should make my attack."
Born May 11, 1970, Varese 1.8m high, 70kg UCI classification (March 3 1996) 67th Amateur: World Military Champion 1992 2nd Italian National Championships Professional 1994 with Gewiss Stage win Tour of Burgos 1995 In winning Gewiss team, stage 3 (team time trial) Tour de France 1995 Stage win and overall Tour of Calabria 1996 Milan-San Remo 1996 3rd overall Tour of Burgos 1995 6th Tirreno-Adriatico 1995 51st Tour de France 1995 3rd stage 5 Tour Mediterraneen 1996 6th Trofeo Laigueglia 1996 7th Monte Carlo-Alassio 1996 5th Tirreno-Adriatico 1996 (4th stage 5B -- time trial)