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93rd Milan - San Remo - CDM

Italy, March 23, 2002

2001 Results    Preview    Start List   Past winners    Live Report


Can Zabel make it five?

By Jeff Jones
Click for larger image
Erik Zabel
Photo ©: AFP

With over 150 wins in his 10 year career, Telekom's Erik Zabel is certainly one of the greats of modern sprinters. He wins great and small races all year round, and has held the number one UCI ranking for the last two years. Highlights of his career include a record five consecutive Tour de France jerseys (eight stage wins), three stages in the Vuelta España and eight wins in World Cup races.

Four of those have come in Milan-San Remo, which will take place for the 93rd time this Saturday, starting in Milan's Via della Chiesa Rossa and finishing in San Remo's Via Roma. An impressive tally, that puts Erik Zabel close to Costante Girardengo (6 wins) and Eddy Merckx, who holds the record at 7 wins. Although many have come close, no-one has won Milan-San Remo three times in a row. Can Zabel become the first?

Examining the competition, it is clear that his task will be difficult, as there are a number of riders with the form and experience able to challenge the super powerful German this year.

Last year's runner up, Mario Cipollini is riding in the new colours of Acqua & Sapone this year, and the new team has seemed to have increased his desire to win, with several victories so far including the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. In his post-victory comments, Cipollini didn't consider it to be one of his better victories as the finish was quite "messy". He remained reserved about his chances to win Milan-San Remo - a race that has eluded him so far in his career. All will depend on how well he gets over the Poggio, which comes at 6 kilometres to go.

Spanish dual World Champion Oscar Freire (Mapei) has proven his brilliance time and again throughout his injury plagued career. He can sprint and climb, has beaten Zabel on several occasions this year and has finished third in Milan-San Remo in 2000. Could 2002 see Oscar take his first victory in La Primavera?

Fassa Bortolo's strong squad contains a few standouts, with Alessandro Petacchi and Fabio Baldato being their designated sprinters. Petacchi showed in Paris-Nice that he could climb, collecting the tough stage 5 to go with his more conventional stage 1 victory. The experienced Baldato cleaned up in all three of the recent Scicilian races (Trofeo Pantalica, Trofeo Arancia Rossa, Trofeo dell'Etna) and came close to winning MSR two years ago. He is certainly a danger man if the other pure sprinters are not present in the finale.

The final fast man to put your money on this year is Lotto-Adecco's Robbie McEwen, who is having his best ever season win 9 wins to his credit so far, also including two stages in Paris-Nice. The Australian has only ridden Milan-San Remo once, and that may count against him as all of his rivals are more experienced in this race.

Should Milan-San Remo not finish in a bunch sprint, there are plenty of other candidates who will step up to the plate for a solo victory, or a win from a small breakaway. The first of these is recent Tirreno-Adriatico winner Erik Dekker (Rabobank), who looks stronger than ever this year and will certainly try something on the Poggio if he has a chance.

Laurent Jalabert (CSC) and Paolo Bettini (Mapei) are two riders enjoying some early season form, who also possess a fearsome finish. Both are experts at getting away in a small group and will certainly be trying to do so somewhere on the Poggio, if not before.

Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) is coming off two stage wins and second overall in Tirreno-Adriatico, and is superb in uphill finishes. Milan-San Remo does not quite fit into that category, but Di Luca remains a candidate for victory from a small to medium group of riders.

Finally riders such as Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Rubens Bertogliati and Jan Svorada (Lampre), Guiliano Figueras (Panaria), Peter Van Petegem (Lotto), Markus or Beat Zberg (Rabobank) and George Hincapie (US Postal) could all pull of victories if things fall in their favour. At the least, they are good chances of a top 10 finish.

Erik Zabel still remains the man to beat. He only has one victory this year, but his formidable strength makes him impossible to underestimate. In the fifth stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, where he finished second behind Danilo Di Luca, the sprint came at the top of a six kilometre climb which put paid to most of the other sprinters. He certainly has the capacity to win, even if he has been a little reserved so far this season.

Past winners

2001  Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom           287 km in 7.23.13 (38.852 km/h)
2000  Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom           294 km in 7.11.29 (40.882 km/h)
1999  Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Mobistar 294 km in 6.52.37 (42.752 km/h)
1998  Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom-ADR       294 km in 7.10.14 (41.00 km/h)
1997  Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom
1996  Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Gewiss Playbus
1995  Laurent Jalabert (Fra) ONCE
1994  Giorgio Furlan (Ita) Gewiss Ballan
1993  Maurizio Fondriest (Ita) Lampre
1992  Sean Kelly (Ire) Festina
1991  Claudio Chiappucci (Ita) Carrera
1990  Gianni Bugno (Ita) Chateau d'Ax
1989  Laurent Fignon (Fra) System U
1988  Laurent Fignon (Fra) System U
1987  Erich Mutschler (Swi) Carrera
1986  Sean Kelly (Ire) KAS Mavic
1985  Hennie Kuiper (Ned) 
1984  Francesco Moser (Ita) GiS Gelati-LucTuc
1983  Giuseppe Saronni (Ita) Del Tongo
1982  Marc Gomez (Fra) Wolber Spidel
1981  Alfons DeWolf (Bel) Vermeer-Thijs-Gios
1980  Pierino Gavazzi (Ita) Magniflex Olmo
1979  Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) Gis
1978  Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel) Sanson
1977  Jan Raas (Ned) Frisol-Gazelle
1976  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1975  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1974  Felice Gimondi (Ita) 
1973  Roger De Vlaeminck (Bel)
1972  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1971  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1970  Michele Dancelli (Ita) 
1969  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1968  Rudi Altig (Ger)
1967  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1966  Eddy Merckx (Bel)
1965  Arie den Hartog (Ned) 
1964  Tom Simpson (GBr)
1963  Joseph Groussard (Fra)
1962  Emil Daems (Bel)
1961  Raymond Poulidor (Fra)
1960  René Privat (Fra)
1959  Miguel Poblet (Spa)
1958  Rik Van Looy (Bel)
1957  Miguel Poblet (Spa)
1956  Fred DeBruyne (Bel)
1955  Germain Derijcke (Bel)
1954  Rik Van Steenbergen (Bel)
1953  Loretto Petrucci (Ita) 
1952  Loretto Petrucci (Ita) 
1951  Louison Bobet (Fra)
1950  Gino Bartali (Ita) 
1949  Fausto Coppi (Ita) 
1948  Fausto Coppi (Ita) 
1947  Gino Bartali (Ita) 
1946  Fausto Coppi (Ita) 
1943  Cino Cinelli (Ita) 
1942  Adolfo Leoni (Ita) 
1941  Pierino Favalli (Ita) 
1940  Gino Bartali (Ita) 
1939  Gino Bartali (Ita) 
1938  Giuseppe Olmo (Ita) 
1937  Cesarde Del Cancia (Ita) 
1936  Angelo Varetto (Ita) 
1935  Giuseppe Olmo (Ita) 
1934  Joseph Demysere (Bel)
1933  Learco Guerra (Ita) 
1932  Alfredo Bovet (Ita) 
1931  Alfredo Binda (Ita) 
1930  Michele Mara (Ita) 
1929  Alfredo Binda (Ita) 
1928  Costante Girardengo (Ita) 
1927  Pietro Chesi (Ita) 
1926  Costante Girardengo (Ita) 
1925  Costante Girardengo (Ita) 
1924  Pietro Linari (Ita) 
1923  Costante Girardengo (Ita) 
1922  Giovanni Brunero (Ita) 
1921  Costante Girardengo (Ita) 
1920  Gaetano Belloni (Ita) 
1919  Angelo Cremo (Ita) 
1918  Costante Girardengo (Ita) 
1917  Gaetano Belloni (Ita) 
1915  Ezio Gorlaita (Ita) 
1914  Ugo Agostoni (Ita) 
1913  Odiel Defraeye (Bel)
1912  Henri Pellessier (Fra)
1911  Gustave Garrigou (Fra)
1910  Eugene Christophe (Fra)
1909  Luigi Ganna (Ita) 
1908  Cyrille Van Hauwaert (Bel)
1907  Lucien Petit-Breton (Fra)      

Past Winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com.

Victories by Country at Milan-San Remo

Italy: 46
Belgium: 20
France: 12
Germany: 5
Holland: 3
Ireland, Spain: 2
Great Britain, Switzerland: 1 

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