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93rd Milan - San Remo - CDM
Italy, March 23, 2002
It was in the stars: tears of joy and destiny fulfilled
Mario Cipollini takes Milano-San Remo win
By Tim Maloney, European editor
The first Italian victory in La Classicisima since '96 inspired major tears of joy and finally fulfilled Mario Cipollini's destiny in a storybook 93rd edition Milano-San Remo. Twice the bridesmaid, last year behind Zabel and in 1994, Mario Cipollini came back this year to finally, finally take his long sought win in the race of his dreams, the race he and his loyal Acqua & Sapone team-mates worked so hard to win this year. After Cipo's incredible victory, they and Mario's tifosi cried joyful drops all along the via Roma in San Remo.
Perhaps a curious fact added a special lustre to Mario Cipollini's victory. Cipo is known to be a superstitious person, sometimes even consulting a psychic. Strangely enough, in the 92 previous editions of La Classicisima, there had been 46 wins by Italian riders and 46 wins by foreign riders; 46 sprint wins and 46 solo victories.
Thus the sight of Cipollini crossing the finish with arms raised high in exultation was just "right"; the stars were in alignment and the just turned 35 year old Cipo, such a consummate pro, such a master of his two-wheeled art, finally won his Milano-San Remo. to the everlasting delight of his tifosi worldwide.
In fact, Cipo was not talking to the press before Milano-San Remo this year; according to his long-time teammate Mario Scriea, he thought it might jinx him if he talked too much about Milano San Remo and it turned out he was right!
The stars must not have been aligned today for Erik Zabel to take his fifth Milano-San Remo, for with 30km to go in Imperia, a major crash KO'ed Zabel. Although he had a bike service just before the crash, Zabel was caught behind the chaos of the 20 rider crash and once he finally got back into the race, Zabel and his fuchsia and black Telekom train were stuck in the 2nd group at the foot of the 3.7km penultimate climb of la Cipressa, 30" behind the main group.
Other pre-race favourites like '01 World Cup champ Erik Dekker (Rabobank) and Danilo Di Luca. Saeco-Longoni Sport) hit the deck as well, with Dekker seriously injured, with a suspected fracture to his left femur, sidelining his quest for the World #1 UCI ranking and putting the flying Dutchman out of action indefinitely.
A disappointed Di Luca said after the race that "We were going really hard; a lot of guys went down in front of me and I just couldn't avoid them.." Di Luca got back on and finished, but his absence was felt when Bettini and Figueras attacked on the Poggio, for the exciting, in-form Di Luca would have certainly been up there.
US Champion Fred Rodriguez (Domo Farm-Frites) had tremendous ride, runner-up to Cipo. "(I was) Almost there today...", the delighted Rodriguez told Cyclingnews, "(Cipo) is an expert sprinter and I just underestimated him...the final straight was slightly uphill with the wind in my face, and I hoped he would die, but he never faded..."
Rodriguez had "great legs today; I thought about going with Bettini but I had to hold myself back." The next goal for the US PRO champion is Tour of Flanders in two weeks and an outside shot at taking over the World Cup lead, since the Emeryville, CA rider is likely a better rider for the Ronde than Mario.
George Hincapie (USPS) had impeccable support from Lance Armstrong and his other USPS team-mates, as did in-form Fassa Bortolo sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, but in the hurly burly of the last two kilometres, it looked like both Hincapie and Petacchi got boxed in on the right against the barriers while the main flow of the sprint went left and both finished out of the top 10.
World Champion Oscar Freire (Mapei-Quick Step) saw his plans unravel once again, as the Mapei team self-destructed and abandoned Freire in the final, with the disappointed Spaniard finishing 5th behind the fast close of Markus Zberg (Rabobank) and Jo Planckaert (Cofidis).
In a déjà vu from last year's Milano-San Remo, Freire's team-mate Paolo Bettini took off on the Poggio in a classic counter move off Telekom's strangely indecisive Alexandre Vinokourov. Bettini, nicknamed il Grillo (cricket) for his diminutive stature took off with only Panaria's Giuliano Figueras in pursuit. At the summit of the Poggio, Grillo Bettini had 6" on the determined Neapolitan Figueras and 14" on the peloton, but the human avalanche cascading down the 23 turns of the Poggio into San Remo, led by mega descender Paolo Savoldelli (Index-Alexia) condemned the duo to be caught.
With 2km to go as the Poggio concluded and the via Aurelia began, Acqua & Sapone's Massimo Gentili organized the train for Cipo. Bettini and Figueras came back with just under 1 km to race and as the A&S train wound it up for Cipo, Guido Trenti and then Giovanni Lombardi took the 35 year old Lucca legend to 300 meters, where his powerful jump quickly gained a bike length on Rodriguez.
Cipo moved left to the centre of the road to give the stars & stripes clad Domo man a longer way around and Rodriguez tried valiantly, but Cipo once again showed that even after a 13 career at the top of cycling, he's still the greatest, most exciting road sprinter in the history of cycling.
Perhaps the tears of joy and emotion choked voice of Antonio Salutini, Mario Cipollini's long-time DS summed up best Milano-San Remo... "This was the most beautiful race, the most beautiful win we've had together."
1 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 6.39.30 (43.105 km/h) 2 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Domo-Farm Frites 3 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 4 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis 5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 6 Tomas Konecny (Cze) Domo-Farm Frites 7 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 8 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre-Daikin 9 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Tacconi Sport 10 Mario Manzoni (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 11 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 12 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 13 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Tacconi Sport 14 Mauro Zinetti (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 15 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 16 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 17 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 18 Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 19 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank 20 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 21 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 22 Igor Flores Galarza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 23 Dario Pieri (Ita) Alessio 24 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo-Farm Frites 25 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) iBanesto.com 26 Alexandre Shefer (Kaz) Alessio 27 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 28 Jakob Storm Piil (Den) Team CSC Tiscali 29 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Tacconi Sport 30 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 31 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 32 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 33 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 34 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) iBanesto.com 35 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport 36 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio 37 M.A. Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 38 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Lampre-Daikin 39 Unai Etxebarria Arana (Ven) Euskaltel-Euskadi 40 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 41 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 42 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom 43 Moreno Di Biase (Ita) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 44 Lance Armstrong (USA) US Postal Service 45 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.07 46 Ivan Basso (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 47 Guido Trenti (USA) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 0.10 48 Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) Lotto-Adecco 49 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 0.14 50 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 0.16 51 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast 0.39 52 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner 1.07 53 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.10 54 Bekim Christensen (Den) Team Coast 55 Uros Murn (Slo) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 56 Gianni Faresin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 57 Richard Virenque (Fra) Domo-Farm Frites 58 Mikel Artetxe Gezuraga (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 59 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis 1.13 60 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 1.16 61 Andrei Kivilev (Kaz) Cofidis 62 Antonio Rizzi (Ita) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 63 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC Tiscali 64 Luca Paolini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 65 Niki Aebersold (Swi) Team Coast 1.40 66 Mauro Radaelli (Ita) Tacconi Sport 2.52 67 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service 3.16 68 Massimiliano Mori (Ita) Mercatone Uno 69 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC Tiscali 3.38 70 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom 71 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Telekom 72 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 73 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole 74 Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Spa) Kelme 75 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Team CSC Tiscali 76 Marco Pantani (Ita) Mercatone Uno 77 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Mercatone Uno 78 Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites 79 Alessandro Brendolin (Ita) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 80 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team Coast 81 Marco Milesi (Ita) Domo-Farm Frites 82 Dmitri Konyshev (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 83 Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) Lampre-Daikin 84 Andrea Ferrigato (Ita) Alessio 85 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Fassa Bortolo 86 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 87 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio 88 Abraham Olano Manzano (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 89 Jan Hruska (Cze) ONCE-Eroski 90 Gianpaolo Caruso (Ita) ONCE-Eroski 91 Robert Hunter (RSA) Mapei-Quick Step 92 Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) Cofidis 93 Frédéric Bessy (Fra) Credit Agricole 94 Jorg Jaksche (Ger) ONCE-Eroski 95 Christopher Jenner (Fra) Credit Agricole 96 Sascha Hendrix (Ger) Team Coast 97 Dariusz Baranowski (Pol) iBanesto.com 98 Thomas Brozyna (Pol) iBanesto.com 99 Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Lampre-Daikin 100 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 101 Georg Totschnig (Aut) Gerolsteiner 102 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis 103 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis 104 Dario Frigo (Ita) Tacconi Sport 105 Mario Scirea (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 106 Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 107 Robbie Mc Ewen (Aus) Lotto-Adecco 108 Davide Bramati (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 109 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Alessio 110 David Clinger (USA) US Postal Service 111 Alberto Elli (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 112 Bo Hamburger (Den) Index-Alexia Alluminio 113 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) US Postal Service 114 Sergiy Matveyev (Ukr) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 115 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Coast 116 José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Kelme 117 Cesar Solaun Solana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 118 Sajà Gajicic (Yug) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 119 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo 120 Matthew White (Aus) US Postal Service 121 David Latasa Lasa (Spa) iBanesto.com 122 Inigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (Spa) Cofidis 123 Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) iBanesto.com 124 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 4.48 125 René Andrle (Cze) ONCE-Eroski 6.31 126 Médéric Clain (Fra) Cofidis 10.45 127 Christophe Brandt (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 128 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 129 Francesco Secchiari (Ita) Mercatone Uno 11.43 130 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Kelme 131 Steve Vermaut (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 132 Kurt Van Lancker (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 133 Danny Jonasson (Den) Team CSC Tiscali 134 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Team CSC Tiscali 135 Bobby Julich (USA) Team Telekom 136 Eladio Jimenez Sanchez (Spa) iBanesto.com 137 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank 138 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Kelme 139 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 140 André Korff (Ger) Team Coast 141 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Team Telekom 142 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Tacconi Sport 143 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 144 Josu Silloniz Aresti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 145 Pietro Zucconi (Swi) Tacconi Sport 146 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Lampre-Daikin 147 Denis Bondarenko (Rus) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 148 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Credit Agricole 12.34 149 Enrico Degano (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 150 Stefano Guerrini (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 151 Domenico Gualdi (Ita) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trentini 152 Riccardo Forconi (Ita) Mercatone Uno 153 Nicola Minali (Ita) Tacconi Sport 154 Yohann Charpenteau (Fra) Credit Agricole 155 Cristian Gasperoni (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 156 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Lampre-Daikin 157 Ronny Scholz (Ger) Gerolsteiner 158 Olaf Pollack (Ger) Gerolsteiner 159 Ermanno Brignoli (Ita) Mercatone Uno 160 Graeme Brown (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo 12.44 161 Mikel Zarrabeitia Uranga (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 12.58 162 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Saeco-Longoni Sport 13.00 163 Alessio Galletti (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport 13.16 164 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) Mapei-Quick Step 14.16 165 Geert Van Bondt (Bel) Team CSC Tiscali 16.43 166 Servais Knaven (Ned) Domo-Farm Frites 17.53 167 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank 168 Steven De Jongh (Ned) Rabobank 169 Cristian Pepoli (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport 170 Antonio Salomone (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio
1 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo 100 pts 2 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Domo-Farm Frites 70 3 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Rabobank 50 4 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis 40 5 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Mapei-Quick Step 36 6 Tomas Konecny (Cze) Domo-Farm Frites 32 7 Andrei Tchmil (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 28 8 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre-Daikin 24 9 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Tacconi Sport 20 10 Mario Manzoni (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 16 11 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Mobilvetta Design/Formaggi Trent 15 12 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 14 13 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) Tacconi Sport 13 14 Mauro Zinetti (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 12 15 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 11 16 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 10 17 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 9 18 Giuseppe Di Grande (Ita) Index-Alexia Alluminio 8 19 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank 7 20 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6 21 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) ONCE-Eroski 5 22 Igor Flores Galarza (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 4 23 Dario Pieri (Ita) Alessio 3 24 Enrico Cassani (Ita) Domo-Farm Frites 2 25 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) iBanesto.com 1 Teams 1 Domo Farm Frites 12 pts 2 Index Alexia 9 3 Tacconi Sport 8 4 Rabobank 7 5 iBanesto.com 6 6 Acqua e Sapone 5 7 Lotto-Adecco 4 8 Lampre-Daikin 3 9 Euskaltel-Euskadi 2 10 Alessio 1