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94th Milan - San Remo - CDM

Italy, March 22, 2003

Preview    Results    Live report     Start List    Past winners

Mario Cipollini Looking For Biggest Win Ever

By Tim Maloney

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Trophy time
Photo ©: Sirotti

Mario Cipollini will be looking for a birthday present again this year; after all, he took his biggest classics win ever last year winning Milano-San Remo for the first time. This Saturday along via Roma in San Remo, the Domina Vacanze-Elitron rider will defend not only his Milano-San Remo title on his 36th birthday, but also World Champion jersey, for after his magisterial win last year, Cipo went on to win 13 more races last season, including 6 stages in the Giro d'Italia and the World title in Zolder, Belgium.

This year, Cipollini very much wants to win Milano-San Remo, the Italian Classic of Classics, while wearing his maglia irridata of World Champion. Cipo has reportedly worked harder than ever over the winter to be fit and fast and according to his teammate and key lead-out man Giovanni Lombardi, "Cipollini is even stronger this year than last year."

After being burned in the final stage sprint finish in the final stage of Tirreneo-Adriatico on Wednesday by two-time World Champion Oscar Friere (Rabobank), Cipollini appears to be the favourite to win Milano-San Remo Saturday. However, Cipollini has said he is feeling sick after Tirreno-Adriatico, and is not sure how he will go. "I am not optimistic," he said. If that's the case, then four time winner Erik Zabel (Telekom) will beome the favourite.

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Stars were right
Photo ©: Sirrotti

Sprinters like Erik Zabel, the never to be underestimated Friere, last year's runner-up American Fred Rodriguez (Sidermec) and his teammate Roman Vainsteins, Aussie Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo), speedy Kiwi Julian Dean (CSC), cagy veteran Fabio Baldato (Alessio),experienced Jo Planakert (Cofidis) and tenacious Max Van Heeswijk (USPS) could all challenge Cipo in the rush to glory along via Roma. And Marvellous Mario must be wary of the tremendous one-two sprinting punch of Fassa Bortolo. FB man Alessandro Petacchi showed last week at Paris-Nice he had better sprint legs than ever, but a bout of flu last week forced him out of the French race and may have somewhat compromised his form. If Petacchi is not 100 percent, never fear, as Italian cycling's potential new superstar Filippo "Pippo" Pozzato is waiting in the wings to challenge SuperMario. 21-year-old super boy Pozzato just won the Tirreneo-Adriatico stage race; 25 years ago, a 20 year old named Giuseppe Sarroni also won Tirreneo-Adriatico and then ended up 2nd behind Roger De Vlaeminck in Milano-San Remo.

Mario Cipollini's Domina Vacanze-Elitron and Pippo Pozzato's Fassa Bortolo powerful squads will be looking to stifle attacks by riding hard tempo along the via Aurelia coast road in the final stages of Milano-San Remo. But that won't stop attacking riders like Saeco's Danilo Di Luca, Quick-Step's Paolo Bettini, Gerolsteiner's Davide Rebellin and Panaria's Giuliano Figueras from trying to break the race wide open. The last 50km of Milano-San Remo have three tough climbs up the "capi"; successive ascents of the coastal headlands of Capo Cervo, Capo Cervo and the Cipressa before the final mad dash up the Poggio climb. Can guastatore like Di Luca, Bettini, Figueras, Stuart O'Grady, Banesto man Juan Antonio Flecha, Landbouwkredeit-Colnago's Yaroslav Popoyvch or even USPS's in-form Colombian Victor Hugo Pena make a selection and get away from the sprinters?

That is part of the mystique that makes Milano-San Remo such an exciting race, and the number 1 Italian classic on the annual cycling calendar. At almost 300km, it is the longest classic on the calendar and one of the hardest. Not so much because of the difficulty of the parcours, but the constant tension, explosive power and tactical smarts almost always delivers a worthy winner in Milano-San Remo.

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With daughter Lucrezia
Photo ©: Yuzuru Sunada

For the 94th edition of Milano-San Remo, the race parcours returns to the traditional percorso up the Turchino pass for the first time since 2000. Due to a landslide along the via Aurelia, Milano-San Remo will deviate from the SS1 via Aurelia after 230km in Albenga and travel along the autostrada for 15km to Andora, where it will re-enter the traditional route and thus miss the first of the capi, Capo Mele. Notable absentees from this year's Milano-San Remo will be Marco Pantani, whose Mercantone-Scanavino squad was not invited and Coast's Jan Ullrich, who is still suspended for recreational drug use until later this month. Lance Armstrong (USPS) had never planned to compete in M-SR, while his USPS teammate George Hincapie is back home in South Carolina recovering from a viral infection that will keep him out of the spring classics this year.

When the 200 riders start Saturday morning at the Basilica of Saint Ambrogio, patron saint of Milano, they will face a sunny and cool morning, with temperatures expected to be 5 degrees Celsius at the start. Once across the Lombardy plain and over the Turchino pass to the Ligurian coast after 150km of racing, temperatures will warm up to 15 degree, with a high of 18 degrees at the finish.

Past winners

2002  Mario Cipollini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 287 km in 6.39.30 (43.105 km/h)
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: 47
Belgium: 20
France: 12
Germany: 5
Holland: 3
Ireland, Spain: 2
Great Britain, Switzerland: 1