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95th Milan - San Remo - CDM
Italy, March 20, 2004
Last metre flair by Freire bests Zabel in La Primavera
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
As Fassa Bortolo's powerful Silver Team train steamed into via Roma in San Remo Saturday afternoon with super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi ready to rock, it looked like Petacchi's sixth win of the 2004 season might be Milano-San Remo, but with an incredible surge over the last 50 metres finished by a perfect bike throw, two time World Champion Oscar Freire (Rabobank) just bested Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) in a close sprint finish, denying the 33 year old German his fifth win on San Remo's via Roma by just a quarter-wheel, thus spoiling Zabel and Petacchi's day. Although Zabel lifted his arms in victory somewhat early, it took nothing away from Freire's fantastic come-around move to triumph in Round 1 of the 2004 World Cup.
Only the second Spanish rider to win Milano-San Remo after Miguel Poblet in 1959 and the first to win a World Cup race, Freire was third here in 2000 in a very close sprint with Zabel and Baldato while wearing his World Champion's jersey and was unsure that he had even won this time around. "I don't know if I won...(the finish) was like the last time," said a breathless Freire at the end.
But when the talented rider from Torrelavega heard he had beaten Zabel, he punched the air with his fist in delight. "It's a great win for me...I'm in good shape this year and I thought about going in a break, but Fassa Bortolo was too strong, so I waited for the sprint."
The in-form Freire, second on GC in Tirreno-Adriatico, and his Rabobank team made all the right moves today in Milano-San Remo, with teammate Erik Dekker on the attack on the Cipressa and Poggio and Maarten Den Bakker riding power tempo all day on the front.
Second placed Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) said simply, "I thought I had won," acknowledging his error in raising his arms prematurely as Oscar Freire pipped him for victory at San Remo. "I realized my mistake right away when Freire passed me. But I prefer to look on the bright side of things... People have said I'm on the decline but I beat Petacchi."
Last year's winner Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) started in Milano this morning wearing dossard number one and his World Cup jersey from 2003, confident in his form having just won Tirreno-Adriatico, but knowing Freire would be one of his most dangerous opponents. Bettini made a strong move on the Poggio in the same place as his winning move of last year, but it seemed like the two-time World Cup winner just didn't have the same sharp attack as last year.
Ever the generous sportsman, Bettini told Cyclingnews that, "I knew that Freire had that incredible finish speed and would be dangerous. (Freire) deserves a big win like this since after he won two World Championships so it's good to see him win. Petacchi looked good all day today and was right up there over the Poggio, but he must have felt the stress and fatigue. Don't forget that via Roma is a slight uphill so it's not that easy of a sprint."
Although he's been unbeatable in sprint finishes this season with five wins, and had a tremendous team at his disposition today, Alessandro Petacchi was just fourth at the finish line on via Roma today. "It's a great race and I had a great race today, but I'm disappointed," explained a hang dog Petacchi post race. "I thought I could do it today but I just didn't have it. I felt kind of tired today, no...my legs were kind of heavy after the Poggio...so that's the way it goes but know I know I can win (Milano-San Remo) someday."
Two days before his 38th birthday, Mario Cipollini came in with a group after having been dropped on the Cipressa. Cipo was philosophical today after Milano-San Remo when he explained, "It wasn't a good San Remo for me. I knew that I didn't have great form but I still tried to see how it would go, but when we hit the Cipressa, I just didn't have the legs."
World Champion Igor Astarloa (Cofidis) was happy with his sixth place finish in Milano-San Remo after being active in the final. "This is the fourth time I've done this race and this is the best I've ridden. The points will help my World Cup campaign."
Rabobank's Freire will now start the next round of the 2004 World Cup, the Ronde van Vlaanderen on April 2nd wearing his new World Cup jersey.
How it unfolded
194 riders left Milano's Piazza Sant Ambrogio on a warm, partly cloudy springlike Saturday morning, heading south towards the Passo Turchino and the Ligurian coast. Australian Brett Lancaster (Panaria-Fiordo) didn't take the start.
After numerous attacks in the first hour and a half of racing, a quintet extricated itself from the peloton in Voghera after km of racing. Toni Tauler (Iles Baleras-Banesto), Ludo Dierckxsens (Colnago-Landbouwkredeit), Nicolas Portal (Ag2R Prevoyance), Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros) and Giulio Tomi (Vini Caldirola) were the escapees du jour. Once this group got 17'00 lead, the remainder of the peloton settled in for the next stretch of km or so to the summit of the Passo Turchino (532m.) after 143km and with 151km remaining. The weather had deteriorated from the start as rain and fog swirled along the long, steady climb to the Turchino tunnel, but once down the 12km descent to Voltri on the Italian Rivera near Genoa, the weather conditions improved markedly.
Under a limpid late winter sun, the determined quintet, powered by the inexhaustible Dierckxsens and Portal sped along the via Aurelia coast road holding a 10 minutes plus lead, but as the sprinters' teams like Fassa Bortolo started to roll, the gap began to fall rapidly. At the 2nd feed zone in Ceriale, the leaders still had 6'25 on the chasing peloton, but the distance was starting to take its toll. Climbing the first of the famous San Remo's capi (coastal climbs), Capo Mele, Dierckxsens let loose an attack as the pace began to slow in the break. But the group came back together slowly the effects of the 180 km break began to show.
Ludo made the same move later on Capo Berta with 40km to go and finally succeeded in dumping the rest of the tiring break as the hard-charging peloton had now closed to one minute, with gritty Portal still chasing in between. As Dierckxsens traversed Imperia with 33 km to go, he had 33" on his former break companion Portal, with the Saeco-led peloton now at 48" and closing. With the crucial penultimate climb of the Cipressa looming ahead, both the treno rosso of Saeco and red and white CSC jerseys were massing at the front. Both teams were counting on making a key selection on the climb if possible.
At San Lorenzo al Mare with 25km remaining in Milano-San Remo, Ludo finally was caught after over 200km away just as the Cipressa began. Like last year's Milano-Sanremo, Saeco was up front as the ascent commenced and after 500m, Bettini upped the pace and was followed by Yaroslav Popovych (Colnago-Landbouwkredeit), Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile), Erik Dekker (Rabobank), George Hincapie (USPS-Berry Floor) and local lad Mirko Celestino (Saeco). While the others looked at each other after 500m, Dekker maintained his tempo and got a gap halfway up the Cipressa at Costarainera. Soon Steffen Wesemann (T-Mobile) had bridged to the Rabobank man, who had crashed hard two years ago at M-SR, breaking his femur.
Back at the peloton on the Cipressa, Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) had lost contact with the main group and he and his two Domina teammates were struggling to just keep the peloton close, as was another ailing sprinter, Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo). After 4km of the 5.7km ascent, Dekker and Wesemann had gained 11" on the chasers, being led by Spezialetti (Saeco), Julich and Voigt (CSC). The pursuit was successful and with 500m to the summit of the Cipressa, it was gruppo compatto with World Champion Igor Astarloa (Cofidis) in front. The ascent was ridden in 10'05".
As the twisting 3.5km descent of the Cipressa back down to via Aurelia began, Celestino attacked hard and got a gap on a road he knows well. The Saeco rider had gained 10", while in the chase behind, Bartoli (CSC) crashed into a guardrail and Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Van Bon (Lotto-Domo) also hit the deck with him. As Cipollini, who had lost contact on the Cipressa, managed to came back to the peloton, Astarloa and Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) tried to get across to Celestino, but Fassa Bortolo and T-Mobile had hit the front on the flat 9km section between the base of the Cipressa descent and the beginning of the Poggio ascent. As the pace of the now 50 man peloton increased, Cipollini threw in the towel for good, while Petacchi, Zabel and Freire's team began to tighten the screws. Celestino came back with 11.5km to go as the Poggio's 3.4km was just ahead.
The first attack on the Poggio came from Lampre's Matteo Carrera, who was joined by three other riders, but behind them, the big guns began to fire. Vino made some well timed attacks, but Paolo Bettini made a powerful counter-attack in the same place as last year and managed to get a gap. Although the Quick Step-Davitamon rider managed to get a 5" lead, the chase behind was too fierce and as the racers crossed the 209m summit of the Poggio with 5.5 km to race, it was one long, colourful snake of 50 riders who dove down the sinuous descent to San Remo for the finale.
World Champion Astarloa tried a move on the descent as did Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez, but Petacchi's Silver Team set up the La Spezia speedster perfectly. But in the last 200 metres, it was Freire's speed, Zabel's strength and O'Grady's smarts that relegated Petacchi to fourth place.
Photos from the race
Images by Olympia Photo
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Images by Mark Sharonfirstname.lastname@example.org
Images by Richard Harris
Photos from the start
Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Marco Bardella/AntiTeam/www.fantasportal.com
1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 7.11.23 (40.892 km/h) 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 3 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 4 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 5 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 6 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 7 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre 8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 9 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 10 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 11 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 12 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 13 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 14 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com 15 Josu Silloniz Aresti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 16 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 17 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo 18 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 19 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 20 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 21 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team 22 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi 23 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 24 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 25 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 26 Oskar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 27 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 28 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner 29 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) De Nardi 30 Axel Merckx (Bel) Lotto-Domo 31 Mickael Pichon (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 32 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Gerolsteiner 33 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner 34 Rolf Aldag (Ger) T-Mobile Team 35 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 36 Jens Voigt (Ger) Team CSC 37 Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr) Ag2R Prevoyance 38 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 39 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 40 Franck Renier (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 41 Benjamin Noval Gonzalez (Spa) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 42 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 43 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 44 Pedro Horrillo Munoz (Spa) Quick.Step-Davitamon 45 Sergio Barbero (Ita) Lampre 46 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 47 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 48 Rafael Casero Moreno (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 49 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 50 Robert Hunter (RSA) Rabobank 51 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 52 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 53 Bingen Fernandez Bustinza (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 54 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Saeco 55 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Saeco 56 Simone Masciarelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 57 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems 58 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) T-Mobile Team 59 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team 60 Jérome Pineau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 61 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Liberty Seguros 62 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 63 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 0.09 64 Gabriele Colombo (Ita) Domina Vacanze 65 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 0.15 66 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Fassa Bortolo 0.20 67 Scott Sunderland (Aus) Alessio-Bianchi 0.27 68 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 69 Matthew White (Aus) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 70 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) De Nardi 71 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 72 José Ivan Gutierrez Palacios (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto 73 Matthew Wilson (Aus) FDJeux.com 74 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 75 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 76 Janek Tombak (Est) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 77 Emanuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 78 Mark Scanlon (Irl) Ag2R Prevoyance 79 Matteo Carrara (Ita) Lampre 80 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre 81 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 82 Alessandro Spezialetti (Ita) Saeco 83 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 84 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 85 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Saeco 86 Eugeni Petrov (Rus) Saeco 87 Peter Farazijn (Bel) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 88 Graziano Gasparre (Ita) De Nardi 89 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 0.52 90 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned) Rabobank 1.38 91 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.39 92 Victor Pena (Col) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 2.07 93 Bradley Mc Gee (Aus) FDJeux.com 2.23 94 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick.Step-Davitamon 95 Ruben Lobato Elvira (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 2.57 96 Gianluca Sironi (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 3.08 97 Matthias Kessler (Ger) T-Mobile Team 98 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio-Bianchi 99 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank 100 Leif Hoste (Bel) Lotto-Domo 3.26 101 Roberto Petito (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4.47 102 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team CSC 103 Scott Davis (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 104 Marco Milesi (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 5.40 105 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 106 Robbie Mc Ewen (Aus) Lotto-Domo 107 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Team CSC 108 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 109 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze 110 Marco Serpellini (Ita) Gerolsteiner 111 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 112 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 113 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo 114 Martin Derganc (Slo) Domina Vacanze 115 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 116 Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa) Liberty Seguros 117 Mauro Gerosa (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 118 Alessio Galletti (Ita) Domina Vacanze 119 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Domina Vacanze 120 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Team CSC 121 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo 122 Frank Hoj (Den) Team CSC 123 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Lampre 124 Grégory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 125 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir 126 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros 127 Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 128 Gorka Gonzalez Larranaga (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 129 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 130 Gianpaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros 131 Devis Miorin (Ita) De Nardi 132 Ruggero Borghi (Ita) De Nardi 133 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) T-Mobile Team 134 Sergiy Matveyev (Ukr) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 135 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank 136 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 137 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 138 Mario Scirea (Ita) Domina Vacanze 139 Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita) Domina Vacanze 140 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 141 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Alessio-Bianchi 7.14 142 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre 143 Jan Hruska (Cze) Liberty Seguros 144 Dario Pieri (Ita) Saeco 145 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Saeco 146 Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 147 Francisco Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 148 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Illes Balears-Banesto 149 Pagliarini Mendonca LucianoBRA Lampre 8.00 150 Marco Fertonani (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems 151 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 8.01 152 Mauro Zinetti (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 153 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre 154 Laurent Lefevre (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 155 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Rabobank 156 Galparsoro Martinez DionisioESP Euskaltel-Euskadi 157 Giulio Tomi (Ita) Vini Caldirola-Nobili Rubinetterie 10.18 158 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner 10.38 159 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 11.03 160 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC 161 Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC 162 Jean Patrick Nazon (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 163 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank 164 Ludo Dierckxssens (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 165 Massimo Strazzer (Ita) Saunier Duval-Prodir 166 Mark Renshaw (Fra) FDJeux.com 167 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) De Nardi 168 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner 169 Andrus Aug (Est) Domina Vacanze 170 Niki Aebersold (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems 171 Nicolas Fritsch (Fra) FDJeux.com 172 Luca Nardello (Ita) T-Mobile Team 173 René Andrle (Cze) Liberty Seguros 174 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Liberty Seguros 175 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Lotto-Domo 176 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon 177 Igor Pugaci (Mda) De Nardi 178 Nicolas Portal (Fra) Ag2R Prevoyance 12.57 179 Thomas Ziegler (Ger) Gerolsteiner 13.29 180 Thierry Marichal (Bel) Lotto-Domo 13.53 181 Jacky Durand (Fra) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 182 Rony Martias (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere 183 Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 184 Graeme Allen Brown (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres 20.21 DNF Alexandre Naulleau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere DNF Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi DNF Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com DNF Carlos Dacruz (Fra) FDJeux.com DNF Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com DNF Daniel Becke (Ger) Illes Balears-Banesto DNF Antonio Tauler (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto DNF Vicente Reynes (Spa) Illes Balears-Banesto DNF Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems DNF Pavel Padrnos (Cze) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor DNS Brett Lancaster (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Margres Starters: 194 Classified: 184
1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 100 pts 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile Team 70 3 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 50 4 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 40 5 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 36 6 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 32 7 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Lampre 28 8 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon 24 9 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 20 10 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo 16 11 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank 15 12 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Saeco 14 13 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 13 14 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) FDJeux.com 12 15 Josu Silloniz Aresti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 11 16 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 10 17 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo 9 18 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 8 19 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 7 20 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 6 21 Andreas Klier (Ger) T-Mobile Team 5 22 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi 4 23 Inigo Landaluze (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 3 24 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 2 25 Allan Davis (Aus) Liberty Seguros 1 Teams 1 Cofidis, le credit par Telephone 12 pts 2 Fassa Bortolo 9 3 T-Mobile Team 8 4 Euskaltel-Euskadi 7 5 US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 6 6 Rabobank 5 7 Gerolsteiner 4 8 Alessio-Bianchi 3 9 Phonak Hearing Systems 2 10 Brioches la Boulangere 1