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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

99th Milano-Sanremo - HC

Italy, March 22, 2008

Complete live report

Live commentary by Susan Westemeyer and Bjorn Haake

10:00 CET   
Hello readers, the Cyclingnews live coverage continues today with the first real classic of the season – La Classicissima Milano-Sanremo. It is the longest classic on the calendar, but that didn't prevent the organisers to add four more kilometres to the regular 294. It wasn't so much to make it even harder for the riders. A re-route had to be found midway through the course due to an earth slide. The riders will take in a severe climb this year, le Mànie. Also, the finish is slightly changed and instead of the traditional sprint on the Via Roma, the potential escapees will have another kilometre to go before seeing the finishing banner.

10:27 CET   
The riders started in Milano at 9:45 under clear skies and in beautiful weather, with the temperature being a nice 12 degrees centigrade. This was surprising, as it had rained the night before and the worst was feared. Race director Angelo Zomegnan told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown that "I am very pleased that [the good] weather has arrived. It was nasty last night."

10:36 CET   
Italian Alberto Loddo of Tinkoff Credit Systems was the only non-starter this morning. Hence, there are 199 rides on their way to the coast. One of the most notable riders backing out of the Primavera is Riccardo Riccò, who is not feeling 100%.

10:49 CET   
Loddo had to pass on the race today because he came down overnight with those famous intestinal problems that have been plaguing the peloton so ferociously this season. He also had a high fever.

11:12 CET    54km/244km to go
In the first hour the peloton is still together, riding along at close to 50 km/h. Seems like they are in a hurry and afraid that they would arrive too late, because of the longer distance. None of the bicycles are equipped with lights and daylight savings time is not in effect yet in Europe. Last year they were in a hurry also, averaging over 43km/h for the 294 kilometres. They arrived after 6 hours and 43 minutes. One of the 'slower' races in recent years was Erik Zabel's win in 2001. He took 7h23'13 and for the 287 kilometres back then this was an average of 38.852 km/h.

Enrico Gasparotto is celebrating his birthday today and is hoping to give himself a present in form of a win in Sanremo
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

11:18 CET   
When Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown checked out the start area this morning, he noticed Enrico Gasparotto taking it all in and looking around everywhere. Gasparotto confirmed that "It's beautiful. I am happy to be here," before adding "you know it's my birthday today?" Yes, Enrico, Happy 26th Birthday from the entire Cyclingnews staff. There is another birthday to celebrate of a 'rider' associated with the race. It is Mario Cipollini, who is turning 41 today, but unfortunately for him, he is not riding in the race. You will remember that there was a lot of back-and-forth lately about him and Rock Racing or maybe riding with Tinkoff – but he finally decided to hang up his cleats and said that his active career is over.

11:28 CET   
Gasparotto was going well in Tirreno-Adriatico and at one point took over the leader's jersey. He will have the liberty to go for an attack on the Poggio. Team-mate Baden Cooke can go on the Cipressa and Robert Hunter will be the designated sprinter, should there be a bigger group arrival.

11:30 CET    56km/242km to go
There has been some activity in the field. A group of four has split and quickly pedaled up an advantage of nine minutes. We will get confirmation on who the four are. We do know that Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Scott) of Latvia is in there.

11:36 CET   
Well, there is some good news for the Americans. Slipstream rider William Frischkorn rider is in the group. Slipstream has had a good spring so far, doing well in some of the Belgian races. They also got a ninth overall in Tirreno. The aerodynamic moustaches are doing their job! Their good racing has netted them a spot in the Tour de France!

12:02 CET   
Well, we have a reader from Chile following the race. Francisco's favourite for today's race is Fabio Baldato. Baldato wears number 132 today and rides for the Lampre squad. Chile also is currently having their national championships. On the first day it was Robinson Núñez, who landed a surprise win in the time trial event. He did the 40 kilometres in 54'16 and won ahead of José Medina (54'51 and Luis Sepúlveda (55'14).

Will Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) is in the break of the day. The four have an advantage of over 16 minutes right now!
Photo ©: Bjorn Haake
(Click for larger image)

12:05 CET    76km/222km to go
The front group with Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare), Nicola D'Andrea (Miche-Silver Cross), Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Scott) and William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30) have an advantage of 16'05 now. The first two hours were raced at an average speed of 43 kilometres an hour. So far, there have been no major obstacles. The first difficulty of the day is the Passo del Turchino, but it won't come for another 70 kilometres.

12:14 CET   
We also have Jesse following from Darfur, where he is doing humanitarian work. It's nice to know that people go to countries where help is desperately needed. Jesse is cheering for Slipstream and happy with the current situation. And hoping for a top-5 for the team. They definitely have the legs to back it up!

12:22 CET   
Cyclingnews' Ben Atkins is favouring Philippe Gilbert today. A Belgian in Italy? Yes, indeed. Atkins may not be allowed to go betting on this result, though, as he has some insider knowledge. He talked to Gilbert at the team launch and the Française des Jeux rider told him that despite being from Liège, he's not quite enough of a climber to take on the likes of Valverde and Di Luca in la Doyenne. He's a lively chap in the last few kilometres. Sometimes it works: Het Volk, and sometimes he just gets caught: Paris-Tours and last year's Milano-Sanremo (ah, what an attack it was with Riccardo Riccò!). Atkins points out that so far this season he's won the mountains in the Tour down Under, overall in Mallorca and Het Volk. He had a quiet Paris-Nice, but "watch him fly up the Poggio!"

12:43 CET   
One supporter from Denmark is making Fabian Cancellara (CSC) his favourite. And he is not alone! Cancellara was in fact endorsed by one of his biggest rivals, defending champion Oscar Freire. The relaxed-looking Rabobank rider told Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown before the race that "Cancellara is the most dangerous. For me, it will be hard, as I am going to be watched very closely [by his rivals]." The Spaniard added that "a sprint this year will be harder. It seems like there aren't too many teams who can put together a lead-out. Petacchi's team didn't look too strong in Tirreno." Not everybody thinks that the Swiss rider can be victorious, though. Cancellara himself stated that after Tirreno that "I don't consider myself a favourite for this race - after all it almost always ends up being a sprinters' finish," he explained. "But of course should the opportunity arise we'll play our cards as best we can."

Gilbert won Het Volk with a long solo ride. Today, an attack at the right time may give him the win in a race he really likes.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

12:57 CET    115km/183km to go
There are still so many kilometres left as other races are long! The gap of the four riders on the front has slightly declined. It is just over 13 minutes, with the difficulties still to come. The Turchino, le Mànie. Then all the capi, before the finale with the Cipressa and the Poggio. Of course Graham from the UK points out sometimes the major obstacle may not be the uphills, but strong crosswinds in the Po Valley that can blow the race apart and points to the 1990 Primavera, where favourites Kelly and Fignon were left behind by eventual winner Gianni Bugno. Today, though, it seems relatively calm. And it is even sunny. Sometimes, the start in Milano may be rainy and when they pass the Passo del Turchino the sun comes out, serving as a boundary between northern Italy and the Mediterranean. But today, very few clouds are out. The bad weather went further north. In Germany there was 50cm of snow in some areas, making for a white Easter.

Current race situation

  • Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare), Nicola D'Andrea (Miche-Silver Cross), Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Scott) and William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30)
  • Peloton at 13.10

13:09 CET   
There are two Argentineans at the start, the Richeze brothers. Reader Carlos hopes for a bunch sprint and that his compatriots, Ariel Maximiliano and Mauro Abel, can win it then! They both have already conquered races this season. Mauro won the ninth stage of the Tour de Langkawi, while Maxim took out the second stage of the Tour de San Luis.

13:14 CET   
The opinions about how the changed finish may effect any breakaway attempt differ widely. Some say a break will be reeled in because there is another kilometre added from the end of the descent of the Poggio until the line, while others point out that the end is now more technical, with the lead-out trains having more trouble to get organised. When Alessandro Petacchi looked at the finish a few weeks ago, he joined those who said a break will be caught, but otherwise thought the finish was a little too flat. He prefers the slight uphill on the Via Roma.

13:17 CET   
Ok, this is an interesting question. Who has got the lucky number 13? Drumroll, please... And the winner is: Frenchman Renaud Dion (AG2R La Mondiale). We will see if we can spot if he turned his number upside down, like some riders do (Cancellara!). If you want to get a complete list of the riders on the start, check out our updated start list.

13:19 CET    130km/168km to go
Rabobank is now at the front of the peloton. Under their guidance, the lead of the four men in the break continues to diminish slightly. It is currently 11'36.

Filippo Pozzato with new aero hair style in the hopes of winning another one.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

13:22 CET   
The riders have passed the first (of two) feed zones and the Passo del Turchino and the coast aren't too far away now. Probably why the Dutch team is getting anxious. It's always to see the ocean!

13:36 CET   
The riders have been in the saddle for almost three hours already. And the race hasn't even started for most riders. All the favourites sit tight in the bunch.

13:47 CET   
Filippo Pozzato (Liquigas) is sporting a new Rasta look. Together with his new, fashionable cycling shoes, he makes up for the fact that the "Fashion King" Mario Cipollini didn't make it to the start today.

13:49 CET   
The lead of the group at the halfway point was down to 10'55. They are not losing much time, but steadily. It will be hard for them to hang on. But they give their teams some exposure and of course make the other teams work hard for their money.

Current race situation

  • Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare), Nicola D'Andrea (Miche-Silver Cross), Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Scott) and William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30)
  • Peloton at 10.55

13:53 CET   
Danilo Di Luca looked nervous at the start. But when asked by Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown he replied "No, I am calm. I will try something at the Poggio."

13:57 CET   
Another rider looking for a sprint is Danilo Napolitano (Lampre). His recent second place has given him "morale," as he told Gregor Brown from Cyclingnews. He will the Lampre man "if there is a sprint." His team-mate Alessandro Ballan "will be the one we ride for, so he can make an attack."

14:17 CET   
Aussie-German Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) told Gregor Brown that "the team will make its presence felt at the front. Expect a very active race from Gerolsteiner." The team will hope that Davide Rebellin can attack at a timely moment and take his high morale from his recent win of Paris-Nice over the border to Italy. Nice is only a stonethrow away from Sanremo. OK, well, a far throw, but having ridden his bike from Paris to Nice, it's close for Rebellin. Haussler added that "if there is a sprint, I will get my chance."

Pozzato's new shoes are eager to get onto the podium soon.
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

14:22 CET    178km/120km to go
The riders are now in the provincia di Savona. They have passed the ascent and descent of the Turchino without major difficulty. The lead of the four front runners has slightly increased again and is now 11'35. It's still Rabobank at the front, but they have been joined by Milram. It's normal that the teams of the favourites are expected to reel in the break.

14:39 CET    204km/94km to go
Bernhard Kohl has attacked on the new climb of the le Mànie. He is riding ahead of the peloton, but still far from the break.

14:41 CET   
Lampre has taken over the front. We feel the tension rising as the 2008 Milano-Sanremo is about to enter the finale!

14:45 CET   

14:48 CET   
Under the pressure of the peloton and the attack from Kohl, the gap of the front quartet has been reduced into single-digit margins. It is now 8'45.

Current race situation

  • Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare), Nicola D'Andrea (Miche-Silver Cross), Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Scott) and William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30)
  • Peloton at 8.45

14:53 CET   
"I will try to stay up front to help Tom [Boonen] and [Paolo] Bettini," noted Spaniard Carlos Barredo (Quick Step) at the start of Milano-Sanremo to Gregor Brown. He is assigned to watch out for any early escape groups that form, to make the Quick Step presence felt. "If a group departs it will be my job to go with them while our sprinters stay behind. I will need to do my work, in this team we have a lot of great riders. However, I have a good head and I even have my own chances to win."

Barredo's positive outlook was surely helped by his stage win in the Paris-Nice this last week. "I was upset the first two days, and I did not have luck with the rain. I was also upset because I wanted to race for the classification, but in the end I took a stage, a beautiful stage win." Brown asked "So France is a good country for you, can we expect a win in the Tour de France?" Barredo replied "I don't know. I am only thinking for this month right now, and then the Ardennes [Classics]. Then we will see for the Tour de France," he noted with a grin. "The Tour will be special for me. I don't know if I will try for the classification, but first I will go for the stage win."

14:56 CET   
The break and the peloton are on the descent. The gap is melting like snow in the sun, it is now 4'30.

15:03 CET   
"Paris-Nice was a bit of a beating," confirmed Tyler Farrar, William Frischkorn Slipstream's team-mate. "I think I came out of it okay and today should go well. It is great to be here in Milano. It is another confirmation [with the Tour selection] that we have arrived. We have beautiful weather here, and hopefully will do something special today."

His work will be to help in the finale for the team's Kiwi rider. "My work is to try to help Julian Dean at the end of the race. I know the final pretty well, I lived in Monaco for a year and trained in the Sanremo area; however, I never raced this race before. It will be the first time, which will certainly be different than training.

"I am excited to be here and doing this race, to take part of it. The dangerous finale is normal, it is bike racing. Just because it is Milano-Sanremo does not change it too much, but it's just a harder race."

15:05 CET   
We only have three riders in the lead now, not sure right now which one has dropped out. Behind them, Quick Step, Liquigas and Lampre are leading the charge of the peloton.

15:07 CET   
It's Nicola D'Andrea (Miche-Silver Cross) who has lost contact with his fellow escapees.

Bettini enjoyed the sun at the start, but is racing hard now
Photo ©: Cicloweb.it
(Click for larger image)

15:08 CET   
None other than Paolo Bettini is leading the peloton down through a hairpin curve. The guys are serious about this race now....

15:14 CET   
And the leaders' advantage is slipping away faster and faster, it's down to 2.30. D'Andrea is apparently only a little bit ahead of the peloton now.

15:15 CET   
"The sun is nice here," said Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux) to Gregor Brown, who made one of the finale attacks in last year's race. "My condition is good, I will see how it is going at the end of the race this year."

Gilbert thinks the new climb will make its presence felt. "This year, with the new climb Mànie, the finale may change a little. I will see after the Turchino how many riders are in the bunch, and how many of my team-mates and sprinters are there."

There are a lot of in-form attacking riders that the winner of Het Volk will watch. "There are a lot of good riders, sure. Cancellara is going well, and I think Ballan and Pozzato will be dangerous. My morale is very good after Het Volk. I am not under pressure and I want to win."

15:17 CET    226km/72km to go
The three leaders have just gone through the second (and last) feeding zone. Hope they picked up something yummy and comforting. Oops, and there is the peloton in the feeding zone already, won't be long now!

15:18 CET   
Right now the riders are going by the greenhouses that are so typical for this region. It is known for its beautiful flowers.

15:20 CET   
Frischkorn is stretching after a pull at the front. The leading three have been out racing for a ling time, for 200km already. A long day so far, and they aren't done yet!

15:21 CET   
Team High Road's Kim Kirchen of Luxembourg drops back to the team car for a short chat with Directeur Sportif Valerio Piva.

15:23 CET   
The three in front are still working well together. They may have picked up a little time while the peloton devotes itself to the goodies they collected in the feeding zone, but they can't really expect to make it through to the end alone.

15:24 CET   
Several riders of the peloton are taking a natural break, while David Millar is having trouble opening his sports bar. But with his teeth he eventually manages to untangle the wrapper and get to his food. An ingenious man lets nothing come between him and his sports bar!

15:26 CET   
Belohvosciks doesn't have space for his third bottle on the bike, so he stuffed it in his back pocket.

The pace for the first hour was about 50 km, and for the second it dropped to 43, which is about where it has stayed since then.

15:28 CET   
The "Three musketeers" in front have a cliff on one side of the road and can look down to the water on the other side -- but they would be well advised to keep their eyes on the road.

15:31 CET   

"This year, the climbs will be harder," stated Oscar 'The Cat' Freire to Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews. The Spaniard is a two-time winner of Sanremo and a three-time World Champion.

He noted the weakness of Alessandro Petacchi's team in Tirreno-Adriatico. "In Tirreno, I did not see good [sprinters'] teams for pulling. It will be very difficult to control the race in the last part. In Tirreno, Milram was not very good, although they have good attacking riders." Number one on Freire's list is Swiss Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC). "I will watch Cancellara, he can do everything. He is going so well."

Overall, Freire was happy to be departing for another Milano-Sanremo under clear skies. "In Milano, it is beautiful today. We expected very bad weather, but now it is very beautiful."

15:31 CET   
And there is Renaud Dion of AG2R, who is wearing number 13. We speculated earlier if he's superstitious – and the answer is 'No' as he is wearing it right-side up.

15:35 CET    233km/65km to go
It's a little hard to tell the kilometres here, so we have to guess every now and then.

Donato Cannone of NGC Medical has taken off out of the peloton and has built up a very small lead.

Current race situation

  • Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare), Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Scott) and William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30)
  • Peloton at 2'30

15:37 CET   
Things were going to slowly for some in the peloton, and a handful of riders pick up the tempo. They don't get away but at least they managed to get everyone moving at a decent speed again.

15:38 CET   
The peloton just drove by the statue of a policemen drawing his gun......

15:39 CET   
And there's the ocean right over to the left of the riders. No time for the guys to look over and ogle the girls in their bikinis today, though. For that matter, there are no girls in their bikinis on the beach today, it's still a little chilly for that.

15:41 CET   
No one team has taken over the lead of the peloton, we see a whole variety of jerseys there at the moment.

15:43 CET   
Ivan Rovny of Team Tinkoff has decided to take his chance. He has built up a decent lead in a short time.

15:44 CET   
William Frischkorn is paying for his work today. He is doing some fancy stretching exercises on his bikes, probably trying to work out some cramps.

15:45 CET   
The front group is passing the hometown of Mirko Celestino. We wonder whether they will stop by for a quick visit? Nah, probably not.

15:48 CET   
The three in front still have a lead of 3.30 over the peloton, with Rovny probably about halfway between the two groups.

15:50 CET   
There's Alessandro Petacchi, tucked safely in the middle of the peloton. Next to him is Andrea Moletta of Gerolsteiner, who crashed last year so dramatically.

15:51 CET   
Napolitano and McEwen had lost the contact with the peloton earlier, in the climb of le Mànie. But they managed to catch up in the descent. But what does it mean for their conditioning of the final climbs of the Cipressa and the Poggio?

15:52 CET   
The lead is under 3 minutes, now at 2.55 as the peloton passes through Capo Cervo, in Mimoso.

15:54 CET   
Oscar Freire is well-placed in the peloton, alongside a team-mate. He surely wouldn't mind taking another win here.

15:56 CET    253km/45km to go
Rovny is still ahead of the peloton, but they have him in their sights.

15:59 CET    258km/40km to go
The three leaders are still 2.30 ahead of Rovny, who is slightly ahead of the peloton. But we can expect that to fall rapidly, as they have just started up the Capo Berta, a steep climb, which hurts after over 250 kilometres.

16:02 CET   
We see lots of pink-and-blue Lampre jerseys in the head of the pack, as they start to go up up up, too. Bernhard Kohl is taking his chances and has jumped out, ahead of Rovny. A Liquigas rider has gone with him.

Current race situation

  • Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare), Raivis Belohvosciks (Saunier Duval-Scott) and William Frischkorn (Slipstream Chipotle - H30)
  • Peloton at 2.30

16:03 CET   
They're not getting away, though. But there is a lot of suffering going on at the back of the peloton now. Gert Steegmans of Quick Step is having a tough time and may be about to drop off.

16:05 CET   
1'30 left for our three riders in front, as Bernhard Kohl leads the peloton up the climb. He is followed by a big Milram rider, but then again, most riders look big next to Kohl.

16:07 CET   
The three leaders ride through the narrow streets of Oneglia, where there are lots and lots of people out watching the race.

Back in the peloton, Kohl has pushed the tempo again and is a few meters ahead. The peloton is strung out single file behind him.

16:13 CET   
48 seconds -- that's all that separates the three leaders from the onrushing peloton now. Those three have put in a lot of kilometres in the lead today, and can be proud of their performances.

16:14 CET   
Mario Cipollini is talking to RAI and explains the whole deal of not being at the start line today, despite the race director, Angelo Zomegnan, doing everything possible. Asked about his tip for today's winner, he said "Cancellara or Hushovd."

16:15 CET   
San Lorenzo al Mare is where the three leaders are now, and it will probably be the last place where they can maintain that lead.

16:19 CET    275km/23km to go
Five Team High Road riders are at the front of the peloton. Are they trying to set things up for young sprinter Gerald Ciolek?

No, not if Paolo Bettini has anything to say about it. The World Champion has pulled away, although he is now towing a High Road rider behind him.

16:20 CET    276km/22km to go
It's Thomas Lövkvist of High Road, another one of the team's speedy youngsters, who has taken off with Bettini.

16:21 CET   
And Jose Ivan Gutierrez of Caisse d'Epargne has decided to give chase, as they all make their way up the Cipressa. Lövkvist is letting Bettini do the lead work.

16:23 CET   
Gutierrez has nearly caught Bettini and Lövkvist. The next to jump out of the peloton is Francisco Vila of Lampre.

No, looks like Gutierrez hasn't made it up to the other two.

16:26 CET   
Davide Rebellin is the next attack, with five other riders, oops, three of whom just all went down.

16:27 CET   
Axelsson and Rebellin have caught up with Bettini and Lövkvist. The attacks out of the peloton are coming fast and furious now.

16:28 CET   
Paolo Savoldelli is giving chase now. If he gets up to the front, then look out for him on the descent -- that is his specialty.

16:30 CET    278km/20km to go
The two who went down were Egoi Martinez and Carlos Barredo. They touched wheels and crashed. They both got up quickly but lost their momentum.

And Savoldelli has caught up with the leaders now.

16:31 CET   
A Cofidis rider just took himself out on the descent, taking too many chances and running into the barrier. Ouch!

16:32 CET   
It was Tristan Valentin of Cofidis, who seems to be injured, as he is sitting on the side of the road and not attempting to get up and keep on going.

16:33 CET   
The descent has blasted the peloton and we see lots of little groups now.

16:34 CET   
Some big names are in one of those little following groups: Zabel, Petacchi, Hincapie.....

16:36 CET   
The five in front are working well together and will do their best to keep the peloton at bay. Who is the best sprinter in that little group?

16:37 CET    283km/15km to go
The peloton has formed again and is giving furious chase, only 32 seconds behind the leaders. Liquigas is leading the charge.

16:38 CET    286km/12km to go
Enrico Gasparotto (Barloworld) was in the little group behind the leaders in the descent of the Cipressa. But the birthday boy will really be looking to give it a go on the Poggio

Current race situation

  • Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Thomas Lövkvist (High Road), Niklas Axelsson (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli), Paolo Savoldelli (LPR Brakes) and Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner)
  • Peloton at 0.10

16:41 CET    288km/10km to go
The lead has shrunk dramatically, and it looks like the peloton will catch them on the way up the Poggio. It's only a few seconds.

16:42 CET   
That was it, as Liquigas leads the procession past the escapees. Who will be the next to jump away, or will the sprinter teams be able to hold things together?

16:43 CET   
It's Alessandro Bertolini who jumps first!

16:44 CET   
He has a few meters lead over two or three other riders, as they climb, and they in turn have about 100 meters lead over the peloton.

16:46 CET   
Pellizotti, Kroon and a rider we haven't yet identified are giving chase. Behind them the peloton is doing its best, too, to catch them all.

It's Rafael Illiano.

16:48 CET   
Davide Rebellin, Gasparotto and Ballan are leading the charge. They have caught the three ahead of them. And who is that with them? Fabian Cancellara!

16:49 CET   
They are going down now, on those dangers narrow and sharp curves.

16:50 CET    293km/5km to go
And down they continue to go, with the peloton totally splintered now.

16:51 CET   
The leading group is about 12 strong now, with more and more coming up from the peloton. Will we see another mass sprint today?

16:52 CET    295km/3km to go
Three riders, including Rebellin and Pozzato, have a slight lead.

16:53 CET   
Hushovd, Freire, Cancellara are all in the next following group. But it comes back together

16:54 CET   
Inigo Landaluze Intxaurraga (Euskaltel) gives it a go. But it is Cancellara himself who counters.

16:54 CET   
The Swiss rider has an incredible lead quickly! Will the others be able to rejoin him?

16:55 CET   
It will be hard to get Mr. Chronoman. The group behind is trying, while Zabel leads the peloton to get Petacchi back into contention. But they are too far back and they don't have a Cancellara to pull....

16:55 CET    297km/1km to go
Cancellara has done it! He has used his time trial skills to pull away from everyone.

16:55 CET   
He wins with five seconds ahead of a Liquigas rider. What a performance by the World Champion!

17:02 CET   
So a time trialist has given the sprinters the one-up today! Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara of Team CSC has proved that he can use his abilities in a number of ways and race situations. It looks like this will be his year!

Thanks for joining us for the Primavera. Let's hope the rest of the season can live up to this exciting opener!