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94th Milan - San Remo - CDM

Italy, March 22, 2003

Main Page     Results    Live report    World Cup Standings

Paolo Bettini & Quick.Step spoil Cipollini's Birthday Bash

By Tim Maloney, European Editor

Paolo Bettini
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

Clad in his 2002 World Cup champion's jersey, Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) denied World Champ Mario Cipollini a second consecutive Milano-San Remo victory today with a magnificent ride to take his biggest win ever in the spring sunshine on via Roma in San Remo this afternoon.

"It was a great win," the tearful Bettini told RAI-TV in the post-race melee as he hugged his teammate Luca Paolini, who finished third in the all Italian podium today. For the first time in eight years, a break succeeded in Milano-San Remo as Paolini gave his all to keep the key escape away from the chasing peloton in the final kilometres and set up the big win for Bettini.

"Paolini was more than incredible today", said Bettini, "so I have to dedicate my win to the (Quick.Step-Davitamon) team. They were always there for me and did what I needed to win." But the 29 year old Bettini also dedicated the victory to his wife Monica, who's in "dolce attesa" (expecting) and will become a mama later this year.

Cipo and Bettini
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

A disappointed Mario Cipollini ended up winning the bunch sprint for fourth, just 11 seconds behind the front trio of Bettini, runner-up Mirko Celestino (Saeco) and Paolini, so there was no birthday party today on via Roma. "I showed that I was in great condition and if we had come in all together, I would have won. My team worked well today, especially Bennati and Ongarato", said a dignified but clearly disappointed Cipollini, who only had two teammates with him in the 69 strong second group.

Cipo's Domina Vacanze squad just could not control the brilliant Bettini today, who followed Quick.Step's d.s. Serge Parsani's plan to perfection today which finally sprung "Il Grillo" (Bettini's nickname, cricket in Italian) in his successful leap to win Milano-San Remo.

"We planned the attack (by Bettini) on the Cipressa", explained Parsani, "but when he was caught, I told him to stay calm and try again. It worked on the Poggio." And how. Bettini and his teammate Paolini flew the coop on the Poggio in a perfectly timed counter attack from Saeco's Danilo Di Luca, who attacked too early at the base of the Poggio climb and was eventually swept up by Bettini, Paolini and Celestino.

Michele Bartoli
Photo: © Sirotti
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Domina Vacanze had little help in keeping a leash on the attackers in the final phases of Milano-San Remo. With Domina's Derganc out after a crash on the descent of Capo Cervo, Telekom seemed content to play the waiting game, while Fassa Bortolo seemed to self-destruct in the final 30km. Their top sprinter Alessandro Petacchi was still feeling the effects of his flu last week, and was dropped on the Cipressa, while their superboy Pippo Pozzato crashed on the descent of the same crucial climb, effectively taking the Silver Team out of the key action in the final of today's Milano-San Remo.

How it unfolded

On a cool, sunny March morning, the 195 riders from 25 teams headed out of Milano's Piazza San Ambrogio south towards the Ligurian coast and San Remo. Team Coast returned to the peloton after a suspension for financial irregularities, and after just 7 km of the opening classic of the 2003 World Cup in Binasco, old warrior Jacky Durand (FDJ) made his usual suicide move and got a gap. Dudu was joined by his teammate Carlos Dacruz, Stéphane Augé (Credit Agricole), Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner), Jose Lopez Gil (iBanesto.com), Ignacio Gutierrez (Kelme), Paul Van Hyfte (CSC), Wim Vansevenant (Lotto-Domo) and Niki Aebersold (Team Coast).

The break on Via Aurelia
Photo: © Sirotti
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Lopez Gil dropped back so the break of eight chugged along, and after 145 km of racing at the summit of Passo Turchino, the fugitives had a maximum lead of 5'30". But try as they might, the break was going nowhere fast, as a tramontana tailwind from the northwest was blowing today and the pace was high, with the eventual average speed at over 44 km/h for the 297km classic.

Behind the break, a unified chase was keeping the pace high and as the 8 front-runners began to tire from their long break, their advantage began to drop. At the entrance to the Autostrada in Albenga that began the detour with 70km to go, the break had less than a minute and it seemed that their free pass would end after the detour ended. But uncertainty seemed to be the order of the day as the race re-entered the traditional percorso along the via Aurelia cost road. As the first of today's capi, Capo Berta began, the peloton was just letting the break hang out in front before the fireworks started.

With the break still 15" seconds up the road, the chase intensified and as riders jockeyed for position at 60 km/h on the Berta descent, Domina rider Derganc crashed face-first into a guardrail. He would be a crucial loss for Cipollini, who would need all the help he could get.

Cipressa break
Photo: © Sirotti
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After six hours of racing in Imperia, the average speed was almost 44 km/h and the torrid pace finally sucked up the escapees after nearly 250 km of liberty. Approaching the penultimate climb of the 5.7km Cipressa with 30km to go, Rabobank was powering on the front, but as the climb began, local lad Mirko Celestino (Saeco) attacked hard. He got a gap and Bettini responded, bringing along Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Alexander Vinokourov (Telekom). Neither sprinter Freire nor stopper Vinokourov, who was covering the break for Telekom team leader Zabel were pulling hard.

Cipressa was where the plans of Fassa Bortolo unraveled behind the break, as the ailing Petacchi went out the back and superboy Pippo Pozzato had a crash on the descent that knocked him out of contention and upset the equilibrium of the chase.

Despite their 15" gap at the top of the climb, which was scaled in just under 10'00, once the five man break hit the 9 km section of the via Aurelia between the base of the Cipressa and the start of the final climb of the Poggio, their fate was sealed. Cipollini sent Scirea, Ongarato and Bennati to the front to up the tempo, while Freire and Vino were not collaborating. In Finale Liguria with only 10km to go, the dangerous break came back after some inspired riding by Bettini.

"When the group caught us (after Cipressa), I thought for a minute that it was finished," Bettini told Cyclingnews. "But I told myself 'I might lose today, but I'm going to give it everything I've got left.'"

Di Luca goes for it
Photo: © Sirotti
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As the 3.3 km climb of the Poggio commenced, Cipo looked great, pedaling up just behind the massed red jerseys of the Saeco team. The record for the Poggio climb is 5'22" by Giorgio Furlan in 1994, and last year, Bettini topped the hill in 6'15" and was then caught on the descent in San Remo. Early on, Saeco's Alexander Shefer took of with Di Luca on his wheel. It was a daring early attack by the dynamic young star Di Luca, who crashed just before the Poggio last year, but his pace began to slow after gaining over 10". Bettini and Paolini waited to made their move on the false flat after the Sanctuary of Madonna della Guardia, where other winners like Saronni, Fondriest and Furlan had gone before.

Only Celestino could follow when they pounced and the trio rapidly caught Di Luca. "It was too bad for me (on the Poggio) since I had a strong headwind all the way up", Di Luca told Cyclingnews. "When I was caught, I simply had nothing left to stay. But I feel good for the team and good for Celestino," explained the simpatico rider from Spoltore.

Paolini in pursuit
Photo: © Sirotti
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Over the top of the Poggio, the front four had clocked a time of 6'13, just 2" ahead of last year's pace. They had a narrow margin of 6" on the chasers and it looked like Bettini & Co. would be caught. But Paolini gave it his all, and when the trio hit the base of the Poggio with 2.2 km to go, their margin was still 15". Cipo's Domina team had simply burned too many matches chasing Bettini's break on the Cipressa and with the incredible pace, they couldn't maintain control.

Paolo Bettini
Photo: © Sirotti
Click for larger image

No one could stop the explosive Bettini now, even a police motorcycle that balked the front trio in the final kilometre. Celestino made a game effort but couldn't match the surge of the Tuscan from La California, who crossed the finish line of the 94th edition of Milano-San Remo shouting with passionate joy.

Post-race, the 29 year old Bettini also dedicated the victory to his wife Monica, who's in "dolce attesa" (expecting) and will become a mama later this year. "Now we'll go to Belgium," said World Cup leader Bettini, where Il Grillo and his new Quick.Step-Davitamon squad must surely be most powerful squad on the starting line in the Ronde van Vlaanderen in two weeks time.


Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Marco Bardella

Results - 297 km

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                 6.44.43 (44.03 km/h)
2 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco
3 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                     0.02
4 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron                0.11
5 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom
7 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
8 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre
9 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo
10 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo
11 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec
12 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com
13 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner
14 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com
15 Graziano Gasparre (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
16 Matthew Wilson (Aus) FDJeux.com
17 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo
18 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank
19 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank
20 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Alessio
21 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Crédit Agricole
22 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre
23 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco
24 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
25 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
26 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus) AG2r Prévoyance
27 Laurent Brochard (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance
28 René Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
29 Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC
30 Robbie McEwen (Aus) Lotto-Domo
31 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
32 Andrea Noe' (Ita) Alessio
33 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) Lampre
34 Vladimir Duma (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
35 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) Lampre
36 Oskar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
37 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Team Saeco
38 Fabrizio Guidi (Ita) Team Coast
39 Giuliano Figueras (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
40 Fabio Baldato (Ita) Alessio
41 M.A. Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
42 Robert Hunter (RSA) Rabobank
43 Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) Team CSC
44 Bram Tankink (Ned) Quick.Step-Davitamon
45 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
46 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec
47 Gianluca Sironi (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec
48 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
49 Bert Grabsch (Ger) Phonak Hearing Systems
50 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Lampre
51 Alessandro Cortinovis (Ita) Lampre
52 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
53 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
54 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
55 Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
56 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) Alessio
57 Leonardo Zanotti (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
58 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
59 Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) Lampre
60 Andrea Peron (Ita) Team CSC
61 Richard Virenque (Fra) Quick.Step-Davitamon
62 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
63 Vjatceslav Ekimov (Rus) US Postal presented by Berry Floo
64 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) iBanesto.com
65 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
66 Nico Mattan (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
67 Jan Hruska (Cze) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
68 Christophe Oriol (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance
69 Steffen Wesemann (Ger) Team Telekom
70 Jan Schaffrath (Ger) Team Telekom
71 Ruslan Ivanov (Mda) Alessio
72 Gian Matteo Fagnini (Ita) Team Telekom                     0.21
73 Romans Vainsteins (Lat) Caldirola-Sidermec
74 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) De Nardi-Colpack                      0.24
75 Angelo Lopeboselli (Ita) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone  0.28
76 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
77 Rolf Aldag (Ger) Team Telekom
78 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
79 Paolo Fornaciari (Ita) Team Saeco
80 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Team Saeco
81 Alexandre Shefer (Kaz) Team Saeco
82 Dmitri Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone      1.00
83 Eugeni Petrov (Rus) iBanesto.com
84 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago             1.48
85 Gianpaolo Caruso (Ita) O.N.C.E.-Eroski
86 Matteo Carrara (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
87 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Team Saeco                            1.54
88 Lennie Kristensen (Den) Team CSC
89 Isaac Galvez Lopez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca                2.24
90 Philippe Gaumont (Fra) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
91 Leon Van Bon (Ned) Lotto-Domo
92 Marco Milesi (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec                      2.30
93 Matthias Kessler (Ger) Team Telekom
94 Andy Flickinger (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance                      2.49
95 Mario Scirea (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron
96 Leonardo Giordani (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack                   3.44
97 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) Team Telekom
98 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) FDJeux.com                           3.57
99 Mikel Astarloza (Spa) AG2r Prévoyance                      4.17
100 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Gerolsteiner                         5.04
101 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Domo
102 Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec
103 Koos Moerenhout (Ned) Lotto-Domo
104 Victor Pena (Col) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
105 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
106 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
107 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Lampre
108 Sergiy Avdyeyev (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
109 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
110 Michele Bartoli (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
111 André Korff (Ger) Team Coast
112 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Lotto-Domo
113 Jo Planckaert (Bel) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
114 Frank Vandenbroucke (Bel) Quick.Step-Davitamon
115 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) AG2r Prévoyance
116 Steffen Kjaergaard (Nor) US Postal presented by Berry Fl  5.43
117 Davide Bramati (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                 6.28
118 Jordi Riera Valls (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
119 Daniel Becke (Ger) Team Coast
120 Andrea Tafi (Ita) Team CSC
121 David Derepas (Fra) FDJeux.com
122 Massimo Strazzer (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems
123 Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
124 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
125 Aart Vierhouten (Ned) Lotto-Domo                          8.31
126 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Lotto-Domo
127 Denis Bertolini (Ita) Phonak Hearing Systems
128 Michael Rogers (Aus) Quick.Step-Davitamon
129 Massimo Apollonio (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec
130 Matthew White (Aus) US Postal presented by Berry Floor
131 Julian Dean (NZl) Team CSC
132 Thomas Liese (Ger) Team Coast
133 Christopher Jenner (Fra) Crédit Agricole
134 Michele Gobbi (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
135 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Caldirola-Sidermec
136 Raphael Schweda (Ger) Team Coast
137 Udo Bolts (Ger) Gerolsteiner
138 Roger Beuchat (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
139 Sergiy Matveyev (Ukr) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
140 Guido Trentin (Ita) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone
141 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
142 Yohann Charpenteau (Fra) Crédit Agricole                  8.45
143 Cédric Fragniere (Swi) Crédit Agricole                    8.58
144 Allan Davis (Aus) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                        10.02
145 Lauri Aus (Est) AG2r Prévoyance                          11.37
146 Stéphane Auge (Fra) Crédit Agricole
147 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Crédit Agricole
148 Marc Wauters (Bel) Rabobank
149 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Gerolsteiner
150 Bram De Groot (Ned) Rabobank
151 Karsten Kroon (Ned) Rabobank
152 Jan Boven (Ned) Rabobank
153 Wim Vansevenant (Bel) Lotto-Domo                         12.47
154 Paul Van Hyfte (Bel) Team CSC                            12.52
155 Julian Usano Martinez (Spa) Kelme-Costa Blanca
156 Regis Lhuillier (Fra) FDJeux.com
157 Stefan Adamsson (Swe) Team Coast
158 Mark Scanlon (Irl) AG2r Prévoyance
159 Yuri Mitlushenko (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago
160 Jakob  Piil (Den) Team CSC
161 Rafael Mateos Perez (Spa) iBanesto.com
162 Carlos Dacruz (Fra) FDJeux.com
163 Jacky Durand (Fra) FDJeux.com
164 Claudio Bartoli (Ita) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
165 Michele Colleoni (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack
166 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
167 Scott Davis (Aus) Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
168 Sebastian Lang (Ger) Gerolsteiner                        17.49
169 Ruslan Gryschenko (Ukr) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago          19.40
170 Corey Sweet (Aus) Crédit Agricole                        19.59

Starters: 195
Classified: 170

World Cup standings after round 1

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                     100 pts
2 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco                              70
3 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon                       50
4 Mario Cipollini (Ita) Domina Vacanze-Elitron                  40
5 Dario Pieri (Ita) Team Saeco                                  36
6 Erik Zabel (Ger) Team Telekom                                 32
7 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank                             28
8 Jan Svorada (Cze) Lampre                                      24
9 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Fassa Bortolo                            20
10 Guido Trenti (USA) Fassa Bortolo                             16
11 Gianluca Bortolami (Ita) Caldirola-Sidermec                  15
12 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) FDJeux.com                              14
13 Marcus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                              13
14 Baden Cooke (Aus) FDJeux.com                                 12
15 Graziano Gasparre (Ita) De Nardi-Colpack                     11
16 Matthew Wilson (Aus) FDJeux.com                              10
17 Kim Kirchen (Lux) Fassa Bortolo                               9
18 Marc Lotz (Ned) Rabobank                                      8
19 Beat Zberg (Swi) Rabobank                                     7
20 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Alessio                                 6
21 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Crédit Agricole                          5
22 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre                                  4
23 Fabio Sacchi (Ita) Team Saeco                                 3
24 David Millar (GBr) Cofidis, Le Crédit par Téléphone           2
25 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) O.N.C.E.-Eroski                  1


1 Team Saeco                                                    12 pts
2 Fassa Bortolo                                                  9
3 FDJeux.com                                                     8
4 Rabobank                                                       7
5 Quick.Step-Davitamon                                           6
6 Lampre                                                         5
7 Alessio                                                        4
8 Caldirola-Sidermec-Saunier Duval                               3
9 Domina Vacanze-Elitron                                         2
10 Phonak Hearing Systems                                        1