3.23.2014

A rainy long unespected Milano-San Remo

Rainy in Milano, cold on the road, the sun of San Remo as a mirage in the distance. 
La Primavera. The elusive lover of so many riders. The longest classic in the calendar and one of the oldest. 
I have been there only once, in 2009. Cold and rainy, misty at the early start in pazza Castello. A young Andy Schleck riding it for the first time but sick retired after 30 km. Memories of a warm coffee with my friend Laura Grazioli in a large local crowded of journalists and race's staff. Memories of last year: riders frozen in the snow. Ciolek incredible win. Today I'm at home and bet on Sacha Modolo. I'd like to see a good result by Manuel Belletti because I believe he's a champion, a great rider who must find back his damaged selfconfidence. Unfortunately today is not the day.
Rain on the race
The race develops the traditional plot: a break-away including Barta, Boem, Bono, De Maar, Haas, Parrinello and Tjallingi gain till 11'. The peloton wait till Passo del Turchino then starts the chase. The road is also traditional: no Pompeiana and no Manie. Sprinters are in but the last minute change - dued to the bad weather - found them unready, Mark Cavendish has told it clear. His main taget is now to beat Marcel Kittel in the Tour de France but he didn't want to miss San Remo. We can see him always in front, climbing well and at ease in the cold. 
Tweet of the day: Blazin' Saddles@saddleblaze "Paolini is actually squirting a bidon of warm tea on his gloved hands. Probably Lipton - only Sky use Earl Grey or English Breakfast #MSR " It's true - not the brad part. It's so cold that riders need the team car help to put on the rain jaket - even a second one - and to open their food.
The race goes on in the pourring rain. No sun in San Remo: it's raining also on the finish line. The road is slippery but fortunately the only crash happens at the last km at the back of the sprint.
Before...
 From Passo del Turchino to i Capi is just the chase. Cannondale made the work alone in the first part of the race, now three teams pull in front: Trek Factory Racing (a huge Eugenio Alafaci), Cannondale again (Maciej Bodnar) and Giant (Tom Stamsnijder), they bring the peloton around km after km while the gap slowly decrease and the break-away lose pieces. 
...after
On the Cipressa De Marchi sets a terrific pace, Sagan on his wheel, making the first big selection. Atop, Vincenzo Nibali attacks. He joins and passes the rest of the break-away, flies down the descent, resist to the Poggio but he's finally caught. Bravo! He never starts a race just to train and when he's there you always know. Down the Poggio Mollema attacks, then many others but nobody can get a gap. The last one is a brave Sonny Colbrelli
Game over, sprinters talk. A small group affords the last km and the fastest is Katusha Alexander Kristoff. 2nd Fabian Cancellara - NOT happy. 3rd a great Ben Swift
Splendid race!
PS
CafeRoubaix@CafeRoubaix: "Last 10 Monuments that Fabian Cancellara finished: 1/1/2/3/2/2/3/1/1/2." YEP!


What Fabian Cancellara said:  
“I am really tired, it was a race of survival. Many times during the race I was cold. I have to say a big thanks to the team, it was a great team effort, and everyone did his maximum today.  With, or without, the Pompeiana it was still hard. But in the end it was a sprinter’s race after all, so I guess in that way I made a good result. 
It was hard because it was a race where you had to be patient - to wait and wait. Maybe it was a little bit boring because of that. Today was not Flanders or Roubaix. I thought maybe I should go on the top of Poggio but there were too many riders that looked fresh, so I did not make a move. Same after the descent, there was no moment to go, so the best plan was to wait for a sprint. The sprint was the only solution of today.
Of course I want to win, and not be second, or someplace on the podium like the last four years. But it was special circumstances again, lots of cold and rain and it was not difficult other than the weather to get to the end. But I am happy when I look at how I finished against the big sprinters. The sprint at the end, I played it the best I could: I used my ‘non-sprinter’ skills to finish well. Kristoff was just too far away at the end.
The condition I have to say is definitely here. Now I want to go and take a hot shower and wash my eyes really well because I cannot see out of one of them.”
What Ben Swift said: 
"It’s the race that I’ve looked at in the past and dreamed about over the years. It’s the one big race where I could see myself getting a result because normally that sort of terrain is where I’d have pretty good legs. So to go there and do that today was a really great feeling.
My hands were so cold. I was struggling to do anything with my fingers. I couldn’t do up my rain cape and things like that. I never felt bad in the race I was just cold. As it went on I just felt better and better. Then once we took the rain capes off and the racing really started I felt a lot better. When we got onto the climbs the rain did affect a lot of people. We were expecting a lot of attacks but they just never really materialized.
The team rode together all day. The plan was to keep out of sight a little bit but to be at the front for the final climbs. I came around and got into a really good position at the bottom of the Cipressa and that helped a lot.
Heading into the finish I was just looking to stay safe down the Poggio and stay in contact with the front guys. I knew that you needed good position down there to make it as easy as possible. I didn’t really know how many people were in the group or not but I just tried to stay as far forward as I could. It turned into a bit of a track race once we got into that final 3km. There were always guys willing to put moves in and then once it came to the sprint it was just about trying to pick the right wheel. I got boxed in a little bit but luckily I managed to find a way out."
What Mark Cavendish said:
"It was really so cold today I felt incredible all day. I'd like to say I launched early in my sprint, but I don't think I had any other option. When Modolo (Lampre-Merida) went my only other option was to go then. It was too early, but I don't think I had much choice. I think maybe in other conditions, where I wasn't so cold, I would maybe have a little bit left and could have stayed longer. But I really decided to sprint and my legs just stopped. I sat down and my legs just didn't go anymore. Kristoff came back so, so fast. I gave everything and I managed fifth. But, I am happy with the form. A few of the guys were really cold earlier in the race. Iljo Keisse looked after me the whole day, riding in the wind for the first 150 kilometers. It was hard to even communicate, even looking around at any of the teams, it was so cold. Bakelants did an absolutely incredible job for me today. He rode the majority of the last 70 kilometers in the wind for me. Styby was there in the last climbs always staying with me. I felt super on the last climbs, but not really in the sprint. So, I am disappointed, but I can take some positives from today and look forward to the rest of the season. As for being there at the end of Milano-Sanremo, my team believes in me, I believe in myself, and that's the most important thing to me. Given the circumstances, I gave everything and don't think I could have done anything differently."
What Sonny Colbrelly said:
"I should be happy for my result considering my age (23) and that it was a demanding Milano – Sanremo, but honestly today I could do better and go on the podium. When at the end of Poggio’s descent I attacked, I was wrong, too heat. In fact the peloton managed the gap and caught me quickly. I lost energy and then I couldn’t sprint the best way. Anyway I guess as team, we did a stunning race, we were the best in the finale and we race without fear. My teammates were super today and I wanted reward with a better result”. 
What Tjallingii said:
"I felt good and thought, you just never know if you get a nice result. It was cold and wet, to stay warm was really difficult. I stayed in the front to stay warm; that was my goal. This was my savior. I couldn't move my fingers. If I wouldn't had it around my neck I would have gotten this far."

RESULTS
1 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 6:55:56
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Trek Factory Racing
3 Ben Swift (GBr) Team Sky
4 Juan Jose Lobato Del Valle (Spa) Movistar Team
5 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
6 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani-CSF
7 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team
8 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida
9 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
10 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale

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