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First Edition Cycling News, Sunday, March 20, 2011

Date published:
March 20, 2011, 0:00 GMT
  • Pozzato's pursuit of Gilbert proves costly at Milan-San Remo

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) at the finish in San Remo.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2011, 19:25 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Italian left with little energy for finishing sprint

    Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) explained that he viewed Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) as the danger man in the finale of Milan-San Remo and that his efforts to close down the Belgian’s dangerous move inside the final two kilometres meant that he had little left for the sprint.

    Pozzato was again left disappointed at the end of a major Classic when he crossed the line in fifth place, and in spite of an enviably consistent record in the biggest one-day races, the talented Italian has failed to land another monument since his victory in San Remo in 2006. He admitted that his pursuit of Gilbert was prompted by his decision not to chase down Fabian Cancellara at the same juncture in 2008.

    “I paid a high price for the effort I put in trying to get back up to Gilbert in the last kilometre, but a few years ago, I was burned by Cancellara in a similar situation,” Pozzato told Tuttobici after the finish. “I knew that I was running a risk, but all told, that was my only way of trying to win San Remo.”

    When the remainder of the leading group managed to hold Pozzato’s wheel and bring back Gilbert, he realised that his best chance of winning the race had passed him by, and he had little left in the tank for the finishing sprint.

    “In the finishing straight, after having used so much energy, I did a sprint purely on grit, and honestly, I couldn’t have done any more than that,” Pozzato said. “But congratulations to the winner. At a certain point, I was hoping to be able to do better than fifth, but it has to be admitted that there were some really...

  • Goss struggling to take in Milan-San Remo success

    Matt Goss (HTC - Highroad) is the first Australian to win Milan-San Remo.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2011, 20:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    HTC-Highroad rider the first Australian to La Classicissima

    Matt Goss slumped to the ground a few seconds after winning Milan-San Remo, struggling to believe that he had won one of the big five monumental races in the sport.

    Later in the race winner's press conference, he was still struggling to understand that he had single-handedly taken on some of the biggest names in the sport and won Milan-San Remo.

    "I couldn't have dreamed of a better race today and better start to the whole season. To be on the podium is one thing but to be on the top step of the podium with Gilbert and Cancellara there is an incredible feeling," he said.

    "To be the first Australian to win is incredible too. There have been so many Australians who have finished second and third time after time, you can’t count them on one hand. To win is absolutely incredible."

    Goss was the only HTC-Highroad rider in the front group of 44 riders that was not delayed by the crash on the Le Manie climb with 90km to go, yet he kept his cool and did everything right.

    He stayed well protected in the group, chased after the attacks on the Poggio and then went with Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) and Alessandro Ballan (BMC) when they chased down Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) in the final two kilometres. He then made sure he was perfectly positioned for the sprint and accelerated to the line at just the right moment to leave Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek) and Gilbert behind as he crossed the line with his arms in the air.

    "Maybe it looked like I was cool but I was stressing about everything and thinking about everything in my head," Goss said.

    "I knew I had the form to be in the front but I didn’t know I'd feel quite as good as I did today, but I had a long time to think about it, about a 100km...

  • Hushovd's Milan-San Remo wrecked by crash

    Thor Hushovd stood out in his all-white kit.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2011, 21:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Vaughters explains Haussler's lack of endurance

    Garmin-Cervélo was potentially the strongest team in Milan-San Remo with Thor Hushovd, Tyler Farrar and Heinrich Haussler as possible winners. But the crash on the Le Manie climb, 90km from the finish, totally changed their three-card race strategy, leaving just Haussler with any chance of success.

    Unfortunately Haussler lacked that vital little bit of endurance in the very final part of the race and finished in 18th, 27 seconds behind race winner Matt Goss, after being distanced on the Poggio.

    Hushovd finished 127th at 9:32. He crashed hard before Le Manie and never saw the front of the race again.

    "This was a really different Milan-San Remo compared to other years and with my crash I knew my race was over," Hushovd said as he headed home to Monaco to lick his wounds and focus for the cobbled Classics.

    "I broke my wheel so Johan [Van Summeren] gave me his. But I landed hard on my hip and just didn't have the strength in my left side to really continue to push.

    "We had Andreas [Klier] and Heinrich [Haussler] in the front so it was ok for us. Heinrich did a strong race, I think in the end maybe he just didn't have the legs. It happens."

    Haussler was hugely disappointed that he was unable to contest the sprint against Goss but Garmin-Cervélo team manager Jonathan Vaughters pointed out that the Australian lacked the endurance for a 300km race due to his injuries in 2010.

    "This race was a really good example of why asking about which leader you're going to ride for is a kind of irrelevant question," Vaughters said.

    "In our meeting we said that the legs and luck...

  • Gilbert left frustrated after aggressive Milan-San Remo

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma - Lotto) applies pressure on the Poggio.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2011, 21:40 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Belgian angry that Pozzato chased him down

    Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) tried desperately to escape the grip of the sprinters at Milan-San Remo but paid for his aggressive riding in the finish and could only watch as Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) and even Fabian Cancellara (Leopard Trek) came past him in sight of the finish line. He finished third but knew he had missed out on a great chance of winning.

    Gilbert had several teammates with him in the front group after the crash on Le Manie but that numerical advantage turned against him when other riders put the burden on them to control the attacks on the Cipressa and Poggio.

    He tried to get away over the Poggio and tried again on the streets of San Remo but he was chased down and had to try and take on Goss in the finishing straight.

    "I think I rode a good race. My form is good but I was a little but unlucky and I was alone in the last 10 kilometres," Gilbert told Belgian television before heading to his home in Monaco with his family.

    "When the four got away on the Aurelia (the coast road), everyone waited for us to chase. And that cost us. I tried to get away with [Vincenzo] Nibali on the Poggio but it was a little bit late. Then on the descent I had to brake when [Marco] Marcato crashed and I was closely marked in the finale."

    Gilbert was very critical of Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) after the Italian chased him down on the flat road at the bottom of the Poggio.

    "At 2.5km from the finish I made a good move but my good friend Pozzato took me back. Why?" he asked bitterly.

    "I still tried in the sprint after that but when I saw that Goss was with us, I knew it would be nearly impossible. Goss was too strong and had played the game perfectly."

  • Westra ready to help Vacansoleil-DCM's leaders at Flemish Classics

    Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil - DCM) wins the Classic Loire Atlantique.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2011, 22:23 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    Classic Loire Atlantique win a confidence boost for Dutch time triallist

    At the end of the Classic Loire Atlantique in La Haie-Fouassière near Nantes in the west of France, race winner Lieuwe Westra (Vacansoleil-DCM) didn't care that the event was only a newly promoted event in the UCI 1.1 category. "Winning is winning," he said.

    Although the 28-year-old Dutchman has shown flashes of form of late, particularly with his sixth place finish in the Paris-Nice time trial stage, he had lost the taste of winning with his last victory coming in stage one of the Tour of Picardy in May 2009. That was the year Westra joined Vacansoleil after spending three seasons with the KrolStonE Continental Team. Westra has since developed as a pro cyclist at the same speed that Vacansoleil advanced to ProTeam status.

    "I knew I had a good condition after Paris-Nice," Westra told Cyclingnews in La Haie-Fouassière. "It was better for me to be winning here than at Milan-San Remo for no result."

    "It's a pity that I couldn't hold off Westra," said runner-up Staf Scheirlinckx (Landbouwkrediet) who was away alone until the 300 metres to go mark. "But I know that he's one of the best time triallists in the world and I knew how strong he was at Paris-Nice. I'm happy with my condition anyway because it gives me hopes for the coming two weeks that are very important for Landbouwkrediet in Flanders. I should be able to show the jersey at the front."

    Scheirlinckx will have other opportunities to go head-to-head with Westra as they share a near identical race programme. "I'll ride Ghent-Wevelgem, the Three Days of De Panne and the Tour of Flanders," Westra said.

    The time trial at the Three Days of De...

  • Cavendish happy for Goss's Milan-San Remo win

    Mark Cavendish was serious but relaxed at the start in Milan.
    Article published:
    March 19, 2011, 23:00 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    HTC-Highroad sprinter caught behind crash

    Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) finished Milan-San Remo in the huge main group, 5:23 behind race winner and teammate Matt Goss, after being blocked behind the crash on the descent of Le Manie. Yet while the other riders were disappointed with the outcome of the race, Cavendish was genuinely happy for his teammate and occasional lead-out man.

    "He did a great job. I said he was going to be there and he was there alone. He's a legend," Cavendish said.

    Cavendish had rightly been considered a contender before the start but admitted after the finish that he had felt ill during the race with stomach problems.

    "No." he said honestly when asked if he could have won Milan-San Remo this year. "When we came down the coast I had bad guts and I've been throwing up all day. It kind of took the pressure off me with Gossie going better."

    Cavendish then explained in detail how the crash that turned this year's Milan-San Remo upside down happened on the descent of the Le Manie climb. Cavendish punctured just before the start of Le Manie and so started the climb near the back of the peloton.

    "There was a crash in the peloton on the descent of Le Manie, not with me directly," he said.

    "Hushovd went down before Le Manie and then we went full gas up Le Manie and I was a little off the back. We got on over the top, before the descent started, but there was a crash in the peloton on the descent and it split the peloton. There was a group away and after that...we couldn't chase with Gossie there."

  • Voeckler confuses crowds with Europe Tour leader's jersey

    Europe Tour leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar).
    Article published:
    March 20, 2011, 9:54 GMT
    Jean-François Quénet

    French champion back in blue-white-red at the Tour of Flanders

    Thomas Voeckler’s fans in the northwest of France couldn’t believe their eyes when they saw the Europcar rider show up in a white jersey at the Classic Loire-Atlantique in La Haie-Fouassière, only half an hour from his home. People love the blue-white-red jersey of French champion and it was difficult for them to understand that being the leader of the Europe Tour was a more important distinction.

    “I’m not saying that I don’t like to wear this jersey but maybe it’s not known enough by the cycling public,” Voeckler told Cyclingnews on the finishing line. “People were obviously looking for other colours to recognise me.”

    After winning two stages at Paris-Nice and getting a lot of TV exposure in blue-white-red, he went mostly unnoticed on the La Haie-Fouassière circuit where he rode well again but only finished tenth. He won the race when it was a category 5 event back in 2003.

    “I managed to come across to the leading group alone but I needed to recover from those efforts exactly at the time they [Bert Scheirlinckx and eventual winner Lieuwe Westra successively] chose to attack for the win, but I tried, so I have no regrets,” the French champion said.

    Voeckler’s two stage wins at Paris-Nice have nothing to do with his leader in the Europe Tour standings. Paris-Nice is a World Tour event for which Voeckler and his team Europcar aren’t eligible to score points because they are registered at Pro Continental level. Voeckler’s exploits at Paris-Nice as well as FDJ’s Jérémy Roy and Rémi Pauriol’s second places on stages will also not help France to qualify for the world championship via the...

  • Offredo has no regrets about Milan-San Remo performance

    Yoann Offredo (FDJ)
    Article published:
    March 20, 2011, 10:44 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    Frenchman sparked attacking in dramatic finale

    Yoann Offredo (FDJ) was one of the main animators of Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, and although he was frustrated to finish in 7th place, the young Frenchman had no regrets about the aggressive tactics that he employed.

    “I’ve been thinking of this race for a whole year, not just in the last few days,” Offredo told L’Èquipe. “This 7th place leaves me a little frustrated even if I don’t have any regrets. I attacked three times and always with the goal of contesting the win.”

    In 2010, Offredo launched a speculative solo effort ahead of the Poggio that ultimately left his speed blunted for the finish, but when he made his move on the descent of the Cipressa this time around, it was as part of the four-man escape that ignited the finale.

    After tackling the Poggio in the company of his teammate Steve Chainel, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC) and Stuart O’Grady (Leopard Trek), Offredo was part of the elite eight-man group that formed in the streets of San Remo. He launched his final bid for victory 2km from home, but when he was caught, he was forced to lead out the sprint.

    “After my last attack with 2km to go, I really believed that it was going to pay off,” Offredo said. “But we can’t reproach ourselves, we gave the maximum.”

    As well as his brave showing on the Riviera, Offredo has already finished 4th at the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad this season and he will now head to the cobbled classics high on morale. Nonetheless, the 24-year-old is aware that he is still undergoing his apprenticeship at this level.

    “These races, like Milan-San Remo, aren’t just won from one day to the next,”...