One of the youngest hopefuls going into last Saturday's Milano-Sanremo was Enrico Gasparotto. The Italian from Friuli-Venezia Giulia had lit the fuse to the stick of dynamite in Tirreno-Adriatico with a show of good form and he had hoped that the explosion of speed would come about for the finale of Sanremo, the day of his 26th birthday.
Gasparotto went into action on the Poggio by marking the move of Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), and helped form the escape of 16 that had the winning gap on the descent and the six-kilometre finale. The tactics of the move were complicated with renowned sprinter Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Tirreno winner Fabian Cancellara (Team CSC) in the mix, and when it hit the final 2000 metres Cancellara blasted for the eventual win while Gasparotto finished in 12th.
"I knew that Cancellara would do that, but damn it, I think that Liquigas and Lampre, with two riders each, did not do well to close the gap. I was forced to wait for the others, but..." said a disappointed 'Gaspa' to Cyclingnews in the confusion that typically follows the finish in Sanremo.
In the day's leading up to Sanremo, Gasparotto noted that he could 'dream' of a win thanks to his superb form and that he was anxious to show the disbelievers his value. Even though the day did not come to a win for the Team Barloworld rider, he was happy with this form. "Overall, it was a good day out, and I had good legs. I am happy with my condition, and my support from the team. However, I wanted to have a result, not arrive behind."
He lived up to his promise in attacking on the race's closing climbs. "I tried on the Poggio because I knew in the sprint I would be beaten. I did I all that was possible [and] Rebellin did the best he could [with the numerous attacks] to arrive in a small group. In the end, I waited for Liquigas and Lampre to close, and I waited too much I think."
After Cancellara attacked, there was a bit of hesitation. Lampre had Alessandro Ballan and Patxi Vila and Liquigas had Filippo Pozzato and Franco Pellizotti, and, even though Ballan did a strong pull, no one was motivated to take two-time Sanremo winner Freire to the line.
Gasparotto will travel to Belgium for E3 Prijs Vlaanderen this Saturday, followed by the Brabantse Pijl, Three days of De Panne and Ronde van Vlaanderen. "I will leave after Flanders [Ronde - ed.] to prepare for the Giro d'Italia."