Wildcard Pozzato spoils the Petacchi show
Filippo Pozzato (Quick.Step) has won the 97th Milan-San Remo with a superbly timed, and very powerful attack with 400 metres to go to hold off the Alessandro Petacchi-led bunch sprint. Pozzato was the only member of a six man break that escaped at the top of the Poggio to survive to the finish, as Rabobank and Milram all but chased it down within the final kilometre. But somehow, the junction wasn't quite made and Pozzato had no choice but to jump off Rinaldo Nocentini's wheel with a long way out to try to steal the victory. In the end, he did it with metres to spare, giving himself and Quick.Step their biggest win this season.
"It's the race I've always dreamed about; the most beautiful day of my life," said Pozzato after the finish. "We all worked together well and won. It's incredible, the only year I haven't talked about Sanremo I achieved the win! I haven't got so many supporters, but today I think I made some friends among the tifosi. I'm one of the most criticized riders in Italy, many did not believe in me but now... We're a great team: Bettini made the gap for me, Boonen told me not to give up, ever. To have champions like these work for me is the greatest of all. On the Cipressa I spoke with Tom, I decided to make the pace to the top. Ballan did a great move on the Poggio, and I wanted to work with them, but couldn't... Today I showed that I'm right there; that when I have to make the race I don't pull back. And I'm only 24 years old..."
Petacchi led the bunch home for second, while Tom Boonen started celebrating his teammate's win early, allowing Luca Paolini (Liquigas) to take third place. Milram will have to be content with another second place, until its train can reach the same heights as Fassa Bortolo.
The race was run in cool, spring conditions with an early breakaway of eight riders going clear after approximately 30 km containing Daniele Contrini (LPR), Unai Etxebarria (Euskaltel), Staf Scheirlinckx (Cofidis), Ludovic Auger (Française des Jeux), Kjell Carlström (Liquigas), Mirko Allegrini and Sergiy Matveyev (Panaria), and Giampaolo Cheula (Barloworld). They gained a maximum lead of 11'30 before they were caught just before the Cipressa at 266 km. The next attack went on the approach to the Poggio containing Moerenhout (Phonak), Trenti (Quick.Step), Schleck (CSC), and Reynes (Caisse d'Epargne). Schleck went solo on the climb, but was caught by Pozzato, Ballan, Astarloa, Sanchez, and Nocentini over the top. The break stayed together until the final kilometre, when Pozzato succeeded in staving off the mass sprint.