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Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews’ live coverage from Milan-San Remo. It’s the first Classic of the season, the first Monument, and one of the most important one-day races on the calendar. Here we go...
The riders will roll out in around 20 minutes or so before they start a 7km parade. From there the official race starts and then it's 298km of racing all the way to San-Remo.
Today Susan and I will be bringing you live coverage from the CN blimp with Barry Ryan on the ground at the race. So sit back and enjoy the next 7 hours of coverage.
The cream of the Classics peloton is here today, lining up in the shadow of Milan’s Castello Sforzesco.
The course, which takes almost seven hours to complete, is the longest Classic itinerary and while it has always been subject to minor changes, this year's road book is the same as in 2011, when Matthew Goss took the victory on the Lungomare Italo Calvino, the seafront promenade in San Remo. Generally flat, the parcours still has its treacherous moments, especially towards the end of the race when the various 'Capi' of the Ligurian coastline provide perfect opportunities for the strongest men to attack.
The Turchino climb, traditionally positioned in the middle of the race, as well as Le Manie (km 204) serve as appetizers for the race finale, a succession of five short but nasty bumps all located in the final 50 kilometres: Capo Mele, Capo Cervo, Capo Berta, the Cipressa and finally, the Poggio.
Remember you can send in your tweets to me at dnl.benson and I'll do my best to post/answer them.
While the riders are beginning to congregate at the sign on, lets take a few minutes to talk about the favourites for today's race.
Lets start with last year's winner Matthew Goss
He's not in top form, or rather, he's not in the form he was this time last year, when he'd racked up 16 top ten places by now. But you can't rule him out, in the same way you couldnt really rule out Mark Cavendish in the 2010 edition of the race. Goss is still a strong character with a great sprint and if he can make it over the final set of climbs with the bunch then he'll be hard to beat.
And what of Mark Cavendish, the world champion, who is clearly in very good form. He's won the race before - back in 2009 - and with a strong Sky team around him he's probably the favourite for today's race.
Can you call a three-time winner of San Remo a dark horse? Oscar Freire, is another rider who could win today. He's 36 but his form has been pretty impressive so far this season and he's picked up a couple of wins. He has so much experience that he can't be dismissed.
You can read about top ten favourites here.
Lets take a break from the favourites and welcome a very special guest into the CN blimp. Mr Greg LeMond, three-time winner of the Tour de France and second in Milan-San Remo back in 1986. Welcome Greg.
Thanks for having me.
I know it's actually really late where you are so we won't keep you for too long. Can you give us your summary, brief impressions of this race?
Sure. It's a long, long slog until you hit the coast and somewhat of a crap shoot but it is the start of the classics which I loved. I got got second in San Remo in 1986 to Sean Kelly. San Remo was a great race.
Was it always a big goal in your season?
Anytime you race a Classic it is a goal to win but the races that I was shooting for was the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix!
What do you remember about the finish with Kelly in 1986?
We didn't attack together. A guy named Beccia was away on the Poggio and I attacked with the hope I would make it over the top with Beccia. Kelly was right on me. I led the descent and pulled over with a one kilometer to go and tried to force Kelly to lead out the sprint. He won.
And that was the start of a great season for you.
Yes. Just getting into my prime. Did not last long!
You play it down but you had an amazing career. After the accident you came back superbly.
Not really- I had three good months after I got shot- prior to that I had three bad months in the six years I was a pro but it could have been worse- should be dead!
Do you ever thing about how many Tours you could have won had it not been for the accident?
Sure but I did not win them
I had a pretty good time racing so I can't complain too much!!
Well I think I can speak for most cycling fans and say you provided some of the most exciting, memorable race action in the history of the sport.
Can you give everyone an update on what you're working on now?
Thanks. Well, I did a nice ride today. But work wise, I'm working on some new trainers and some other exciting stuff. Watch this space.
Well thanks for joining us today Greg. Always a pleasure. I hope you'll be up to watch the finale in San Remo in 7 hours time.
Thanks for having me. I'll be up to watch the finish, no doubt.
Back to the action and we're under way in Milan. In terms of weather, it's fairly warm out - 17- 18 degrees. No rain and no win.
played #MSR on ProCyclingManager last night. Can reveal the result today will be Cancellara attack on the Poggio, Farrar wins sprint for 2nd
@mike_brader Sat, 17th Mar 2012 09:16:46
No action from the bunch yet but we're likely to see a flurry of attacks before the race heads along the coast. A group will go clear and we can expect a lead of perhaps 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the group and the speed of the bunch.
As for other favourites to watch out for, there's 2005 world champion Tom Boonen. The Belgian has shown some decent form this season and he's of course on the new Specialized Venge, the bike Goss used last year.
Boonen has finished second and third in San Remo before so he can go the distance and still sprint.
Nibali and Ballan are the two Italians with the best chances but they'll both rely on similar outcomes and tactics if they're going to win. If they do escape together it will be very interesting to see if they'll work together. My guess is that they almost certainly would.
You can check out today's complete startlist right here.
And for a history of Milan-San Remo winners you can click here.
There was a minute of silence at the start of today's race, with the Belgian riders all at the front. This was for the tragic coach crash that took place in Switzerland earlier this week, where 28 people lost their lives. The Belgian riders will be racing with black armbands today.
Still no action from the front of the bunch but that's no real surprise. Perhaps the best aspect about this race is how it builds up, from the start in Milan,as the race travels along the coast and then towards this huge crescendo in San-Remo.
And we’ve got a break. Up the road we have the following nine riders.
Cheng Ji (Project 1t4i), Juan Pablo Suarez (Colombia-Coldeportes), Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana), Angelo Pagani (Colnago-CSF), Vergard Stake Laengen (Team Type 1), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel), Pierpaolo De Negri (Farnese Vini), Michael Mørkøv (Saxo Bank), Oleg Berdos (UtensilNord).
break already gone in #msr First Chinese rider to ride MSR is so excited he is in there. 7+ mins on bunch....
@BriSmithy Sat, 17th Mar 2012 09:41:53
Cheng lost his passport back in 2011 and had endure an extended season in Europe during the Classics. It meant he was able to race more though. Fact of the day.
There are no real danger men in the move, in fact there's a few of the smaller teams represented, which is good to see. They'll be allowed a fair bit of leeway from the bunch and some much appreciated and hard earned TV time later in the race.
After 15kms of racing the leaders have a gap of 7:15 on the bunch.
No reaction from the bunch yet, which is to be expected in these early stages. We'll see a number of teams like Liquigas, BMC, Omega and Sky move up later in the race.
Italian riders have won Milano-Sanremo 50 times, with international riders having won 52 editions.
There are six previous Milano-Sanremo winners competing this year: Matt Goss, Mark Cavendish, Fabian Cancellara, Filippo Pozzato, Oscar Freire and Alessandro Petacchi.
Lets have a quick scan of the news.
Heinrich Haussler wrote a blog for CN on the eve of the race. Second in 2009, he's got a chance today and you can read his thoughts, right here.
And you can see a full gallery of images of Tom Boonen's Specialized Venge too.
And Gilbert has played down his chances of winning. The Belgian finished in the top ten last season and he's such a class act that you can't rule him out.
So what's your top three for today's race? Let me know. Twitter.com/dnlbenson
After 40kms of racing the lead is now up to 12 minutes. Sky have moved to the front but they're just setting a comfortable pace at the moment, keeping things in check and telling every other team that they mean business.
The 1t4i team are making their San Remo debut today. So far, so good with Cheng up the road in the break and Degenkolb back in the bunch.
You can read about the German's hopes for the race, right here.
It's his first crack at Milan-San Remo but you never know. He can sprint, there's no doubt about that, it just depends on how he handles the race distance.
A lot of people on Twitter are tipping Cancellara. He won the race in 2008 and finished second last year. He's certainly one of the favourites for today's finish. He has to time his move but we've seen over the last 12 months that he's not a bad sprinter, or at least he can keep some power in the tank after 250km of racing, so is more than a match when it comes to fast finishes after such long distances.
A quick get well to Alex Dowsett by the way. The young Sky rider is back in hospital after picking up an infection post-collar bone operation. Here's to a speedy recovery.
It's time to drop into the bunch and talk to a DS, wouldn't you agree?
Lets have a word with 1t4i DS Marc Reef, who is following the bunch.
Marc you must be happy with how the race is panning out for you and the team. A rider in the break Degenkolb in the bunch.
We've reached the first goal with Cheng in the break so we're very happy with that. It was first goal to have a rider in the first major attack of the day. The second goal is to make sure John Degenkolb can be there at the finish.
Who is looking after John in the first part of the race?
Tom Veelers, Roger Kluge will be keeping him out of trouble and safe for the first part of the race. Then, when things get really serious Koen de Kort and Simon Geschke will take over.
And what of John's chances today?
He's so focused on the result and it’s his first big goal of the season. We think we can do really well.
Thanks for joining us Marc, and good luck for the rest of the race.
A couple of you talking about Breschel on Twitter. A bit left field but it's possible. I wonder if Renshaw can also pull out a ride today.
228km to go, and the leaders now have 13:40 on the bunch.
No aggressive action from the bunch yet, but the lead seems to be stable, at around 13 minutes. There may be a few short showers later in the race and that could be a factor.
One rider we've not talked up yet this morning is Peter Sagan. The Liquigas rider heads into the race in good form, having picked up a stage win in Tirreno last week. The only concern is whether he can handle the distance. He's only won once over 250km and that was last week.
I can't believe he's still only 22.
Roughly 200km of racing left and Sky are still at the front of the bunch. There are a few BMC riders near the head of the field and Liquigas are also moving up.
And now I'm handing over to Susan. I'll be back on later today but for now it's over to Susan.
Thanks, Dan, I will try to keep things under control here.
We are nowhere near the halfway mark here. The gap looks to be hovering around the 12 minute mark.
Who has won this race the most often? Eddy Merckx, of course. He won it seven times, which is also the record for victories in one Classic.
And what were those seven years, you ask? 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975, and 1977.
More recently, Erik Zabel won the race four times. He would have won five, if he had not started celebrating too soon in 2004. Oscar Freire pipped him at the line to take the win.
And where are those two now? Together again, actually. Zabel is DS at Katusha and is actually at the race in one of those team cars. Now there's a dream team: Zabel and Friere. Which is one of the reasons I am leaning towards picking the Spaniard to win today.
We have now covered about 120 km and the first feeding zone will be coming up in about 14 km or so.
We all know that Australia's Matt Goss won the race last year (first Aussie to do so!), but do you know who won the very first edition? That was Lucien Petit-Breton of France, way back in 1907.
This race has been not held only three times in its history, all three war-related, of course. That was 1916, 1944 and 1945.
Let's take a look at some of the riders in the break, starting with Juan Suarez Suarez of Colombia Coldeportes. He is 25 years old and, yes, from Colombia.
The team website tells us: Professional since 2010, Juan Pablo already boasts a 12-wins palmares: excellent athlete, with climbing and long-running skills, Suarez managed to succeed in some of the top South American races, in Colombia (including a Clasico RCN stage), in Guatemala and in Brazil. In a short period spent in Europe last season, Juan Pablo collected a list of important placements, giving him a big boost ahead of his first complete season in the Old Continent.
Suarez should feel right at home, as the road has now begun to go up, ever so slightly. (Don't worry, it will become more and more so!)
Meanwhile the gap has dropped another minute, down to 11 minutes now.
Juan Jose Oroz of Euskaltel is 31. He holds the distinction of being the only rdier to have ridden all five Monuments from October 2007 to April 2008: Giro di Lombardia, Milan–San Remo, Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Paris–Roubaix and Liège–Bastogne–Liège.
Pier Paolo De Negri of Farnese Vine- Selle Italia is 25 years old. He had a successful amateur career, but apparently a bit less so since turning pro in 2009. His distinction is that he is the co-winner of a race.
How does that happen? When even a photo finish can't decide the winner. That happened in 2008 at the Giro del Casteltino, with the result that both De Negri and Simone Ponzi were declared co-winners.
Michael Mørkøv Christensen, to give him his full name, is a 26-year-old Dane riding for Saxo Bank. And his palmares are nearly as long as this race! He has any number of world and Danish titles on the track. Doesn't do so badly on the road either.
The gap has dropped another 30 seconds. Sky is leading the chase, with a little help from their friends at Liquigas and Katusha.
Cheng Ji, making his Milan-San Remo debut, is 24 and hails from China. Here is what his team, Project 1t4i, tells us about him:
The 24-year-old Cheng Ji came to Europe in 2007 at a very young age to gain experience with the professionals. A year later, the Chinese won a stage in the Tour of South China Sea. In 2009, Cheng rode a great classic for the first time. He started in Liège - Bastogne - Liège and later also in Gent-Wevelgem. He did not finish either race, but he gained a lot of experience which he'll take with him to future races, where he hopes to become the best Chinese cyclist. Ji does well at rugged circuits and in 2012, just like in 2011, shall ride a serious and balanced program in order to evolve as a cyclist. Paoli Bettini is Ji's idol and he looks forward to the Tour de France.
The lead group has crossed the first climb of the day, the Passo del Turchino, and is descending.
They are taking a reduced gap with them, as it is now only nine minutes.
Vegard Stake Laengen, 23, of Norway, rides for Team Type 1-Sanofi. He rode for Team Joker Bianchi/Joker Merida from 2009 to 2011. Last year he won the U23 European time trial championship title, and in 2010 had the overall win in the Giro della Regione Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Angelo Pagani is a 23-year-old second-year pro with Colnago-CSF Inox. Last year he won a stage at the Giro delle Regione.
We may have a race here after all! We are just about at the half-way point, and the gap has fallen yet again, now down to 7:15.
Oleg Berdos, 24, from Moldova, rides for UtensilNord-Named. He was national troad champion in 2007 and 2009. In 2008 he won a stage at the Giro del Friuli.
We now hear that there are only six riders in the lead group. Who the three are, and what happened to them, has not yet been made clear.
We seem to have missed out on Dmitriy Gruzdev in the break group. Let's just add him in there real fast.
Ah, for some reason the system won't let us. So let's just pretend we see him over there.....
Gruzdev is 25 and joined Astana as a stagiaire last year. This year he has already ridden the Tour Down Under and the Tour de Langkawi, where he finished seventh in the time trial. He was also second in the Asian Championships time trial.
The riders have been underway four hours already. Personally, we are already exhausted.
We are in fact so exhausted that we will have to turn things back over to Dan. Good luck bringing them all in safely, big guy!
The race started under sunny skies, but now the sun has hidden behind the clouds which have started rolling in. And we may well get the odd shower or two before this race wraps up.
Thanks Susan, glad to be back. I think it's time to call up another team boss. How about Patrick Leferve from Omega.
Hows the race going for the team so far?
Everything is going ok so far. We’ve got the break up the road but it’s not too dangerous. There ar few teams pulling so we’ll have to see what comes next.
You've got Tom Boonen in the race, one of the favourites. What's the tactic with him?
The tactic is to get Tom to the finish in the best condition possible. We want other teams to make the race hard so that some of the fastest sprinters are dropped and then Tom can go to the finish with a small group of favourites.
It's a tough finish though. What stands out for you in the final 1km?
A sprint after 300 km is very difficult. There are other details and there’s the finish itself, with the final corner, it’s very important to be in the first 3 positions. For someone like Tom he has to hope it’s a spint and has to go with around 200 meters to go and hope that no-one can pass him. We’re hoping that Ciolek will be with him for the final 500 meters.
The leaders are back together again after a short split. They have 7 minutes on the chasing pack.
Been out on the route of Milan-Sanremo. The coast is sheltered but the trees are flexing on the Cipressa.
@inrng Sat, 17th Mar 2012 13:30:07
No real action in the bunch yet and all the big guns are still together. For now...
One rider we've not talked about at all so far is Damiano Cunego. He's not in bad form and he could be a factor on the Poggio and Cipressa. No Scarponi this year, so Cunego will have a bit of room in the Lampre team to express himself.
Cancellara riding safely in the bunch at the moment. The Swiss powerhouse won Strade Bianche earlier this month with a trademark attack.
100km to go and the Farnese team are on the front for the first time today.
Sagan, for Liquigas, is also right up there.
I'm a bit surprised that Farnese are on the front, with a man up the front they dont need to chase at all, they must just be looking to put Pippo near the front.
It's windy at the finish right now. That may well help the sprinters's teams trying to keep things together.
Riders in the bunch are already starting to take risks, darting down the left hand side of the bunch to move up towards the head of the field. So much of this race comes down to positioning.
GreeEdge, there you go. Right at the front of the field, Garmin alongside them. Cavendish is a bit further back, right with Eisel.
The gap is down to 5:10.
Correction the time gap is 4:15
The peloton are on Le Manie. A critical climb.
Liquigas have put two men just ahead of the bunch. Nibali is one of them. They clearly want to increase the pace.
Liquigas doing the work on the front, Cancellara near the front and looking very good. Cavendish has drifted a little further back but he's still with the main group.
Nibali and co have eased slightly but they're still close to the front.
Hunt is now looking after Cavendish. Hunt was a key part in Cav's win at the Worlds last year. That ride secured him another year on the Sky team. Apparently.
It looks like the World champion has been dropped. that's not a good sign at all with over 90km to go.
Cavendish has a few teammates with him but it's going to be tough for him from here on in. He was very close to the front heading towards the climb but as soon as Liquigas put the hammer down he started going backwards.
Cavendish has a few teammates with him but it's going to be tough for him from here on in. He was very close to the front heading towards the climb but as soon as Liquigas put the hammer down he started going backwards.
A lot of the other sprinters will be rubbing their hands now, a sign of weakness from Cavendish at a very early stage of the main action. Does that now mean Boassan Hagen will become Sky's leader, or can Cavendish come back?
Susan jumping back in for a few minutes.
The peloton has pretty much come back together again, but they have all the incentive they need to keep the speed up as high as possible.
Meanwhile Eisel and Cavendish are trying furiously to catch up again.
The peloton wends its way down a series of hairpin curves. Cavendish grimaces, but can see a group ahead of him now.
Apparently Ji has been dropped from the lead group.
Cav's fate may be sealed. Sky have just Eisel with him at the moment. He's not on his own as there are a few more riders from others teams with him but he's apparently 1:30 back from the main bunch.
This could really change the dynamic of the race because a lot more teams and riders will fancy their chances. It's advantage Boonen, Sagan, Gilbert and Cancellara.
I remember having Thor off on la manie last year. It's a very tough call to figure which teammates wait and which stay up front. #toughcall
@Vaughters Sat, 17th Mar 2012 14:17:32
Pipo at the start: Liquigas are probably going to want to make the race as hard as they can. With Sagan and Nibali, they’ll want to make it hard and get rid of people like Cavendish, otherwise it will be very tough for them to win. As for us, we’ll try and be creative and see what happens."
And there's crash. A rider on the floor with medics all around him.
It's Quintero. As soon as we know more we'll let you know.
BMC and Omega are pushing the pace in the peloton, Cavendish at 1:50
The break are still out there but the bunch is closing. BMC and Omega hoping to end Cavendish's chances completely.
Cavendish has a few more guys with him now. Three Sky riders it seems in the chase group
The leaders are in Loana now.
BMC continue to drive the bunch along, with Van Avermaet, Gilbert and Ballan, they have three main cards to play. You'd have to say that Ballan has the best form out of those three but last year both Van Avermaet and Gilbert played significant roles in the race.
Cav has four men with him setting the pace in the chase group. It's going to be tough for the world champion to get back on, he was 1:30 back on the main peloton at the last time check.
We're hearing that Quintero has regained consciousness. He was motionless on the road earlier but we didn't want to speculate.
Di Luca also crashed but he was back on his bike fairly quickly.
Right now the break is going through the feedzone.
This is where Cavendish and his group need to make contact again. There could be a slight easing in pace, and that's where Sky have to take advantage.
Cavendish makes it back to the peloton. Fantastic chase from the Sky team. Cav has a bit of time to recover before the next set of climbs in around 15km.
Correction: Cavendish was coming back to the chase group, not the peloton. He's still 50 seconds back from the peloton. My bad.
Apparently Farrar is in the group with Cavendish.
Gilbert moves to the front, with ease and has a chat with his teammates, he shakes his head and moves back. I think he wants other teams to work as well. Gilbert looks very, very comfortable.
Less than 60km to go and the race is starting to take shape: A group of 9 up the road, the BMC-Omega led peloton chasing, with Cavendish and 4 Sky riders leading the next group on the road.
The Cavendish group is about 50-60 strong and they're still fighting to get back.
Garmin has moved up in the main peloton, so Haussler is happy to commit some of his troops at this stage.
Van Summeren near the front and Haussler has moved up to the front as well.
EBH will have had the call already, Sky seem to be split between plan A and plan B at the moment. If they can get Cavendish back to the main group they'll be better for it but EBH will be the leader if that doesn't happen.
Katusha and Farnese also setting the pace so it's Sky versus a number of squads right now.
The Cavendish group are 50 seconds down on the bunch.
He's gritting his teeth and hanging on but he doesn't look comfortable. Hayman is on the front and driving the pace for Cavendish.
A shake of the head from Cavendish, who is sitting on Ciolek's wheel.
It looks like the pace has gone out of the Cavendish group. All over for the world champion.
Cav gives one of his teammates a pat on the back but now the races changes. Word will get back to the bunch about this change but I cant see the pace easing because we're heading into another crucial stage of the race.
Update: Carlos Quintero suffered a bad crash, but he's now conscious. He was taken to the hospital in Pietra Ligure, has a suspected humerus fracture and a head injury, but things don't look as serious as feared at first
Boonen's boys are still setting the pace on the front, with Farnese, BMC and Katusha also chipping in.
Visconti is in the main field and Cancellara also there, with three teammates ahead of him.
The pace has eased slightly in the bunch but again positioning will be key, hence why Cancellara still has three men keeping him at the front.
There's crash at the back of the bunch. Burghardt is one of the men down but they're all back up and chasing.
Cheng, back in the bunch, has reverted to taking water bottles up to his teammates in the front of the bunch. He's had a great ride today.
We're on the Capo Berta with Liquigas on the front, with Nibali, Oss and Sagan all in the bunch.
Farnese on the front again: Gatto and Pozzato their men for the finale.
Lots of tired legs out there, the pace has been so fast today but they've eased off slightly before we hit the most critical part of the race with the final set of climbs.
Bennati is also present in the main bunch. If it comes down to a sprint he's not a bad shout for the win. He's got staying power, that's for sure and he had a good ride in Strade Bianche, setting things up for Cancellara's impressive attack.
Boonen's men still doing a lot of work. Rabobank also up near the front, with Breschel. No sign of Renshaw and whether he's in the group or not.
Di Luca is in the lead group, he;s right at the back, spinning a small gear. He's hanging in there....
Less than 30km to go and this race is wide open. We need an attack from one of the main favourites but they're all waiting for the Cipressa.
Four BMC riders on the front now, one of them is Ballan.
The Italian is in second wheel, Freire has moved up and he's on Gilbert's wheel but Liquigas move up with their riders and hit the front of the bunch. The Italian team lead us onto the Cipressa.
Gilbert is right up there, Freire right on his wheel.
Boonen is with Cancellara a little further back but no attacks because Liquigas are setting a tough pace.
Oss is second in line for Liquigas.
Bennati takes a look back, keeping an eye out for Cancellara.
Agnoli on the front for Liquigas has done all of the work so far.
Boonen is just behind Gilbert, both Belgians are looking very comfortable at the moment.
An attack and it's a rider from the Utensilnord team.
Another rider goes passed him. And it's Johnny Hoogerland.
The peloton have eased up a bit and that's given these two riders the opportunity. You dont want to give Hoogerland too much room.
Now Movistar try and throw a rider up the road.
It's Rui Costa.
Vacansoleil have been in great form so far this season and this is the first time we've seen then during the race.
The bunch have slowed and this move is very dangerous. Boonen puts his men on the front.
Costa has been caught, the two leaders have 11 seconds and we're about 1km from the top of the Cipressa.
Crash and Gilbert is on the ground.
The Belgian is back on his bike and chasing.
Gusev is also down.
Gilbert is back up and on his bike and chasing. He should make contact before the Poggio.
The bunch are on the descent of the Cipressa.
20km to go. Villa leads on the descent, with Hoogerland on his wheel.
It looks like it's all coming back together though.
Gilbert will struggle to get back on now. Di Luca was also caught up in that crash.
Popovich brings it all back together. Then Liquigas on the front with Agnoli, Cancellara, Nibali, Boonen Oss all there. There are around 15 riders in the lead group but again it's coming back together.
Another easing in the pace. Cancellara is sitting in second wheel.
Boonen, Goss, Cancellara, Freire are all in this group.
We're closing in on the Poggio. Things are getting very nervous, and we're 9km away from the climb.
Van Avermaet is also in the main group as BMC and Farnese take up the pace setting one more time.
EBH, Visconti are also in the lead group.
Just the Poggio to come. Visconti needs to move up, he's a bit too far back for my licking. Modolo is also there and Lars Boom.
Sagan at the front, on Oss's wheel.
Goss is at the back of the group. He's hanging in there too.
The defending champion is giving it everything.
Four Rabobank men hit the front of the bunch. Great timing as we make our way to the foot of the Poggio.
Breschel, Boom are both there, but I can't pick out Renshaw. I think he's there though. Yep, there he is.
And Rabo lead us onto the climb
Attack from Agnoli.
Tankink on the front of the peloton and he has to chase down Agnoli
Now a Movistar rider attacks but it's all coming back together.
8km to go
Rabobank still setting the pace
Roughly 30 riders in this lead group now
Madrazo is pushing on, Agnoli is cooked
Goss is still hanging in there at the back of the group. Can he do he hang on. That's a great ride from the Australian.
He has a teammate with him.
Another attack and it's Hoogerland again.
And now a response and Gerrans and Nibalia going off the front.
Nibali in front now with Gerrans on his wheel. Cancellara is chasing and makes it over to them.
GreenEdge have played their cards well today.
The gap is around 20 meters already.
BMC and Omega have to chase.
Cancellara set the pace and it's Breschel and Freire doing the chase as we start the descent.
Katusha take up the chase. Sagan is there too.
6km to go and the gap is 4 seconds.
Cancellara on the front for the descent, Gerrans second, with Nibali in third wheel..
The gap has gone out slightly, Cancellara still setting the pace
Sagan in the chase group.
4km to go. The gap is 5 seconds.
I think Freire is doing the chase work himself. As Cancellara still sets the pace.
Cancellara isnt letting up, Freire and Degenkolb are in the chase group. they have 12 seconds.
This looks so good for Gerrans
1.8km to go
Gerrans comes through and takes a turn.
A good advantage, at around 10 seconds with 1.2km to go.
Nibali hasnt taken a turn yet.
1k to go.
Cancellara takes a look back.
The bunch is closing.
it's so close
Cancellara still pulls.
Gerrans takes it!
Two in a row for Australia.
Cancellara grabbed second, with a tiring Nibali in third.
There was a crash in the final corner with Boonen hitting the deck. It looks like Sagan took 4th with Degenkolb in 5th
What a great finale to a great race. You have to take your hat off to Gerrans, he rode the perfect race.
He was right on Nibali's wheel on the final climb, allowed Cancellara to do most of the work all the way to the finish and then timed his sprint very well indeed.
Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge 6:59:24
2 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
3 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4 Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
5 John Degenkolb (Ger) Project 1t4i
6 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini - Selle Italia
Thanks for joining us today, for what's been another great Milan-San Remo. You can find our report, pix, and results all here.