Gerald Ciolek wins Milan-San Remo

Sagan second, Cancellara third

Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) won a shortened version of Milan-San Remo, as snow forced organisers to cut the first two climbs. The German sprinter took the close win ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) in a thrilling sprint finish.

As so often this season, the weather played a major role in the race. Snow forced the organizers to take the Turchino and La Manie climbs out of the race, with the nearly-frozen riders re-starting the race in Cogoleto, after a nearly two-hour break.

Ciolek was part of a six-rider group which formed on the descent of the Poggio that included Sagan, Cancellara, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Ian Stannard (Team Sky), and Luca Paolini (Katusha). The German sprinter let the others take the lead on the sharp, steep descent, and played his cards cleverly in the finale.

Stannard led the way in the final kilometre, and Sagan opened the sprint once the break caught sight of a closing Taylor Phinney (BMC). However Ciolek, came off Sagan’s wheel to take the biggest win of his career and firmly put the MTN-Qhubeka team on the map. Chavanel, who had attacked with Stannard on the Cipressa, was forced to settle for fourth.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Ciolek after crossing the finish line. “This is an unbelievable success for us and just an incredible day. We just came here as a wildcard and now we’re standing here with the trophy. This is great. I knew I had to follow all the best riders on the Poggio and it worked out perfectly.

“When I chose this team, people wondered why I would join a Pro Continental team but it’s just been unbelievable. The coaching and staff on this team is so professional. I have never seen management care so much for the riders. I am happy to be on this team."

Snow, rain, cold and buses

Slate grey skies and low temperatures greeted the riders as they gathered in Milan’s Piazza Castello and much of the start-line chatter was focused on the weather forecast, although at that point few anticipated the severity of the impact it would have on the day’s events. A light rain began to fall just as the peloton began to snake its way out of the city centre, but 150 kilometres away, the Passo del Turchino was already banked with snow.

When the flag dropped, however, rumours of a neutralised Turchino were just that, and there was a typically fast start to proceedings. The early break went away shortly beyond the city limits, with Diego Rosa (Androni-Venezuela), Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Francesco Fortin (Bardiani-CSF Inox) forging clear, and after 15km, their lead was already five minutes.

At Pavia (40km), the sextet had 10:35 in hand, and they averaged a brisk 46.4kph for the first hour of racing. By that point, however, the rumours of snow on the Turchino had been confirmed and the race organisers were compelled to come up with an ad hoc solution to ensure the safety of the riders.

It was decided that the race would be neutralised for 46km between Ovada and Arenzano: rather than climb the Turchino, the peloton would stop at the 117km point and clamber back aboard their team buses, re-starting over an hour later.

Given that snow had fallen overnight on the Turchino, questions will be asked as to why the race organisers had not taken more satisfactory measures beforehand to circumvent the climb, but there was no time for the break to debate the whys and wherefores as they sped through the snow towards Ovada. Their race had now become something of a time trial, as they sought to build up as big a lead as possible before the re-start, and they duly reached the stop with 7:10.

La Manie, the next climb, was also taken out, and the race was restarted in heavy rain at Cogoleto. Not all the riders took to the second part of the race, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Tom Boonen being the biggest name to remain in the bus, with hard words for race organizers.

The weather stayed cold and wet, and more riders abandoned as the race went on. With 40km to go, the climbing finally started, but by then only three riders were still in the lead. Bak, Rosa and Belkov had shed their other three companions along the way, with the trio holding a two-minute lead up the Capo Berto.

A reduced peloton, by now shedding its extra layers of clothing, was determined to catch the break group before the Cipressa. The cold conditions began to take a toll on even the best and Vincenzo Nibali was the biggest casualty as he pulled out due to the cold.

By now, Sky had attempted to stamp their authority on the race and it appeared to be working until a crash saw Geraint Thomas and several teammates hit the deck along with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp).

The first attack on the Cipressa, led by Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Sylvain Chavanel, was not successful, while surprisingly, Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen fell off the back of the group. He was not the only one, as Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and 2005 winner Alessandro Petacchi all lost the struggle to hang on.

The group topped out on the Cipressa with only about 40 riders. World Champion Philippe Gilbert of BMC led the way down, perhaps hoping to build up enough of a lead to stay away for the remaining 20 kilometres. It was not to be, as Chavanel lead a group of six, including Sagan up to the Belgian.

The next lead group to form was Chavanel, Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) and Ian Stannard (Sky). The field didn't want to let them go, and kept them within 30 seconds, as the rain started again. Vorganov lost ground on the Poggio and was quickly passed by Maxim Iglinskiy.

But on the descent Sagan led a counter attack with Cancellara and reeled in Chavanel and Stannard. Ciolek also made the move.

They caught the two leaders with just less than 4km to go. Stannard jumped, but Sagan led the chase, and then took off on his own. Cancellara gave chase, with all coming together, until Stannard jumped again with 1.8km to go.

The six came through the final kilometre with a sufficient gap, but it was the sight of Phinney tearing across that ignited the sprint and set the wheels in motion for Ciolek.

Full Results
1Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka5:37:20 
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
3Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard  
4Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
5Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha  
6Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling  
7Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team  
8Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha0:00:14 
9Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
10Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling  
11Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team  
12Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
13Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling  
14Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
15Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar  
16Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
17Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
18John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
19Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ  
20Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia  
21Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team  
22Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha  
23Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
24Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha  
25Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team  
26Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar  
27Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling  
28Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
29Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
30Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard  
31Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
32Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
33Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
34Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia  
35Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
36Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
37Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling  
38Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:00:20 
39Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
40Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
41Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ0:00:56 
42Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling  
43Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha  
44Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard0:02:39 
45Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:02:42 
46Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:03:26 
47Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge  
48Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team0:03:35 
49Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:04:40 
50Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
51Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
52Davide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:13 
53Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka  
54Mark Renshaw (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
55Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
56Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard  
57Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
58André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol  
59Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling  
60Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling  
61Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia  
62Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
63Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
64Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol  
65Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
66Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
67Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge  
68Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
69Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard  
70Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp  
71Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
72Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
73Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
74Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp  
75Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
76Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
77Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
78Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
79Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
80Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team  
81Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:07:49 
82Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team0:08:59 
83Marco Bandiera (Ita) IAM Cycling0:09:20 
84Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
85Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
86Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:09:22 
87Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp  
88Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:11:19 
89Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:11:21 
90Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol0:11:29 
91Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol  
92Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp  
93Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
94Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
95Alessandro Proni (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:11:39 
96Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:11:44 
97Murilo Antonio FISCHER  
98Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
99Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
100Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ  
101David Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
102Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka0:11:46 
103Jacobus Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
104Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
105Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
106Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team  
107Massimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
108Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
109Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:11:49 
110Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
111Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
112Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
113Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team  
114Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia  
115Rick Flens (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
116Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling  
117Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol  
118Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling  
119Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar  
120Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha  
121Tomas Aurelio Gil Martinez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli  
122Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
123Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
124Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:11:56 
125Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:13:09 
126Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
127Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar  
128Andreas Stauff (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka  
129Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ  
130Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard  
131Dominic Klemme (Ger) IAM Cycling  
132Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
133Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ  
134Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:15:03 
135Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Katusha0:18:25 
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFManuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFSteve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFMatteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFFranco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFRiccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFJackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFMiguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFEmanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFVincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFFrancesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
DNFFrancesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
DNFNicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
DNFMarco Canola (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
DNFFilippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox  
DNFLars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFTom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team  
DNFThor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team  
DNFKlaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFPaolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFEgoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFMiguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFRobert Vrecer (Slo) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ  
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) FDJ  
DNFRobert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFDavid Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFAliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha  
DNFDiego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFAdam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol  
DNFFrederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFAndrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
DNFPablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFEloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFMartin Reimer (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFTom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFNiki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFHayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFEdvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling  
DNFVasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky Procycling  
DNFKanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling  
DNFGeraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling  
DNFKoen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFJi Cheng (Chn) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFMatthieu Sprick (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFJerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFDavid Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar  
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFKris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFJonathan Monsalve (Ven) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia  

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