TechPowered By

More tech

Freire gives Oscar-winning performance in Milan - San Remo

Richard Tyler

Nico Mattan on Milan-San Remo:

Some people were surprised that Oscar Freire won Milan-San Remo but I wasn't. The riders went so easy on the Poggio, that it was going to be a bunch sprint and he knows how to win after 298km.

I know Gilbert gave it a go but you could see he was not at 100% and was never going to get away. Pozzato was probably the strongest but there wasn't much he could, with everybody else wanting a sprint finish. Anyway, cycling is not like 15 years ago when riders attacked on the Poggio and stayed away. Now everyone is at a similar level and so Milan-San Remo is not as spectacular. It will probably always end in a group sprint now unless they add an extra climb or move the finish to the top of the Poggio.

In races over 250km, Freire is the best sprinter out there, that's why he won three world titles and now three Milan-San Remo. Boonen was there but he's not really a sprinter like Freire, Cavendish or Petacchi, he's a cobbled classics rider who has a fast finish.

Freire also wanted it more. He'll never win on the cobbles, he doesn't like them, and so he put everything on winning Milan-San Remo. Now it's up to Boonen to prove he's as hungry for another win at the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.

Spaniard takes his third Milan - San Remo victory

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) claimed his third and most emphatic victory in the Italian Classic, Milan-San Remo, on Saturday afternoon. The Spaniard positioned himself perfectly for a sprint finish from a select group of 25 riders to defeat race favourite Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini).

Despite several spirited attempts by riders to get away on the ever-decisive Poggio, the favourites all regrouped in the three-kilometre dash towards the finish. Liquigas entered the final kilometre at the front, but it was a cagey Freire who benefited most from the lime green lead-out as he leapt out from third wheel to finish a bike length clear of Boonen.

"I think I deserved to win my first win Milan-San Remo because Zabel wasn't the same rider he had been," said Freire, as he compared his 2004 and 2007 wins with his latest title. "The second Milan-San Remo went really went and I did a great sprint. This year it was the same. I think I had good form. I was scared of the finish because it wasn't on the Via Roma, which I prefer. Fortunately it went well."

Snap, crackle and pop on the Poggio

The sprint finish defied pre-race predictions of late attackers being able to stay away, though, it was not for lack of trying. A nervous-looking peloton appeared willing to delay hostilities on the Cipressa, and despite a move by Alexandr Kolobnev (Katusha) towards the top of the penultimate climb, it wasn't until the Poggio that all-out war commenced.

A bold move by Yoann Offredo (Francaise des Jeux) on the descent off the Cipressa was met just kilometres later, on the Poggio, with a stampede from a Stefano Garzelli-led peloton. As the Acqua & Sapone man swung off, Michael Rogers (HTC-Columbia) tore off the front of the race, with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) launching their own counter-attacks.

Pozzato led the race over the summit, but as he began the descent, the proximity of his rivals made it clear that a sizable group was going to make it to the finish. Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) led a hair-raising descent into San Remo and although he took Pozzato, Gilbert, Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) and Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) with him, the race once again came back together as the terrain flattened out for the final kilometres.

Freire admitted afterwards that this regrouping was key to his eventual victory. "The most difficult moment for me was on the descent of Poggio," he said. "Pozzato got a gap with five or six others. I was scared they'd stay away. Then when he attacked I knew I had to just find a good wheel because I couldn't chase him. That was the only way I could win was in a sprint."

A final flourish from Nibali was answered by Pozzato, who went clear with two kilometres to go. After a moment's hesitation by the pack, Liquigas took responsibility for drawing the Italian Champion back once more as its team led the way into the final kilometre. Around a minute later, Freire slid out of their slipstream and sprinted across the line for yet another famous victory at La Classicisma.

"The statistics say that Milan-San Remo finishes more often than not in a sprint and so the sprinters have to wait for the sprint. There are always attacks, for sure, but there always are a lot of sprinters who want a sprint finish. A team like Liquigas could have done everything, go on the attack or wait for the sprint. They opted for a sprint but we all took advantage of that.

"When I started the sprint I knew I was in a good position and had good legs for it," he said. "I'd been worried about being blocked in like two years ago but this time the right people were up there for the sprint and I found the right wheel. Bennati went, but I don't think he had the legs today."

And so it begins

Just under seven hours earlier, the peloton had left a drizzly Milan for their journey to the coast. With the flag pulled in, the customary early attack followed just three kilometres down the road. Unsurprisingly, it was an all Italian affair as Fabrice Piemontesi (Androni Giocatolli), Aristide Ratti (Carmiooro NGC) and Diego Caccia (ISD-Neri) used the outskirts of Milan to make good their escape.

With almost 300 kilometres on the day's agenda, the trio were given a wide berth. Lampre-Farnese Vini, Liquigas-Doimo, Katusha and HTC-Columbia were the teams patrolling the front of the peloton behind, but their tempo was tranquil enough to allow the leaders to push out to over 22 minutes. However, as they approached the Passo del Turchino the leaders' time gap commenced its gradual retreat.

Quick Step now making themselves visible at the front of the main group, the time gap began to drop. The leaders began the climb with 16:25 and they finished it with a little over 12 minutes. There was no rush to shrink that gap further, and the leaders were still out in front on the slopes of Le Mànie, with 100 kilometres to go. But their advantage was now a meagre two minutes.

While the leaders had been making their way between the Turchino and Le Mànie, the race behind had split after a crash on the descent of the Turchino, with reigning champion Mark Cavendish caught in the latter selection. The Briton's HTC-Columbia squad immediately came to the front in order to limit the damage. While Cavendish's men set to work, Murilo Fischer (Garmin-Transitions), who had also crashed in the incident, left the race with a broken collarbone.

As attention focussed on the gap between the pelotons, the leaders were brought back by the front section of the grim-coated group at 81 kilometres-to-go. Caccia, who had spent more than 200 kilometres out in front, had clearly developed a penchant for that position in the race. The Italian took point duty at the front and controlled the tempo of the 30-strong group for another five kilometres.

With no-one in the mood to push the pace in the front group, the two halves of the peloton reformed. But at 60 kilometres to go AG2R-La Mondiale's Maxime Bouet decided to attempt mission impossible as he fired off the front. The young Frenchman quickly built a 20-second buffer, which he gradually stretched out towards 40 seconds. Dimitri Grabovskyy (ISD-Neri) was one of the first to answer the move as seven riders attempted to bridge across to the lone leader.

Grabovskyy was the only one able to catch Bouet. He made brief contact before storming past the AG2R rider on the Capo Berta. Unfortunately for the Ukrainian, the peloton had started to sharpen the pencil and it wasn't long before he too was recouped after the town of Imperia, with 37 kilometres to go.

With Grabovskyy caught and the peloton once again back to status quo, Milram led onto the Cipressa and into what would be a fantastic finale for Freire.

Full Results

# Rider Name (Country) Team Result
1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 6:57:28  
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step    
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
4 Sacha Modolo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
5 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo Test Team    
7 Francesco Ginanni (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
8 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana    
9 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
10 Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
11 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
12 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
13 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana    
14 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) Team Radioshack    
15 Paul Martens (Ger) Rabobank    
16 Yoann Offredo (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
17 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Team Saxo Bank    
18 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
19 Linus Gerdemann (Ger) Team Milram    
20 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
21 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Quick Step    
22 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
23 Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
24 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Cervelo Test Team    
25 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia    
26 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana 0:00:09  
27 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
28 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
29 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Team Katusha 0:00:18  
30 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:00:21  
31 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) Team Katusha 0:00:39  
32 Simon Clarke (Aus) ISD - Neri 0:01:35  
33 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
34 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
35 Andreas Klier (Ger) Cervelo Test Team    
36 Alan Perez Lezaun (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi 0:01:40  
37 Dmitriy Muravyev (Kaz) Team Radioshack    
38 Lloyd Mondory (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
39 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
40 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Carmiooro NGC    
41 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram    
42 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin - Transitions    
43 Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
44 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team HTC - Columbia    
45 Ruben Perez Moreno (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
46 Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha    
47 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
48 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Team Katusha    
49 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Caisse d'Epargne    
50 Christian Knees (Ger) Team Milram    
51 Markus Fothen (Ger) Team Milram    
52 Karsten Kroon (Ned) BMC Racing Team    
53 Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Française Des Jeux    
54 Michael Barry (Can) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
55 George Hincapie (USA) BMC Racing Team    
56 Markel Irizar Aranburu (Spa) Team Radioshack    
57 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) Team Radioshack    
58 Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli    
59 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Cervelo Test Team    
60 Bram Tankink (Ned) Rabobank    
61 Nick Nuyens (Bel) Rabobank    
62 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Rabobank    
63 Oscar Gatto (Ita) ISD - Neri    
64 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
65 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
66 Rene Mandri (Est) AG2R La Mondiale    
67 William Bonnet (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
68 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step    
69 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Carmiooro NGC    
70 Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
71 Jérôme Pineau (Fra) Quick Step    
72 Inaki Isasi Flores (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
73 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
74 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
75 Dries Devenyns (Bel) Quick Step    
76 Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col) Androni Giocattoli    
77 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
78 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) Astana    
79 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
80 Benoît Vaugrenard (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
81 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Caisse d'Epargne    
82 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:01:49  
83 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
84 Dimitri Champion (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:54  
85 Francesco Failli (Ita) Acqua & Sapone 0:03:04  
86 Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Liquigas-Doimo 0:03:13  
87 Vasili Kiryienka (Blr) Caisse d'Epargne    
88 Steve Chainel (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom 0:05:29  
89 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC - Columbia 0:06:12  
90 Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Astana    
91 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) ISD - Neri    
92 Grégory Rast (Swi) Team Radioshack    
93 Thomas Leezer (Ned) Rabobank    
94 Lars Boom (Ned) Rabobank    
95 Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Rabobank    
96 Greg Henderson (NZl) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
97 Brett Lancaster (Aus) Cervelo Test Team    
98 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin - Transitions    
99 Christopher Sutton (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
100 Cameron Wurf (Aus) Androni Giocattoli    
101 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
102 Frédéric Guesdon (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
103 Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
104 Anders Lund (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
105 David Millar (GBr) Garmin - Transitions    
106 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
107 Marco Velo (Ita) Quick Step    
108 Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne    
109 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom 0:10:07  
110 Biel Kadri (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
111 Luca Mazzanti (Ita) Team Katusha    
112 Daryl Impey (RSA) Team Radioshack    
113 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) Team Radioshack    
114 Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
115 Peter Wrolich (Aut) Team Milram    
116 Alan Marangoni (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
117 Marco Frapporti (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
118 Vladimir Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale    
119 Mathieu Claude (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
120 Stuart O'grady (Aus) Team Saxo Bank    
121 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Team HTC - Columbia    
122 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Garmin - Transitions    
123 Paul Voss (Ger) Team Milram    
124 Danilo Hondo (Ger) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
125 Staf Scheirlinckx (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
126 Allan Davis (Aus) Astana    
127 Frank Hoj (Den) Team Saxo Bank    
128 Gustav Larsson (Swe) Team Saxo Bank    
129 Mathew Hayman (Aus) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
130 Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr) ISD - Neri    
131 Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) ISD - Neri    
132 Aristide Ratti (Ita) Carmiooro NGC    
133 Jure Kocjan (Slo) Carmiooro NGC    
134 Vladimir Miholjevic (Cro) Acqua & Sapone    
135 Alessandro Fantini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
136 Pablo Urtasun Perez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
137 Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
138 Laurent Beuret (Swi) Carmiooro NGC    
139 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Androni Giocattoli    
140 Eric Berthou (Fra) Carmiooro NGC    
141 Luke Roberts (Aus) Team Milram 0:10:18  
142 Jeremy Hunt (GBr) Cervelo Test Team 0:14:24  
143 Olivier Bonnaire (Fra) Française Des Jeux    
144 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
145 Valeriy Dmitriyev (Kaz) Astana 0:17:17  
146 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
147 Roy Sentjens (Bel) Team Milram    
148 Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
149 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) Française Des Jeux    
150 Diego Caccia (Ita) ISD - Neri    
151 Daniele Ratto (Ita) Carmiooro NGC    
152 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
153 Fabrice Piemontesi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Michael Albasini (Swi) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Maxime Monfort (Bel) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC - Columbia    
DNF Dario Andriotto (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Massimo Codol (Ita) Acqua & Sapone    
DNF Alexander Efimkin (Rus) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Damiano Margutti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Sergey Renev (Kaz) Astana    
DNF Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Saïd Haddou (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Alexandre Pichot (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Damien Gaudin (Fra) BBox Bouygues Telecom    
DNF Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Brent Bookwalter (USA) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Marzio Bruseghin (Ita) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Caisse d'Epargne    
DNF Raffaele Ferrara (Ita) Carmiooro NGC    
DNF Roger Hammond (GBr) Cervelo Test Team    
DNF Dominique Rollin (Can) Cervelo Test Team    
DNF Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
DNF Federico Canuti (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
DNF Simone Stortoni (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox    
DNF Koldo Fernandez (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Amets Txurruka (Spa) Euskaltel - Euskadi    
DNF Julian Dean (NZl) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Svein Tuft (Can) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Garmin - Transitions    
DNF Carlo Scognamiglio (Ita) ISD - Neri    
DNF Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) ISD - Neri    
DNF Mauro Da Dalto (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini    
DNF Fabio Sabatini (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
DNF Wilfried Cretskens (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Michiel Elijzen (Ned) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Sebastian Lang (Ger) Omega Pharma-Lotto    
DNF Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Quick Step    
DNF Maarten Wynants (Bel) Quick Step    
DNF Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Professional Cycling Team    
DNF Marco Bandiera (Ita) Team Katusha    
DNF Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus) Team Katusha    
DNF Kim Kirchen (Lux) Team Katusha    
DNF Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) Team Radioshack    
DNF Andy Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank    
DNF Baden Cooke (Aus) Team Saxo Bank