Crashes before and after the Manie climb wrecked the chances of several Milan-San Remo favourites, including three-time winner Oscar Freire. The Spaniard hit the ground hard in the descent of the climb. He finished the race in the main peloton but was 5:23 behind winner Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad).
"I was riding in front, within the first ten riders, as I knew that the road was dangerous due to the rain," the Rabobank leader told Marca after the race. "I got up again quickly, but I couldn't continue as my chain was off and my rear wheel was broken. There was also a problem with the heel of my shoe..."
Freire changed bike and shoes, but as he reached the end of the descent he was 2:40 minutes to the leaders. "I raced well, but I wasn't lucky," he added. "There was a bend to the right, a hairpin so we took it very slow, but my bike just slid away and I fell down. Others crashed before that, some afterwards. I crashed when I least expected it."
It was the first time that Freire has crashed in ten rides at Milan-San Remo. 94th was also his worst-ever result. His three victories came in 2004, 2007 and 2010.
Freire will now turn his attention to the Spring Classics, hoping for better luck. "At least I know my form is good," he said. He is also hoping that the light pain he was feeling in his knee would not be holding him back. "As I had to change shoes, I felt it. But I hope it's nothing serious, as I'll be racing Gent-Wevelgem next Sunday."
The Spaniard will then continue his race program with the Vuelta al País Vasco, the Flèche Brabançonne, the Amstel Gold Race, Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège. After that, he will travel to the USA for the Tour of California.
The three-time World Champion will not participate in the Giro d'Italia or the Tour de France this year, focusing instead on the Vuelta a Espana as a build-up for the Worlds in Copenhagen.