Milram's tactics 'just didn't work'

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram)

Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

A disappointing Milano-Sanremo for Team Milram ended with four-time champion Erik Zabel and 2005 winner Alessandro Petacchi coming home 17th and 18th respectively as the team's decision to bank on a bunch sprint proved their undoing. In the previous 12 editions of Italy's most prestigious one-day race, just three have ended without bunch finishes, but the addition of the 4km climb of Le Mànie this year may just have softened the sprinters a little more than expected.

"I am not angry," stated Petacchi. "My condition was good, but unfortunately not super, and so I chose not to respond to attacks on the Poggio. My only chance was if the break did not succeed and so I remained with my team-mates Zabel and [Fabio] Sabatini."

With Zabel working for Petacchi, the German gave his all to bring back the leaders in the final three kilometres, but against the firepower of Fabian Cancellara there was no answer. "Together with Fabio Sabatini I tried to close the gap to the leaders," said Zabel. "Unfortunately their lead was too big. We did everything we could, but this time our tactics just didn't work."

Rolling across the line 5'42 behind the winner was Christian Knees, his work done before the final ascent of the Poggio. "I could support Erik and Alessandro up to the last climb," said Knees. "It was a very difficult race today, and especially the new climb Le Mànie cost a lot of strength. Unfortunately we couldn't be involved in the finale as we had planned. After such a strenuous day of such an extremely long race, that is naturally disappointing."

Petacchi will return to competition on Monday at the Rund um Köln in Cologne, Germany before starting his build-up for Gent-Wevelgem on April 9.

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