Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) has admitted that he left himself with too much to do in the finale of Saturday’s Milan-San Remo, after getting caught in the second group when the peloton split on the descent of Le Manie, 90km from the finish.
“I was sleeping,” Scarponi told Gazzetta dello Sport. “I was behind, and behind I stayed.
“It was my own fault. On the descent I went slowly because there were riders in the middle of the road. In an instant, we were over two minutes down.”
Scarponi subsequently launched a blistering attack on the Cipressa and incredibly managed to bridge a one-minute gap to the lead group of 44 riders all by himself. Remarkably, the Italian still had the wherewithal to form part of the eight-man group that contested the finish, ultimately finishing in 6th place,
“The gap had come down to a minute but I wasn't certain of getting back on, so I said it was now or never,” Scarponi said. “I attacked hoping not to bring anybody with me so as not to create problems for Alessandro Petacchi.”
He explained that it was difficult to know how to dose his effort during his pursuit on the Cipressa, with the pace beginning to rise up ahead.
“I ate up half a minute on the climb, and the other half between the descent and the flat afterwards,” he said. “I knew I was using up a lot of energy, I was hoping I wasn’t using up too much or all of it.”
When Scarponi made it up the leaders on the approach to the Poggio, he discussed tactics with his teammate Petacchi. The 2005 Milan-San Remo winner had made the split on Le Manie, but gave Scarponi the green light to follow the attacks rather than attempt to set up the sprint.
“When I got back on, the first thing I did was congratulate myself, then I went to Petacchi,” Scarponi said. “He told me that if somebody attacked, it would be up to me.”
Scarponi then managed to stay in contention over the top of the Poggio, and was among the select clutch of riders who were able to reel in Vincenzo Nibali’s (Liquigas-Cannondale) acceleration. All too aware that the likes of Matt Goss (HTC-Highroad) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) were faster sprinters, Scarponi tried to jump early in the finishing straight.
“I tried to anticipate the finishing sprint,” he said. “Three hundred metres from the line, I was first. I can say that if Milan-San Remo was 297.7km instead of 298, I’d have won it.”
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