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Live coverage

Milan-San Remo 2013

Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage from Milan-San Remo.

Good morning and welcome to our live coverage from Milan-San Remo, the first monument of the 2013 season.

We're set for an epic day of action from the Classics today with a 298km race along one of the most prestigious routes in cycling.

Milan-San Remo is unequivocally one of the most beautiful races in the calendar, demanding that any potential winner throws their all into a quest to win one of sport's most illustrious prizes.

We're going to bring you right up to date with the weather. Coming into the race it was set to be one of the deciding factors in the outcome and it still looks that way.

 

There's no rain at the start [for now] but it's still a rather chilly 6 degrees. Riders staying at hotels outside of Milan have reported snow as well.

 

If it continues like this we're likely to see snow and almost certainly rain today.

The race starts in just under half an hour from now but riders are sticking to the warmth of the team buses as you might expect.

While we wait for the action to commence, here's a gallery of images, portraying some of the race's most memorable moments. From Zabel raising his arms too quickly at the finish to Hennie Kuiper being joined on the podium by the 1980's fashion police.

looking forward to parking up on my couch and watching Milan-San Remo.. All the best @TeamSky and Aussies

@richie_porte Sun, 17th Mar 2013 07:52:32

Quickly on the subject of Porte, he features in David Walsh's recent feature on Team Sky in this morning's Sunday Times. In the story Porte talks about his Paris-Nice win and having to face questions regarding doping.

 

Of perhaps more interest is the news that David Brailsford said "if the board wanted to step down, I would have" in relation to the hiring and firing of Dr Geert Leinders.

 

It's revealed that Steven de Jongh recommended Leinders to the team. The former Rabobank/QuickStep rider was fired late last year after confessing to doping at stages in his career.

But back today's racing and more precisely the race route.

If you're following Milan-San Remo for the first time, here's a quick run down of the main highlights.


Often a suicide break will be forged in the opening kilometres. The size of the group can be determined by a number of factors, the weather, the number of teams with decent sprinters, luck, and of course tactic.


Generally speaking the attacking group can gain substantial time up until the Passo del Turchino. This comes at roughly 142km of racing and marks the half-way point in the race.

 

We're likely to see snow at this point and it's usually where the peloton wakes up and begins to chase.

 

The next obstacle comes at 204km. Le Mànie was first introduced in 2008 due to road closures but it's been kept ever since and in the last few years it had a drastic effect on the race outcome.

 

It took a number of years for the peloton to find a suitable strategy for the climb but since 2010 they've used the slopes to drop the pure sprinters. In the last two editions of the race we've seen Mark Cavendish and host of other fast men loose contact on the climb and never come back.

 

The descent of the climb is also key. Oscar Freire crashed out on the wet roads in 2010 and today's weather could be crucial once again.

As Cyclingnews' Barry Ryan notes in his excellent preview

"It is in the final 50km that the race truly explodes into life, however, as the capi make their presence felt. Hostilities begin on the Capo Mele, and the Capo Cervo and Capo Berta follow in quick succession. They may only be undulations in the grand scheme of things, but with little time to recover and the pace rising ever higher, more and more riders and deposited are out the back."

The Cipressa, with 22km to go and the Poggio, are iconic climbs, and both have seen wining moves in the past.

 

The 6km from the descent of the Poggio until the finish line is crucial. Last year Cancellara, Gerrans and Nibali broke free on the final climb and managed to hold off the peloton.

And the race has begun. Rain jackets and capes for the majority of the field as they set off from Milan.

Snow on the motorway under the Turchino http://t.co/FCDJ0vo5Cs via @santero1967

@friebos Sun, 17th Mar 2013 08:58:20

@dnlbenson Word is someone stole Henderson's bike by the team bus at the start so he is on a spare and in trouble if he crashes. #MSR

@instagrin Sun, 17th Mar 2013 09:02:37

While the peloton rolls out from the start it's probably a good time to discuss the race favourites. We'll start with Peter Sagan, the undisputed number 1 for today.


The Cannondale leader has been in scintillating form in recent weeks with two stages wins in Tirreno-Adriatico. The Italian stage race illustrated how the Slovak rider can win from a number of positions.


He's still not won a Classic yet and last year he fell short due, in the main, to a lack of experience. Could today be his day? He has the legs, the team, and his ride at Strade Bianche suggested he now has the tactical nous too.

 

You can read about his pre-race press conference right here.

For those of you who don't think Milan-San Remo is going to be a one man show, then there's always Fabian Cancellara to back.

 

The form isn't great but the RadioShack rider has one win and two second places (2010, 2011) to his name. On both of those last two occasions he was beaten by Australians in close sprints but Cancellera can't be counted out. 

 

He may not be the rider he was in 2010 or 2011 but he still packs a considerable punch. He'll have to marry that power with tactical acumen if he's the win today though because he can't just rely on blasting the opposition of his wheel any more.

So far there have been no signs of early attacks from the peloton.

There's some rainfall though and the roads are wet. The early pace should mean that the peloton aren't too frantic in their pace. I think a lot of riders in the bunch will be happy to see a break go off the front nice and early today.

285km remaining from 298km

An we have some action. A group has escaped after 13km of racing and they've already established a 3 minute lead on the peloton. We'll bring you the names of the riders as soon as we can identify them from the CN blimp.

And the lucky six are...

 

Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Diego Rosa (Androni), Filippo Fortin (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Lars Bak (Lotto) and Pablo Lastras (Movistar)
 

And you can find the official race start list, right here...

No real surprise to see riders from Androni, and Bardiani in the break. During the morning team talks that would have been the crucial message coming the team directors.

 

 

Omega Pharma Quick Step have a number of cards to play for today's race. Tom Boonen has finished on the podium in the race, Mark Cavendish has won the event (2009) but perhaps their greatest hope is Sylvain Chavanel.

 

The French rider came away with a stage win in Paris-Nice and looks in decent knock. He can climb, sprint, and outfox a break but the question is whether he can handle the 300km distance. His second place at the Tour of Flanders in 2011 suggest he can but he's still fairly inconsistent in the biggest one day races.

 

He's a man for the tough conditions though, so today's weather should suit him.

 

276km remaining from 298km

Still little news from race radio, even on the time checks for the break. It's a fair assumption - for now - that the six leaders will extend their lead on the peloton. In the last couple of seasons we've seen breaks take 14 minutes out of the bunch. The same could happen today but the peloton might be a little more cautious due to the conditions.

There's speculation as to whether the Turchino might be neutralized due to the snow on the descent. As soon as we have confirmation either way we'll pass it on.

In the grand scheme of things the Turchino doesn't play a massive part in the outcome of the race. It does however weaken the peloton before they hit Le Mànie.

Meanwhile the break has extended their lead on the peloton to 7 minutes.

10:55 for the break now after just 30 km of racing. Astana and Cannondale are on the front and assuming responsibility for the chase effort. They'll want to know about the Turchino as soon as possible as it could seriously affect the amount of time they concede to the six riders up ahead.

252km remaining from 298km

The peloton has motioned into life and has started to react to the break, holding the gap at 10:35.

RT @TeamMTNQhubeka: 1st hour of racing average speed is 46.5km/h temp has dropped to 4º @milano_sanremo

@cedvasseur Sun, 17th Mar 2013 10:16:22

There's still no confirmation on the Turchino but it sounds like the descent will be neutralised but that the riders will still take on the climb.

Official confirmation that the Turchino - both the ascent and the descent - have been neutralized. That might be a disadvantage for the break because they're relying on the fact they can keep warm as they race. If they're asked to slow and then start again they'll find it incredibly hard to restart their engines.

 

This outcome also means there's little chance in the bunch taking their foot off the gas and allowing the break to extend their lead. This is new ground for all concerned so team directors will be making all the calculations in the cars now and then feeding that information to the riders.

Race carries on to Ovada... then suspended as riders driven/bussed to coastal town of Arenzano, first exit on Autostrada after Turchino.

@inrng Sun, 17th Mar 2013 10:28:59

So the riders will take shuttle buses and cars  from the 117km point to 163km and the time gap to the break will be kept at the foot of the climb.

240km remaining from 298km

The break has pressed on though, and now has an advantage of 12:30 over the peloton. The bunch will need to be careful here because if they start from 160km of racing and the break continues to move ahead, it's going to be tough to chase down.

 

What will also be interesting to see is how many riders actually continue racing after the re-start... We'll certainly have a reduced peloton, that's for sure.

There's a crash in the field with Michael Schar (BMC), Angel Vicioso (Katusha), Sergio Pardilla (MTN - Qhubeka), and Jim Songezo (MTN - Qhubeka) hitting the deck.

A reminder of the riders in the break:

Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Diego Rosa (Androni), Filippo Fortin (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Lars Bak (Lotto) and Pablo Lastras (Movistar)
 

Lastras, 37, is the most experienced rider in the bunch. He's been with the team since 1997 as it's transformed from Banesto through to Movistar and has made the top 30 in the race for the last two season. He's finished 14 grand tours in his career, only abandoning once, the Giro a couple of years ago.

The Spaniard is taking turns on the front of the break now and urging his companions to push ahead. They can rest of the team bus later and then re-start the race with a healthy advantage, although the gap has been reduced to 10 minutes.

It's Astana and Cannondale who continue to do most of the work on the front with their aims to set Nibali and Sagan up for the victory.

Nibali, who finished third last year, is clearly in form and high on confidence after his superb defence of his Tirreno-Adriatico crown. It was reminiscent of Luis Leon Sanchez' win in Paris-Nice from a few years ago in which the race leader cracked after a daring attack from Sanchez. In this case it was Nibali attacking Chris Froome.

RT @Milano_Sanremo: Due to the bad weather conditions, the race will be neutralised from Ovada to Arenzano, where there'll be the new st ...

@giroditalia Sun, 17th Mar 2013 11:02:57

213km remaining from 298km

After 85km of racing the break leads by 9:16. The next phase of racing is going to be crucial.

At the rate at which the peloton are closing the gap it looks like the pendulum has swung back in their favour.

A reminder that you can find all our Milan-San Remo coverage right here.

While we also have these start-line images from this morning

200km to go and the gap has stabilized at 9:20.

Should the break stay away and Lastras win  - long shot, I know, he'll become the oldest winner of the race. Andrei Tchmil currently holds that record having won at the grand old age of 36 in 1999. The Former Lotto rider's win came in between Erik Zabel's four San-Remo titles.

The break are roughly 17km away from the beginning of the neutralized zone. From there they'll head to the 160km mark and begin racing again.

The break have lost another chunk of time and the gap is down to 8:50.

There's confirmation that the race will begin again at 14:30 so this really is a race within a race as the peloton aims to reduce the break's advantage before the race is neutralized.

 

The gap is currently at 8:40 but even if they restart after 160km of racing that shouldn't be too hard to bring back. There's still roughly 140km to go at that point.

From race organisers RCS:

Due to the unfavourable weather, the Race Management – by agreement with the Commissaires Panel – has decided to neutralize the race in the stretch of route between Ovada and Arenzano (subject to further assessment of the weather conditions in Arenzano).

 

180km remaining from 298km

The gap is holding at 8:40, an indication that the bunch are happy to keep the gap at just under 9 minutes.

A few riders have already abandoned though, with Reimer, Nordhaug and Vrecer deciding they've had enough.

The break close in on Ovada, where they'll dismount and head into the warmth of team cars. They'll then motor towards the 160km mark where racing will resume at 14:30.

 

Here's the latest photo taken just 3km from the Turchino

 

 

Riders have started to arrive at the buses now, with the Vini Fantini team tucking into some well deserved pasta.

Erik Dekker, the DS at Blanco, has been complaining about the whether, saying that some riders have been crying on their bikes. The conditions once again illustrate just how tough professional cycling can be.

Inside the Fantini Vini bus http://t.co/6Tot6g7AKH via @angelocitracca #msr

@friebos Sun, 17th Mar 2013 12:02:57

There's no point getting to comfortable on the buses though as the riders will have to go outside and do it all over again in rough 30 minutes.

 

On the plus side, the weather is much better on the other side of the climb with overcast skies all along the coast.

According to the last time check the peloton rolled into the neutralized zone 7:10 down on the break.

What. The. #MilanoSanremo . In the bus after neutralization. So. Cold. http://t.co/jjmbZKSarn

@taylorphinney Sun, 17th Mar 2013 12:13:04

Some half-time images from Milano San Remo - 1. Tyler Farrar. http://t.co/nJjx2j5Dfm

@millarmind Sun, 17th Mar 2013 12:11:24

2. Fabian Wegman http://t.co/WCix5odA2z

@millarmind Sun, 17th Mar 2013 12:12:17

3. Robbie Hunter http://t.co/JyYXmOemsA

@millarmind Sun, 17th Mar 2013 12:13:06

These conditions will certainly break some of the riders who simply won't want to leave the team buses for the re-start of racing, which takes  place in roughly 15 minutes from now.

Apologies the race re-start is in 1 hour, and 15 minutes.

It's all quite reminiscent of the 1996 Tour de France stage to Sestrieres with riders and teams forced to cut out a section of the race due to snow.
 

That day things were slightly more severe with the stage cut down to just 46km of racing. Bjarne Riis won the stage and moved  into yellow, deposing of Berzin's brief stint in yellow, despite excellent work from Francesco Fratttini.

It's snowing so much this could be biathlon. If so, can I be shot first?

@koendekort Sun, 17th Mar 2013 12:31:28

With a pause in racing it's the perfect time to look again at the favourites for today's race. Orica GreenEdge have the last  two winners of the race in their team [although Goss won with HTC in 2011].

 

Gerrans and Goss come into the race with questionable form though. The former retired ill from Paris-Nice, while Goss, despite winning a stage in Tirreno, has yet to find the form that saw him rise to fame in the first half of 2011.

 

Gerrans has told the press that Goss is in the better form and last year's winner certainly wont have the air of surprise that helped  him last year. If the race comes down to a sprint and Goss is still present he's certainly a danger though and perhaps Sagan's biggest challenger if such a scenario plays out.

BMC come into the race with three potential cards to play with Philippe Gilbert, Thor Hushovd and Greg Van Avermaet all potential leaders for the American/Swiss team.


Gilbert came close to a stage in Paris-Nice, just being piped to the line by Chavanel on the penultimate stage, while Hushovd was in the top ten during Tirreno's hardest stage.

 

Van Avermaet is similar to Moser in the sense that he's the perfect foil for other riders but Gilbert and Hushovd are probably the two riders on the team with the best chances. Gilbert crashed out last year on the Poggio and Hushovd, despite a recent upturn in form, has never produced the goods in Milan-San Remo.

Gilbert of course has to contend with the allegations of cortisone use at Lotto that surfaced yesterday in the Dutch press.

Who are you tipping for the win today? You can let me know right here.

All the buses have arrived at the check point. A few teams are complaining, saying that the race should have been stopped earlier but we're still preparing for the race to start again in roughly 20 minutes.

One rider we've not mentioned yet is Filippo Pozzato, who won the race back in 2006. Since then the Italian hasn't kicked on in the classics despite a number of memorable performances.

He was second here in 2008, second in Paris-Roubaix a year later, and second in Flanders last year.

 

 

It looks like chaos now with some buses yet to arrive. We can confirm that start time has been pushed back to 15:00

There's also talk of Le Manie being pulled from the race route as well but that hasn't been confirmed on race radio yet.

That's 15:00 CET for those of you asking and it's confirmed that Le Manie has been pulled from the race route as well.

The absence of Le Manie will dramatically change the race. Riders like Sagan, Nibali, Cancellara will have wanted to shed the pure sprinters on the climb but now it's going to be impossible. There's still a number of capi before the line but Le Manie was crucial.

 

Assuming everything holds out the race will start in 30 minutes from now and at the 213km mark in Finale Ligure. Fingers crossed.

@dnlbenson Well, since Le Manie is out, my tip for the win will be on a sprinter with a good train... Degenkolb maybe!

@ACPapageorgiou Sun, 17th Mar 2013 13:32:58

@dnlbenson Seeing Le Manie has been pulled, Haussler (who said he is climbing better than ever) and @GeraldCiolek will have to be new favs.

@michaeldaddow Sun, 17th Mar 2013 13:32:41

RT @albertocelani: The race will start from Cogoleto not Finale as Rai said before,Race director just say #msr #cycling no Manie btw

@Laura_Meseguer Sun, 17th Mar 2013 13:32:58

Different reports keep on surfacing from the race but as far as we know the race will start in 20 minutes from now. Le Manie has been cut from the route though. The longer this goes on though the greater chance there is of the race stopping completely.

All the buses are still parked by the side of the road with no signs of movement. The rain is coming down heavily too so even if we do have a re-start the peloton will be reduced by a number of riders giving up.

Mechanics are still outside and checking bikes over and a couple of riders including Belkov are on their bikes. Sky aren't warming up on the rollers.

Lars Bak who was also in the early break is warming up as well, gently cycling passed the team buses.

Lastras joins Bak and begins to ride outside. There's no snow here but the rain continues to fall.

Cannonale, Lampre and Movistar riders have begun to come off the team buses and presumably make their way to the new start line. The riders will have roughly 130km of racing left

We're hearing reports that Boonen has pulled out of the race.

The peloton have now made their way to the new re-start line. The break will, I presume, be allowed to establish their previous lead of 7:10 on the peloton before racing begins.

The break have started riding again, with Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Diego Rosa (Androni), Filippo Fortin (Bardiani Valvole - CSF Inox), Maxim Belkov (Katusha), Lars Bak (Lotto) and Pablo Lastras (Movistar) leading the race.
 

130km remaining from 298km

Milan-San Remo has started again and we've 130km to go. Thanks for staying with us during that long, long pause.

Meanwhile the peloton have been asked to wait on the line, presumably for 7:10.

It's a bit like a round Gladiators, 'contestants are you? gladiators are you ready?' as the riders in the peloton continue to wait for the flag to drop and they can chase down the break.

And finally the peloton are allowed to start again. So we have a race. Cannondale quickly move to the front and set the pace, so their overall aim hasn't changed and they'll still be looking to set Sagan up for the win.

 

Omega are down to just five riders because along with Boonen they've lost Stijn Vandenbergh, and Terpstra. Cavendish is still there though, so along with Chavanel the team have two cards to play.

115km remaining from 298km

115km to go with Cannondale continuing to set the pace on the front of the peloton. Along with Sagan and Moser, they also have Viviani in the race and with the elimination of two major climbs and 50km of racing there's certainly a stronger chance of the race coming down to a sprint. Would Cannondale really switch and work for Viviani though?

The break are riding along the coast now and like the peloton they can't hang around. No time gap has been provided by race radio since the restart.

Astana and Lotto have joined Cannondale on the front of the peloton to assist with the chance. Astana working for Nibali and Lotto for Greipel.

112km remaining from 298km

The gap has dropped slightly to 7'05.

It will be interesting to see how the capo mele and capo cervo play out in the next phase of racing? Riders like Nibali might need to use those climbs to soften up the opposition and put the sprinters under early pressure.

It will be interesting to see how the capo mele and capo cervo play out in the next phase of racing? Riders like Nibali might need to use those climbs to soften up the opposition and put the sprinters under early pressure.

103km remaining from 298km

The break are still holding the peloton at bay with their lead hovering around the 7 minute mark.

Cyclingnews'  Barry Ryan spoke to Lars Bak at the re-start and this is what the Lotto rider had to say: "We have to be ready. It was so cold. With the snow + zero degrees it was hard on the legs but mainly the hands. It was hard to brake because you couldn't feel your hands.

We got a hot shower on the bus. Normally MSR is like 2 races because of the distance. Today it really is two races."
 

Ryan also spoke to race favourite Peter Sagan:

"We've warmed up now so we'll see how it goes.

"It's changed the race a lot because we'll certainly get to the finish fresher but maybe weaker mentally. I hope I can hang tough."

(Better or worse for you now?)

"I'm trying not to think about that. We'll see how it goes at the finish."

Matt Goss has pulled out of the race, the 2011 Milan-San Remo climbing off after an earlier crash in the race.

96km remaining from 298km

So it's all about Gerrans now for GreenEdge after losing Goss, as Astana, Lampre and Cannondale continue to control the peloton. The gap is coming down, and it's currently at 6:20 with 96km to race.

Sella and Bodnar have also pulled out of the race.

Alex Howes (Garmin-Sharp) has come to the front of the race. Garmin have Tyler Farrar in the race and although he's not won a race this year it's not unthinkable that he can podium today.

An angry Tom Boonen:

I think my decision says enough.This is partly a precaution, but also a statement to the organization. They knew long enough that there was so much snow on the road. What happens now is the fault of the organization's own fault. Have you ever wanted to bicycle through the snow ridden? There are nicer things than this. I'm completely frozen.

 

The gap drops again and it's down to 5;35 with 91km to  go.

The peloton are going to have to do something because the gap isn't coming down as quickly as they would like. We still have a number of climbs to come but the break are maintaining a healthy lead at the moment. Cannondale are going to need some assistance from a number of other teams in the next 30-40 kilometres.

Those of you doubting Farrar's chances today, fair enough, but think about what his chances will be like next year when the route is back to 298km. This is going to be his best ever chance of winning.

86km remaining from 298km

5'13 with 86km to go.

Nibali is trying to fight off the cold my shaking his arms around. The Italian came into the race as a major favourite after his ride in Tirreno, when we saw that the cold and rain clearly don't disrupt his riding all that much.

79km remaining from 298km

The gap to the leaders is 4'48 with around 30km until the Capo Mele.

Mark Cavendish is at the back of the peloton but it looks like he's coming back through the cars. It looks like he came back to remove some clothing.

Gilbert is also back  with the cars and talking to the team director. So far we've not seen any aggression from the American/Swiss based team.

73km remaining from 298km

Fortin has been dropped by the leaders so that's five riders in the break with team Sky moving to the front of the peloton. They've yet to win a Monument and they've changed their build-up by basing their Spring riders in Tenerife for long training camps.

 

As Cavendish is brought back  to the bunch by his Omega teammates.

Phinney and Chavanel have both abandoned the race.

66km remaining from 298km

The five-man break continues to work well together despite the conditions as Fabian Cancellara has dropped back to the cars to take off his jacket.

Up ahead Sky set the pace on the front of the peloton but it's a bad day for Omega who are now just down to three riders in the race. Considering they've the fastest sprinter in the race that's a bit of a surprise.

Some of the momentum has gone out of the break as they start to look at each other, not keen on taking long turns on the front.

 

Mele, Cervo and Berta are all coming up in just a matter of kilometres. More and more riders from the peloton have started to take off their rain jackets, a sign that the real racing is about to start in what has been a heavily disjointed race.

Nibali is at the very back of the peloton and Voeckler is coming back through the cars as well.

58km remaining from 298km

The break is beginning to crack under the relentless pressure from the peloton, as well as the conditions and the gap has come down to 2'49. Astana have just one man on the front of the peloton but it's enough to continue the chase.

RT @Lotto_Belisol: All @Lotto_Belisol riders still in the race with Lars Bak in the breakaway. #msr

@friebos Sun, 17th Mar 2013 15:30:37

A reminder that you can find the startlist right here, and read our top ten contenders feature from earlier this week. A few riders on the list have pulled out but it's still worth a read.

NIbali is still right at the back of the peloton and it looks like he's really struggling in the conditions. He still has a handful of teammates on the front though so he need to move himself closer to the action.

Garmin take over on the front of the peloton with Sagan and his Cannondale teammates in close quarters.

Up ahead and the break are on the Capo Mele with Belkov and Montaguti taking equal turns.

Cannondale, Astana and Sky bludgeon their way to the front of the peloton as the bunch begins the climb. Nibali though is dangling at the back of the peloton and looks to be really suffering. Surely it's not a bluff?

The leaders are now onto the Capo Cervo but all the cameras are squared on Nibali, who now has a number of teammates with him at the back of the bunch.

Cannondale have noticed that Nibali has gone AWOL and they throw all their efforts into setting the pace. Can the Astana rider respond because right now his ex-team are trying to drop him.

49km remaining from 298km

Just under 50km of racing and the gap is down to 2;38.

Omega Pharma state that Chavanel is still in the race.

RT @opqscyclingteam: #OPQS, despite reports, just confirmed @chava_sylvain did NOT abandon. #msr

@Laura_Weislo Sun, 17th Mar 2013 15:46:11

Nibali is with the team car. He's taking off his rain jacket and then begins to make his way back to the peloton.

43km remaining from 298km

43km to go and the gap is at 2 minutes.

Reports that Nibali has packed but no confirmation just yet.

The Astana leader has been struggling for the last hour or so, dangling off the back of the bunch and Sky now set the pace on the front of the peloton with five riders on the front of the bunch.

The loss of Nibali gives the sprinters an even bigger advantage now but really this race is still wide open, and it's about who can deal with the conditions in the best manner.

As Rosa lifts the pace in the break and gets out of the saddle. Lastras and Montaguti have cracked and have been dropped from the break.

And confirmation that Nibali has quit the race.

On the Capo Berta and Belkov begins to show his hand, softly increasing the pace, and distancing Bak and Rosa.

Sky's tactic is smart, considering their roster. Keep warm by forcing the pace. Kill the guys behind that are suffering w cold.

@Vaughters Sun, 17th Mar 2013 15:59:51

Cavendish is near the front of the peloton, so is Chavanel.

Eisel for Sky looks good too and if Boasson Hagen falters then the Austrian is capable of stepping up. Both riders have won Gent-Wevelgen.

Belkov has been caught by Rosa and Bak, meanwhile but this climb is starting to show the strain on the riders at the front of the race.

The break has just 1'08 on the Sky led peloton.

The Cipressa is next and it's a harder climb than the Poggio but the descents are going to be just as crucial as the ascents themselves.

36km remaining from 298km

36 km to go and the break is down to 56 seconds.

Hushovd has been dropped. That leaves BMC with Hushovd and Van Avermaet as leaders.

The break has just 27 seconds on the peloton as we race towards the Cipressa. Cavendish, Greipel, Boasson Hagen, Sagan, Moser, Gilbert, Chavanel, all still here.

Haussler, Cancellara and Degenkolb too.

Kiryienka, who was so strong for Sky at Paris-Nice sets the pace.

Team Sky continue to set the pace at the front of the peloton and they're about to catch the trio so we're all back together with 30km to go.

Sky are doing their best to set the pace, and a number of sprinters are going to struggle once we get to the Cipressa. Cavendish looked comfortable on the last climb but so did Sagan and a number of other fastmen.

The front group contains about 50 riders and there's been a crash and three Sky riders are on the deck. Geraint Thomas is one of the men down too. Farrar is also down.

The wet roads cause chaos but there's no chance of Thomas and Farrar coming back. It looks like Lovkvist and Moser are on the front now.

And now the attacks come thick and fast.

Lovkvist, Chavanel, and two other riders have a small gap on the remnants of the peloton. 

Five riders are in the front group but Sky are regrouping on the front. Bouet, Lovkvist, Bouet, Moser, and Roelandts are off the front.

And Bouet throws in a huge attack just as the move comes back together. It doesn't work though and it's all coming back  together. Chavanel looks very strong.

The peloton is lined out on the climb.

Lampre come to the front to try and set the pace and Petacchi is there but Boasson Hagen has been dropped.

It looks like Sky's race has fallen apart in the space of 10km.

Malori is on the front but he's going to drop his teammate Petacchi.

More and more riders are being dropped and that's Greipel who is in trouble. Gerrans is also struggling at the back.

Malori still on the front and setting the pace for Lampre, Gilbert is close to the front too, as is Chavanel.

24km remaining from 298km

If you're dropped now it's going to be so tough to come back  to the front of the race,  but riders will take risks on the front. Stannard is there for Sky still...

The pace seems to have slowed as Malori pulls over.

Gilbert is very close to the front as Cannondale take over the pace setting for Sagan.

There are less than 40 riders left in the lead group with 22km to go.

Ventoso is in the lead group and he might fancy his chances in the sprint.

And Gilbert moves to the front on the descent of the Cipressa. and the BMC leader pulls out a short gap.

20km to  go and the World Champion has a  small gap on the descent. He's cutting through the corners perfectly here and this could be the race winning move.

The roads are wet so it's a huge risk but the world champion clearly feels that this is his best opportunity to forge a break. There are four or five riders trying to react and chase down Gilbert, Cancellara included in that group.

Chavanel his also chasing with Gilbert, who has a gap of around 100 meters.

Chavanel makes it to Gilbert's wheel, Cancellara, Sagan, maybe Degenkolb also there. Stannard is there too.

Pozzato is trying to come across as well. It looks like 8 or 9 riders clear.

And Stannard and a Vorganov have attacked. Chavanal is there too.

A three man move of this quality is very dangerous as they all have a reason to work.

15km to go and Chavanel, Stannard, and Vorganov are clear. Gilbert is trying to mount a chase with a rider from Lotto but there are so many tired legs out there.

Gilbert and the Lotto rider, are sitting up as behind the group is starting to reform.

So Chavanel, Vorganov and Stannard are clear. They can't afford to waste any time though but they've pulled out 27 seconds with the Poggio to come.

Cannondale are doing all the work back in the bunch and the gap has come down to 20 seconds.

The leading trio simply don't have the legs and Vorganov and Chavanel aren't taking their turns properly. Surely Sagan and his team can pull back the move.

And Chavanel attacks and quickly puts his companions under pressure.

12km to go and the gap is at 19 seconds.

Chavanel again stamps on the pedals, I think he's trying to get rid of Vorganov, and the gap moves up to 24 seconds.

11km remaining from 298km

Stannard is taking huge turns on the front and Vorganov again doesn't take a turn. Chavanel takes over with the lead at a steady 25 seconds. They probably need double that to stay away.

Closing in on the Poggio with Gilbert now at the back of the large chase group.

And Stannard attacks. Chavanel follows but Vorganov has cracked.

Chavanel takes over as Vorganov clings to the duo.

And the Katusha rider has completely blown as Maxim Iglinskiy attacks from the chase group.

The Astana rider won Liege with a smart late attack and he now goes passed Vorganov, as Chavanel attacks Stannard.

32 seconds for Chavanel and Stannard, who is hanging in there for Team Sky.

They have 16 seconds as Cannondale set the pace for the chasers.

Moser sets the pace as Chavanel and Stannard keep ahead but they have to watch for Maxim Iglinskiy who is very dangerous, and he's just 13 seconds back.

Stannard out of the saddle, this is a really good ride from the Brit and he has a gap on the Omega rider.

Chavanel closes the gap as Sagan just has one teammate left. Paolini now attacks with Sagan chasing with Cancellara and Pippo there too.

6km to go as the leading pair crest the Poggio.

Cancellara has gone clear from the chase and Sagan tries to chase but it looks like Pozzato has blown and Ciolek has gone with them.

Less than 5k to go for the leaders. They have to work together on the descent, because Sagan and Cancellara are closing in.

The chase: Sagan, Ciolek, Cancellara and Pozzato.

As Chavanel practically sprints out of the corners on the descent. It looks like it's coming back together. Ciolek is getting a free ride to the finish...

It looks like it could still  be a huge bunch sprint through because it's all coming back together.

We now have 6 riders in the front group with the Sagan's group coming up to Chavanel and Stannard.

Pozzato isn't there but Paolini is.

And Sagan attacks and Cancellara is forced to chase.

And now Stannard attacks.

He has a gap!

He could win this.

Cancellara drifts to the back but Ciolek is still there as Stannard is caught.

1km to go.

The bunch isn't coming back and Stannard is going to lead out.

Paolini is right at the back

And a BMC rider is coming

So Sagan opens the sprint

But Ciolek is coming through.

The German sprinter, he's won Milan-San Remo. What an incredible ride.

Sagan has to settle for second place.

The BMC rider coming back  was key there because all the riders in the lead group looked over their shoulders and then opened up the sprint. Ciolek kept his head though and waited behind Sagan.

Cancellara was third with Chavanel in fourth.

The BMC rider coming back was Taylor Phinney. Race radio had said he'd abandoned during the race but they also said the same about Chavanel too.

1 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN - Qhubeka 5:37:20
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma Quick Step
5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Team Katusha
6 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Pro Cycling
7 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing
8 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha 0:00:14
9 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma Quick Step
10 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Pro Cycling

Despite the problems with the weather we've been treated to another thrilling finale to Milan-San Remo and another illustration of how incredible the sport can be.
 

A rider who was virtually down and out after a number of quiet years bounces back to pick up the biggest win of his career. He'd been dropped earlier in the race too. A huge win for Ciolek and of course the MTN-Qhubeka team.

 

Thanks for joining our live coverage today, it's been a long one, and don't for get that you can find our race report, photos, and results right here.

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