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Gerald Ciolek wins Milan-San Remo

Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) won a shortened version of Milan-San Remo, as snow forced organisers to cut the first two climbs. The German sprinter took the close win ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) in a thrilling sprint finish.

As so often this season, the weather played a major role in the race. Snow forced the organizers to take the Turchino and La Manie climbs out of the race, with the nearly-frozen riders re-starting the race in Cogoleto, after a nearly two-hour break.

Ciolek was part of a six-rider group which formed on the descent of the Poggio that included Sagan, Cancellara, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Ian Stannard (Team Sky), and Luca Paolini (Katusha). The German sprinter let the others take the lead on the sharp, steep descent, and played his cards cleverly in the finale.

Stannard led the way in the final kilometre, and Sagan opened the sprint once the break caught sight of a closing Taylor Phinney (BMC). However Ciolek, came off Sagan’s wheel to take the biggest win of his career and firmly put the MTN-Qhubeka team on the map. Chavanel, who had attacked with Stannard on the Cipressa, was forced to settle for fourth.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Ciolek after crossing the finish line. “This is an unbelievable success for us and just an incredible day. We just came here as a wildcard and now we’re standing here with the trophy. This is great. I knew I had to follow all the best riders on the Poggio and it worked out perfectly.

“When I chose this team, people wondered why I would join a Pro Continental team but it’s just been unbelievable. The coaching and staff on this team is so professional. I have never seen management care so much for the riders. I am happy to be on this team."

Snow, rain, cold and buses

Slate grey skies and low temperatures greeted the riders as they gathered in Milan’s Piazza Castello and much of the start-line chatter was focused on the weather forecast, although at that point few anticipated the severity of the impact it would have on the day’s events. A light rain began to fall just as the peloton began to snake its way out of the city centre, but 150 kilometres away, the Passo del Turchino was already banked with snow.

When the flag dropped, however, rumours of a neutralised Turchino were just that, and there was a typically fast start to proceedings. The early break went away shortly beyond the city limits, with Diego Rosa (Androni-Venezuela), Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Francesco Fortin (Bardiani-CSF Inox) forging clear, and after 15km, their lead was already five minutes.

At Pavia (40km), the sextet had 10:35 in hand, and they averaged a brisk 46.4kph for the first hour of racing. By that point, however, the rumours of snow on the Turchino had been confirmed and the race organisers were compelled to come up with an ad hoc solution to ensure the safety of the riders.

It was decided that the race would be neutralised for 46km between Ovada and Arenzano: rather than climb the Turchino, the peloton would stop at the 117km point and clamber back aboard their team buses, re-starting over an hour later.

Given that snow had fallen overnight on the Turchino, questions will be asked as to why the race organisers had not taken more satisfactory measures beforehand to circumvent the climb, but there was no time for the break to debate the whys and wherefores as they sped through the snow towards Ovada. Their race had now become something of a time trial, as they sought to build up as big a lead as possible before the re-start, and they duly reached the stop with 7:10.

La Manie, the next climb, was also taken out, and the race was restarted in heavy rain at Cogoleto. Not all the riders took to the second part of the race, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Tom Boonen being the biggest name to remain in the bus, with hard words for race organizers.

The weather stayed cold and wet, and more riders abandoned as the race went on. With 40km to go, the climbing finally started, but by then only three riders were still in the lead. Bak, Rosa and Belkov had shed their other three companions along the way, with the trio holding a two-minute lead up the Capo Berto.

A reduced peloton, by now shedding its extra layers of clothing, was determined to catch the break group before the Cipressa. The cold conditions began to take a toll on even the best and Vincenzo Nibali was the biggest casualty as he pulled out due to the cold.

By now, Sky had attempted to stamp their authority on the race and it appeared to be working until a crash saw Geraint Thomas and several teammates hit the deck along with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp).

The first attack on the Cipressa, led by Omega Pharma-QuickStep's Sylvain Chavanel, was not successful, while surprisingly, Sky's Edvald Boasson Hagen fell off the back of the group. He was not the only one, as Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and 2005 winner Alessandro Petacchi all lost the struggle to hang on.

The group topped out on the Cipressa with only about 40 riders. World Champion Philippe Gilbert of BMC led the way down, perhaps hoping to build up enough of a lead to stay away for the remaining 20 kilometres. It was not to be, as Chavanel lead a group of six, including Sagan up to the Belgian.

The next lead group to form was Chavanel, Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) and Ian Stannard (Sky). The field didn't want to let them go, and kept them within 30 seconds, as the rain started again. Vorganov lost ground on the Poggio and was quickly passed by Maxim Iglinskiy.

But on the descent Sagan led a counter attack with Cancellara and reeled in Chavanel and Stannard. Ciolek also made the move.

They caught the two leaders with just less than 4km to go. Stannard jumped, but Sagan led the chase, and then took off on his own. Cancellara gave chase, with all coming together, until Stannard jumped again with 1.8km to go.

The six came through the final kilometre with a sufficient gap, but it was the sight of Phinney tearing across that ignited the sprint and set the wheels in motion for Ciolek.

Full Results
1Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka5:37:20
2Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
3Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard
4Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
5Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha
6Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling
7Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
8Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha0:00:14
9Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
10Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling
11Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team
12Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
13Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling
14Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
15Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar
16Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol
17Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
18John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
19Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ
20Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
21Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team
22Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha
23Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
24Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha
25Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team
26Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar
27Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling
28Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
29Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
30Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard
31Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
32Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
33Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
34Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
35Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
36Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
37Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling
38Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:00:20
39Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar
40Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
41Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ0:00:56
42Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling
43Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha
44Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard0:02:39
45Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:02:42
46Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:03:26
47Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge
48Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team0:03:35
49Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:04:40
50Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
51Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Merida
52Davide Appollonio (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:05:13
53Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka
54Mark Renshaw (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
55Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
56Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard
57Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
58André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol
59Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling
60Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling
61Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
62Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
63Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
64Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol
65Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
66Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
67Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge
68Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
69Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard
70Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp
71Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
72Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
73Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
74Johan Vansummeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp
75Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
76Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida
77Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team
78Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
79Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
80Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team
81Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:07:49
82Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team0:08:59
83Marco Bandiera (Ita) IAM Cycling0:09:20
84Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
85Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
86Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:09:22
87Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp
88Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi0:11:19
89Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:11:21
90Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol0:11:29
91Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol
92Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp
93Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
94Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp
95Alessandro Proni (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:11:39
96Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling0:11:44
97Murilo Antonio FISCHER
98Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
99Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
100Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ
101David Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
102Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka0:11:46
103Jacobus Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
104Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
105Boy van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
106Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team
107Massimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre-Merida
108Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
109Bert-Jan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team0:11:49
110Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp
111Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
112Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
113Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team
114Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
115Rick Flens (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
116Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling
117Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol
118Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling
119Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar
120Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha
121Tomas Aurelio Gil Martinez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli
122Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
123Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
124Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge0:11:56
125Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step0:13:09
126Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
127Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar
128Andreas Stauff (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
129Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ
130Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard
131Dominic Klemme (Ger) IAM Cycling
132Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
133Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ
134Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia0:15:03
135Vladimir Isaychev (Rus) Katusha0:18:25
DNFMatthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFManuel Belletti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFSteve Chainel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFHugo Houle (Can) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFMatteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFFranco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFRiccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFJackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli
DNFMiguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni Giocattoli
DNFEmanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFVincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFFrancesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFSacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
DNFFrancesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
DNFNicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
DNFMarco Canola (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
DNFFilippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
DNFLars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFTom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFMaarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team
DNFThor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team
DNFKlaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team
DNFDaniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFMichael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFPaolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFEgoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFMiguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFRobert Vrecer (Slo) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFWilliam Bonnet (Fra) FDJ
DNFMickael Delage (Fra) FDJ
DNFRobert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Sharp
DNFDavid Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp
DNFAliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha
DNFDiego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFAdam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol
DNFFrederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFAndrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
DNFPablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFEloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFMartin Reimer (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFTom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFNiki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFStijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFGiacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard
DNFHayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack Leopard
DNFEdvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling
DNFVasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky Procycling
DNFKanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling
DNFGeraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling
DNFKoen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFJi Cheng (Chn) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFMatthieu Sprick (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFJerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFYohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFDavid Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar
DNFManuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFKris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFJonathan Monsalve (Ven) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia

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