Simon Gerrans takes Australia’s second straight Milano-Sanremo
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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Simon Gerrans takes Australia’s second straight Milano-Sanremo

by Ben Atkins at 12:26 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Milan-Sanremo
Australian champion hands Cancellara a second straight second place as Nibali pulls them clear on the Poggio; no rainbow Primavera for Cavendish

simon gerransSimon Gerrans (GreenEDGE) has become the second Australian to win Milano-Sanremo, a year after his teammate Matt Goss became the first. The Australian champion was by far the fastest sprinter from a three-man group that escaped over the top of the Poggio, with less than 8km to go; he easily beat Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) in the dash for the line, condemning the Swiss champion to a second straight runner up spot in the race, with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) - who had initiated the move - in third.

The trio had a lead of 12 seconds as they entered the final 3km, at the foot of the Poggio’s twisting descent; despite a hard chase from riders of several teams, the trio - with the lion’s share of the work done by Cancellara’s considerable time trialling power - managed to hold off what was left of the peloton.

“We couldn’t ask for a better start for the new GreenEdge project. We started well in Australia and to win Milan Sanremo is the perfect way of saying thanks to Gerry Ryan and Shane Bannan, who put the team together,” said Gerrans after his triumph, the biggest one-day success of his career.

Some observers commented after the race that the rider had done very little work in the break, as did Nibali. Gerrans himself acknowledged this. “Without question Fabian was the strongest, he was going like a motorbike. He followed Nibali and myself on the Poggio, drove it over the top and was the best descender.

“He drove the break to the finish. I gave him one turn but he passed me again. I was confident the break would make it to the finish and I knew what I had to do to finish off the job and win. Fabian was racing to win in the finale. He perhaps thought he had enough to finish it off but perhaps he underestimated me.”

Nibali’s Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Peter Sagan led home a very small group just behind the three leaders, outpacing German sprinter John Degenkolb (Project 1t4i).

A fierce pace set by Liquigas-Cannondale on the climb to Le Mànie, with 94km to go, put paid to the dreams World champion Mark Cavendish (Team Sky) to join the short list of riders that have won la Classicissima in the rainbow jersey.

Once again Le Mànie proved to be the Manxman’s undoing; where he was held up by a crash on the descent last year, this time he was dropped on the way up by the fierce pace set by Nibali’s team. Despite a ferocious chase by Team Sky along the coast road, Cavendish’s race was over.

Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) was another favourite to see his dreams of victory disappear, as he was brought down in a crash close to the back of the peloton on the climb to la Cipressa with less than 25km to go.

The race-long break came from Cheng Ji (Project 1t4i) - the first ever Chinese rider to take part in the race - with Vegard Laengen (Team Type 1-Sanofi), Oleg Berdos (Utensilnord-Named), Pierpaolo De Negri (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia), Dmitri Gruzdev (Astana), Michael Mørkøv (Saxo Bank), Juan José Oroz (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Angelo Pagani (Colnago-CSF Inox) and Juan Pablo Suárez (Colombia-Coldeportes). The nine riders managed to build a lead of almost 14 minutes in the first 100km, but were pulled back as the race hit the Capi, the series of short coastal hills in the final 50km.

An immediate attack; Liquigas-Cannondale drops Mark Cavendish

The peloton observed a minute’s silence before the start, in tribute to the 28 Belgians - including 22 children - who died in Wednesday’s Swiss coach crash.

Almost immediately Cheng jumped clear with Laengen and,after 4km the two of them were joined by Berdos, De Negri, Gruzdev, Mørkøv, Oroz, Pagani and Suárez. With Team Sky marshalling the peloton, the nine fugitives had opened up a lead of 13’28” by the 80km point.

At the first feedzone in Campo Ligure, after 134.1km though, it had dropped to 10’30”, and, as they crested the top of the Passo del Turchino after 142.3km it was down to nine minutes. Cheng found himself dropped, but the other eight riders continued. Just past Varazze, with 125km still to go, the nine leaders’ advantage was down to 6’58”

As the peloton hit the base of the climb to Le Mànie, the Liquigas-Cannondale team began to show itself and, along with RadioShack-Nissan, began to set a fierce pace. Cavendish was quickly dropped, with most of the Sky team waiting for him; the World champion was really struggling on the steep climb though, with the group of riders with him splitting as his teammate’s pace proved too much. As the peloton approached the top the World champion’s group was 30 seconds behind, and he was left behind with only Bernhard Eisel for company.

Knowing that the World champion had been dropped, Liquigas-Cannondale and RadioShack-Nissan increased the pace, which saw American hope Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Barracuda) lose contact.

Before long Cavendish and Eisel’s group joined the back of the group that he had been dropped from on the climb but, with the peloton flying down the descent, it would take a supreme effort to get back in touch.

As the peloton hit the Ligurian coastal town of Pietro Ligure at the bottom of the descent, getting its first view of the Mediterranean, it was just 2’36” behind the leaders. Cavendish’s group was now going further back, as BMC Racing and Omega Pharma-Quick Step hit the front to try to prevent him from coming back.

At the base of the descent, Carlos Quintero (Colombia-Coldeportes) had a bad crash, as he appeared to have ridden into a wall at speed. He reportedly lost consciousness for a short time, and was attended by ambulance crews for some time before being transferred to hospital.

The peloton works hard to make sure Cavendish doesn’t come back

BMC Racing and Omega Pharma-Quick Step were making short work of the gap up to the leaders on the flat Ligurian coast roads and, with 75km to go, the eight men had just 1’48” left. Four riders from Team Sky were hammering the front of the Cavendish group, but was almost the same distance behind the peloton as the peloton was behind the break.

On a small rise, with just over 60km to go, the peloton had the eight leaders in sight, just ten seconds ahead. Berdos was not willing to give up without a fight though, and jumped away as the others sat up.

Cavendish’s group was 55 seconds behind the peloton as it passed through Alassio with 59km to go; Acqua & Sapone had joined Team Sky at the front, but progress was slow. The British team was also using up its men, with just three on the front at this point. Even if it did succeed in closing the gap to the front of the race, Team Sky would be unlikely to be able to impose itself on the finish.

Edvald Boasson Hagen was still in the peloton for Team Sky however, meaning that the team’s plan B was still very much on.

Omega Pharma-Quick Step, BMC Racing and Garmin-Barracuda soon caught up with Berdos, passing him with 57km to go, meaning that the peloton had the lead in the race for the first time since it had left Milan that morning.

With 50km to go, the gap was 50 seconds back to Cavendish, but the race was about to hit the series of Capi on the approach to the finish, where Cavendish might struggle. Sure enough, as the chase group hit the base of Capo Mela, Cavendish thanked his teammates and the British team gave up the chase.

Over Capo Cervo the gap was up to 1’25” as the steam had now gone from the chase.

The short, sharp coastal hill saw another of the sprinters dispatched by the pace - now set by Katusha - as Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) was dropped; the 2005 winner sat up and drifted back to the Cavendish group.

With Cavendish now out of the race the speed in the peloton relaxed a little, with Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) leading the way with almost the entire BMC Racing Team on their heels.

The Cipressa ends Gilbert’s race, the Poggio sees the winning move

Approaching the base of la Cipressa a number of riders began to move forward; Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone) was right at the back however, as BMC Racing took over at the front. Liquigas-Cannondale pulled ahead as the climb was about to begin though, and Valerio Agnoli began to wind the pace up with Daniel Oss.

With 25km to go Francisco Vila (Utensilnord-Named) attacked, and was joined by Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil-DCM). As they approached the top, the peloton was 11 seconds behind them; Liquigas-Cannondale came back to the front however, and began to hunt them down.

Crash near the top brought down a number of riders, including Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), as a rider appeared to hit a parked car. The Belgian champion appeared to be unhurt, but his race was now over. The incident also saw the end of Di Luca’s race as he was forced to put his foot down.

Liquigas-Cannondale and RadioShack-Nissan led the chase up to the two leaders, quickly catching them on the descent. Farnese Vini-Selle Italia began to make its presence felt again as the race approached the Poggio, with Filippo Pozzato visible for the first time in the race.

Defending champion Goss was perilously close to the back as the peloton hit the base of the Poggio, with under 10km to go, as Rabobank moved forward in numbers.

Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale) attacked immediately and opened a gap. Angel Madrazo (Movistar) jumped across, but the peloton was less than 100 metres behind; Madrazo dropped Agnoli and was alone as he approached the summit.

As Agnoli was caught Nibali went, with Gerrans glued to his wheel; Cancellara jumped across and the three of them hit the descent together. They were just a few seconds clear however, and it was a very large group that was in pursuit.

Katusha was leading the chase on the winding hairpins, and had the three of them in sight on the straights. Even if they managed to hit the bottom ahead it would likely take all of Cancellara’s time trialling power to keep them away, where Gerrans would be the overwhelming favourite for the sprint.

The trio was 12 seconds ahead as it hit the bottom, with 3km to go, but Katusha seemed to be closing. Cancellara doing almost all of the work; Gerrans came through once to take a short turn, but Nibali seemed to be struggling to hold on.

Onto the finishing straight the three riders were barely ahead, but it was to be just enough for them to contest the victory between them.

Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) slid off on final corner as the low-flying TV helicopter blew another rider across his path. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) also came down, but the race was already lost anyway.

Cancellara opened up his sprint in the final 100 metres, but Gerrans easily came around him to win.

Milan - Sanremo (WorldTour), Italy:

1, Simon Gerrans (GreenEdge Cycling Team) 298 kilometres in 6 hours 59 mins 24 secs
2, Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack - Nissan)
3, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas - Cannondale)
4, Peter Sagan (Liquigas - Cannondale) 00:02
5, John Degenkolb (1t4i)
6, Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
7, Oscar Gomez Freire (Katusha Team)
8, Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team)
9, Daniel Oss (Liquigas - Cannondale)
10, Daniele Bennati (RadioShack - Nissan)
11, Xavier Florencio (Katusha Team)
12, Luca Paolini (Katusha Team) 00:12
13, Simon Geschke (1t4i)
14, Oscar Gatto (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
15, Matthew Goss (GreenEdge Cycling Team) 00:20
16, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar Team)
17, Jacopo Guarnieri (Astana Pro Team)
18, Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Movistar Team)
19, Koen De Kort (1t4i)
20, Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
21, Mark Renshaw (Rabobank Cycling Team)
22, Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
23, Bjorn Leukemans (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
24, Sacha Modolo (Colnago CSF Bardiani)
25, Edvald Boasson Hagen (Sky Procycling)
26, Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
27, Anthony Geslin (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat)
28, Pablo Lastras Garcia (Movistar Team)
29, Francesco Gavazzi (Astana Pro Team)
30, Thomas Löfkvist (Sky Procycling)
31, Matti Breschel (Rabobank Cycling Team)
32, Lars Boom (Rabobank Cycling Team)
33, George Hincapie (BMC Racing Team)
34, Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
35, Francesco Reda (Acqua & Sapone)
36, Angel Ruiz Madrazo (Movistar Team)
37, Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
38, Ángel Vicioso Arcos (Katusha Team)
39, Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
40, Sebastian Langeveld (GreenEdge Cycling Team)
41, Bram Tankink (Rabobank Cycling Team)
42, Simone Ponzi (Astana Pro Team)
43, Damiano Cunego (Lampre - ISD)
44, Gianluca Brambilla (Colnago CSF Bardiani) 00:31
45, Niki Terpstra (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) 01:05
46, Francisco Javier Vila Errandonea (Utensilnord - Named) 01:24
47, Dmitriy Muravyev (Astana Pro Team)
48, Jérome Pineau (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) 01:35
49, Francesco Failli (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
50, Kris Boeckmans (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
51, Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Movistar Team)
52, Andre Greipel (Lotto - Belisol Team) 01:48
53, Dominique Rollin (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat)
54, Tony Gallopin (RadioShack - Nissan)
55, Jose Herrada Lopez (Movistar Team)
56, Christophe Riblon (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
57, Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (Movistar Team)
58, Danilo Hondo (Lampre - ISD)
59, Davide Cimolai (Lampre - ISD)
60, Nicki Sørensen (Team Saxo Bank)
61, Paul Martens (Rabobank Cycling Team)
62, Maarten Tjallingii (Rabobank Cycling Team)
63, Danilo Di Luca (Acqua & Sapone)
64, Gustav Erik Larsson (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
65, Karsten Kroon (Team Saxo Bank)
66, Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
67, Anders Lund (Team Saxo Bank)
68, Heinrich Haussler (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
69, Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing Team) 02:20
70, Matthieu Ladagnous (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat) 02:41
71, Matteo Montaguti (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
72, Matteo Tosatto (Team Saxo Bank)
73, Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas - Cannondale) 02:44
74, Manuele Boaro (Team Saxo Bank) 03:23
75, Kiel Reijnen (Team Type 1 - SANOFI) 03:27
76, Remi Cusin (Team Type 1 - SANOFI) 03:39
77, William Bonnet (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat) 04:09
78, Gregory Rast (RadioShack - Nissan) 04:44
79, Yaroslav Popovych (RadioShack - Nissan)
80, Steve Chainel (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat)
81, Johan Vansummeren (Team Garmin - Barracuda) 05:37
82, Borut Bozic (Astana Pro Team) 07:37
83, Nikolas Maes (Omega Pharma - Quickstep) 07:43
84, Stijn Vandenbergh (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
85, Jon Izagirre Insausti (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
86, Arthur Vichot (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat)
87, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team)
88, Kristjan Koren (Liquigas - Cannondale) 09:28
89, Michael Schar (BMC Racing Team)
90, Marcus Burghardt (BMC Racing Team)
91, Frederik Willems (Lotto - Belisol Team)
92, Jelle Vanendert (Lotto - Belisol Team)
93, Kevin Hulsmans (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
94, Baden Cooke (GreenEdge Cycling Team)
95, Manuel Quinziato (BMC Racing Team)
96, Paolo Bailetti (Utensilnord - Named)
97, Juan Pablo Suarez (Colombia - Coldeportes)
98, Michael Morkov (Team Saxo Bank)
99, Andreas Klier (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
100, Eduard Vorganov (Katusha Team) 14:39
101, Federico Rocchetti (Utensilnord - Named) 15:54
102, Pier Paolo De Negri (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia) 17:04
103, Vicente Reynes Mimo (Lotto - Belisol Team) 20:18
104, Marcel Sieberg (Lotto - Belisol Team)
105, Robert Hunter (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
106, Pim Ligthart (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
107, Fabian Wegmann (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
108, Elia Viviani (Liquigas - Cannondale)
109, Tyler Farrar (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
110, Robert Wagner (RadioShack - Nissan)
111, Hayden Roulston (RadioShack - Nissan)
112, David Millar (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
113, Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team)
114, Murilo Antonio Fischer (Team Garmin - Barracuda)
115, Marzio Bruseghin (Movistar Team)
116, Markel Irizar Aranburu (RadioShack - Nissan)
117, Maxime Bouet (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
118, Adam Hansen (Lotto - Belisol Team)
119, Peter Velits (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
120, Dmitriy Gruzdev (Astana Pro Team)
121, Jeffry Johan Romero (Colombia - Coldeportes)
122, Oleg Berdos (Utensilnord - Named)
123, Juan Pablo Forero Carreno (Colombia - Coldeportes)
124, Filippo Baggio (Utensilnord - Named)
125, Bert-jan Lindeman (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
126, Frederik Veuchelen (Vacansoleil - DCM Pro Cycling Team)
127, Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia - Coldeportes)
128, Lloyd Mondory (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
129, Arnaud Gerard (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat)
130, Manuel Belletti (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
131, Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team)
132, Pablo Urtasun Perez (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
133, Mikel Landa Meana (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
134, Ruben Perez Moreno (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
135, Jure Kocjan (Team Type 1 - SANOFI)
136, Julien El Fares (Team Type 1 - SANOFI)
137, Georg Preidler (Team Type 1 - SANOFI)
138, Tom Veelers (1t4i)
139, Johannes Frohlinger (1t4i)
140, Ji Cheng (1t4i)
141, Lars Ytting Bak (Lotto - Belisol Team)
142, Gerald Ciolek (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
143, Diego Caccia (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
144, Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini - Selle Italia)
145, Sébastien Hinault (Ag2R - La Mondiale) 23:02
146, Kristof Goddaert (Ag2R - La Mondiale)
147, Marco Coledan (Colnago CSF Bardiani)
148, Gianluca Maggiore (Utensilnord - Named)
149, Daniele Righi (Lampre - ISD)
DNF: Maxim Iglinskiy (Astana Pro Team)
DNF: Tomas Vaitkus (GreenEdge Cycling Team)
DNF: Svein Tuft (GreenEdge Cycling Team)
DNF: Matthew Wilson (GreenEdge Cycling Team)
DNF: Claudio Corioni (Acqua & Sapone)
DNF: Carlos Alberto Betancurt Gomez (Acqua & Sapone)
DNF: Paolo Ciavatta (Acqua & Sapone)
DNF: Francesco Ginanni (Acqua & Sapone)
DNF: Danilo Napolitano (Acqua & Sapone)
DNF: Fabio Taborre (Acqua & Sapone)
DNF: Enrico Gasparotto (Astana Pro Team)
DNF: Franck Osorio (Colombia - Coldeportes)
DNF: Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (Colombia - Coldeportes)
DNF: Stuart O' Grady (GreenEdge Cycling Team)
DNF: Victor Hugo Pena (Colombia - Coldeportes)
DNF: Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia - Coldeportes)
DNF: Marco Canola (Colnago CSF Bardiani)
DNF: Enrico Battaglin (Colnago CSF Bardiani)
DNF: Paolo Locatelli (Colnago CSF Bardiani)
DNF: Angelo Pagani (Colnago CSF Bardiani)
DNF: Filippo Savini (Colnago CSF Bardiani)
DNF: Juan José Oroz Ugalde (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
DNF: Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel - Euskadi)
DNF: Gabriel Rasch (Equipe Cycliste FDJ - BigMat)
DNF: Vladimir Gusev (Katusha Team)
DNF: Simon Spilak (Katusha Team)
DNF: Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre - ISD)
DNF: Grega Bole (Lampre - ISD)
DNF: Diego Ulissi (Lampre - ISD)
DNF: Davide Vigano (Lampre - ISD)
DNF: Maciej Bodnar (Liquigas - Cannondale)
DNF: Paolo Longho Borghini (Liquigas - Cannondale)
DNF: Gregory Henderson (Lotto - Belisol Team)
DNF: Matteo Trentin (Omega Pharma - Quickstep)
DNF: Roy Curvers (1t4i)
DNF: Roger Kluge (1t4i)
DNF: Tom Leezer (Rabobank Cycling Team)
DNF: Maarten Wynants (Rabobank Cycling Team)
DNF: Mark Cavendish (Sky Procycling)
DNF: Bernhard Eisel (Sky Procycling)
DNF: Mathew Hayman (Sky Procycling)
DNF: Jeremy Hunt (Sky Procycling)
DNF: Salvatore Puccio (Sky Procycling)
DNF: Ian Stannard (Sky Procycling)
DNF: Jonas Aaen Jorgensen (Team Saxo Bank)
DNF: David Tanner (Team Saxo Bank)
DNF: Gabriele Bosisio (Utensilnord - Named)
DNF: Matteo Fedi (Utensilnord - Named)
DNF: Daniele Colli (Team Type 1 - SANOFI)
DNF: Vegard Laengen Stake (Team Type 1 - SANOFI)
DNF: Martijn Verschoor (Team Type 1 - SANOFI)


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