Cipollini names Boonen as his favourite for Milan Sanremo
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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cipollini names Boonen as his favourite for Milan Sanremo

by Conal Andrews at 7:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo

Italian legend Mario Cipollini doesn’t let national pride cloud his judgement in  assessing who will win Milan-Sanremo; rather than opting for Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) or Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre), he believes that Belgian rider Tom Boonen will be number one on the Via Roma on Saturday afternoon.

The 2002 race victor has been studying form in the recent big warm-up event and pinpointed who he feels is the most likely victor. “For Saturday, I have only one favourite and that’s Tom Boonen,” he said, according to Sporza.

“I saw a very good Tom Boonen in the Tirreno. He has an excellent winter behind him and nobody is in better shape. You could see that by the way he raced in Tirreno. It was an important exercise for him and he didn’t hold back.”

Boonen’s best placing in the race was third in 2007, coming in behind Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Allan Davis (Discovery Channel). Last year he was in the group of riders sprinting for the win but only finished 15th.

However he appears to be over his alcohol and cocaine-addictions and has shown impressive form and focus this season. The 29 year old has already clocked up four wins, namely two stages of the Tour of Qatar, one in the Tour of Oman and stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico.

Significantly, the latter was his first-ever victory on Italian soil and one which his supporters will hope is a good omen.

Boonen lives in Monaco but with the principality being a stone’s throw from the race finish in Sanremo, he will know the final climbs and the closing kilometres extremely well. In fact, aside from the Belgian Classics, Milan Sanremo is as close as he’ll get to a home race, and that will give him additional motivation.

Cipollini was one of the quickest riders in the history of cycling and rode the event many times. He knows that it’s more than just about sheer speed, and believes that Boonen’s abilities as a Classic rider will give him the necessary endurance to beat others who may, on paper at least, be more rapid over 200 metres.

“It is true that Tom doesn’t have the sprint speed of Cavendish or Petacchi,” he said. “But after 300 kilometres, the sprint is not a normal one as the legs react differently.

“On Saturday I have a favourite, and that is Boonen.”


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