Gilbert misses golden opportunity to win Milano-Sanremo
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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gilbert misses golden opportunity to win Milano-Sanremo

by Samuel Morrison at 5:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Milan-Sanremo
 
'I feel cursed'

Belgian Philippe Gilbert missed a golden opportunity to win one of the biggest classics, Milano-Sanremo yesterday.

"No need to bulls**t, this was a missed opportunity," OmegaPharma-Lotto team manager, Marc Sergeant told Het Nieuwsblad. "Normally, you don't get very many chances in this race, this was a really good one."

Gilbert is one of the most talented one-day riders, specialising in attacks. Last year, he won the Giro di Lombardia and the Amstel Gold Race.

Crashes around Le Mànie, involving Thor Hushovd and Oscar Freire, split the main group over halfway into the 298-kilometre race. It allowed Gilbert a chance in what is normally a sprinters' race. He chased attacks on the Poggio climb and attacked in the following 6.2 kilometres, but it came to nothing.

Australian Matthew Goss (HTC-Highroad) won the sprint; Gilbert finished third behind Fabian Cancellara (Leopard-Trek).

"It's different than third place in Flanders last year, the other two [Cancellara and Tom Boonen - ed.] were just better," added Sergeant. "But now... That victory was so close, though, Phil is not to blame."

"A beautiful way to begin the spring, with a podium finish in Sanremo," said Gilbert. "And the team was simply excellent. But still... Deep down, though, I feel cursed"

Gilbert marked and then reeled in an attack by Vincenzo Nibali on the Poggio. The race would have to be decided in Sanremo's streets. He attacked with two kilometres to race, but was pulled back over the next kilometre.

"My good friend [Filippo] Pozzato," said Gilbert, referring to a rider who he's faulted in the past for riding negatively.

"Of course," added Sergeant, "Pozzato is right to race his own race, but its no use if you can't win."

"I had to pull him back," said Pozzato. "I'd already risked it and lost it to Cancellara like that in 2008. I would have liked to save myself for the sprint."

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