March 17, 2005
Milan-San Remo previews
When I saw procycling's story, I thought a disaster had befallen last year's Milan-San Remo winner, Oscar Freire, coming off a victory and three stage wins at Tirreno-Adriatico, and he wouldn't be riding Saturday.
Turns out, he's been told he can't wear his rainbow jersey, representing his current world championship, because his win at Tirreno-Adriatico vaulted him into the lead of the UCI ProTour competition.
Since the UCI sets the rules, the white jersey awarded to ProTour leaders has precedence over the rainbow (as the rainbow takes precedence over national championship jerseys).
Freire said he has practical reasons he would prefer to wear the rainbow jersey:
“I’d be better wearing the rainbow jersey because people let you pass when you’ve got it on.”
Even the UCI's road racing coordinator admits the situation is "not ideal:"
“Imagine if Freire has a fantastic season and remains leader of the ProTour throughout, then we would never see the world champion’s jersey in the big events all year. The UCI’s management committee has asked us to mull over this issue.”
Their picks: Freire, of course; Paolo Bettini, who won in 2003; Erik Zabel, who should be out for blood after blowing last year's race at the line; Alessandro Petacchi, who may not have the gas for a race this long; and Australia's Allan Davis of Liberty Seguros.