March 20, 2006
Milan-San Remo wrapup
The peloton made contact with the six leaders, who were fighting every inch of the way, so instead of the typically engulfing end to the break, the break members stayed out at the tip of the spear. As Milram tried to set up its finishing sprint, coming around the break remnants, Igor Astarloa (the OLN commentators thought it was Rinaldo Nocentini of Acqua e Sapone) just put the hammer down. Pozzato not only caught him, but came around him, charging super hard, and the gap held up. Astarloa wound up 11th.
If you watched the TV coverage, VeloNews fingers Ivan Gutierrez as the Caisse d'Espargne rider trying to wave off the motorcycles -- he thought they were hovering a little too close to Petacchi's chasers, giving the peloton a bit of a draft.
Petacchi was all class in defeat:
"I was in top form, but I didn't have the luck today," Petacchi said. "You need to have the luck to win Milan-San Remo. Our team rode great today and I wanted to pay back their efforts with a victory. But my compliments go to Pozzato. Quick Step worked the tactics perfectly with Pozzato on the wheel and they left the chase up to us."
1) Filippo Pozzato, Quick Step, in 6:29:41
2) Alessandro Petacchi (I), Milram, same time
3) Luca Paolini (I), Liquigas, s.t.
4) Tom Boonen (B), Quick Step, s.t.
5) Danilo Napolitano (I), Lampre, s.t.
6) Oscar Freire, Rabobank, s.t.
7) Stefano Garzelli, Liquigas, s.t.
8) Alessandro Ballan, Lampre, s.t.
9) Martin Elmiger, Phonak, s.t.
10) Matteo Carrara, Lampre, s.t.
Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Filippo Pozzato, Frank Schleck, Igor Astarloa, Milan-San Remo 2006, Oscar Freire, Paolo Bettini, Tom Boonen, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)
Graham Watson Milan-San Remo photo gallery
Pozzato in a late break; Boonen celebrates Pippo's placing
If you check out the left-hand image above at GrahamWatson.com (just click through), you can see that Sanchez at right isn't too happy with Pozzato disrupting the break's rhythm.
March 18, 2006
Filippo Pozzato denies the sprinters at Milan-San Remo
Everybody had their eye on Quick Step at Milan-San Remo, with current and former world champions Tom Boonen and Paolo Bettini.
But with Bettini still hurting from a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, and Boonen drawing more attention than that Specialized angel at the Tour of California, Quick Step found another way to get the job done.
Filippo Pozzato covered every late break, then attacked in the last kilometer to take the year's first classic.
It's another sign of the changing of the guard in cycling -- Pozzato is 24. He won Stage 7 of the 2004 Tour in a late-stage escape.
Your other heavy pre-race favorite, Pozzato's former teammate Alessandro Petacchi, takes 2nd. Luca Paolini of Liquigas was 3rd, with Boonen 4th.
March 17, 2006
Milan-San Remo previews
Milram's Alessandro Petacchi says he's (duh!) the team's leader for Milan-San Remo tomorrow, and that he's glad to have Quick Step's Tom Boonen as the favorite in the season's first classic.
"It's no secret that Boonen wants to start the classics season with a win at Sanremo. This time, he is obligated to step up to the plate. Him and his [Quick Step] team, of course."
Boonen has said that though he does not like the race, his intention is to win the first, and longest, classic of the season.
"Last year, nobody talked about [Boonen] before the race and all the pressure was on me," Petacchi said. "This year the roles are reversed, and that doesn't bother me."
PezCycling News details the tactical considerations throughout the course, and notes that Boonen and Petacchi are even with oddsmakers at 4-1, with Thor Hushovd 9-1.
VeloNews reminds us that this race isn't always a sprinters' showdown. This year, I think it is, but I suppose we could see a repeat of 2003, with all those sprinter teams waiting for each other to put in an effort to chase down a quality break. I don't think we will, John Wilcockson doesn't think we will, and I'm sure neither Petacchi nor Boonen thinks we will. Wilcockson mentions again that organizers intend to add the Pompeiana to the route (PezCycling offers a report on the climb), between the Cipressa and Poggio, in an effort to eliminate an annual sprint finish.
March 14, 2006
Classics kick off Saturday with Milan-San Remo
With Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico out of the way, we can look forward to La Primavera, Milan-San Remo, the first classic of the year, running this Saturday in Italy.
It's the longest of the classics, at more than 180 miles and about 7 hours in the saddle. Last year, Alessandro Petacchi finally took his first win in San Remo, ahead of Danilo Hondo (and whatever became of him?) and Thor Hushovd.
In 2004, Erik Zabel timed his sprint perfectly, and looked to have his 5th Milan-San Remo locked up, only to sit up early and lose to Rabobank's Oscar Freire.
Over at the International Herald Tribune, Samuel Abt handicaps the 2006 edition of the race. The obvious favorites are Petacchi and Tom Boonen, both of whom are winning sprints seemingly at will this year. Both of them have some extra baggage, their teammates Zabel (with Petacchi at Milram) and Paolo Bettini (with Boonen at Quick Step), who won the race in 2003.
Bettini is banged up from a crash at Tirreno-Adriatico, but told Eurosport he'll definitely be racing on Saturday:
"I'm going to start the race on Saturday and then worry about getting to San Remo," he added on Tuesday ... "My back and my knee still hurts when I stand on the pedals but I'm optimistic things will improve," he said ... "Unfortunately, Milan-San Remo is the longest race of the season. I just hope my back and knee don't hold me back during the final part of the race."
Boonen toured the race finish Monday. If he could win here, he would be just the 5th man to win the race while world champion. Even so, he's my pick.