Gerrans Wins Milan-San Remo
For the second consecutive year, an Australian has won Milan-San Remo.
For the second consecutive year, an Australian has won Milan-San Remo. Last year, Matthew Goss, who rode for HTC-Highroad at the time, did the trick. Today, Goss's teammate on the GreenEDGE team, Simon Gerrans, did so. Gerrans took a three-up sprint to win the 298-km La Primavera in 6:59:24. The victory was the biggest of Gerrans's career and the first major European win for the Australian squad. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) finished second, and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) took third. (Video highlights - US only).
Before the race, the peloton observed a minute of silence for those killed in Tuesday's coach crash in Switzerland. The bunch wasted little time mourning, however. At 21 km, Cheng Ji (Project 1t4i), Juan Pablo Suarez (Colombia-Coldeportes), Dmitri Gruzdev (Astana), Angelo Pagani (Colnago-CSF), Vergard Laake Staengen (Team Type 1), Juan Jose Oroz (Euskaltel), Pierpaolo De Negri (Farnese Vini), Michael Morkov (Saxo Bank), and Oleg Berdos (UtensilNord) sallied off of the front. The escapees ran up a 13-minute lead.
As La Manie loomed with about 100 km left, GreenEDGE and Liquigas-Cannondale stoked the peloton. The acceleration dropped 2009 Milan-San Remo winner Mark Cavendish (Sky). Despite his teammates' help, the world champion never got back into the race. With 95 km left, the fugitives' lead was down to five minutes.
With 90 km remaining, three minutes separated bunch and break. Twelve km later, a crash took down Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia-Coldeportes). Quintero was taken to a hospital with suspected head injuries and a broken collarbone.
The bunch caught the break with 60 km left. BMC and Omega Pharma-Quick Step took over at the front. BMC led the field up the Cipressa, and Liquigas-Cannondale joined the American squad. As the peloton neared the summit, Francisco Javier Vila (UtensilNord) attacked, and Johnny Hoogerland (Vacansoleil) joined him. Liquigas accelerated in pursuit.
With 22 km left, Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and other riders crashed. The Belgian star remounted quickly, but he, like Cavendish, never got back into the race.
Hoogerland led Vila on the descent, but a chase group caught the pair at the base. A regroupment of the favorites occurred between the Cipressa and the Poggio.
Rabobank set a torrid pace up the Poggio. Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale) attacked, and Angel Madrazo (Movistar) caught and dropped the Italian, but Nibali and Gerrans overtook Madrazo. Cancellara joined the two leaders, and the real race was on.
On the run to the finish, Cancellara did most of the work. He led the group into the last km and led out the sprint. Gerrans, however, came around the 2008 Milan-San Remo champion on the right for the win.
Gerrans was open and unapologetic about doing little work in the break. "Without question, Fabian was strongest," Gerrans admitted. "He was going like a motorbike. I was not as strong as Fabian, I will admit that, but you also have to play it a little smart."
Gerrans was aware of what his victory meant for himself and his new team. "It's amazing for GreenEDGE to win the first real Classic we've done as a team," Gerrans said. "To finish up the great work the guys did today is an honor. A big thanks to everyone on this team--the staff, the riders, and the people who created this team."
In two weeks, many of Milan-San Remo's riders will cross paths again at the Tour of Flanders. Who will prosper? Who will go home emptyhanded? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
Watch video highlights from the 2012 Milan-San Remo classic race in our Roadcycling.com video section.