Simon Gerrans of GreenEdge has won the first big race of 2012 when he outsprinted Fabian Cancellera and Vincenzo Nibali. It was the second year in a row that an Australian has won the race (Matt Goss win in 2011) and the first major victory for the new team, GreenEdge.
An attack by Nibali on the Poggio, saw the three riders race clear of the chasers and with Cancellera showing them the way down the legendary mountain, they managed to stay clear of the peloton as they got to the last kilometre.
With Nibali nailed to the back of the trio, Gerrrans did a quick turn for Cancellera who was asking them to work with him with the peloton only seconds behind them at full speed. It was Cancellera though who was forced to lead the sprint out which was perfect for Gerrans as he came off the wheel of the Swiss rider and took the victory with Nibali third.
Liquigas placed a rider in fourth as well with Peter Sagan winning the bunch sprint. A big crash took out Tom Boonen and other riders including those from BMC. Another favourite, Phillip Gilbert crashed too while Mark Cavendish was dropped in the final 100k and despite a lot of help from Team Sky, the big chase group never made it back to the front of the race.
GreenEdge Press Release
Australian National Road Champion Simon Gerrans gave Australia back-to-back wins at Milano-Sanremo. Gerrans is the second Australian to win La Primavera, following in the footsteps of 2011 Milano-Sanermo Champion Matt Goss.
“I still haven’t realized what we actually did today,” said Gerrans. “This is an amazing feeling to win this monument. The team rode perfectly, and we played our cards just the right way.”
Right: Simon Gerrans. Photo - PhotoSport International UK USA Asia
The first 200 kilometres of the 298-kilometre race played out according to script with an early break escaping from the bunch and building up a maximum advantage of 13 minutes before the field began to give chase. “It’s always a bit of a gamble to allow the break such a big gap,” said Sports Director Matt White. “I’ve done this a long time, so I was confident in my direction and judegment. There was a lot of wind on the coast, and I took the option to lay low, stay cool and conserve for the key moments of the race. The strategy worked out well for us.”
By the race’s mid-point, the gap between the break and the field began to slowly but steadily fall. The pre-race favorites all remained comfortably in the bunch as the field hit La Manie, the second climb on the menu. The climb caused the first split in the field. The increase in pace that followed further shed riders from the main bunch. The peloton reabsorbed the break and sped on towards San Remo.
“We rode as a team all day,” explained White. “The guys were always looking after each other and making sure to keep Goss in position at all the key moments. When we hit the Poggio, we had four riders left in the front group. Near the summit of the final climb, Nibali attacked. Gerrans jumped on his wheel and Cancellara quickly bridged across. The trio immediately established a ten-second advantage.”
“Simon had free reign to cover the big moves, and he certainly did today,” said White. “We had two leaders in the race today. If it went hard on the Cipresso or Poggio, Simon was our man. If it came back together for a sprint, we’d look to Gossy.”
“I knew when the move went on the Poggio with Fabian, that this was the time to go,” added Gerrans. “It turned out to be the crucial move of the race.”
“I let Sebastian and Gossy know that Simon had gotten over the top with Fabian and Nibali,” added White. “That’s all I said. At this stage in the race, it’s better to say nothing. The guys don’t want to hear anything over the radio. They need full concentration for the descent.”
The trio managed to evade the chasing field on the descent and hold them off on the run-in towards the finish. With 12 seconds on his pursuers, Cancellara led out the sprint as Gerrans came around him for the victory.
“Fabian is always keen to ride hard to get the win or a podium” explained White. “Simon played it cool. For Fabian, it was pull hard to get a chance to win or sit back in the bunch. Simon knew this was Fabian’s attitude, and he capitalized on it. He has a fast sprint, and he was able to get over the top of Fabian today.
“Simon’s a class act,” added White. “This is the biggest win of his career.” Post-race, Gerrans noted the historical significance of the race for GreenEDGE. “It’s amazing for GreenEDGE to win a Classic – to win the first real Classic we’ve done as a team,” added Gerrans. “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. Thank you to Gerry Ryan and Shayne Bannan.”
Omega Pharma Quickstep Team
For the Omega Pharma Quickstep Team who did a lot of work for their man Tom Boonen, the day had a very forgettable ending with Tom being delayed by a cash and Matteo Trentin crashing. ”I had really good legs, maybe the best legs ever in Milano-Sanremo,” Boonen said. “It was always under control and the team did a really good job for me.”
“They kept me in the first 10 to 15 positions in all important moments of the race. Then on the Poggio I was 7th or 8th when we took the corner to go downhill. I was really good, the team was with me, and we were in good position ready to fight for victory. Then, in the first part of the downhill, a rider crashed, and I was just behind him. I had to brake and lost 100 metres. Because of that it was impossible to come back. Matteo was fortunately on the other side of the road. He had no problems with the crash that affected me. He was in the first group. In any case I am in good shape and I am ready to fight for the next races in the coming weeks.”
Matteo Trentin who crashed in the sprint for fourth, has scrapes on his body, including his right elbow and gluteal region following the crash in the final corner. While the injuries do not appear to be serious, the team will closely monitor Trentin’s condition in the coming days.
“I was there all the day in the front,” Trentin said. “I felt very good, I was near Tom and our tactics went perfectly. We were together at the top of the Poggio as we planned, but on the downhill, a rider crashed in front of Tom. I stayed in the front waiting for Tom, but he didn’t come, so I tried to do my sprint. However, a rider touched my wheel and I crashed. I was really disappointed. For a young guy like me, it’s a dream to be there and sprint for the biggest race and Italy and for my team. But, there’s nothing I can do. The only thing we can do is try to be always in the front and see if one day the victory is realized.”
Not to be for Fabian again in San Remo
Showing continued good form after his time trial win last weekend, Fabian Cancellara was the man in the move on the Poggio in today’s Milano-Sanremo. Cancellara’s power put him in the driver’s seat but a last second jump gave the win to Aussie Simon Gerrans.
“In general I think everything went the way it should go,” said Fabian Cancellara after the race. “It was a hard race and a fast one too. At the end I was right there and when the attack came I was ready. It was part of our plan that Daniele could continue on without stress in case it came to a group sprint. I had in my mind to make a difference on the Poggio on the downhill and then to the finish line.”
“Gerrans did some pulls and I understood that Nibali had his teammate Peter Sagan behind for the sprint so he didn’t have to work. I saw the riders coming at the end but after 300k it’s not easy to calculate exactly what to do and be right each time. In the end I got a nice second place and second in Sanremo is prestigious of course, but it wasn’t the birthday present I was looking for,” said Cancellara, referring to his 31st birthday on Sunday. “I came to win.”
Vincenzo Nibali, did what he could to escape the clutches of the sprinters on the final climb, the Poggio, but was unable to shake off Cancellera and Gerrans. “I feel a sense of satisfaction and disappointment at the same time” Nibali said. “I did what I could but I had no hope of winning against the likes Cancellara and Gerrans. Unfortunately, you know, I’m not really competitive in the sprints.”
“After the descent, we had a head wind but Cancellara kept the speed preventing us being caught. In short, I did everything possible and I could not ask for more. Congratulations to Gerrans, both for the final sprint and for watching for the decisive move”. Peter Sagan meanwhile said that the race started well and showed him that a victory in the future is possible.
1 Simon Gerrans GreenEdge Cycling Team 06:59:24
2 Fabian Cancellara RadioShack – Nissan @ same time
3 Vincenzo Nibali Liquigas – Cannondale @ same time
4 Peter Sagan Liquigas – Cannondale 00:03
5 John Degenkolb 1t4i @ same time
6 Filippo Pozzato Farnese Vini – Selle Italia @ same time
7 Oscar Gomez Freire Katusha Team @ same time
8 Alessandro Ballan BMC Racing Team @ same time
9 Daniel Oss Liquigas – Cannondale @ same time
10 Daniele Bennati RadioShack – Nissan @ same time
11 Xavier Florencio Katusha Team @ same time
12 Luca Paolini Katusha Team @ same time
13 Simon Geschke 1t4i @ same time
14 Oscar Gatto Farnese Vini – Selle Italia @ same time
15 Matthew Goss GreenEdge Cycling Team @ same time
16 Giovanni Visconti Movistar Team @ same time
17 Jacopo Guarnieri Astana Pro Team @ same time
18 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi Movistar Team @ same time
19 Koen De Kort 1t4i @ same time
20 Johnny Hoogerland Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team @ same time
21 Mark Renshaw Rabobank Cycling Team @ same time
22 Tom Boonen Omega Pharma – Quickstep @ same time
23 Bjorn Leukemans Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team @ same time
24 Sacha Modolo Colnago CSF Bardiani @ same time
25 Edvald Boasson Hagen Sky Procycling @ same time
26 Marco Marcato Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team @ same time
27 Anthony Geslin Equipe Cycliste FDJ – BigMat @ same time
28 Pablo Lastras Garcia Movistar Team @ same time
29 Francesco Gavazzi Astana Pro Team @ same time
30 Thomas Löfkvist Sky Procycling @ same time