Milan-San Remo Group Ride Wrap

The first two hundred kilometers of the Milan – San Remo one day classic played out like a group ride with triathletes in it. The pace it’s a little too high. It’s a little more competitive than it needs to be. And all the dudes are tragically skinny.

Sure, the first two hundred k’s include a climb of the Passo del Turchino, but everyone’s fresh still at that point, and it’s too early to attack and expect to win. In this year’s versions, when the peloton hit Le Mánie at 204k things were still together, but the legs were beginning to go dead, what with the rain and the mud and another 94k to pedal.

By the time they hit the Cipressa and then the Poggio the form riders who were thinking about attacking were too frightened to risk too much. Guys were getting spit out the back like froth behind a motor boat. No one had fresh legs at that point, and Stefano Garzelli road on the front and off into the red, until a bunch sprint was all but guaranteed.

From there it really looked like Tom Boonen, the most named pre-race favorite, was in good position to take the win, but old man Oscar Freire beat him by two bike lengths to join Fausto Coppi and Roger de Vlaeminck as a three time winner of the longest one day bike race on the pro calendar.

No one on the RKP Group Ride picked Freire. We had lots of Boonens, some Petacchis, a Pozzato or two, a few picking Boasson-Hagen, a Chavanel, a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. But no Freire. Yours truly probably came closest by picking “an experienced sprinter,” but that’s really more begging the question than picking the winner, isn’t it?

Your thoughts on the race? Do share.

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12 comments

  1. Mike

    With 500m I was sure Boonen was a lock. When I noticed the orange jersey in the line though I thought if that’s Freire he’s was going to pull it off. Oscar’s the kind of rider who’ll just lurk in the weeds and not call any attention to himself, not generate any stress or expectations, yet when it comes time, he’ll seem to come out of nowhere and pull off a big win.

  2. SinglespeedJarv

    And the reason Garzelli did that finished tenth, one place behind Gilbert who had already attacked, excellent teamwork there. Nothing else to say, it can’t be a bad race with that quality of podium. Great to see Friere back to top form, will bde interesting to see how he gets on over the next few weeks. If he can hold his form I reckon he’ll be close in Wevelgem and might also do a ride in Flanders

    I know I called Boonen, but I think you’ll also find I was the only person who gave Friere a mention…

  3. randomactsofcycling

    I was gunna pick Freire……really I was……but I heard that his mother’s, aunt’s, cousin had a next door neighbour with a blood bag codenamed ‘saddle sore’ and I thought for sure he’d be banned by CONI before he could enter Italy…….

  4. Robot

    @Jarvis I’m sorry I didn’t mention your mention. Also liked your point about the quality of the podium indicating the quality of the race.

    I think it’s also interesting that Boonen, marked as heavily as he was, still finished second. Speaks to the man’s brute strength and positional sense. Great ride from him.

  5. SinglespeedJarv

    I would just like to point out that I’m not original enough to make the point about the quality of the MSR podium and that it infact came from Cycle Sport/Cycling Weekly journo Lionel Birnie. But I do think it is a very good point and one that a lot of people seem to easily forget. How much more quality in a winner do you want than a three-time world champion?

  6. soul_cramp

    Great race! I always like it when a sprinter uses smarts just as much as their kick to win races. I’ll be honest, I completely overlooked Freire. Maybe thats his stragety. I love the pics I’ve come across of some of the riders after the race. Damp, dirty and a little shell shocked.

  7. Touch of Wheels

    Take a look at that top 15. That is who will be ripe come Ronde & 2nd Sunday in April. Freire is world class. Hence the colors on his sleeves.

  8. MattyVT

    What’s funny is that Pippo gets so much press for relatively few big results and Friere as a 3x world champ, green jersey winner and multiple Primavera winner is a long shot.

    Does that say something about the media for creating the Pippo hype or me for buying it? And with that said, I still think Pippo will come up with a big one this season, but it may need to be a dry day so he can keep his shoes clean.

  9. Pedale.Forchetta

    Maybe it’s because you see Freire only in the last few meter of the races he win
    and never when he don’t.

  10. Souleur

    Friere owns a commodity that is hard to predict, experience. The more you have, the older you get and there is always a point in time the twain cannot meet. In this case, and I am glad for him, he pulled all that together and won.

    my dark horse, Nibali, threw it out there for a little, but only a little, and that is just it. Too little.

    Boonen, however, does pose a serious threat for later, and everyone can take note of that now.

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