Koen's report of Milan - San Remo
The 'Primavera' or Milan-San Remo is one of my favourite races
of the year even though I've only ever ridden it once. In 2007 I
was in the early break and I got the chance to really have a good
look at the course in the hope of returning to the race and being a
part of the finale.
After Paris-Nice ended, five of our team went to Sanremo to study
the course of the race and to get some rest after a tough
Paris-Nice. In the days before Milan-Sanremo, I rode the final
100km of the race one day and I went up the Cipressa climb twice
and the Poggio four times, so in my opinion it was the perfect
The team's tactic was to get Cheng (the first Chinese rider to
start in MSR) into the leading group and to have three riders
active in the finale of the race, John Degenkolb, Simon Geschke and
myself. The other riders would ride for us at the start of the
race, keeping us out of the wind and making sure we were well
placed on the Le Manie climb, which is about 100km from the
Cheng managed to get into the day's breakaway so the first
part of our plan worked out great. After that the other guys from
the team worked wonderfully and I've never been able to save so
much strength in the beginning of a race, not once was I in the the
wind or did I have to close a gap. When we started Le Manie, after
about 200km of the race, I still felt fresh and I rode quite easily
at the front of the peloton to the top and after the descent we
found ourselves in a group of about 80 men with the three from our
team that were supposed to ride the finale.
When Cheng was caught by the peloton he was able to get us water
bottles and the three of us got through the Cipressa quite easily.
My task was to make sure that John (and Simon) would start the
Poggio climb in the best place so I rode with them to the front of
the peloton and kept them out of the wind.
On the Poggio I still felt really good but I was a little bit
behind within the peloton due to the work I had done just ahead of
the Poggio. At the top of the climb I was still in the wheel of the
leading group but a split in the peloton about ten places ahead of
me. Luckily Degenkolb and Geschke were in the first group of 11 men
who chased the three that had a narrow lead but managed to keep it
until the end. I was in a group of 30 that was 20 seconds behind.
John sprinted to a great fifth place, Simon had worked for John in
the final kilometres but still managed a fine 13th place and I came
fifth in the sprint from my group to take 19th place.
For our team it was a great result, we had all ridden for
Degenkolb who obtained a great fifth place in his first
Milan-Sanremo and in addition there were two other riders from 1t4i
in the top 20. A great day for the team and a great day for me in a
great race. Hopefully I will ride this race several more times as
now that I have got a taste for the finale, I want more!
Now I have several days of rest and then I will ride Dwars door
Vlaanderen, the E3 Prijs and Gent-Wevelgem in close succession from