Latest from MSR: Broken ribs; Gilbert, Zabel, Fern ndez, Lampre's chances

A spate of broken ribs has affected the Milan-San Remo peloton, although Paolo Bettini says he will

A spate of broken ribs has affected the Milan-San Remo peloton, although Paolo Bettini says he will
PIC © TIM DE WAELE Broken ribs affect MSR fieldPaolo Bettini (Quick.Step) will race Milan-San Remo with a broken rib, his team has revealed. The world champion had to cut short a training ride on Thursday because he was in too much pain following his crash in stage 4 of Tirreno-Adriatico. He was diagnosed with a fractured fourth left rib and a torn left greater pectoral muscle after being examined at a medical centre in Parma. "I'd like to underline that it is my intention to take part in the Milano San Remo race," said Bettini. "This will be my tenth participation in a row and I really want to be there to honour the race that sees its hundredth anniversary this year, my fans and my jersey. With my present condition I really can't say whether I'll be competitive or not. As so often happens, kilometre after kilometre it will be the sensations I have that will decide what role I'll be able to have in the race." Team CSC's Karsten Kroon will make a comeback to racing in Milan-San Remo after breaking his rib in February. His team doesn't expect him to be one of the major players, however. CSC will be working mainly for Stuart O'Grady and Frnk Schleck. Spaniard Jos Joaquin Rojas (Caisse d'Epargne) won't be doing La Primavera, although he also has fractured ribs. He broke two of them after being hit by a car on Wednesday in Murcia. The 21 year-old will not be replaced by his team. Italian Rinaldo Nocentini (AG2r Prevoyance) will not take part in Milan-San Remo because of illness. Nocentini has been suffering from bronchitis since the start of the week. He will be replaced by the Estonian Rene Mandri. Gilbert will attack Belgian Philippe Gilbert (Franaise des Jeux) has one plan for Milan-San Remo: to attack, as he knows he has little chance in a bunch sprint. "A sprint after 294 kilometres is of course not the same as a sprint after 180 kilometres," Gilbert said in an interview with Het Nieuwsblad. "You sprint in San Remo with your last strength, but at best I could get fifth or sixth. "I must try to take advantage of a moment of hesitation. A la Andrei Tchmil, or Pippo Pozzato. In Milan-San Remo it's very simple. You either put your energy into a killer attack, or you wait for the sprint. It's a gamble, but whoever gambles on the capi and forget the sprint." Gilbert has been training on and near the parcours since Paris-Nice finished on Sunday. "Where I live in Remouchamps it was bitterly cold," he said. "It's always a temperature shock if you travel all over the place. I also wanted to refamiliarise myself with the finale of the Classicissima. I did that one Wednesday. Twice up the Poggio, once up the Cipressa. "It remains a very special finale. You have the feeling that you know it but actually you don't. The climbs all look similar. Finally, I'm not so confident with the Poggio, which is still the killer. Before Wednesday, I rode it just five times: Three in the Primavera, once in training, and once in the Tour of the Mediterranean." Gilbert described Milan-San Remo as a "crazy race. On the Friday night you climb into bed with a deep sigh: tomorrow 300 kilometres. But before you know it, the sprint to San Remo is over. Once you're at the top of the Turchino, it goes insanely fast, you're constantly riding with a high heart rate. Last year it went so fast that I didn't get a chance to pee in a hundred kilometres." Zabel doesn't expect top result Team Milram will be led by Alessandro Petacchi in Milan-San Remo, even though they have a four-time winner of the race in the squad. Erik Zabel was almost unbeatable between 1997 and 2001, and nearly picked up a fifth win in 2004 when he was narrowly pipped by Oscar Freire after celebrating too early. Zabel hasn't won a race yet this season, and pulled out of Tirreno-Adriatico on Monday with a sore throat. He expects to be in top form by the Tour de France and world championships, but not for La Primavera. "Erik told me two days ago in an SMS that he has a cough and a sore throat, and therefore pulled out as precautionary measure," Milram team manager Gerry van Gerwen told radsport-news.com. "I actually don't have any big expectations of him, although the hope is that such a rider is always there. Alessandro, who also scored nothing in Tirreno-Adriatico, is not the top favourite like last year. But he gives me confidence: he is two kilos lighter than last year. That is a good sign." Euskaltel counting on Koldo Fern ndez Euskaltel-Euskadi has a sprinter in its ranks: Koldo Fern ndez, who won the final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico. Fern ndez beat top sprinters Robbie McEwen, Alessandro Petacchi, Thor Hushovd, Danilo Napolitano, Allan Davis and Stuart O'Grady to win that stage, and has emerged as a dark horse for Milan-San Remo. Fern ndez's team director Jon Odriozola reckons that stage win highlighted the fact that his rider is in very good shape. In Milan-San Remo, the team will aim to "protect Fern ndez de Larrea to the end" and to get him over the Cipressa and Poggio climbs with minimal effort. "It's a matter of a very prestigious classic, and for the Italian riders it's the most important of the season. The battle will be very hard, but we have our options," said Odriozola. Fern ndez said, "I will start the race with ambitions. After the victory in Tirreno, I have more confidence ... I will aim to do a good race, to try to be with the best and to gain experience." The Euskaltel team is composed of Unai Etxebarria, Be¤at Albizuri, Aitor Hern ndez, Aketza Pe¤a, Jon Bru, Koldo Fern ndez de Larrea, Antton Luengo and Iban Mayoz. Lampre focusing on sprinters The Lampre-Fondital team will put its efforts into protecting sprinters Daniele Bennati and Danilo Napolitano in Milan-San Remo. "We have an athlete such as Bennati who gives us a guarantee to get a good result," said team director Guido Bontempi. "Daniele showed great things in this first part of the season. Another rider that can do a good performance is Napolitano, fifth in 2006. If the pace isn't very high, Danilo could be protagonist in the finale. Ballan is recovering fitness after an accident in the GP Chiasso. Now he's not at 100 percent but we will see during the race what Alessandro could offer. I'm sure that the whole team will work in the best way." The full Lampre team is Fabio Baldato, Alessandro Ballan, Daniele Bennati, Claudio Corioni, Danilo Napolitano, Daniele Righi, Gorazd Stangelj and Patxi Vila. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
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