Gerald Ciolek wins shortened Milan-San Remo

Sagan second, Cancellara third as race reduced to 130km

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Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) won a shortened version of Milan-San Remo, as snow forced organisers to cut the first two climbs. The German sprinter took the close win ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) in a thrilling sprint finish.

As so often this season, the weather played a major role in the race. Snow forced the organizers to take the Turchino and La Manie climbs out of the race, with the nearly-frozen riders re-starting the race in Cogoleto, after a nearly two-hour break.

Ciolek was part of a six-rider group which formed on the descent of the Poggio that included Sagan, Cancellara, Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-QuickStep), Ian Stannard (Team Sky), and Luca Paolini (Katusha). The German sprinter let the others take the lead on the sharp, steep descent, and played his cards cleverly in the finale.

Stannard led the way in the final kilometre, and Sagan opened the sprint once the break caught sight of a closing Taylor Phinney (BMC). However Ciolek, came off Sagan’s wheel to take the biggest win of his career and firmly put the MTN-Qhubeka team on the map. Chavanel, who had attacked with Stannard on the Cipressa, was forced to settle for fourth.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Ciolek after crossing the finish line. “This is an unbelievable success for us and just an incredible day. We just came here as a wildcard and now we’re standing here with the trophy. This is great. I knew I had to follow all the best riders on the Poggio and it worked out perfectly.

“When I chose this team, people wondered why I would join a Pro Continental team but it’s just been unbelievable. The coaching and staff on this team is so professional. I have never seen management care so much for the riders. I am happy to be on this team.”

Snow, rain, cold and buses

Slate grey skies and low temperatures greeted the riders as they gathered in Milan’s Piazza Castello and much of the start-line chatter was focused on the weather forecast, although at that point few anticipated the severity of the impact it would have on the day’s events. A light rain began to fall just as the peloton began to snake its way out of the city centre, but 150 kilometres away, the Passo del Turchino was already banked with snow.

When the flag dropped, however, rumours of a neutralised Turchino were just that, and there was a typically fast start to proceedings. The early break went away shortly beyond the city limits, with Diego Rosa (Androni-Venezuela), Pablo Lastras (Movistar), Lars Bak (Lotto Belisol), Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Maxim Belkov (Katusha) and Francesco Fortin (Bardiani-CSF Inox) forging clear, and after 15km, their lead was already five minutes.

At Pavia (40km), the sextet had 10:35 in hand, and they averaged a brisk 46.4kph for the first hour of racing. By that point, however, the rumours of snow on the Turchino had been confirmed and the race organisers were compelled to come up with an ad hoc solution to ensure the safety of the riders.

It was decided that the race would be neutralised for 46km between Ovada and Arenzano: rather than climb the Turchino, the peloton would stop at the 117km point and clamber back aboard their team buses, re-starting over an hour later.

Given that snow had fallen overnight on the Turchino, questions will be asked as to why the race organisers had not taken more satisfactory measures beforehand to circumvent the climb, but there was no time for the break to debate the whys and wherefores as they sped through the snow towards Ovada. Their race had now become something of a time trial, as they sought to build up as big a lead as possible before the re-start, and they duly reached the stop with 7:10.

La Manie, the next climb, was also taken out, and the race was restarted in heavy rain at Cogoleto. Not all the riders took to the second part of the race, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step’s Tom Boonen being the biggest name to remain in the bus, with hard words for race organizers.

The weather stayed cold and wet, and more riders abandoned as the race went on. With 40km to go, the climbing finally started, but by then only three riders were still in the lead. Bak, Rosa and Belkov had shed their other three companions along the way, with the trio holding a two-minute lead up the Capo Berto.

A reduced peloton, by now shedding its extra layers of clothing, was determined to catch the break group before the Cipressa. The cold conditions began to take a toll on even the best and Vincenzo Nibali was the biggest casualty as he pulled out due to the cold.

By now, Sky had attempted to stamp their authority on the race and it appeared to be working until a crash saw Geraint Thomas and several teammates hit the deck along with Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp).

The first attack on the Cipressa, led by Omega Pharma-QuickStep’s Sylvain Chavanel, was not successful, while surprisingly, Sky’s Edvald Boasson Hagen fell off the back of the group. He was not the only one, as Andre Greipel (Lotto Belisol), Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) and 2005 winner Alessandro Petacchi all lost the struggle to hang on.

The group topped out on the Cipressa with only about 40 riders. World Champion Philippe Gilbert of BMC led the way down, perhaps hoping to build up enough of a lead to stay away for the remaining 20 kilometres. It was not to be, as Chavanel lead a group of six, including Sagan up to the Belgian.

The next lead group to form was Chavanel, Eduard Vorganov (Katusha) and Ian Stannard (Sky). The field didn’t want to let them go, and kept them within 30 seconds, as the rain started again. Vorganov lost ground on the Poggio and was quickly passed by Maxim Iglinskiy.

But on the descent Sagan led a counter attack with Cancellara and reeled in Chavanel and Stannard. Ciolek also made the move.

They caught the two leaders with just less than 4km to go. Stannard jumped, but Sagan led the chase, and then took off on his own. Cancellara gave chase, with all coming together, until Stannard jumped again with 1.8km to go.

The six came through the final kilometre with a sufficient gap, but it was the sight of Phinney tearing across that ignited the sprint and set the wheels in motion for Ciolek.



1 Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka 5:37:20  
2 Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
3 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack Leopard    
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Katusha    
6 Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky Procycling    
7 Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team    
8 Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha 0:00:14  
9 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
10 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Sky Procycling    
11 Francisco José Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Movistar Team    
12 Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
13 Heinrich Haussler (Aus) IAM Cycling    
14 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
15 Sébastien Turgot (Fra) Team Europcar    
16 Jurgen Roelandts (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
17 Romain Bardet (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale    
18 John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano    
19 Yoann Offredo (Fra) FDJ    
20 Oscar Gatto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia    
21 Borut Bozic (Slo) Astana Pro Team    
22 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha    
23 Sebastian Langeveld (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge    
24 Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) Katusha    
25 Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Spa) Movistar Team    
26 Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar    
27 Gabriel Rasch (Nor) Sky Procycling    
28 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
29 Maxime Bouet (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale    
30 Grégory Rast (Swi) RadioShack Leopard    
31 Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
32 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
33 Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
34 Matteo Rabottini (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia    
35 Maxim Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana Pro Team    
36 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
37 Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling    
38 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:00:20  
39 Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar    
40 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
41 Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ 0:00:56  
42 Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling    
43 Eduard Vorganov (Rus) Katusha    
44 Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard 0:02:39  
45 Moreno Moser (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:02:42  
46 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:03:26  
47 Daryl Impey (RSA) Orica-GreenEdge    
48 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Astana Pro Team 0:03:35  
49 Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:04:40  
50 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
51 Adriano Malori (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
52 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale 0:05:13  
53 Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) MTN-Qhubeka    
54 Mark Renshaw (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
55 Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
56 Danilo Hondo (Ger) RadioShack Leopard    
57 Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
58 André Greipel (Ger) Lotto Belisol    
59 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling    
60 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) IAM Cycling    
61 Mauro Finetto (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia    
62 Ricardo Garcia Ambroa (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
63 DNF Maarten Tjallingii (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
64 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Lotto Belisol    
65 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
66 Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
67 Jens Keukeleire (Bel) Orica-GreenEdge    
68 Simon Gerrans (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
69 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) RadioShack Leopard    
70 Ramunas Navardauskas (Ltu) Garmin-Sharp    
71 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
72 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
73 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
74 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) Garmin-Sharp    
75 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
76 Davide Cimolai (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
77 Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
78 Grega Bole (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
79 Simon Geschke (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano    
80 Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Movistar Team    
81 Jorge Azanza Soto (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:07:49  
82 DNF Paul Martens (Ger) Blanco Pro Cycling Team 0:08:59  
83 Marco Bandiera (Ita) IAM Cycling 0:09:20  
84 Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano    
85 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
86 Stuart O’grady (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:09:22  
87 Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp    
88 Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:11:19  
89 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:11:21  
90 Greg Henderson (NZl) Lotto Belisol 0:11:29  
91 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) Lotto Belisol    
92 Jack Bauer (NZl) Garmin-Sharp    
93 Jens Mouris (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge    
94 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
95 Alessandro Proni (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:11:39  
96 Kristijan Koren (Slo) Cannondale Pro Cycling 0:11:44  
97 Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ    
98 Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
99 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
100 Matthieu Ladagnous (Fra) FDJ    
101 David Tanner (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
102 Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka 0:11:46  
103 Jacobus Venter (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
104 Roy Curvers (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
105 Boy Van Poppel (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
106 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team    
107 Massimo Graziato (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
108 Elia Viviani (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
109 Bertjan Lindeman (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team 0:11:49  
110 Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
111 Andrea Pasqualon (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
112 Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
113 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spa) Movistar Team    
114 Kevin Hulsmans (Bel) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia    
115 Rick Flens (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
116 Gustav Larsson (Swe) IAM Cycling    
117 Lars Ytting Bak (Den) Lotto Belisol    
118 Martin Elmiger (Swi) IAM Cycling    
119 Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar    
120 Maxim Belkov (Rus) Katusha    
121 Tomas Aurelio Gil Martinez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli    
122 Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
123 Michael Morkov (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
124 Baden Cooke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge 0:11:56  
125 Martin Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team 0:13:09  
126 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
127 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar    
128 Andreas Stauff (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka    
129 Arnaud Demare (Fra) FDJ    
130 Jesse Sergent (NZl) RadioShack Leopard    
131 Dominic Klemme (Ger) IAM Cycling    
132 Frederik Veuchelen (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
133 Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ    
134 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia 0:15:03  
135 Vladimir Isaichev (Rus) Katusha 0:18:25  
DNF Matthew Harley Goss (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Manuel Belletti (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale    
  Steve Chainel (Fra) Ag2R La Mondiale    
  Hugo Houle (Can) Ag2R La Mondiale    
  Ben Gastauer (Lux) Ag2R La Mondiale    
  Matteo Montaguti (Ita) Ag2R La Mondiale    
  Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli    
  Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
  Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
  Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
  Sacha Modolo (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
DNF Francesco Manuel Bongiorno (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
  Nicola Boem (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
  Marco Canola (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
  Filippo Fortin (Ita) Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox    
DNF Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Maarten Wynants (Bel) Blanco Pro Cycling Team    
  Thor Hushovd (Nor) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Klaas Lodewyck (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
  Daniel Oss (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
  Michael Schär (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
  Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
  Miguel Minguez Ayala (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Robert Vrecer (Slo) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
  William Bonnet (Fra) FDJ    
  Mickael Delage (Fra) FDJ    
DNF Robert Hunter (RSA) Garmin-Sharp    
  David Millar (GBr) Garmin-Sharp    
  Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Blr) Katusha    
  Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
  Adam Hansen (Aus) Lotto Belisol    
  Frederik Willems (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team    
  Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Movistar Team    
  Eloy Teruel Rovira (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Martin Reimer (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka    
  Jim Songezo (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
  Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Niki Terpstra (Ned) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
DNF Stijn Vandenbergh (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick-Step Cycling Team    
  Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) RadioShack Leopard    
  Hayden Roulston (NZl) RadioShack Leopard    
  Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Sky Procycling    
  Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Sky Procycling    
  Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Sky Procycling    
  Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky Procycling    
  Koen De Kort (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
  Cheng Ji (Chn) Team Argos-Shimano    
  Matthieu Sprick (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano    
  Jerome Cousin (Fra) Team Europcar    
  Yohann Gene (Fra) Team Europcar    
  David Veilleux (Can) Team Europcar    
  Manuele Boaro (Ita) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
  Kris Boeckmans (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
  Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
  Jonathan Monsalve (Ven) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia