Milan San Remo Title

The Milan-San Remo cycle race


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Saturday 23 March 2002 - San Remo - Italy.

Mario Cipollini sprinted to victory on the Via Roma ahead of Fred Rodriguez and Markus Zberg to finally win the race of his dreams.

196 riders left the Via della Chiesa Rossa at 0938 hours with 287km ahead of them. The race got off to a very quiet start with nothing happening for the first two hours. At the 125km mark three riders - Abraham Olano (Once-Eroski), Torsten Schmidt (Gerolsteiner) and Vladimir Duma (Ceramiche-Panaria) went away and were soon joined by Olano's teammate René Andrle. They were to gain a one-minute lead over the peloton.

Climbing the Bric Berton Inigo Cuesta (Cofidis) bridged the gap with Laslo Bodrogi (Mapei-Quick Step) chasing at 32". Bodrogi caught the five leaders on the descent and they had a 1' 30" lead over the group. The leading six were pursued by Martin Hvastiga (Alessio) and Marco Serpellini (Lampre-Daikin). Hvastiga eventually made it across. Serpellini persisted but was eventually swallowed up by the bunch. The leading group of seven worked well and built up a lead of 4' 30". Saeco and Fassa Bortolo began to chase and the gap started to drop.

Over the Capo Mele with less than 52km to the finish the seven man break still lead but the gap was down to 1' 30". Schmidt was the first to be dropped and was caught. On the Capo Berta Bodrogi and Andrle were also dropped. Andrle however managed to get back to the leaders going through Oneglia. The peloton at this point appeared to stop chasing. Just after Oneglia, probably due to the bunch slowing, someone crashed into the back of Erik Zabel (Telekom) forcing him to change bikes. A second crash shortly after saw one of the race favourites Danilo Di Luca (Saeco) fall. After a few minutes he eventually got going again helped by a couple of his teammates but was travelling very slowly. He eventually abandoned. Danilo Di Luca

Danilo Di Luca

Also in the crash was Erik Dekker (Rabobank), the 2001 World Cup winner, who suffered more serious injuries with a fractured femur. Zabel's chase was hindered by this second crash and he was to be denied his record three in a row of wins, as he never saw the leaders again. Photo © Susanne & Florian

The gruppo was now riding hard towards the next climb - the Cipressa. After approximately 300m of the Cipressa Paolo Bettini (Mapei-Quick Step) attacked and took five or six with him including Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom) who marked him closely. Bettini got no help at all. Next to attack was Andrei Kivilev (Cofidis) who gained a 12" lead. The Spanish national champion Jose Ivan Gutierrez (iBanesto) jumped clear and eventually joined him just before the top. Their lead was only 2" and it was over just past summit. Mirko Celestino (Saeco) attacked on the descent and was joined by Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo) but they too are soon brought back. Jan Schaffrath (Telekom - earlier reported as Wesemann) crashed on the way down with a Mercatone Uno rider and looked to be in a bad way. He was lying motionless face down under the barrier at the side of the road. He did however get going again to finish 141st.

On the Via Aurelia heading towards the final hill, the Poggio, saw more attacks. Unai Extebarria (Euskaltel-Euskadi) with Mauro Radaelli (Tacconi Sport) went, but the break came to nothing. Andrea Peron (CSC-Tiscali) and Juan Antonio Flecha (iBanesto) tried next and gained 14". Going through the tunnel at Arma di Taggia with 12km to go their lead was only 6". They were reeled in at the other side. The Poggio got closer with the main group all together. Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) lead them onto this famous climb and rode a steady tempo. Vinokourov was the first to jump and took Samuel Sanchez (Euslaltel-Euskadi) with him. Sanchez went to the front alone. Kivilev crashed with others on a corner. Sanchez was chased by a small group containing Bettini. Over the top of the Poggio Bettini had a lead of 4" over Giuliano Figueras (Ceramiche-Panaria) with a further 11" to the group.

The descent into San Remo saw Figueras eventually catch Bettini. Figueras went to the front with 3km to the finish and did most of the work. Onto the old finish of the Corso Cavallotti (last used in 1993) the lead was only a few seconds. At the 1km to go kite it was a mere 1". The Acqua & Sapone Cantina Tollo team were now on the front and brought Cipollini onto the 400m long finishing straight in an ideal position for the win.

Complete Result.>>

Mario Cipollini wins Milano-Sanremo

Mario Cipollini winning the 2002 Milan-San Remo

Photo © Cor Vos

2002 Post race comment
" I want to dedicate this win to my father, who was with me when I saw my first Milano-Sanremo in 1982. He's not very well now, but I hope he will understand me when I tell him that I have fulfilled my promise I made to him that one day I would win Milano-Sanremo. "

Mario Cipollini