Milan - Sanremo 2004
22 Mar 2004
Let's speak the truth: it was not such an exciting Sanremo.
Caution, tactics, tension and fear got the upper hand over courage, fantasy and risk.
10'05 to climb the Cipressa and 6'27 on the Poggio are quite modest performances, and wind didn't seem to particularly hinder the riders.
Bettini was too alone in his lunges, and no teammates to prepare the "terrain" for him with suitable progressions; and not-so-brilliant "Vino" was busier in trying to keep the front of the peloton compact rather than attacking.
T-Mobile and Fassa Bortolo ruthlessly controlled the race, keeping a steady but not so high a pace on the climbs in order to bring Zabel and Petacchi to the final sprint with not so heavy legs.
A beautiful attack by Mirko Celestino on the descent after the Cipressa, alone on the front for more than 10 kilometres, was the only shining moment of La Classicissima.
The final sprint, with a bunch of more than 50 riders, was eventually won by the athlete that adopted the lowest gear, for a more agile sprint and most impressive acceleration in the last metres; Oscar Freire Gomez is not by chance a two-time world champion.
Petacchi found his legs empty after almost 300 kilometres of racing, probably sprinting too early for his legs in the end, while Zabel, easily overtaking him and sure of his fifth triumph in Sanremo, paid dearly after the mistake of lifting his arms to the sky before actually cutting the line.