Velominati Super Prestige: Milano San-Remo 2012

Fignon drills it on the Pogio in 1989. Photo: L'Equipe

The Poggio. It’s probably one of the most famous easy climbs in the world; going through old cycling photographs, I rarely come across one where the leaders haven’t moved Sur La Plaque. It has a reputation, however, for being a real leg breaker, mostly because any climb is a big climb once you cross its summit after a paltry 291 kilometers. And the descent provides one of the twistiest, most exhilarating finales in the sport.

This race stands apart as the longest on the calendar, and represents the only of the five Monuments where the sprinters have a chance at final glory. But this can have it all: the long, solo break routinely makes it to the finish uncaught. The final attacks on the Poggio regularly stick. The attack that goes away on the climb often gets caught on the descent. And, sometimes the whole thing stays together for a bunch gallop. Essentially, any ride who is on form has a chance at glory. This is a unique race.

The question on everyone’s mind is wether Cavendish can get over the Poggio in position to make it to the finish in the first group. If he does, then you can jot down the winner right now. He’s lost some significant weight in the last few weeks, so his climbing should be good; we also have it on good authority from our eyes and ears on the roads in Italy that the Manx Mouth has been spotted training in the hills of Italy with the express intention of making it over the last bump. If, on the other hand, he gets spat out the back like a rainbow turd when the road points uphill, it will be a free-for-all. The fast semi-climbers with descending skills like Nibbles are talking big about their chances. And who in their right minds would ever discount Faboo with his brommer or Gilbert once he fires the howitzers.

So rub your lucky rabbit’s foot and throw some salt over your shoulder; you’re going to need some divine intervention on this one. This year’s VSP is also the first year where we’ll be offering a special badge to the winner of the monuments. We can’t unveil the MSR Badge yet, but the winner of this VSP event will have the honor of posting with the badge until next year’s event. The winner will also receive a free Symbol Pack. Check the start list and get your picks in by 5am Pacific on Saturday morning; if timezone arithmetic isn’t your strong suit, just watch the countdown timer in the banner at the top of the site. As usual, your points go towards the overall VSP as well.

Good luck.

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537 Replies to “Velominati Super Prestige: Milano San-Remo 2012”

  1. @scaler911

    When I first started racing seriously, a buddy of mine who was giving me guidance when I made Cat II, said “it’s almost never the strongest guy in the field that wins the race, but the guy that’s the smartest”. Nibbles could’t have helped if he wanted to on the flats, and Faboo tried a trick that I’ve used to success 1/100 times; try and bury the guys behind you with sheer willpower. While I’m not a big fan of Gerrans, he did what he had to do.

    +1 – that’s the incredibly cool thing about Cycling and one of the reasons I was always more in love with this sport than Nordic skiing, where the strongest almost always wins.

    Look at this thread. Both sides are right – Gerrans rode a perfect, smart race. Faboo was the strongest and raced from the front and lost. The result? We get to sit here and bicker like children until the next race and then we’ll do it all again. There is so much complexity and its so embroiled in the gray, that we can all be right and all be wrong. I love it.

  2. @frank
    I think most of us can agree that regardless of the result it was a very good if not outstanding vintage of MSR — love seeing the attack over the top and insane descent work out.

  3. @wiscot

    @LA Dave

    Seriously, are those t-shirts available or are you messing with us? I’d buy the Spartacus one no probs.

    Sorry Wiscot, meant to link earlier, they are available in the 10 speed hero store:

    http://tenspeedhero.com/

    Great site for road and cyclocross fans like all of us.

  4. @Anjin-san

    OK- I missed the race today with family activities (me and my twin girls were in a taekwondo tournament- some iron was brought home by them!) and I am pissed that I missed the race and only picked two of the top five, but fuck me, if Mr. George Hincapie wasn’t in the thick of it till the finish. 20th… that guy is a stud!

    I got Big George at 33rd, but even still, pretty amazing. What strikes me is that a look at the top ten and you realize tht all of them are all powerhouse racers. No faking this race. 300 k’s are sure to separate the men from the boys, eh?

  5. Also saw that Cav was a DNF. What happened to him? Did he miss the time cut or quit?

  6. @Buck Rogers

    Also saw that Cav was a DNF. What happened to him? Did he miss the time cut or quit?

    Cav couldn’t climb, did a rainbow turd, was ~55-60 seconds off the lead group with 50ish K to go. Sky went to the front and hammered, but then they sat up. He looked pretty worked.
    I didn’t know he’d abandoned though.

  7. I enjoyed the race. I liked the climbing, the finishing, the gamesmanship. I don’t like being mid-pack in the VSP, but eh, it’s a long season.

    To me, getting two hours of soccer in, then watching the final 70 km of Milan Sanremo while having a (pre!)noon beer is a pretty awesome Saturday morning.

    La Vie Velominatus.

  8. @frank

    There is so much complexity and its so embroiled in the gray, that we can all be right and all be wrong. I love it.

    Except this time, when you’re just plain wrong.

  9. @brett
    He’s got a gift for making out like we were agreeing all along when we’re in direct contradiction. Without emoticons I’m forced into saying LOL.

  10. @Oli

    @brett
    He’s got a gift for making out like we were agreeing all along when we’re in direct contradiction. Without emoticons I’m forced into saying LOL.

    No, you’re not. Say ‘Hurk’ or something but no LOL!

  11. I’m pretty new to following pro cycling but I’d have to say that was about as good as sport gets. It helps when you give a toss about who wins and for that I’ve got the VSP to thank. Not that my picks are much good! It was the finish I wanted to see but I believed the hype and went with the ‘fat bank clerk’.

    In his interview on Italian TV, Cancellara commented that the race pace wasn’t particularly hard and he could have done with another climb. Apparently there is talk of putting in another climb between la Cipressa and il Poggio and even a short piece of sterrato. What do you think?

  12. @napolinige
    Hmm, surely every rider would prefer a course that suits them? I don’t know if the course has changed much over the year’s (and i’m too lazy to research just now) but it seems to provide exciting racing and varied results as it is. I know we’re talking Pro’s here, but the mere thought of doing that distance with the climbing as it is turns my legs to jelly.

  13. One measily point! Pathetic!

    Cav fell apart, and then we saw the an Aussie wheel sucker snatch the win. Hats off to Gerrans though, he rode a smart race.

    Bring on the cobbles!

  14. @Jonny
    According to ‘Mountain High,’ The Poggio was added in 1960 and the Cipressa in 1982 with the purpose of avoiding bunch sprints. But I agree that the current format seems to provide enough uncertainty and given the finish we got yesterday I’d say it’d be unlikely to change in the near future. That said it’s been a few years since an Italian has won and another climb would play right into Nibali’s hands and might even bring out Basso.

  15. The point about changing classics – also in the context of dropping the Kappelmuur from the Ronde – was well made recently in the always excellent Inrng blog, although it was published on the less than excellent Cycling News.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/blogs/inner-ring/the-ever-evolving-classics

    They are classics but they aren’t set in stone, and it is good for them to change and to have new rides added.

    Slightly more philosophical question as to what makes a classic, outside of the Monuments. Strade Bianche is only a few years old but has achieved a semi-classic status in many eyes. It seems to be a combination of route, timing, the field and the performances.

  16. As per Frank – Mikael Liddy takes San Remo! We had a 4-way tie for first, but Mikael takes it by a whisker for putting his picks in early. Congrats – you get to comment for the coming year with the little map of Italy.

    Gee cannot wait until the VSP does The Tour of Tasmania and if you win you get to comment for the coming year with the littlemap of Tassie“!!

    Oh and yeah – Go Gerro!! Chalk up another win to the Aussies.

  17. Awww hells yeah!!!

    The little Aussie takes out MSR and to top it all off I get the bloody VSP win. Ironically just ordered a decal set for the new bike in the same session as I put my picks in. Love that I’ve gone from Delgado-ing Paris-Nice to winning this for getting picks in early.

  18. Damn I feel so unpatriotic for not picking an Aussie, congrats Mikael! Good to see another win for the Aussies!
    Chapeau Gerrans!

  19. Well, it was a donut for the day. And while I didn’t have both hands on the TV screen, I was screaming at the screen for the last 5km.

    But the best part was wrenching on the bike while watching the race, enjoying some quality German beer in the freakishly bright (for Germany) spring sun.

    Chapeau Garrans!

  20. Go Gerro Go!

    Gerro goes uphill fast, Gerro goes downhill fast.

    Gerro says: “Hey Fabian! Two tickets on the Spartibus please! One for me and one for my slow-twitch buddy, Nibbles.”

    Gerro can sprint too! Clever Gerro, FTW!

  21. @Oli
    Haha I thought something was up. I was about to compliment Pedale Forchetta on his photography skills because Gerrans seemed to have lost about a pound off his face!

  22. @scaler911

    @Buck Rogers

    Also saw that Cav was a DNF. What happened to him? Did he miss the time cut or quit?

    Cav couldn’t climb, did a Rainbow Turd, was ~55-60 seconds off the lead group with 50ish K to go. Sky went to the front and hammered, but then they sat up. He looked pretty worked.
    I didn’t know he’d abandoned though.

    Apparently Cav et al “finished” but because there were so many in his group and knowing that they were out of it took a shortcut to the finish – (probably too many riders for the team cars to handle.)

  23. Dude won Milan San Remo. From a select bunch. In the Aussie National Champs jersey. It doesn’t get any more PANACHE-TASTIC than that fucktards.

    Fabian thought he was stronger than everyone else. Either that or he’s forgotten his entire 2011 Spring campaign after E3 Prijs. He was wrong. Chapeau for trying. In fairness, Radio Leopard Shack (or whatever they are called) probably didn’t have any other bullets to fire (vs Liquigas and Green Edge who had Sagan and Goss if the bunch came back together) so maybe that explains the one dimensional approach to tactics. I like Faboo, and maybe the truth is he is still 2 weeks away from top form. But either he needs to develop some tactical nous, or he needs to pick races where brute strength is enough (these are pretty hard to find – even Flanders and Roubaix benefit from tactical nous) or Leopard Shack Radio need to maybe get another classics threat so as to give Faboo some options.

  24. @Oli

    @brett
    He’s got a gift for making out like we were agreeing all along when we’re in direct contradiction. Without emoticons I’m forced into saying LOL.

    If I’ve got a gift for that, you’ve got a gift for either not reading what people say before jumping to your conclusions, or missing the point. I haven’t figured out which it is yet.

    Hurk.*

    *What the fuck does that mean?

  25. @ChrisO

    The point about changing classics – also in the context of dropping the Kappelmuur from the Ronde – was well made recently in the always excellent Inrng blog, although it was published on the less than excellent Cycling News. http://www.cyclingnews.com/blogs/inner-ring/the-ever-evolving-classics

    They are classics but they aren’t set in stone, and it is good for them to change and to have new rides added.

    Slightly more philosophical question as to what makes a classic, outside of the Monuments. Strade Bianche is only a few years old but has achieved a semi-classic status in many eyes. It seems to be a combination of route, timing, the field and the performances.

    I think it has a lot to do with the quality of the field – races with a great history still seem to be considered prep races – like Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. I’m not sure what puts the riders in the mindset that its a big race – timing, parcours, romanticism doesn’t hurt…But there seems to be some thread that connects them all that I’m not quite able to grasp.

    Its a fascinating question.

  26. @harminator

    Gerro goes uphill fast, Gerro goes downhill fast.
    Gerro says: “Hey Fabian! Two tickets on the Spartibus please! One for me and one for my slow-twitch buddy, Nibbles.”

    I hadn’t realized that Gerrains could descend like that – I kept thinking Nibbles would be much happier to be one wheel up when Gerro let the gap go, but nothin’ doing. Amazing descent.

  27. While I’ve defended his win in my posts here, I’m going to have to disagree here that his win was “panache-tastic”. Smart, crafty, and well earned, yes. If Cancellara dropped everyone on the climb, decended beautifully, and held off the sprinters, that would have been “panache-tastic”.

    Panache from MW Dictionary: Dash of flamboyance in style and action.
    Panache from Cambridge Dictionary: a stylish, original and very confident way of doing things that makes people admire you

    There is nothing flamboyant or stylish about his well calculated move. It lacked reckless abandon and sense of power. Cancellara’s work showed more panache then Gerrans. It was a good move and a great kick, but everyone knows who was the stronger man of the group.

    Its ok to win a race and lack panache, its just going to be disappointing to some people, as we’ve seen in the comments.

  28. Beautiful quote from Stephen Roche, which I think portrays the tactics of the finale yesterday:

    ‘ULTIMATELY, I HAD TO BE PREPARED TO LOSE IN ORDER TO WIN’

    -STEPHEN ROCHE

    via @brr

  29. Cancelarra must intimidate everyone at the start, he looks like the King Death Spider in that bad-ass kit and glasses. He is the Man.

  30. @Gianni

    Cancelarra must intimidate everyone at the start, he looks like the King Death Spider in that bad-ass kit and glasses. He is the Man.

    I think I saw that band at the Finnish Metal and Church Burning Festival.

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