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La Primavera kicks off World Cup season

Milan-San Remo is the first big classic and the chance for many riders to cop a big win. It has ended many times in a large sprint, as well as in solo victories. Erik Zabel (Deutsche Telekom) has won three of the last four editions and looks to be the strong favorite again, having shown good form in February and March races in Spain. After interviewing many team mechanics the day before the race, in fact, those who would make a prediction of a rider not on their own teams, Zabel was the one. Milan-San Remo is not only the first of the major classics, but it is also the longest. The course is

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By Lennard Zinn

La Primavera kicks off World Cup season

La Primavera kicks off World Cup season

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Milan-San Remo is the first big classic and the chance for many riders to cop a big win. It has ended many times in a large sprint, as well as in solo victories. Erik Zabel (Deutsche Telekom) has won three of the last four editions and looks to be the strong favorite again, having shown good form in February and March races in Spain. After interviewing many team mechanics the day before the race, in fact, those who would make a prediction of a rider not on their own teams, Zabel was the one.

Milan-San Remo is not only the first of the major classics, but it is also the longest. The course is relatively non-challenging until the very end, where the riders encounter three climbs, the Cipressa, Turchino and Poggio.

Heavy rains all winter caused mudslides that took out the road on theTurchino, so a detour will bypass the climb.

Certainly, a long break has a chance of succeeding, but teams with sprinters are highly motivated to keep the group together. To Italian fans, this is perhaps the biggest race of the year outside of the Giro, possibly even surpassing the world championships in importance to them.

So Italian teams will do their utmost to win it. But it is still largely a crapshoot a full day of riding in the wheels, with a final half-hour that is absolutely crazy. And anything can happen then. The only person to break Zabel’s streak in the past four years, Andrei Tchmil, took advantage of the fact that such a huge group had passed the Poggio together that the sprinters were so busy watching each other that he could solo away.

The weather, while beautiful Friday, is forecast to be rainy on race day Saturday. That could add a bit to the difficulty and perhaps whittle the group down a bit more through attrition. The race still is very much up for grabs without a challenging course that forces the strongest men to the top.

Zabel, with a team like Telekom designed to deliver him safely to the line, has to be the strongest favorite. Fabio Baldato, Fasso Bortolo’s speedy sprinter, was pipped by Zabel at the line last year and could be another one to beat with an ever-stronger team behind him. His teammates World #1 Francesco Casagrande, Raimondas Rumsas, Wladimir Belli and Dmitri Konyshev are all danger men, but Casagrande is focusing on the Giro and can be sure to lose a sprint finish, and the chance of any of the other three being allowed to get away alone is slim. But they could all be there for Baldato.

Alessio’s sprinter, Andrea Leoni, could be a danger, but the team is not entered. The new Domo formation is passing as well, thus removing the threat always posed by world champion Romans Vainsteins. Lampre-Daikin’s speedy Zbigniew Spruch will also skip Milan-San Remo after a hard crash last week in Tirreno-Adriatico, and the team’s other classics danger man, Frank Vandenbrouke, will also not be in attendance. Gabriele Missaglia and Mariano Piccoli are nevertheless capable of popping the big win.US Postal Service riders will all be working for George Hincapie, who may not have the raw speed of a Zabel and likely not more of a train to tow him to the line than perhaps Viatcheslav Ekimov, but he is a smart rider who could put himself in the right place at the right time. All of the US Postal soigneurs have promised to shave their heads if Hincapie wins, so the American could be so fired up that no one can stop him!

Mapei has a host of danger men, Michele Bartoli and Oscar Freire coming to mind first. Liquigas/PATA has Davide Rebellin flying right now, andSergei Gontchar can also never be counted out. Saeco’s one realistic hope is in Mirko Celestino, while Tacconi Sport-Vini Caldirola is hoping for the success of a rejuvenated Gianluca Bortolami. Mercatone Uno, the team that usually revolves around Marco Pantani, is focusing on Cristian Moreni. The last Italian winner of the race is Gabriele Colombo, who is now riding for Cantina Tollo/Aqua&Sapone and seems to be in good form.

In the women’s race, La Primavera Rosa, the 118km starting in Varezze and finishing in San Remo an hour or so before the men historically has also ended in a large group at the finish. Saturn’s Anna Millward (neé Wilson) is certainly the favorite if she shows up after her heavy travel schedule, having already won the first two World Cups down under, and world champion Zinaida Stahurskaia, with the strong GAS team behind her, could stay away if she drops everyone on the Poggio. Fellow GAS rider Alessandro Cappellotto, who was caught last year within the final kilometer, will be focusing on the condition of her right knee, still paining her since her crash on it at the Olympics, but teammate Gabriela Pregnolato, Italian road and time-trial champion, has it in her to win. Alfa Lum’s Sara Felloni, winner of the first edition, in 1999, and Sigrid Corneo of Carpe-Diem Itera are capable of winning it. AccaDueO/Loreno brings last year’s winner, Diana Ziliute, third-place winner Giovanna Troldi, and sixth place (both years) Mirjam Melchers, any of whom could take it away. You also cannot count out Michela Fanini’s lean sprinter Oksana Saprykina. The big question will be who among the northern Europeans shows up like Hanka Kupfernagel, Leontien Van Moorsel, Petra Rossner or Chantal Beltman.

Recent winners at Milan-San Remo2000 – Erik Zabel (G) 1999 – Andrei Tchmil (B) 1998 – Erik Zabel (G) 1997 – Erik Zabel (G) 1996 – Gabriele Colombo (I) 1995 – Laurent Jalabert (F) 1994 – Giorgio Furlan (I) 1993 – Maurizio Fondriest (I) 1992 – Sean Kelly (Ir)1991 – Claudio Chiappucci (I)

Who will win this year?By John Wilcockson

The inclusion of the Bric Berton climb halfway into Milan-San Remo’s new 287km course will make the Primavera a very different race from past editions. Instead of a near 200-strong pack reaching the vital last 60km in one piece, look for several smaller groups reaching the coast road at Albisola, with 113km to go. The new climb — higher than the Turchino Pass that is closed — may even generate a split that could last until the finale. Recent winners Erik Zabel and Andreï Tchmil will have a hard time reaching San Remo in a favorable position, and a small breakaway group is likely to persevere. Based on this theory, here are 10 riders who could contest the victory in this first World Cup race of 2001:

1. Michele Bartoli2. Gabriele Colombo3. Raimondas Rumsas4. Davide Rebellin5. Beat Zberg6. Romans Vainsteins7. Peter Van Petegem8. Erik Zabel9. Christian Vande Velde10. Danilo Di Luca Start list

1 ZABEL Erik GER DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 2 SCHAFFRATH Jan GER DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 3 FAGNINI Gian Matteo ITA DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 4 ELLI Alberto ITA DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 5 HUNDERTMARK Kai GER DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 6 KLIER Andreas GER DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 7 VINOKOUROV Alexandre KAZ DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 8 WESEMANN Steffen GER DEUTSCHE TELEKOM 9 COLOMBO Gabriele ITA CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 10 DI LUCA Danilo ITA CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 11 GASPERONI Cristian ITA CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 12 GIUNTI Massimo ITA CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 13 GIABBECUCCI Federico ITA CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 14 SIMEONI Filippo ITA CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 15 TRENTI Guido USA CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 16 YAKOVLEV Serguei KAZ CANTINA TOLLO – ACQUA&SAPONE 17 FIGUERAS Giuliano ITA CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 18 COPPOLILLO Michele ITA CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 19 SYNIUSKINE Yaugeni BLR CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 20 DUMA Vladimir UKR CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 21 LEAPER Tom AUS CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 22 O’NEILL Nathan AUS CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 23 MATVEYEV Sergiy UKR CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 24 VARRIALE Antonio ITA CERAMICHE PANARIA – FIORDO 25 FARAZIJN Peter BEL COFIDIS 26 FOFONOV Dmitri KAZ COFIDIS 27 KIVILEV Andrei KAZ COFIDIS 28 LELLI Massimiliano ITA COFIDIS 29 MATTAN Nico BEL COFIDIS 30 PEERS Chris BEL COFIDIS 31 PLANCKAERT Jo BEL COFIDIS 32 GAUMONT Philippe FRA COFIDIS 33 GOUGOT Fabrice FRA CREDIT AGRICOLE 34 HUSHOVD Thor NOR CREDIT AGRICOLE 35 JENNER Christopher FRA CREDIT AGRICOLE 36 JULICH Bobby USA CREDIT AGRICOLE 37 O’GRADY Stuart AUS CREDIT AGRICOLE 38 VOIGT Jens GER CREDIT AGRICOLE 39 40 41 BEECKMAN Koen BEL CSC – WORLD ONLINE 42 HAMBUR(G)Bo DEN CSC – WORLD ONLINE 43 HOFFMAN Tristan NED CSC – WORLD ONLINE 44 LARSEN Nicolay Bo DEN CSC – WORLD ONLINE 45 BLAUDZUN Michael DEN CSC – WORLD ONLINE 46 PIZIKS Arvis LAT CSC – WORLD ONLINE 47 RITTSEL Martin SWE CSC – WORLD ONLINE 48 SORENSEN Rolf DEN CSC – WORLD ONLINE 49 KNAVEN Servais NED DOMO – FARM FRITES 50 CASSANI Enrico ITA DOMO – FARM FRITES 51 MILESI Marco ITA DOMO – FARM FRITES 52 MUSEEUW Johan BEL DOMO – FARM FRITES 53 PEETERS Wilfried BEL DOMO – FARM FRITES 54 RODRIGUEZ Fred USA DOMO – FARM FRITES 55 VAINSTEINS Romans LAT DOMO – FARM FRITES 56 WADECKI Piotr POL DOMO – FARM FRITES 57 ARTETXE GEZURAGA Mikel ESP EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 58 CHAURREAU BERNARDEZ Inigo ESP EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 59 DEL OLMO ZENDEGI Txema ESP EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 60 ETXEBARRIA David ESP EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 61 ETXEBARRIA ARANA Unai VEN EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 62 FERNANDEZ BUSTINZA Bingen ESP EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 63 FLORES GALARZA Igor ESP EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 64 MAYO DIEZ Iban ESP EUSKATEL – EUSKADI 65 BALDATO Fabio ITA FASSA BORTOLO 66 GUSTOV Volodymir UKR FASSA BORTOLO 67 PETITO Roberto ITA FASSA BORTOLO 68 CASAGRANDE Francesco ITA FASSA BORTOLO 69 RUMSAS Raimondas LTU FASSA BORTOLO 70 KONYSHEV Dmitri RUS FASSA BORTOLO 71 LODA Nicola ITA FASSA BORTOLO 72 TOSATTO Matteo ITA FASSA BORTOLO 73 CASERO MORENO Rafael ESP FESTINA 74 CLIN(G)David USA FESTINA 75 PEREZ Luis ESP FESTINA 76 HERNANDEZ BERTRAN Jaime Javier ESP FESTINA 77 PLAZA David Romero ESP FESTINA 78 REBOLLO AGUADO JosÈ luis ESP FESTINA 79 80 SASTRE ESTEVEZ Iban ESP FESTINA 81 ARRIETA JosÈ Luis ESP IBANESTO.COM 82 BENITO GUERRERO Alberto ESP IBANESTO.COM 83 BRUSEGHIN Marzio ITA IBANESTO.COM 84 DOMINGUEZ J. Carlos ESP IBANESTO.COM 85 ODRIOZOLA MUGARZA Jon ESP IBANESTO.COM 86 LATASA LASA David ESP IBANESTO.COM 87 88 89 CABELLO Francisco ESP KELME – COSTA BLANCA 90 PASCUAL LLORENTE Javier ESP KELME – COSTA BLANCA 91 LEON MANE Francisco ESP KELME – COSTA BLANCA 92 TAULER Antonio ESP KELME – COSTA BLANCA 93 GONZALEZ JIMENEZ Aitor ESP KELME – COSTA BLANCA 94 CUENCA MARTINEZ Juan Manuel ESP KELME – COSTA BLANCA 95 96 97 CAMENZIND Oskar SUI LAMPRE – DAIKIN 98 BARBERO Sergio ITA LAMPRE – DAIKIN 99 DIERCKXSENS Ludo BEL LAMPRE – DAIKIN 100 SCIANDRI Maximilian GBR LAMPRE – DAIKIN 101 SERPELLINI Marco ITA LAMPRE – DAIKIN 102 BELOHVOSCIKS Raivis LAT LAMPRE – DAIKIN 103 PICCOLI Mariano ITA LAMPRE – DAIKIN 104 SVORADA Jan CZE LAMPRE – DAIKIN 105 REBELLIN Davide ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA 106 ZANOTTI Marco ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA 107 ZANETTE Denis ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA 108 MALBERTI Fabio ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA 109 RASTELLI Ellis ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA

110 CONTRINI Daniele ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA 111 SALVATO Cristian ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA 112 MARINI Mirko ITA LIQUIGAS – PATA 113 AERTS Mario BEL LOTTO – ADECCO 114 BRANDT Christophe BEL LOTTO – ADECCO 115 VAN HYFTE Paul BEL LOTTO – ADECCO 116 DE WAELE Fabian BEL LOTTO – ADECCO 117 MARICHAL Thierry BEL LOTTO – ADECCO 118 MIKHAILOV guennadi RUS LOTTO – ADECCO 119 TCHMIL Andrei BEL LOTTO – ADECCO 120 VAN DYCK Hendrik BEL LOTTO – ADECCO 121 BARTOLI Michele ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 122 BETTINI Paolo ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 123 BRAMATI Davide ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 124 FORNACIARI Paolo ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 125 LANFRANCHI Paolo ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 126 SCINTO Luca ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 127 TAFI Andrea ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 128 ZANINI Stefano ITA MAPEI – QUICK STEP 129 PANTANI Marco ITA MERCATONE UNO 130 VELO Marco ITA MERCATONE UNO 131 MONDINI Gianpaolo ITA MERCATONE UNO 132 BRIGNOLI Ermanno ITA MERCATONE UNO 133 ORTENZI Gian Mario ITA MERCATONE UNO 134 ASTARLOA Igor ESP MERCATONE UNO 135 MORENI Cristian ITA MERCATONE UNO 136 FONTANELLI Fabiano ITA MERCATONE UNO 137 VAN PETEGEM Peter BEL MERCURY – VIATEL 138 VAN BON Leon NED MERCURY – VIATEL 139 VOGELS Henk AUS MERCURY – VIATEL 140 VAN BONDT Geert BEL MERCURY – VIATEL 141 TONKOV Pavel RUS MERCURY – VIATEL 142 TETERIOUK Andrei KAZ MERCURY – VIATEL 143 GUIDI Fabrizio ITA MERCURY – VIATEL 144 LANDIS Floyd USA MERCURY – VIATEL 145 DI BIASE Moreno ITA MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 146 ONGARATO Alberto ITA MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 147 GUALDI Domenico ITA MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 148 JONES Timothy ZIM MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 149 KADLEC Milan CZE MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 150 MASSI Rodolfo ITA MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 151 MIORIN Devis ITA MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 152 MURN Uros SLO MOBILVETTA DES.- FORMAGGI TRENTINI 153 DIAZ JUSTO Rafael ESP O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 154 AZEVEDO JosÈ POR O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 155 GUTIERREZ PALACIOS JosÈ Ivan ESP O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 156 OLANO MANZANO Abraham ESP O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 157 PRADERA RODRIGUEZ Mikel ESP O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 158 SASTRE CANDIL Carlos ESP O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 159 ZARRABEITIA Mikel ESP O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 160 JAKSCHE Jorg GER O.N.C.E. – DEUTSCHE BANK 161 DEKKER Erik NED RABOBANK 162 BOVEN Jan NED RABOBANK 163 DE JONGH Steven NED RABOBANK 164 DEN BAKKER Maarten NED RABOBANK 165 WAUTERS Marc BEL RABOBANK 166 LOTZ Marc NED RABOBANK 167 ZBERG Beat SUI RABOBANK 168 ZBERG Marcus SUI RABOBANK 169 CELESTINO Mirko ITA SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 170 CIPOLLINI Mario ITA SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 171 CONTE Biagio ITA SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 172 PADRNOS Pavel CZE SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 173 SACCHI Fabio ITA SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 174 SAVOLDELLI Paolo ITA SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 175 SCIREA Mario ITA SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 176 PIERI Dario ITA SAECO MACCHINE PER CAFFE’ 177 BORTOLAMI Gianluca ITA TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 178 BALDUCCI Gabriele ITA TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 179 RADAELLI Mauro ITA TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 180 HAUPTMAN Andrej SLO TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 181 GEROSA Mauro ITA TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 182 BOSSONI Paolo ITA TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 183 KLEMENCIC Zoran SLO TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 184 MINALI Nicola ITA TACCONI – VINI CALDIROLA 185 AEBERSOLD Niki SUI COAST 186 GIANETTI Mauro SUI COAST 187 HOJ Frank DEN COAST 188 HUSER Rolf SUI COAST 189 MEIER Roland SUI COAST 190 SCHWEDA Raphael GER COAST 191 MICHAELSEN Lars DEN COAST 192 ZUELLE Alex SUI COAST 193 BARTHE StÈphane FRA US POSTAL SERVICE 194 EKIMOV Vjatceslav RUS US POSTAL SERVICE 195 HINCAPIE George USA US POSTAL SERVICE 196 JOACHIM Benoit LUX US POSTAL SERVICE 197 KJAERGAARD Steffen NOR US POSTAL SERVICE 198 VANDEVELDE Christian USA US POSTAL SERVICE 199 VASSEUR CÈdric FRA US POSTAL SERVICE 200 WHITE Matthew AUS US POSTAL SERVICE