By Lennard Zinn
Susanne Ljungskog sat in for 110km of the Varazze-San Remo, but just before the top of the Poggio climb with 8km to go, the 25-year-old Swede made a blistering attack. The Vlaanderen-T-Interim rider had a 200-meter gap at the high point in the village of Poggio overlooking the green waves of the Ligurian sea below.
She said later, “I am a good descender, and I thought I could hold it until the finish. When I looked back with one kilometer to go and saw that I still had a good gap, I knew that I would win.” Mirjam Melchers (Acca Due O/Lorena) won the sprint in this World Cup stop number three from the 15-woman chase group over 1999 winner Sara Felloni (AlfaLum) and world road champion Zinaida Stahurskaia (GAS). The Dutch runner-up said, “I regret not having gone with her, because I won the sprint but did not win the race.”
The Primavera Rosa course traverses the final 118km of the Milano-San Remo course, culminating in the climbs of the Cipressa and Poggio. Stahurskaia, who had stretched the group to the breaking point on the Capo Berta, did it again on the Cipressa. The latter is where world time trial champion Mari Holden of AlfaLum slid off, as the high pace and lots of traveling had taken its toll. The women averaged 2.5kph higher pace than the men, and the American had stopped back in Colorado on her way back from Down Under, leaving only a day in Europe to recover. Sixteen riders were left together to contest the Poggio, and Ljungskog had their number.
3rd Primavera Rosa, March 24, 2001:
1. Susanne Ljungskog (S), Vlaanderen-T-Interim, 118km in 2:51:34 (41.267kph); 2. Mirjam Melchers (Nl) Acca Due O-Lorena, at 0:05; 3. Sara Felloni (I), AlfaLum; 4. Zinaida Stahurskaia (BLR), GAS; 5. Chantal Beltman (Nl), Dutch Federation; 6. Heidi Van de Vijver (B), Vlaanderen-T-Interim; 7. Madeleine Lindberg (S), Farm Frites-Hartol; 8. Nicole Brandli (Swi), Edilsavino; 9. Edita Pucinskaite (Lit), AlfaLum; 10. Fabiana Luperini (I), Edilsavino; 11. Giovanna Troldi (I), Acca Due O-Lorena; 12. Simona Parente (I), Edilsavino; 13. Jenny Algelid (S), EquipeNurnberger; 14. Priska Doppmann (Swi), Acca Due O-Lorena; 15. Sandra Wampfer (Swi), C.A. Mantes La Ville; 16. Margaret Hemsley (Aus), Farm Frites-Hartol; 17. Severine Desbouys (F), GAS Sport, all s.t.; 18. Joane Somarriba Arrola (Sp), Alfa Lum, at 0:33; 19. Fany Lecourtois (Ukr), AlfaLum, s.t.; 20. Marcia Eicher-Vouets (Swi), Carpe Diem-Itera, at 0:41; Others
22. Lara Ruthven (USA), Carpe Diem-Itera, at 1:32; 72. Mari Holden (USA), AlfaLum, at 2:52; 87. Laura Charameda (USA), S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox, at 7:28.
World Cup Overall Rankings (after three races): 1. Anna Millward (Aus), Saturn, 150 pts; 1. Melchers, 150 (tie); 3. Felloni, 76; 4. Ljungskog, 75; 5. Stahurskaia, 73.