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Philippe Gilbert was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher, in 13th place. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)
Philippe Gilbert was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher, in 13th place. (©BMC/Graham Watson.)

Bunch Sprint Caps Milan-San Remo

23. March 2014

BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert and Greg Van Avermaet figured in the bunch sprint that decided Milan-San Remo Sunday.

The Course:
The same race route that was last used in 2007, the 294-kilometer course ended with two famed climbs, the Cipressa (5.6 km) and the Poggio (3.7 km).

The Weather:
Light showers and chilly conditions at the start turned to steady rain and windy conditions, with even some hail at times. There was no sign of snow, though, which forced last year's race to be shortened.

The Day's Breakaway:
Seven riders – Jan Barta (NetApp-Endura), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Matteo Bono (Lampre-Merida), Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp), Marc de Maar (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), Antonio Parrinello (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin Pro Cycling) – escaped after 15 km and gained a maximum lead of 10:30. De Maar and Tjallingii, the last two of the group, were swept up in the final 20 km.

A Late Escape:
Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Team) attacked midway up the Cipressa and was only 13 seconds behind the two breakaway riders  and 37 seconds ahead of the peloton at the top. But the charging peloton overtook him on the lower slopes of the Poggio.

The Downhill Plunge:
Van Avermaet and Sonny Colbrelli (Bardiani-CSF) got a bit of a gap on the twisting descent into San Remo, with Van Avermaet even putting in an attack as the road began to flatten out. But both riders were swept up with 2.5 km to go.

The Sprint:
Gilbert led through the final left-right turn with about 500 meters left before Van Avermaet launched his own sprint. But both BMC Racing Team riders were overtaken as Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) charged through the middle to take the win ahead of Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) and Ben Swift (Team Sky). Gilbert finished a team-best 13th.

What Gilbert Said:
"It was an extremely hard edition again, with the cold and the rain. It is hard to be able to spin the legs a lot in the final because you suffer a lot in those extreme conditions. It is not an excuse; but it makes it harder. Greg and I were trying to be in the first position on the Cipressa and the top of the Poggio. I left a gap for him and I was hoping he could take advantage of this and maybe go with the Bardiani rider. But they only took about 50 meters."

What Van Avermaet Said:
"I think we did a pretty good race. It was a hard race with the wind and the cold. But everyone did their job well. Phil and I were in the perfect position on the Cipressa and the Poggio. But it was not enough to drop some sprinters. The group was pretty big at the end."

What Sport Director Fabio Baldato Said:
"There were lots of strong riders in the front, but none were able to make the difference. It was a sprint where everyone was without good legs. Everyone was waiting until the last 200 meters. We lost an opportunity in the final to be in the top 10. Phil was not bad, but he lost good position for the final sprint."

Listen to complete comments on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.

See photos from the race in the BMC Racing Team's Flickr gallery.