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Philippe Gilbert tried an attack on the rain-soaked descent of the Cipressa. (©Sirotti.)
Philippe Gilbert tried an attack on the rain-soaked descent of the Cipressa. (©Sirotti.)

Phinney Seventh At Milan-San Remo

17. March 2013

Taylor Phinney of the BMC Racing Team valiantly chased the leaders all the way to the line Sunday at Milan-San Remo to finish seventh in a most unusual – and snow-shortened – edition of the season's first classic.

Chaos And Cold
Phinney, who made headlines last week for his long solo ride in cold and rain to unsuccessfully avoid elimination on the penultimate stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, said he never gave up after cresting the final climb with the chase pack. "I saw I had a chance to bridge across to the front group," he said. "It was a split-second decision I made at the bottom of the Poggio and I almost caught them at about 400 meters. But then they started their sprints." Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) took the win in a six-up dash ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) while Phinney rolled across the line for a top 10 result in his second appearance in the race. "I went through some different fields of emotions, being in the snow and then being on the bus and then starting again," an exhausted Phinney said. "I just kind of hung on and couldn't really tell what was happening most of the time because it was just chaos and cold and wet."

Race Stopped, Then Shortened
The 245-kilometer race began in unprecedented fashion: rain turned to snow and, with conditions on the Turchino climb impassable by bike, commissaires stopped the race at Ovada, 117 km from the start. Riders scurried into team buses, which drove about 50 kilometers to Cogoleto, where the race was re-started two-and-a-half hours later. BMC Racing Team's Klaas Lodewyck was among more than a dozen riders who did not continue the remaining 126 km, while Michael Schär and Daniel Oss both withdrew after being involved in a crash before the race was stopped. "I hit my back pretty hard," Schär said. "I tried to go on but couldn't really pedal with my right leg. It should be OK in two or three days." BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Fabio Baldato called it "a race of survival" rarely seen in its 103 previous editions. "You saw everyone was at the limit," he said. "It was a nice surprise what Taylor did. It's too bad we lost Thor Hushovd (to technical issues) and Daniel because normally they would be there in the final."

Gilbert Attacks On The Descent
BMC Racing Team world road champion Philippe Gilbert made his move to split the race on the rain-soaked descent of the Cipressa, about 20 kilometers from the finish. "But the organization of the group was not great," he said. "Then three guys went (Sylvain Chavanel, Eduard Vorganov and Ian Stannard) and then Jurgen Roelandts and I decided to wait because the bunch was pretty big behind with teammates there." But the three ultimately ended up being part of the group of six that reached the finish line before Phinney. "They were riding maybe 65 kph and hour and we were doing 55 kph with no help," Gilbert said.

Click here to listen to complete comments from Baldato, Gilbert (Dutch, English and French), Phinney and Schär on the BMC Racing Team Audio Line.