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Milano - Sanremo - Road race - Men

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  1. 0km - Well, that rounds off our coverage of the first monument of the season here at Eurosport-Yahoo! Join us throughout the coming weeks for more coverage of the upcoming Spring classics. If they're as exciting as this one was, they're not to be missed!

  2. 0km - Matt Goss absolutely destroyed everyone in the sprint! A superb victory for the Australian! Cancellara was second, with Gilbert third! Ballan was fourth and Pozzato fifth.

  3. 0km - Scarponi launches his sprint very early...but here comes Matt Goss...MATT GOSS WINS MILAN - SAN REMO!!!

  4. 0.5km - Nibali attacks, but it's Offredo who leads them through the final few corners! Scarponi's in there too!

  5. 1km - Gilbert takes it up now, and Pozzato is on his tail, with Ballan. Gilbert is now caught as they go under the red kite with 1km to go!!!

  6. 2km - Offredo has gone again! How does he have the energy for this? Cancellara is straight after him, as is Matt Goss!

  7. 3km - Van Avermaet is now caught as they enter the town of San Remo! It's Cancellara, O'Grady, Offredo, Van Avermaet and Nibali out in front. Gilbert has caught this group too now, as have a few other riders.

  8. 4km - Cancellara has made his move and has bridged the gap to Nibali, Offredo and O'Grady as the rain begins to fall again!

  9. 5km - A fall! Marcato of Vacansoleil has gone down.

  10. 6km - Van Avermaet's advantage is 15 seconds at the top of the Poggio!

  11. 6km - Chainel is dropped by Nibali, who has now caught Offredo and O'Grady! They both try to stay with the Liquigas man.

  12. 7km - Van Avermaet continues to bury himself on the Poggio! Can he hang on? We're desperately waiting for time checks back to the other three leaders as well as to the chasing pack! And now Nibali has jumped clear of the lead group! He has caught Chainel already! Chainel desperately tries to hang onto the Italian's coat tails. Though remember Nibali is a demon descender.

  13. 8km - Van Avermaet launches a big attck now! This looks like a do-or-die one! Meanwhile, everyone in the chasing group is beginning to sit up and look at eachother and wonder who will do the work! This could be fatal for them!

  14. 9km - Offredo steps it up a notch, and Chainel is beginning to suffer! The FDJ need to work together here! They have a big, big chance with two riders in a quartet.

  15. 10km - 10km to go and Steve Chainel is setting a furious pace as they hit the foot of the Poggio now!!!

  16. 12km - 30 seconds is the gap now! Offredo, O'Grady, Van Avermaet and Chainel are burying themselves!!!

  17. 13km - Cancellara is moving himself to the fore as they make their way towards the Poggio.

  18. 14km - Chainel, Offredo, O'Grady and Greg van Avermaet are the four men out in front, and they have a lead of around 10 seconds!

  19. 15km - O'Grady and Chainel are on Offredo's tail. The front group are really strung out now, as Scarponi latches onto the back of the font group! That's a titanic effort, but will he pay for it in the closing stages?

  20. 17km - Scarponi is just 16 seconds behind the lead group now, from which Yoann Offredo has launched a big attack!

  21. 20km - Popovych has been chased down by the BMC and Trek-Leopard teams, while Scarponi continues his brave chase behind them. I think he may well get across - he doesn't have that far to go! And in fact the second peloton has shattered. A group of 10 or 12 riders have broken clear and were only just behind Scarponi going over the top of the Cipressa!!

  22. 22km - Popovych now attacks from the first group, and opens up a decent gap on the peloton. O'Grady and Lastras are in pursuit. Scarponi is now just 20 seconds from the front group!

  23. 23km - Scarponi has launched a huge dig off the front of the second group and is going flat out in pursuit of the leaders. It's a big task to do it alone!

  24. 25km - The gap goes below 1 minute! The tension is really rising now, and Sky have suddenly assembled en masse at the head of the second group! AND AGNOLI ATTACKS FROM THE LEAD GROUP! He's quickly chased down though by Ballan.

  25. 25km - Liquigas are just sitting in behind in the second group as they hit the Cipressa, letting others do the work. They'll spring into action to chase down attacks from the likes of Gilbert when they come. They'll be keen to force a sprint finish from which Bennati could prevail. Eurosport expert Sean Kelly's analysis: "You want to be in the front 15-20 on the ascent, in case of falls. After that, don't leave the front 15 places."

  26. 30km - Quick Step have now moved to the front of the lead group to keep the pace as high as possible. De Marchi is still in the front group! That's remarkable, as he was in the original breakaway! He's hurting though, and is just about hanging on the back! So, we know who's in which group now, who's going to win it? Post your thoughts below!

  27. 35km - The gap between the two groups at the top of the Capo Berta was 1'35" and it's continuing to fall! Can the second group make it back?

  28. 40km - 1'40" is the latest split. It's not coming down quickly enough at this rate. The Rabobank team need some help here as they approach the Capo Berta, the last of the three short hills that come in quick succession. Just the Cipressa and the Poggio to come now.

  29. 45km - Both groups are going at it hammer and tongs now, and are strung out right along the road, with big Leif Hoste doing a big shift in the front group. A lot of riders will be hurting now. The gap is coming down, though pretty slowly. It's now at 1'48".

  30. 50km - BMC and Katusha are still donig everything they can to extend the front group's lead. All this is making for a lightning quick race, and we are likely to arrive in San Remo before 4pm UK time / 5pm CET now. If anyone's wondering why HTC aren't killing themselves at the front of the main group for Cavendish, it's probably because they have Matt Goss in the front group, who can certainly turn in a handy sprint.

  31. 55km - Petacchi and Bennati are two more in this front group, whose lead seems to have stabilised at about 2 minutes. It's now the Euskaltel team who have come to the front of the second group to take up the chase, though it will be immensely difficult for them to make back this time. The front group, meanwhile, are now at the Capo Mele.

  32. 60km - Yoann Offredo, Fabian Cancellara, Pippo Pozzato, Stuart O'Grady, Heinrich Haussler, Philippe Gilbert, Tom Boonen, Peter Sagan, Fabian Wegmann, Karsten Kroon, Alessandro Ballan, Sylvain Chavanel, Leif Hoste, Andreas Klier are all definitely in the front group. Meaning the likes of Cavendish, Freire, Hoshovd and Farrar are in big trouble back in the second group! Gilbert must be loving this - he is deadly attacking out of a smaller group of around 60 riders. Boassen Hagen is in there too!

  33. 65km - I'm just trying to establish who is in which group right now. In the front group are Gilbert, Boonen, Ballan and Peter Sagan. Oscar Freire is definitely in the second group, and I think Thor Hushovd and Tyler Farrar are there too. Cavendish hasn't been on screen for a while, so it's a little difficult to tell exactly where he is.

  34. 70km - There has been a split in the pack, and Cavendish and Hushovd are caught back in the second group! They are two minutes behind the lead group!! The HTC team have some work to do here, and Katusha and BMC are working very hard at the head of the front group!

  35. 75km - OOH! Another crash in the peloton, this time towards the back of the pack. I don't think any of the favourites were caught up in this one, though it just goes to show how slippery the conditions are. Meanwhile, De Marchi and Ignatiev have been caught!

  36. 80km - Sijmens and Miyazawa have been dropped from the lead group, and will soon be caught by the chasing pack, who are now just 1 minute behind the leaders!

  37. 85km - It has now started to rain, and this is making the peloton's descent of Le Manie into a particularly treacherous one. Oscar Freire is picking his way down particularly carefully. He's bleeding from his leg after that earlier fall.

  38. 90km - Fair point from John, below, regarding my earlier assertion that Gilbert's biggest win was at Amstel Gold. He says: "The Amstel Gold Race­ is a big race, but it is NOT a monument. The Giro di­ Lombardia IS a monument, and Gilbert has won back to­ back victories in it in 2009 and 2010. Those are much­ more prestigious victories than Amstel, in my book." Ladies and gentlemen, the floor is open.

  39. 95km - Two riders must have just touched wheels in the centre of the peloton there, and it's taken a dozen or so riders down. It doesn't look like anybody's badly hurt, and most of the riders are back on their way in a matter of seconds.

  40. 100km - Right, 100 kilometres left, and it's predictions time! Who will win the first monument of the season? Will it be Cavendish? Can Freire defend his title and capture his fourth victory? Will there be a home win for Petacchi? Post your thoughts below!

  41. 105km - DID YOU KNOW? All seven of Eddy Merckx's victories here came on 19th March. No? Well, you know now.

  42. 110km - Our four leaders have hit Le Manie. This sharp climb was first used in 2008 at Milan - San Remo, when it was part of a diversion caused by a landslide. Meanwhile, the peloton have closed to within five minutes of them.

  43. 115km - The skies are clearing a little now, and the sun is piercing through the remaining clouds. Let's hope it remains like this, as wet conditions make for a dangerous descent on the Poggio in particular.

  44. 120km - Hushovd and Cavendish have punctures in quick succession, though both are brought cofortably back to the peloton by the Garmin and HTC teams respectively.

  45. 125km - It's still the Rabobank team who are at the head of the peloton. Their main challenger for the day is Oscar Freire, though don't discount the big Dutchman Lars Boom, who could try something on the Poggio.

  46. 130km - The arrival time in San Remo should be around 16:00 UK time (17:00 CET).

  47. 135km - What started off as a sunny day here in Northern Italy has turned veryu cloudy. Rain was initially predicted for thie evening, though hopefully that will stay away until the riders have crossed the finish line.

  48. 140km - GILBERT: A real fans' favourite, and a blossoming talent. Gilbert is the sort of attacking rider who restores your faith in cycling amid all the controversies. He took the biggest win of his career last year in the hilly Amstel Gold Race, and will need to use the hills of the Cipressa and the Poggio if he's to win here today, as he's not going to have the finishing speed to beat the likes of Petacchi, Cavendish and Freire.

  49. 145km - POZZATO: Katusha are still waiting for a significant return on the big bucks they threw at Pippo Pozzato to tempt him away from Liquigas in 2009. If he's to give it to them today, he'll need to be clear of the bunch by the time they go over the top of the Poggio. If he can form a min-break late on with the likes of Lars Boom, Heinrich Haussler, or even Cancellara, he could be in business.

  50. 150km - The leaders' advantage has been cut to just 6'00" now as the sprinters teams push things on at the head of the main bunch.

  51. 155km - The Rabobank and Sky teams are content to roll along at the head of the peloton right now, without really setting a punishing pace, but keeping the breakaway on a steady leash of about 10 minutes.

  52. 160km - GREIPEL: Now that he has emerged from the shadows of Mark Cavendish, the giant German has the chance to shine. His early season form this year has not been as impressive as it was last year, but he is one of the few men that can perhaps rival Cavendish on his day, and there are very few quicker over the final 200 metres.

  53. 165km - Our leaders are now on the Turchino, the first climb of the day, and the longest climb of the day - at over 20 kilometres. The gradient is very moderate, though, and nobody should be in any trouble here.

  54. 170km - I couldn't agree more with Justin, below, who posted: "Why does Ignatiev always get himself into these doomed­ breakaways? He is a class rider, he should be showing­ it in the finale of races, not like this. Poorly­ managed or a crisis of confidence?" Let's not forget Ignatiev finished third at the Tour de France time-trial round Lake Annecy back in 2009, and he won a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico last year. Surely he could at least wait until the foot of the Cipressa?

  55. 175km - BOONEN: When Tom Boonen sent Belgium crazy by winning the Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, two Tour stages as well as the rainbow jersey in 2005, we thought he would rule the classics for years to come. While he has added two more Paris Roubaix victories and another Tour of Flanders to his palmares, injuries and silly escapades with recreational drigs has meant he hasn't fulfilled his vast potential. 2011 is a big year for him, and a victory here would lift a lot of pressure off his shoulders.

  56. 180km - FREIRE: Do any sprinters out there have a palmares to rival that of Oscar Freire? Almost criminally underappreciated in his native Spain, Freire has quietly gone about picking up three rainbow jerseys, three Milan-San Remo wins, fourt Tour de France stage wins and a green jersey, as well as wins at Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Tours. Like Petacchi, age is his biggest enemy (Freire turned 35 in February), though he's sure to be in the mix on the Via Roma.

  57. 185km - The lead quartet's margin of advantage has shrunk back down to 11 minutes. Miyazawa, the Jpapanese rider in this break, is clearly a man on a mission today. He came to the front of the peloton just before the start of the race to display his country's flag in memory of the victims of the recent earthquake.

  58. 190km - PETACCHI: "Ale Jet" as he's affectionately known in Italy, leads the host country's challenge. At 37 he's no spring chicken, but he showed at the Tour de France last year he is still one of the quickest men in the world. His sole win here came back in 2005, and many fancy him to make it two here today.

  59. 195km - CAVENDISH: Just how good is his form? The message coming from his team is that it's every bit as good as when he won here two years ago, but that certainly isn't borne out by recent results. The Manxman looked off form at Tirreno-Adriatico, and his sole victory this season remains the final stage of the Tour of Oman. If his form is as good his team says, he'll be the man to beat.

  60. 200km - HUSHOVD: While the reigning world champion perhaps trails the likes of Cavendish and Petacchi in terms of straight line speed, he is one of the most consistent sprinters about, as his two Tour de France green jerseys testify. If either of the above two are dropped on the Poggio, Hushovd could be in business - though will he be forced to work for Farrar?

  61. 205km - The quarter's lead seems to have levelled out at a steady 13 minutes now. The peloton are keeping them on a relatively tight leash by the standards of this race.

  62. 210km - HAUSSLER: Two years ago both Haussler and Hushovd were at Cervelo, and Haussler came within a hair's breadth of winning this race. Though originally acting as a lead-out man for Hushovd, Haussler was simply too quick for the Norwegian, and went sprinting clear of the peloton with 250 metres to go, only to be caught by Mark Cavendish in a photo-finish. He has talked up his chances again this year, though must perhaps use the Poggio if he's to claim his first win here.

  63. 215km - FARRAR: Let's take a look at some of the favourites for today's race, starting with the American Tyler Farrar. The 26-year-old is in fine form, with four victories to his name already this season. His problem could well be the fact that his Garmin team have three leaders (the others being Heinrich Haussler and Thor Hushovd), though Farrar doesn't see this as a problem. "It just means we have more chances of winning," he declared optimistically.

  64. 220km - 13 minutes is the latest split between the four leaders and the main bunch.

  65. 225km - ANSWER: 2006 was the last time that we had an all-Italian podium (Pozzato, Petacchi, Paolini), and before that it was 2003 (Bettini, Celestino, Paolini).

  66. 230km - A reminder of the composition of our lead group: Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), Alessandro de Marchi (Androni-Giocatolli), Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese-Vini) are the men out in front.

  67. 235km - One stat that struck me as particularly impressive this morning is that on no fewer than 34 occasions, Italy has taken a 1-2-3 in this race. Can you name the last time this happened? A clue: it has happened twice in the last ten years.

  68. 240km - It was a pretty quick first hour of racing, the peloton covered a very respectable 47 kilometres.

  69. 245km - Here's the answer to that little tickler earlier. The last ten editions of this race were won by: 2001: Erik Zabel, 2002: Mario Cipollini, 2003: Paolo Bettini, 2004: Oscar Freire, 2005: Alessandro Petacchi, 2006: Filippo Pozzato, 2007: Oscar Freire, 2008: Fabian Cancellara, 2009: Mark Cavendish, 2010: Oscar Freire.

  70. 250km - PARCOURS: After the three small hills of the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta come the two real key hills of the race - the Cipressa and the Poggio. The Cipressa presents a chance for the classics specialists who like to go from a long way out to put the sprinters into difficulty, though as Fabian Cancellara proved in 2008, the Poggio is perhaps a better option, as its slightly closer to home.

  71. 255km - NO GOOGLING ALLOWED - but can you name the winner of each of the last ten editions of this race? Post your answers below!

  72. 260km - As is the case with most big races around the world, Eddy Merckx holds the record here for the most victories. "The Cannibal" won here a mind-boggling seven times between 1966 and 1976. You have to go way back to before the second world war to find anyone who came anywhere close to that figure. Costante Girardengo managed to take victory here six times between 1918 and 1929.

  73. 265km - Our leaders have extended their advantage to 9'00". It sounds a lot, but bear in mind that a trio last year built a lead that grew to over 20 minutes, and were still caught with ease.

  74. 270km - PARCOURS: After the Passo del Turchino comes La Manie, at 200 kilometres. The climb is considerably shorter than the Turchino, at a shade over five kilometres, though it's also far steeper, and is the moment when those out of form begin to feel some pain.

  75. 275km - The quartet out front have now extended their lead over the peloton to a 4'20".

  76. 280km - PARCOURS: Just taking a bit of a closer look at the race route, the Turchino is the first real difficulty of the day, and by quite some way the longest climb of the day, at over 20 kilometres, and with its famous tunnel at the exit. At 150 kilometres from the finish, it certainly won't play a decisive role today, though way back between 1908 and 1946 whoever went over the Turchino first went on to win the race an average of one year in every three.

  77. 285km - A group of four riders have broken clear of the main bunch. The Dutchman Nico Sijmens (Cofidis), Italy's Alessandro de Marchi (Androni-Giocatolli), Russia's Mikhail Ignatiev (Katusha) and Japan's Takashi Miyazawa (Farnese-Vini) have opened up a gap of a minute.

  78. 290km - 25 teams took the start this morning, each made up of eight riders (with the exception of Cofidis and Ag2r - who have brought seven). They are: Acqua&Sapone, Ag2R, Androni, Bmc, Cofidis, Fdj, Colnago-Csf, Farnese-Neri, Euskaltel, Geox-Tmc, Htc-High Road, Katusha, Lampre- Isd, Liquigas- Cannondale, Movistar, Astana, Omega- Lotto, Quick Step, Rabobank, Saxo Bank, Sky, Garmin- Cervelo, Leopard-Trek, RadioShack and Vacansoleil-Dcm.

  79. 295km - The reason of course that Oscar Freire is wearing the number 1 on his back is that he is the defending champion here, after he upstaged Boonen and Petacchi on the via Roma last year. The Spaniard hasn't been touted by many as a winner for today, but that was also the case last year, and with three victories already in this race, he certainly can't be discounted.

  80. 298km - A quick reminder of the numbers of the big favourites: 1. Freire, 41. Ballan, 43. Hincapie, 51. Modolo, 52. Belletti, 81. Visconti, 111. Cavendish, 121. Pozzato, 131. Petacchi, 132. Scarponi, 141. Nibali, 142. Sagan, 161. Gilbert, 162. Greipel, 171. Davis, 181. Boonen, 193. J.J. Haedo, 201. Wiggins, 202. Boasson Hagen, 211. Hushovd, 212. Farrar, 213. Haussler, 221. Cancellara, 222. Bennati, 231. McEwen, 232. Hunter.

  81. 9:00 - The official rolling start is now given on the Via della Chiesa Rossa, and the racing is now underway in earnest.

  82. 8:35 - The official start is given on the Piazza Castello in Milan, and the 198 riders begin the 298-kilometre race to the Ligurian coast.

  83. 8:30 - Welcome to Eurosport-Yahoo!'s coverage of the first genuine classic of the season, Milan - San Remo!

 

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