Oscar Freire of Team Rabobank showed his winning form once again as he beat 25 other world-class sprinters on the way to capturing his third Milan-San Remo victory last Saturday.
Freire was racing along with 25 other riders in the front pack after the final ascent, but managed to get the upper hand and put himself into perfect position to get the lead as the finish line drew near. The Team Rabobank star has made a habit of winning the Milan-San Remo, as he also won the title in the 2004 and 2007 seasons. For this year, Freire had to beat the likes of Tom Boonen (Quick Step) and Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini), who finished second and third, respectively.
Oscar Freire also managed to avoid any pitfalls that plagued other riders, including sensational sprinter Mark Cavendish, who had to endure ripped spokes and two crashes during the race. Cavendish had to repeatedly work his way back to the front pack after the crashes, and actually managed to stay in contention for at least 275 kilometers (out of 298 kilometers total race length), before dropping in the race’s penultimate climb.
After the final ascent up the Poggio, the leading pack of 25 sprinters fought their way down the summit, with only 3 kilometers away to end the race. Filippo Pozzato staged an attack in a bid to get the lead but could not draw it out, and was pulled back in by the rest of the group with nearly 2 kilometers away from the finish line.
Oscar Freire then opened up with a furious sprint in the lead, with Tom Boonen and Alessandro Petacchi giving chase. Neither could catch up to Freire in time, though, as the Rabobank rider crossed the line for the title. The 34-year-old cyclist had said earlier that he is planning to retire at the end of the 2010 season, but Boonen has expressed hopes of beating the Spanish rider just once before Freire retires.
Image courtesy of Fotoreporter Sirotti