Experience pays off in San Remo, says Team Sky's Brailsford

Start line, Milan-San Remo 2010

Boasson Hagen "is 22, he is going to live and fight another day," Brailsford told Cycling Weekly. "You have to respect Freire's third win, unbelievable. You have to nod your head in absolute respect.

Freire, 34 years old, won ahead of Tom Boonen, 29, and Alessandro Petacchi, 36. Boasson Hagen became a hot favourite for the Milan-San Remo win after his ride in Tirreno-Adriatico, winning the final stage four days ago.

Boasson Hagen suffered from stomach cramps that came on at the base of the Cipressa climb, with nearly 30 kilometres to race in the 298-kilometre classic.

Juan Antonio Flecha, 32, and younger team-mate Thomas Löfkvist made the final group after the Poggio climb, where Flecha began to position himself for the sprint. He followed Boonen into the last metres, but, not renowned for his sprint, he finished 18th.

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Sky's Team Principal David Brailsford said that experience counts when winning big classics, like Milan-Sanremo. His team leader Edvald Boasson Hagen suffered from cramps while veteran Oscar Freire ruled the day.

"We bucked the trend last year with Mark [Cavendish] on his first time out, but normally it is an experienced, older guy's race. And that is what it was this year."

Brit Cavendish won San Remo last year at 23 years old, so it made sense to believe that a 22-year-old could win this year.

"If you look at the guys who were there in the final today then you know," continued Brailsford. "They are solid, robust, older guys who have been around for along time and have a lot of resistance."

"That was Flecha's best performance in San Remo and he can take a lot of confidence out of it for the coming weeks. There are small group of guys that look to be going super good. We will back him 100% in the classics. He has the experience, and that will help."