Mark Cavendish's lack of form gave Australian Michael Rogers a chance to fly the HTC-Columbia colours at Milan-San Remo. He did an impressive job of it, continuing strongly from his overall win in Ruta del Sol last month.
"I am pretty happy at the end of the day because I was caught behind with the crash in the dark tunnel on the top of Turchino," Rogers told Cycling Weekly. "I chased 100 kilometres with the team."
The 180-metre long tunnel at the top of Passo Del Turchino was literally the dark moment of the day for Rogers and many others. A crash in the tunnel caused a split in the group and allowed an 81 riders gain an advantage as the race entered its second half.
"I was held up. To use that kind of energy, to chase 100 kilometres and then still be in the front and be able to attack... It just makes me think what I could have done if I had fresh legs but that's cycling and that's the way it is."
Sky's Mathew Hayman was upset as well, questioning the old Italian ways in one of cycling's biggest races.
"You have to ask yourself why there are no lights in a tunnel like that in this race," Hayman said. "We got about halfway in and it went pitch black, then it only takes one person to touch another's wheel...
"The tunnel changed the changed the whole race."
The groups eventually merged ahead of the day's final climbs: I Tre Capi, the Cipressa and the Poggio. With Cavendish not a factor, Rogers and team-mate Maxime Monfort were able to try attacking. Rogers' attack on the Poggio, with seven kilometres to race, cracked Lampre's lead and opened the way for Philippe Gilbert and Filippo Pozzato to counter.
"Rogers is going so strong right now," Team Manger Bob Stapleton said. "He will be one of our leaders for the Tour of California."
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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