A hard race? When the World and Olympic road race champion is blown out the back, his eyes wide, shoulders rocking, sweat dripping from him, struggling up a climb on the inside ring, when only minutes ago he was blasting it on the 53 – that’s a hard race. Milan – Sanremo has to be seen to be believed seven hours, with all the major obstacles in the second half.  The new climb at La Manie is brutal and might just have contributed to the “pure” sprinters failure in Sanremo.

However, if you read the signs with Cancellara in Tirreno, his win was no big surprise.

On the the crazy stage three climb, riders walked, but he forced that macho frame of his over the top with the lightweights.

Then in the time trial, as the other ‘chrono men’ heaved the big gears at low revs up the climbs, he ‘spun’ like that American boy – what was his name, good haircut but his racing clothes never fitted him properly?

Milan - San Remo
Pietro. “If the boys don’t behave, I eat their lunch!”

My full rantings from seven hours sitting beside Pietro Algeri are available elsewhere, but I left you on Friday night with no seat in a team car, or way to get to Sanremo – read on.

It was midnight when the calls and emails between Milan and Vancouver ended, we decided that I should make my own way to San Remo by train and cover the finish, live.

Taxi to the station, 07.00 am “There is a train to Sanremo at 09.10 but it is fully booked!”

Another taxi, to the start, have a coffee, riders start arriving, the sun’s oot anyway.

There’s Mauro, the Saunier boss, let’s see if I can at least scrounge a lift to the Med in the bus; “Ah, Ed! We thought you meant the Grand Prix Primavera in Spain in a few weeks’ time, but I have made a space in the car for you.”

I wanted to cuddle him!

Milan - San Remo
Vladimir Karpets checks his bike over before the rollout. We reckoned at the Tour last year that these guys definitely had the coolest kit and bikes in the peloton.

I had a wander round, it’s easy because the start is early and there aren’t loads of fans about.

Milan - San Remo
Erik Zabel was pretty wound up before the start.

Zabel and Petacchi looked tense, Gilbert relaxed and happy, Oscar as if he was going for the papers, Millar is fit, Magnus is heavy, Savoldelli still looks 14, Fabian Wegmann looks daft and most of the ‘unknown’ Italians look like male models, except the tiny ones of course – Viktor says the UCI should exclude anyone less that 5′ 6″ from holding a race licence.

Milan - San Remo
Is Jacky Durand advising an in-form Philippe Gilbert to “go for a long one”?
Milan - San Remo
Argylers Backstedt and Millar. Magnus was looking like the flatlander he really is, whilst Dave appeared to be fully recovered from his recent bout of illness.

The race came in ‘spurts,’ if you read my Pez piece, you’ll see what I mean. There would be a purge, then an easing off, but if you were chasing you didn’t benefit from the let-up because as soon as you were back, it was time for more pressure.

Milan - San Remo
Francesco Tizza. it’s over for him on La Manie.
Milan - San Remo
Up close.
Milan - San Remo
Danilo Di Luca was quiet in this race – we wonder how much more we’ll see of him this year with CONI not giving up on their request for a 2 year ban …

Ever since the Saunier training camp at Estepona last year, I’ve been a Raivis Belohvociks fan, the big Latvian looks more like a boxer than a cyclist, tall, square shouldered and solid.

His face when we passed him on the Cipressa was a mask of pain.

Raivis made it a good Primavera for Saunier, they took a young team for experience and without much expectation and came back with a huge amount of exposure; thanks’s to the Latvian’s long shift off the front.

EMilan - San Remo
Eros Cappechi asks Pietro for the rugby scores – Ed once said this guy is “so good looking it makes you sick”!
Milan - San Remo
Team LPR Brakes manager Eddy Seigneur is interviewed by Rai Uno TV at 40 mph!
Milan - San Remo
Manuele Mori heading for 28th place.
Milan - San Remo
Diving down off the Poggio!
Milan - San Remo
Arriving into San Remo – beautiful.

At the finish I said my “cheerios” and “thanks” to Pietro, Andrea and Mauro, then it was time for the salle de presse.

On a job like that I input it straight to the BlackBerry, meaning at the finish all you have to do is a tidy-up and send.

However, despite having had an excellent GPRS signal (the one you need to support email on the BlackBerry) all day, there wasn’t one in San Remo.

Milan - San Remo
Muchas gracias Andrea y Pietro. ¡Véale pronto!

I had to transcribe the whole report into the laptop, if I was a fast typist, it wouldn’t be so bad, but I’m not. I use the BlackBerry so much that I’m quicker with it than I am typing. I got it done, eventually.

Next it was time to edit and send my pictures; I got 15 away before it was chucking out time at the salle de presse. I’m going to see if I can get a wi-fi connection from Nice Airport, where I am now, and get the rest away.

When I woke up this morning, the BlackBerry was flashing red – 12 emails awaited me, San Remo’s GPRS had made a miraculous recovery over night.

My flight to Dublin is at 10.10, then I change for Edinburgh – it was the only way I could get a reasonably priced flight home.

Still, “Girvan, the morn!” Talk to you from there.