Freire beats Boonen in Milan San Remo. Cavendish bites it on Cipressa.

Freire on fire.

Oscar the Cat wins Milan San Remo for the third time.

Race pundits thought Mark Cavendish was bluffing about his form. Turns out it was Freire who had everyone fooled. Supposedly recovering from a cold and still feeling a bit under the weather, Oscar made a remarkably fast recovery. Must be those super power cough drops.

Just ask Tom Boonen (Quick Step) how healthy Freire appeared. The Belgian champ pedaled furiously but still couldn’t close the gap, finishing in second place.

Alessandro Petacchi rode a fine race to steal the third spot on the podium. His favorite honey sandwiches seem to have done the trick.

There weren’t too many fireworks on the Cipressa — or should we call it the Suppressa. Mark Cavendish and his well-documented dental issues went straight out the back along with ISD-Neri’s Giovonni Visconti. Perhaps parasite Riccardo Ricco was standing roadside on the Cipressa jeering at the Manxman. So much for the supposed bluffing about form. It’s now official: Manxman, slow.

The Poggio was the last chance for the guys without the fast-twitch fibers. Little Stefano Garzelli (Acqua & Sapone) was first to attack but soon ran out of gas or whatever else he was using for fuel. Aussie Michael Rodgers then hit the gas with Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) launching counter-attacks. Unfortunately the gaps were small and short lived.

Wild man Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas) took his chances on the dangerous descent into San Remo. Pozzato, Gilbert, Thor Hushovd (Cervelo ) and Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) joined him and for a moment the sprinters panicked. Oscar Freire admitted it was the scariest part of the race.

Once the race came back together in the final kilometers, it was prime time for the sprinters. Freire made it look surprisingly easy. There where no crazy stunts, not pushing against barriers, deviations in line or last millimeter victories at the line. Freire opened his sprint and nobody had the power left to disagree.

For the Lance-less Radio Shack squad, the surprise was Frenchman Geoffrey Lequatre who finished in 14th position. Jeff LeFour, as we like to call him, is the only rider in the peloton with his own line of signature umbrellas. He seems to do well in the rain.

Armstrong stand-in Fumiyuki Beppu of Japan fooled nobody and came in at 113th place. Although it should be noted that San Remo is a sister city with Atami, Japan. Beppu tried his “Samurai In San Remo” routine but came up way short.

Milan San Remo belonged to Oscar the Cat. The Spaniard said this week he hoped to stay with Rabobank for one more year before retiring. We’re guessing Rabobank is fine with that idea.

(Check out the Sporza boys for video of the final sprint finish)

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