Quick Synopsis of a Win…
RIDE Cycling Review will feature a big interview with Simon Gerrans in the next issue (due for release in May). In the meantime, given the success of the current cover man, here is a quick grab from a chat Rob Arnold had with the 2012 Milan-San Remo winner. It explains how he was able to respond to the surge by Vincenzo Nibali and the battle that took place… simply to hold the wheel of the strongest man on the day, Fabian Cancellara.
From the Poggio to the finish…
“I think it’s going to take a little while for this one to sink in really. I don’t think it’s possible to get a grip on how big it actually is for a little while.”
Did you think it would happen?
“You know, I’ve always dreamed of winning a Classic but I never really expected that it would be Milan-San Remo. That’s the surprise about it, I guess.
“I think a lot of people probably thought the same thing, maybe I’m capable of knocking one off one day but one that is usually earmarked for the sprinters – well, it’s pretty rare that a break goes away like it did.”
Really. I look at the Amstel Gold Race, for example, when you’ve been so close. And everyone has been waiting for the week in the Ardennes to see what comes next from you. And then you found yourself in a perfect position defend for the defending champion. Tell me about the ride. When Nibali attacked, you were absolutely spot-on – from there onward… how did it go? Can you talk me through it?
“Well, actually, just leading up to that – coming on to the Poggio – ‘Whitey’ said to me that it was always my job to follow the moves, particularly anything dangerous on the Cipressa or the Poggio. And I was anticipating something on the Cipressa but didn’t see anything too threatening so I sat back a bit and made it to the Poggio.
“Then, as we were just about to come on to the Poggio – it was always my job just to follow the moves – but ‘Gossie’ said to me, ‘Mate, if you’re feeling good, have a go.’
“I said, ‘Okay.’
“So I sort of moved myself up into position to attack at that exact spot where Nibali went. Literally the only reason that I was able to follow him so quickly was because he attacked two seconds before I was about to. What it did was put me in the right gear, the right position, at exactly the right time.
“I was there, right on him when he went. I let him do one big turn and then I went past him to keep the momentum going. As I’ve come past, I had a quick look and saw that Cancellara was there. I thought, ‘Okay, this is perfect!’
“I gave a turn and Cancellara came past me and did a turn across the top before we hit the descent. Then, basically, it was just him attacking out of every corner down the descent – that’s what it was.
“He might have ridden on the front for the majority of the last eight kilometres of the race but for four kilometres of that he was pretty much attacking us every 200 metres – all the way down. He was just flying down the descent.
“I know that climb and I know the descent fairly well because we train down that way every once in a while, riding down from Monaco it’s not so far. I really knew which corners I could really push it on and which ones I needed to back off a bit. And that really worked in my favour because I was able to stay with him.
“If it was a descent that I didn’t know, I might not have been able to do that.
“Literally, he attacked us all the way down the descent – out of every corner. He was carrying a bit more corner speed than what I was able to. And then we got to the bottom and Fabian did one more ball-biting turn when we hit the flat and while he’s driving it like this he was also flickin’ the elbow. I was, like, ‘Uhm… I would come through but I’m basically not capable of coming through when you’re pulling that hard…’
“On the descent, he didn’t even look for a turn because he was so busy attacking from the front. He was going into each turn, gapping us coming out and just trying to drop us out of every corner…”
Interview by Rob Arnold (for the full story, wait for RIDE #56)