Did the strongest rider win Milan-San Remo? Some including Simon Gerrans say no. However Philip Gomes thinks the race winner was stronger if you use other definitions.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

The above tweet by Johann Bruyneel was his response to a second
consecutive victory by an Australian at Milan San Remo, but is it true?
And what exactly does "strongest" mean in the context of a bike race?

I
watched the race and closing moments of MSR several times and it looked
to me like the strongest rider did win. Because strongest encompasses
more than pure horse-power, something the renowned Fabian Cancellara
has in spades.

Tactical nous, opportunism, a cool head and just
enough horsepower at the end of 300 kilometres to close the deal when it
counts are also strengths.

Simon Gerrans, along with his
GreenEDGE team, has shown exactly those strengths in winning a World Tour
stage race and mixing it twice this season with another rider that no
one has ever called weak or dumb, Movistar's Alejandro Valverde.

Now
Gerrans himself noted in the post-race press conference the undeniable
physical power of Fabian "Spartacus" Cancellara as MSR reached its
conclusion.

"Without question Fabian was the strongest, I can't
deny him that. He was going like a motorbike. Really, he followed (Vincenzo) Nibali and myself on the Poggio and then he drove it across
the top. He's one of the best descenders in the peloton and he drove it
down the descent. I was losing the wheel coming out of the corners each
time."

But Gerrans showed he had the head at the finish.

"He
was really committed to driving the break to the finish line. I was
able to give him one short turn with a little over a kilometre to go and
then he came past me again like a motorbike. I was confident the break
was going to go to the finish and I knew what I had to do to finish the
hard work off and just come past him in the final."

So Gerrans
had the legs, head and strength at the finish and what went before that
matters little when it comes to the history books. He was strong when it counted.

But still, don't feel sorry for Cancellara. After a
somewhat disappointing season in 2011 he's obviously back to his awesome
best.

"Gerrans did some pulls and I understood that Nibali had his teammate Peter Sagan (both of the Liquigas-Cannondale
team) behind for the sprint so he didn't have to work. I saw the riders
coming at the end but after 300k it's not easy to calculate exactly what
to do and be right each time. In the end I got a nice second place and
second in San Remo is prestigious of course, but it wasn't the birthday
present I was looking for. I came to win."

I love Spartacus as
much as the next guy but a stiletto to the heart in a dark Italian back
alley won MSR for Gerrans, not an axe to the head in the Arena.

Did you watch "la classica di Primavera"? What were your thoughts?

Twitter: @Philip_Gomes