This Saturday, all eyes in the cycling world will be focused on Milan-San Remo, or La Classica di Primavera, the first cycling monument of the season and also the longest one-day professional race all year at 298km. Although known as the sprinters’ classic, Milan-San Remo has been won by an impressive array of cycling champions, from Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi to Eddy Merckx, Laurent Fignon, Erik Zabel, Mario Cipollini, and, in the last few years, Fabian Cancellara, Mark Cavendish and Oscar Freire.
While not known for extreme altitude, Milan-San Remo is famous for 2 short but steep pitches near the end of the race (which loom even larger after 6 or 7 hours of intense racing), the Cipressa and Poggio climbs. The March issue of Cycle Sport magazine has a great article on the Poggio climb in Milan-San Remo, where they described it as “the crux of the opening Classic of the year, Milan-San Remo. The Poggio is not as steep, long, hard or beautiful as any of the other climbs we’ve ever featured, and for 364 days a year it is a quiet suburban drag. But on Classicissima day, it is one of the most intense spectator experiences in cycling. Its slopes have been consecrated by the greatest champions, from Eddy Merckx to Mark Cavendish.”
Last year, 3-time World Champion Oscar Freire won Milan-San Remo for the third time, out-foxing the best riders in the world with a vintage sprint finish:
So who’s going to win this year? Will Cavendish find his form again; will Freire dig deep for another win; will Cancellara motor away; will the 3-headed Garmin-Cervelo monster of Tyler Farrar, Heinrich Haussler and current World Champion Thor Hushovd muscle their way to a win? Who knows, but we’ll be watching!
We’ll leave you with one of our favorite photos from La Classicisima, this perfect shot of Eddy Merckx, 7-time champion of Milan-San Remo, winning on the Via Roma in 1966 (which is featured in “The Spring Classics“, an in-depth history and visual tour of some of cycling’s classic races).
If that photo doesn’t get you inspired to get out there and ride this weekend, we don’t know what will!