Milan San Remo The Route
The Milan San Remo, the Primavera, is always held on the weekend closest to the first day of spring. One of the five one-day monuments of the sport, it is the first big race of the season, for Italian riders this is "the" one-day race - an unofficial Italian championship.
It was first staged by the newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in 1907, when 33 riders were led home by Lucien Petit-Breton who won 300 lire in gold.
To read about the first ever race click here.
"La Primavera" has changed very little over the ninety-odd years of its existence. Starting in Milan, it follows an easy course south for more than one hundred kilometres before tackling the first major obstacle, the Turchino Pass. The famous climb and tunnel make a welcome return this year after two years' absence. Mudslides and torrential rain in February 2001 caused the closure of the pass and the climbs of Bric Berton (773m) and the Colle dei Giovi (516m) were used instead in 2001 and 2002. Happily the 2003 edition will return to its traditional route. The race distance will once again be 294km.
If an early break is going to form this is usually the place it occurs. In 1946 Fausto Coppi attacked here and went on to win the race by more than fourteen minutes. To read about about Coppi’s famous ride click here, to read Fabio’s excellent tribute to Fausto Coppi click here.
However, by the late 1950’s improved road surfaces and greatly improved fitness of the peloton had reduced the race to a certain bunch sprint, and interest was in danger of waning; therefore a number of short hill climbs in the last 50 kilometres of racing were added, including the famous "Poggio di San Remo". With a height of 162 meters and just 3,740 meters in length, Jalabert has the record time for the ascent in 5m 46s in 1995, when he won the race. The Poggio still remains the favoured spot to attack after a mad dash up its lower slopes. It is rumoured that the Poggio was added in 1960 to stop Spanish sprint sensation Poblet sprinting to another win, however it has now been a feature of the race for over forty years.
Twenty years on and even the now world-famous Poggio was not causing enough selection, so in 1982 a new climb, the Cipressa, was added about twenty kilometres from the finish. The final fifty kilometres of the race, with the stunning Italian countryside and panoramic sea views as the riders surge up the old coastal road, taking in the climbs of the Capo Cervo, Capo Berta, Cipressa and finally the Poggio, remain one of cyclings most enduring images.
LAST UPDATE (by Fabio): Due to a landlisde on the "Via Aurelia" road in the outskirts of Alassio town, in the Savona province of Liguria, the route has been slightly modified: instead of contiuning along the coastal route, riders will take the A10 HIGHWAY for a relatively short piece, then get back to the "usual" parcours (Source: Gazzetta dello Sport).
To visit the excellent Milan San Remo website click here.
Images courtesy of Uncle Dave's Cycling Archive, Tom James' Professional Cycling Palmares, La Web de Claudio, Art and Posters.com, the Milan San Remo Cycle Race website.