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Milan San Remo - Primavera's History
By Podofdonny
Date: 3/15/2005
Milan San Remo - Primavera's History

The Milan San Remo is always held on the week end closest to the first day of spring. The Primavera was first staged by the newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport in 1907 and the 33 riders saw Lucien Petit-Breton win the 300 lire in gold first prize.

”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.

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.

Click for larger image.

The race traditionally has the great images which are reserved for the Monuments of the sport. Starting in Piazza Del Duomo by Milan Cathedral, the route heads out through the suburbs of the industrial city and then travels 100 kilometres or so across the Lombardy Plain to the major climb in the race the 532 metre Turchino Pass, which is often snow covered and bleak at this time of the year. The descent to the sunny coast of the Mediterranean Sea becomes increasingly beautiful as the riders start to head up the coastal road to the finish.

The Winners

300 lire in gold made the race a magnet for the world’s great racers from the first edition of the race in 1907. French, Belgian and Italian riders shared the honours until 1914. However from that date for the next 50 years Italian riders dominated the race. A great champion was needed to take the prize away from native riders and who better than Rik Van Steenbergen to give Belgium a victory in the race in 1954, the third Belgian to win the race after Cyril Van Hauwaert (1908) and Odiel Defraye (1913).

Many of cycling’s most famous names have won the event. Fausto Coppi won it three times, Raymond Poulidor, the eternal second in the Tour behind Anquetil won the race in 1961, Tom Simpson, however put Poulidor back into his eternal second spot when he won the race in 1964. Eddy Merckx, who if he had only ridden this race would still be a legend in the sport, won the event 7 times (the record).

With 6 wins comes the first rider to be labelled Campionissimo (Champion of Champions), the great Constante Girardengo. Indeed, he not only finished first in 1918, 1921, 1923, 1925, 1926, and 1928 but also in 1915. However he was disqualified that year for failing to respect the route so only matches Eddy Merckx’s record in memory, not in the record books.

Guiseppe Saronni won the 1982 Tour of Lomabrdy, the 1983 Milan San Remo and the 1983 Tour of Italy. A sequence unsurpassed in Italian cycling history.

Photo by Fabio.

Erik Zabel with 4 wins is a rider who but for a moments weakness in a very long race should have scored another victory. Last year with victory all but won “Ete” lifted his hands in triumph just a little too soon. Oscar Freire, triple World Champion and leader of the Pro Tour rankings in 2005, made a breathtaking last gap surge to become the only second Spanish rider to win the race. Miguel Poblet, had won the race twice in the late 1950’s.

A race with unique beauty, and heroic history, Milan San Remo is a monument to cycling sport.

Photo by Fabio.

Race Palmares

1907 Petit Breton
1908 Vanhauwaert
1909 Ganna
1910 Christophe
1911 Garrigou
1912 Pelissier
1913 Defraye
1914 Agostoni
1915 Corlaita
1917 Belloni
1918 Girardengo
1919 Gremo
1920 Belloni
1921 Girardengo
1922 Brunero
1923 Girardengo
1924 Linari
1925 Girardengo
1926 Girardengo
1927 Chesi
1928 Girardengo
1929 Binda
1930 Mara M.
1931 Binda
1932 Bovet
1933 Guerra
1934 Demuysère
1935 Olmo
1936 Varetto
1937 Del Cancia
1938 Olmo
1939 Bartali
1940 Bartali
1941 Favalli
1942 Leoni
1943 Cinelli
1946 Coppi F.
1947 Bartali
1948 Coppi F.
1949 Coppi F.
1950 Bartali
1951 Bobet L.
1952 Petrucci
1953 Petrucci
1954 Van Steenbergen
1955 Derycke
1956 De Bruyne
1957 Poblet
1958 Van Looy
1959 Poblet
1960 Privat
1961 Poulidor
1962 Daems
1963 Groussard J.
1964 Simpson
1965 Den Hartog
1966 Merckx
1967 Merckx
1968 Altig
1969 Merckx
1970 Dancelli
1971 Merckx
1972 Merckx
1973 De Vlaeminck R.
1974 Gimondi
1975 Merckx
1976 Merckx
1977 Raas
1978 De Vlaeminck R.
1979 De Vlaeminck R.
1980 Gavazzi
1981 De Wolf A.
1982 Gomez
1983 Saronni G.
1984 Moser F.
1985 Kuiper
1986 Kelly
1987 Maechler
1988 Fignon
1989 Fignon
1990 Bugno
1991 Chiappucci
1992 Kelly
1993 Fondriest M.
1994 Furlan
1995 Jalabert L.
1996 Colombo G.
1997 Zabel
1998 Zabel
1999 Tchmil
2000 Zabel
2001 Zabel
2002 Cipollini
2003 Bettini
2004 Freire

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