There’ll be a light tailwind on the Poggio today. Even if the race is not happening it’s important in a small way to think of these places and the people there.
In the absence of the race if you want something to read about it, the history, the places around it and more here are a few pieces from the past…
The Sanremo Paradox, March 2018: the longest race of the year but the least suited to breakaways, where the winning move always goes later than any other classic (7km is the longest range winning move in the last 25 years)… yet one that is gripping to watch, even from far out.
The Longest Race in the World looks at the course as a whole. While the Tour of Flanders loops around and Paris-Roubaix’s changes in scenery are subtle, Milan to Sanremo means covering a huge distance and ever-changing landscapes, from the city to the plains, rice fields to olive groves and more.
Milan-Sanremo’s Ever-Changing Route looked at the way the course has changed over the years. First the Poggio was added to thwart the sprinters (sotto voce: foreigners), then the Cipressa and more recently we were going to have Pompeiana until Mother Nature intervened.
Roads to Ride – The Cipressa: the harder of the two final climbs, twisty with some steep ramps which don’t show when you glance at the stats because the top of the climb is a flat balcony section across to the village of Cipressa.
Roads to Ride – The Poggio: a leitmotif for the “roads to ride” series here, this is a very ordinary road that winds its way up the hillside past ramshackle greenhouses and pastel-painted villas. The moderate gradient and smooth tarmac make it unusual for such a decisive climb, you think about braking before entering a hairpin bend as you climb up.
The Cipressa Conspiracy Theories: when Arnaud Démare won in 2016 a string of false claims, phoney photos, statistical sleights and more. The piece had two points, one to explore the issues particular to that year’s race; the other to suggest the same conspiracy theory techniques can be used to stir up people over issues much more important than a bike race and if you don’t believe it, take the first letter from each paragraph in the piece and see what they spell.
Coppi, Coffee, The Past and The Present looked at Fausto Coppi’s famous 1946 solo win. Against the backdrop of Italy recovering from the war here was a champion riding from “the austerity of the Val d’Orba… to the Ligurian riviera and its social Eldorado” as Philippe Brunel writes this morning’s L’Equipe. Coppi was so far ahead of his rivals he stopped for a coffee along the way and when he crossed the finis line the radio went to a musical interlude to fill the airtime until the next rider arrived, a glorious story, but imagine that today? If the lone leader stopped for a coffee viewers would switch off complaining about a lack of action, while corners of social media and forums would erupt with conspiracy theories about the rider trying to mask or flush a secret potion.
Sanremo or San Remo? the road signs all say “Sanremo” but the railway station says “San Remo”. It’s officially Sanremo these days, the story is that San Remo has connotations to Mussolini and the fascist era so the town’s authorities issued a decree ordering Sanremo to settle it once and for all. Whatever the name here’s hoping the people of Milan, Sanremo and all the places in between can rediscover the joy of sport some day soon.