Last Chance for The Sprinters

Sunday’s Milan-Sanremo will use the Cipressa and Poggio climbs. Once a novelty and now a tradition they help spice up the finish, scalable for some sprinters but hard enough to ensure suspense until the very end of the longest one day on the pro calendar.

Over the years the race has added extra climbs to thwart the sprinters and the prospect of the Pompeiana climb looms for 2016. It means this year’s Milan-Sanremo is the last chance for the sprinters to win.

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Coppi, Coffee, The Past and The Present

Fausto Coppi

As races go Milan-Sanremo has created many legends and myths. Eugène Christophe’s win in 1910 came after 185 riders abandoned before the race had even started, so grim were the conditions. There’s the emergence of Eddy Merckx who won the race for the first time aged 20. Sean Kelly’s descent off the Poggio rates as a classic. There are far too many moments to list. So let’s take 1946 and the story of Fausto Coppi and his coffee break.

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Milan-Sanremo Preview

So much talk about the route and now it’s time to focus on the race. This is the longest event on the calendar and loaded with prestige, history and action. Fate means this Sunday’s edition reverting to a pre-2008 course with neither the new climb of Pompeiana nor Le Mànie. It would be a gift to the sprinters only paradoxically these late changes mean many of them might not be ready for it.

Here’s the race preview for Sunday with the route, scenarios, contenders separated from pretenders as well as TV times, the weather and more.

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Milan-Sanremo’s Ever-Changing Route

Much is being made of Milan-Sanremo’s route changes. The addition of the climb to Pompeiana this year was subtracted thanks to a landslide and it has meant plenty of uncertainty. This was the perfect event, a one day race that seemed to allow grand tour winners, sprinters and classics specialists alike to contest the win.

But nothing is eternal and the course changes are all part of the race’s history. In fact Milan-Sanremo’s history is one of change, that small hyphen between the start and finish has seen all kinds of variations and alterations.

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Pompeiana: RCS Need to Decide

Milan-Sanremo is famous for its tension, the longest race of the year is often decided in the final moments, a long wait that gets more and more nervous as the finish approaches. Now there’s a long wait to find out what’s happening to the course and whether the crucial new climb of Pompeiana is in or out.

A rough road and a wet winter mean the road might not be viable and as you’ll read below, municipal bickering is part of the problem too. Velonews reports there will be a meeting next Wednesday but what if this isn’t conclusive? Weather damage is understandable but the uncertainty is becoming inexcusable.

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The Moment The Race Was Won: Milan-Sanremo

Milan Sanremo sprint

Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka) throws his bike to the line to finish ahead of Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack). In a race so full of suspense it was suspended the outcome of the race was not certain until the last few seconds when the German proved the fastest from the group of six that reached Sanremo. This was the moment the race was won.

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The Spin: Milan-Sanremo preview

Milan Sanremo podium

Milan-Sanremo remains an elusive contest, so long yet the action is concentrated at the end. It has few obvious difficulties yet only a select few contest the finish. Curiously it’s the spring classic that’s open to all yet reserved for the sport’s VIPs and arguably the only race of the year where sprinters, classics specialists and grand tour contenders race each other directly.

Here’s a race preview with more on the route as well as the riders to watch, the weather, TV schedules and more.

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Roads to Ride: The Poggio

At first glance the Via Duca d’Aosta looks like any normal road along the Italian coast. It sits off the Via Aurelia, the main road that hugs the coastline all the way to France which hums and buzzes with Italian traffic. A few vehicles turn off now and then to take the smaller road named after a Duke who was once Italian royalty. Rusty vans wheeze up the road ferrying supplies for the numerous greenhouses that cover the hillside, growing flowers for export. Only the Via Duca d’Aosta is no ordinary road, it is the Poggio, the final climb of Milan-Sanremo.

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Milan-Sanremo Documentary

Mark Cavendish talking about opera, Filippo Pozzato sliding his Ferrari around the bends of the Poggio, a priest discussing doping and a two-time winner of Milan-Sanremo from the 1950s riding an indoor exercise bike. All this and more in the documentary film by Wilfried de Jong.

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