Cycling the Classics:  Milan to San Remo

When you’re seeking to exercise your love of cycling, you may want to try putting your bike blanket on your favorite ride and traveling to Italy, Belgium or France for the spring cycling classics.  One day races that ask riders to leave everything on the bike, this one image encapsulates all this.

The first Monument of the spring time cycling classics is the Milan to San Remo Route, referred to as the Primavera. This race is the “Sprinters Classic.”  

Slated for March 23, 2019, the Primavera, dates back to its beginning in 1907 and has been run every year with the exception of the World War years.  The race of 1910 is infamous for taking place during a snowstorm with only four of the 63 participants able to finish the race.

Closest finish ever? Credit: Alex de Waard

Closest finish ever? Credit: Alex de Waard

The Milan to San Remo race at 291 km is the is longest of the single day spring classics punctuated with stretches of steep climbs which give attackers the opportunity to set themselves up for the sprint finish.  If you get the opportunity to ever visit Sanremo you could slip your bike out of its bike blanket and test the Poggio, the climb 6 km before the finish. It is said that if you reach the climax of the Poggio with a lead nobody is catching you if you’ve got your downhill skill nailed and you can last the sprint to the finish.

In 2018, Italian racer Vincenzo Nibali of team Bahrain-Merida, accomplished exactly that kind of assault and win at Milan-San Remo.  The race started in the pouring rain and the riders seemed content to stay together in the peloton and maintain a constant pace. At 10km before the finish, 2009 Milan-San Remo winner, Mark Cavendish, team UCI WorldTeam Team Dimension Data, crashed taking several riders out of the race with him and set up the finish for the attackers at Poggio.  Nibali opened up an 8 to 9 second lead at the peak of the final ascent at Poggio.  Known as one of the best descent sprinters in cycling Nibali was then able to maintain his lead finishing on the Via Roma straight and crossing the finish line as the pride of Italy with a 5 second lead.  

If you have not experienced the excitement of the spring cycling classics this just may be the opportunity you have been seeking.  So, take advantage of the fan-friendly atmosphere and the down to earth attitudes of the elite athletes. Meet with the teams as you meander through the crowds of autograph and photograph searchers.   

Cyclist hit the hills of San Remo Credit:

Cyclist hit the hills of San Remo Credit:

Watch as your favorites compete on some of the most challenging roads in the world.  This is your opportunity to watch them up close as they reach the peak of a grueling climb or sprint their way forward through the peloton.

And, don’t miss the chance to test yourself whilst you’re there. Go hire a bike or take your own, find the route through the hills around Imperia, as you pretend you’re Michal Kwiatkowski   Slip your bike blanket on your favorite ride. It fits in seconds and provides your precious equipment with the protection it deserves in these spring weather days of rain and wind and (possibly) snow.

Matt Franks