Milan-San Remo delivers the longest race of the year on Saturday (March 17), 298 kilometres snaking down to and along the Ligurian coast. It is mostly flat, mostly for sprinters, but always provides surprise a result.

Last year, a crash on Le Mànie split the race, left Mark Cavendish behind and gave us the first Australian winner, Matt Goss. Goss won from a small group sprint, having the fastest kick ahead of Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert and Alessandro Ballan. It was a who’s who of classics.

Cavendish and other sprinters usually dominate the day, but they do get the slip every now and then. Cancellara dashed off with two kilometres to race in 2008. Filippo Pozzato made a similar move in 2006.

The parcours allows for suspense: coastal ramps at the end of the longest day of the year. The ramps, particularly the Cipressa and the Poggio, crack all but the strongest sprinters’ legs.

“Ideally,” Sky’s Rod Ellingworth told Cycling Weekly, “we’ll have Cavendish and Edvald [Boasson Hagen] topping the Poggio together.”

Boasson Hagen could lead Cavendish to the win as George Hincapie did in 2009.

“Cavendish looks like he weighs less,” Cancellara said, “but can he stay and chase on after the Poggio?”

Milan-San Remo 2012: The route

Where: Italy

When: Saturday, March 17 2012

Category: UCI WorldTour

Distance: 298km

The Poggio leaves only 6.2 kilometres to race and little time for the sprinters to re-group. It’s the races last climb and receives the most attention, but there are others to consider…

The Turchino Pass (142.3km) mid-way in does little to shape the race, merely waking up the 200 riders after a long haul out of Lombardy.

Le Mànie at 204km marks the start of the end, leaving only 100 kilometres to race. Organisers added this climb in 2008 to shake up the race and weed out the sprinters. A crash on the climb last year caused havoc and produced the winning move. Cavendish went to study this and the following climbs ahead of Tirreno-Adriatico.

I Tre Capi – Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta – from kilometre 245 to 258, are small climbs but crucial for positioning ahead of the final two, famous climbs.

The Cipressa was introduced in 1982 and became a favourite for attackers like Gilbert. Cavendish lost ground here in 2010. It covers 5.65 kilometres, tops out at 275.9 kilometres into the race, or 22.1 kilometres from the line.

The Poggio, at kilometre 291.8 and 3.7 kilometres long, provides the final stage for the light-weight attackers to act. The 3.3-kilometre ribbon-like descent is just as crucial for sprinters who want to re-join before San Remo.

“Watching internet footage,” Cancellara said, “I saw Goss stayed locked to my wheel last year.”

Milan-San Remo 2012: Teams

Acqua & Sapone

Ag2r La Mondiale

Astana

BMC Racing

Colnago-CSF Inox

Colombia-Coldeportes

Euskaltel-Euskadi

Farnese Vini-Selle Italia

FDJ-BigMat

Garmin-Barracuda

GreenEdge

Katusha

Lampre-ISD

Liquigas-Cannondale

Lotto Belisol

Movistar

Omega Pharma-QuickStep

Project 1T4I

Rabobank

RadioShack-Nissan

Saxo Bank

Sky

Team Type 1-Sanofi

Utensilnord Named

Vacansoleil-DCM

Milan-San Remo 2012: British TV guide

Milan-San Remo will be shown live on digital channel British Eurosport. Highlights will then be shown later in the day and on Sunday.

Saturday, March 17, 13.40-16.35, Milan-San Remo LIVE, British Eurosport

Saturday, March 17, 18.00-19.15, Milan-San Remo highlights, British Eurosport 2

Saturday, March 17, 22.45-23.30, Milan-San Remo highlights, British Eurosport

Sunday, March 18, 11.15-12.00, Milan-San Remo highlights, British Eurosport 2

Sunday, March 18, 20.00-21.00, Milan-San Remo highlights, British Eurosport





Matt Goss wins in 2011

Milan-San Remo: Recent winners

2011: Matt Goss (Aus)

2010: Oscar Freire (Spa)

2009: Mark Cavendish (GBr)

2008: Fabian Cancellara (Swi)

2007: Oscar Freire (Spa)

2006: Filippo Pozzato (Ita)

2005: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)

2004: Oscar Freire (Spa)

2003: Paolo Bettini (Ita)

2002: Mario Cipollini (Ita)

Milan-San Remo: Last year’s top ten (2011)

1. Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad

2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Leopard-Trek

3. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto

4. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing

5. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Katusha

6. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-ISD

7. Yoann Offredo (Fra) Francaise des Jeux all at same time

8. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale at 3 secs

9. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing at 10 secs

10. Stuart O’Grady (Aus) Leopard-Trek at 12 secs

British

44. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at 5-23

52. Mark Cavendish (GBr) HTC-Highroad at 5-23

60. Geraint Thomas (GBr) Sky at 5-23

102. Ian Stannard (GBr) Sky at 6-10

147. Roger Hammond (GBr) Garmin-Cervelo at 18-25

Related links

Boonen leads Omega Pharma at San Remo

Cancellara plans to upset San Remo sprint

Sagan shows form ahead of Milan-San Remo

Cavendish set for Milan-San Remo with Tirreno win

Goss gets it together for Milan-San Remo

Spring Classics 2012: Coverage index

Milan-San Remo 2011: Goss seizes opportunity to win