Milan-San Remo 2013: The Big Preview
Milan-San Remo goes by the alias La Classica di Primavera, or the Spring Classic, but there is nothing flowery about Sunday's forecast. Snow on the Turchino and rain along the Italian Riviera are likely to make it the nastiest edition since 1991, when Claudio Chiappucci won solo.
Aussie Simon Gerrans (Orica-GreenEdge) won the race under sunny skies last year on San Remo's Lungomare. He latched on to rivals Vincenzo Nibali and Fabian Cancellara, some of the best descenders in the business, at the top of the Poggio.
Even Mark Cavendish enjoyed sunshine when he won La Primavera in 2009. Last year, he was dropped on Le Mànie climb and was unable to contest a sprint on Lungomare.
Rain on La Mànie dampened the road and put an end to Oscar Freire's chances in 2011. Still, Matt Goss was able to sprint to his win in dry conditions in San Remo.
Chiappucci did not have to face Le Mànie, it only came about in 2008, but he raced on wet roads from Milan's Piazza del Duomo to Via Roma. The conditions helped him escape and spoiled the chances for several rivals.
Only 44 riders have won solo, Cancellara was the last in 2008. The race has seen 22 bunch sprints, including the year Cavendish won. He was one of 16 riders to win in their race debut. Ugo Agostoni was the youngest rider to win the race at 20 years old when he took the victory in 1914.
Eddy Merckx won a record seven times. Over the years, organiser RCS Sport tried to make its one-day classic harder. In 1960, director Vincenzo Torriani added the Poggio. The Cipressa arrived in 1982, followed by Le Mànie in 2008.
When: Sunday, March 17 2013
Category: UCI WorldTour
"San Remo has a list of winners more prestigious than the Worlds," three-time winner Freire said last year. "And maybe it's even better than the Worlds."
Milan-San Remo at 298km easily tops the World Championships in distance. The length, climbs and narrow Italian Riviera roads create the greatest difficulties.
The 200 participants will depart from Milan's Castello Sforzesco facing seven hours of racing. The first climb, the Turchino arrives only after 100 kilometres have been covered. Its pass is a gateway to the Riviera and San Remo's finale.
Along the coast, the closing climbs come in quick succession and there is little time or room to chase back. After the Turchino descent, the race rips along the Ligurian Sea and turns slightly inland for Le Mànie (94km to race), I Tre Capi - Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta (52.4, 47.1, 39.6) - the Cipressa (22.1) and the final climb, the Poggio (6.2)
The Poggio climbs 3.7km, the first 2km are the worst with gradients of 8%. The contenders will reach the top at 160 metres around 16:50. One of them will be celebrating in Sanremo about 10 to 12 minutes later.
Paolo Bettini in 2003 attacked with a group of riders on the Poggio and won in Sanremo. Nibali did the same last year, but was foiled by Gerrans.
The road down the Poggio travels 3.3km and bends 23 times, including seven hairpins. At the base, there are only 2.9 kilometres remaining for the 104th edition. Rain or shine, Milan-San Remo almost always delivers a thrilling final.
Milan-San Remo 2013: Teams
Milan-San Remo 2013 start list>>
Bardiani Valvole-CSF Inox
BMC Racing Team
Milan-San Remo 2013: British TV guide
Digital and satellite broadcaster British Eurosport will be airing live coverage of Milan-San Remo. Broadcast times may be subject to change.
Sunday March 17, 13:30-16:30, Milan-San Remo LIVE, British Eurosport & British Eurosport HD
Sunday March 17, 21:00-22:00, Milan-San Remo highlights, British Eurosport & British Eurosport HD
Simon Gerrans tops the podium in 2012
Milan-San Remo: Previous winners
2012: Simon Gerrans (Aus)
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)
Milan-San Remo: Last year's top ten (2012)
1. Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge in 6:59:24
2. Fabian Cancellara (Swi) RadioShack-Nissan
3. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale
5. John Degenkolb (Ger) Project 1T4i
6. Filippo Pozzato (Ita) Farnese Vini
7. Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha
8. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC
9. Daniel Oss (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
10. Daniele Bennati (Ita) RadioShack-Nissan all same time
Spring Classics 2013: Coverage index - previews, reports and photos