Last year, Michal Kwiatkowski, Peter Sagan and Julian Alaphilippe attacked on the Poggio. Following a brilliant descent the race came down to a thrilling three-up sprint with the Pole turning out on top.
La Primavera, the ‘spring classic’, marks the real start of the Classics season – the race is the first Monument of the year. Often viewed as a sprinters Classic, the finale with the Cipressa and Poggio combo provide opportunities for punchy climbers, northern Classics strong men and break away specialists to try and escape the clutches of the sprinters. It’s a very finely balanced finale.
The race opens with a long stretch on the Po Plain before the riders have to cross Passo del Turchino to reach the Mediterranean. A long and easy climb. The average gradient over 25 kilometres is just 1.4%. So it’s fair to say the Turchino is a sheer endless false flat.
The route continues on the flat to the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta. A perfect trio to warm up for the final combo, Cipressa and Poggio.
What creates the most difficulty in Milan-San Remo is the sheer distance of 291 kilometres. After so long in the saddle, the finale is always exciting as the dynamics between those looking to escape and those looking to keep it together create a fast and frenetic ending.
First the Cipressa, 5.5 kilometres at 4.1% and a steepest section of 9% a little over halfway up. A great place for a break away as there are just over 20 kilometres remaining at the summit.
On to the famous Poggio. Last chance to escape the bunch with riders having varying degrees of success over the years. In 2012, Fabian Cancellara, Simon Gerrans and Vincenzo Nibali succeeded in breaking away from the decimated pack on the Poggio (Gerrans proved best in the sprint). Last year Kwiatkowski, Sagan and Alaphilippe opted for a similar scenario and they finished 5 seconds ahead of the chasing peloton on the Via Roma.
The Poggio is just 3.7 kilometres and averaging 3.7%, but after almost 300 kilometres of racing it takes a huge effort for the bigger riders to get over at the front. The slope peaks at 8% with 1 kilometre left to climb. The descent is spectacular with riders flying through the corners at high speeds. Good descenders could go on the attack and drop their rivals with their specialist skills.
The last 2.35 kilometres are flat and perfect for any sprinter who is still in the mix.
Read also: results/race report 2018 Milan-San Remo.
Milan-San Remo 2018: Route maps, height profiles, and more.
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