La Primavera, the ‘spring classic’, marks the real start of the Classics season. That is, in a normal world. Given the new calendar, the spring classic is turned into a summer classic. Let’s re-brand it for one season as La Estate.
What creates the most difficulty in Milan-San Remo is the sheer distance. 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. The August heat in Italy is a new factor to be reckoned with.
The first Monument of the year opens with a long stretch on the Po Plain before the riders cross the Passo del Turchino – basically as false flat of 25 kilometres – to reach the Mediterranean. A long and easy climb with shallow gradients. The 25 kilometres uphill slopes at 1.4%.
The route continues along the coast to the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta. A perfect trio to warm up for the Cipressa and Poggio combo inside the last 25 kilometres.
The Cipressa is 5.5 kilometres long and the average gradient sits at 4.1%. Usually, the first fast men are struggling on this climb, so BORA (Sagan), Alpecin (Van der Poel) and CCC (Van Avermaet, Trentin) will be motivated to keep the pace high.
With 20 kilometres remaining the peloton heads for the Poggio. The 3.7 kilometres climb averages 3.7%, which is not very impressive, but after almost 300 kilometres it takes a huge effort for the bigger riders to get over at the front. The Poggio peaks out at 8% with 1 kilometre left to climb.
The last three editions saw decisive moves on the Poggio. Last year, Alaphilippe attacked inside the last kilometre and Sagan, Van Aert, Valverde, Naesen, Kwiatkowski and Trentin managed to cling on. The seven were the first riders over the Poggio before Dumoulin, Valverde, Nibali and Mohoric rejoined them in the descent. Alaphilippe outsprinted this elite group ahead of Naesen and Sagan.
Three years ago, Kwiatkowski, Sagan and Alaphilippe also attacked on the climb. Following a brilliant descent the race came down to a three-up sprint with the Pole taking the spoils. In 2018, Nibali opted for a similar scenario in solo style.
The last 2.35 kilometres of Milan-San Remo are flat and perfect for any sprinter who is still in the mix.
Milan-San Remo starts at 10.10 and the race is expected to finish around 17.05 – both local times.
Milan-San Remo 2020: route, profiles, more
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