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Milan-San Remo 2022: Route, start list and all you need to know

Will Strickson
10 Mar 2022

A hub of television coverage, previews and all you need to about the 2022 Milan-San Remo

Milan-San Remo: History

With the first edition running in 1907, Milan-San Remo has a history as long as its route, totalling over 300km (including the neutral zone at the start).

It is therefore probably one of the only professional races that has retained, let alone lengthened, its distance over the years, and the prestige associated with the event has only grown with it. 

Milan-San Remo can actually be traced back to 1906, when a two-day amateur race between Milan and San Remo was held for amateurs, but after little interest was initially shown, the organiser of the Giro di Lombardia, a race which had seen its inauguration the year before, approached the newspaper Gazetta Dello Sport and proposed its taking over of the race.

Gazetta was in fact already chief organiser of the Giro di Lombardia (or Tour of Lombardy), and in 1909 it would also take part in the founding of the Giro d'Italia, cementing its place in what would become Italy's three biggest races. 

Milan San Remo Poggio

Poor road surfaces, temperamental spring weather and primitive bicycles meant that merely completing the distance was a remarkable achievement in the early days, but as the sport progressed, so did the race, and during the 1950s Milan-San Remo began to develop its reputation as a sprinter's classic.

The roads, bikes, investment and growing professionalism meant that no longer did pelotons start as one and finish as a bedraggled mess of individuals, with sometimes hours between them.

The Tour de France was experiencing a similar problem, with more editions – or stages – finishing with large groups of riders arriving at the finish together. Where the Tour organisers introduced the sprinter's jersey to reestablish some excitement, the organisers of Milan-San Remo also made some changes.

The route's only climb had traditionally been the Turchino pass, a longer climb that came at about half distance as an opportunity for the stronger riders to distance themselves.

But in time they began to come over the Turchino together, and so the Poggio was introduced in 1960. The fact that Tom Simpson won the race in 1965 suggests diversity, but the desired effect was effectively neutralised by the emergence of one Eddy Merckx, who won Milan-San Remo on seven occasions between 1966 and 1976, the first coming when he was just 20-years-old.

That record of most wins has remained to date, as has the perpetuation of Milan-San Remo being classified a sprinter's race, despite increasingly more climbs being added, such as the Cipressa in 1982 or the Turchino-esque La Manie in 2008.

Another, Pompeiana, was destined to be included as a vicious penultimate climb in the 2014 edition, but landslides causing roadblocks and then dismissals from certain riders – Mark Cavendish being one of them – claiming the parcours had been updated beyond their capabilities, meant that it never materialised. 

Milan San Remo 2014

It must therefore not be forgotten that Milan-San Remo has never been a straightforward gallop. Despite common sprinter names such as Merckx, Kelly, Zabel, Friere, or more obviously Cipollini and Cavendish, proliferating on the list of winners, the efforts they will have had to put in in order to get over the preceding climbs – not to mention the distance at such an early stage of the season – is often forgotten.

The fact that Marcel Kittel has never even started it, or that names we don't associate with sprinting, such as Gerrans, Cancellara, Fignon or Chiappucci, pepper the alumni of winners are only further reminders of its nature. Yes, Milan-San Remo is a 'sprinter's classic', but that certainly doesn't mean it's always won by one. 

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