- Mar 7, 2013
- Bring on the Classics!
Here in the US, the Tour de France is synonymous with professional cycling. If you’re an American pro or ride for a team based in the United States, your success in the sport will undoubtedly be measured by your performance in the world’s most popular bike race. Win the Le Tour, and your popularity stateside can transcend the sport. As much as I love the Grand Tours, though, nothing gets my cycling blood pumping like the beginning of the Spring Classics season. And, my favorite of all the Classics is Milan-San Remo, making the 3rdSunday in March my most anticipated day of the year.
Loving Milan-San Remo is such sweet sorrow, as it comes so early in the season. Much like the Daytona 500 in NASCAR, the best race is over just as the season begins. But, who cares? It’s a freaking awesome race!! Why?
Some of the most memorable moments in bike racing history have taken place on the hallowed tarmac in San Remo: Sean Kelly’s epic high-speed descent of the Poggio to catch Moreno Argentin in the final kilometer in 1992; Oscar Friere pipping an already-celebrating Erik Zabel at the finish line in 2004; Heinrich Haussler’s beautiful but ill-fated late attack in 2009. Although MSR is often labeled as the “sprinter’s classic” due to its generally flat course and long finishing straight, it most often rewards the fastest man who brings the most fitness in March. To be sure, the list of MSR winners reads like a who’s who of the sport’s greatest sprinters - Van Steenbergen, Van Looy, Jalabert, Zabel, Cipollini, Petacchi and Cavendish have all stood atop the podium at La Primavera. But, given the race’s brutal length (around 300k), unpredictable weather and undulating finish, just about anything can happen, and the sprinter’s teams are often foiled by crashes and late attacks on the Poggio or Via Roma. It’s what makes the finish in San Remo the most exciting 10 kilometers in all of cycling.
So, will we see a bunch sprint on the Via Roma? Another long 500-watt breakaway effort by Fabian Cancellara? A dramatic escape by a wily climber? All I know is that it’s hard not to get goose bumps when the first riders hit that slight right hand turn onto the Poggio’s ramp. So, don’t wait until July to fire up the Google box, because the real bike racing season begins in just 10 excruciatingly long days.
- Posted by:
- Eric @Clif