The Milan-San Remo ‘Spring Classic’ is an annual cycle race of 298 km between Milan and the town of San Remo on the Italian-French border. It is the longest professional one-day race in the world, and, being held in mid-March, is an excellent test of endurance so early in the season.
The race is often known as the ‘sprinters’ classic’ due to its mainly flat route and long finishing straight. However, there are some climbs on the course – the 2014 race will surely be made more spectacular and unpredictable by the addition of the 5km Pompeiana climb between Cipressa and Poggio.
The 2013 edition of the race was won in a fierce snowstorm by the German rider Gerald Ciolek of Team MTN in a sprint finish from the Slovak Peter Sagan and Swiss rider Fabian Cancellara. However, not every year ends in a mass finish – for example, in 2006 Italians Filippo Pozzato and Alessandro Ballan attacked on the last hill and stayed away, with Pozzato eventually claiming the victory.
The Milan-San Remo was first staged in 1907, and has been held every year since except 1916, 1944 and 1945 due to war. The greatest number of wins by an individual rider is seven by the legendary Belgian Eddy Merckx (in 1966, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1975 and 1976). No rider has ever won the race in three consecutive years – German Erik Zabel came closest with victories in 1997 and 1998 and a second place in 1999.