What's Cool In Road Cycling

PEZ Photo Special: Milan San Remo

The sprinters’ classic or the attackers’ classic? Whatever the case the Primavera is a special race with amazing scenery, challenging late climbs and a magical suspense that builds throughout its 298kms. Let’s take a look back at some special Milan-Sanremo photos from years gone past.

Last year’s race as always passed through some special scenery in the opening stages.

It wasn’t until right near the end though when Nibali made his move with Gerrans on his wheel where the race really came alive. Just have a look who is coming up from behind though…

The strongest man in the race was clearly Fabian Cancellara who did 99% of the work in the break of 3 in the final kilometers.

“Go on, Fab do some more.”

But the prize doesn’t always go to the strongest in the race. Gerrans was smart enough to go with Nibali’s attack, strong enough to stay with Cancellara as he drove the pace and then quick enough to win the sprint.

And wasn’t Fabian happy with his second consecutive 2nd place behind an Australian…..

In 2011 it was Matthew Goss who ruined Fab’s day being the quickest of the small group that came to the finish together beating not only Cancellara but also other known Classics fastmen like Philippe Gilbert and Filippo Pozzato.

Earlier in that race it was once again Vincenzo Nibali who was doing the attacking on the Poggio with Steve Chainel for company but without the Cancellara firepower they didn’t make it to the finish. That’s the beautiful thing about this race so many are prepared to give it a go because sometimes it actually works.

Van Avermaet also had a big dig in 2011 in the hopes to upset a bunch sprint.

But back in the group there was always teammates willing to sacrifice themselves for their surviving sprinters. In this case it’s Scarponi who’s driving the pace for Petacchi.

The 2009 edition did come down to a sprint and it was perhaps the most unforgettable sprint of them all. Heinrich Haussler burst out of the peloton with incredible speed and looked like he had it won when the rocket that is Mark Cavendish exploded and spoiled the Aussie’s party by the smallest of winning margins on the line.

It was such an epic sprint it’s worth having another look on video of the moment that Haussler says he still thinks about to this day.

Now I stated that perhaps 2009’s sprint was the most unforgettable but maybe 2004’s early victory salute by Erik Zabel might give it a run? Zabel thought he had just won his 5th San Remo and threw his hands in the air only to see Oscar Freire sneak underneath his raised arms to steal the win from him.

One year later Alessandro Petacchi didn’t make that mistake and he got his first and only (for the moment) San Remo victory.

One man who used to always attack in San Remo was Paolo Bettini. Much like Cancellara he seemed to make it a spring-time ritual to attack on the Poggio, but he only succeeded once. This pic is from 2002, one of the failed efforts.

Sometimes it failed, sometimes it worked like here in 2003.

Fabian Cancellara did it in 2008 in style. Can he do it again in 2013? Three times on the podium in the last 5 years speaks for itself. He’ll be up there again on Sunday.

Before we get to talking about the winner though there’s a lot of kilometers to cover first. Check out this little sign that PEZ came across when riding the corso one year. You’ve just ridden 123km in two and a half hours, when you look up and see this little reminder of just where you are. That’s gotta suck.

Once the race hits the coast things start to get a bit hectic, the early breakaways are often in sight or already captured and the reall smackdown is just around the corner.

And speaking of early breaks, a word for the holder of the record of the longest solo break at San Remo in history, Cristian Salvato. In his neo pro year in 1995 Salvato followed his director’s orders and attacked from kilometer zero to spend the next 223 km ahead of the race alone. Yep, 223km!

Keep it tuned to PEZ this week for an interview with Salvato as he recounts that special day in 1995 and a full preview of this year’s race, roadside coverage, big PeloPics and more from this great race. It’s Primavera time!

Sanremo in the distance.

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