What's Cool In Road Cycling

World Cup #1: Route Details

Saturday, March 22, 2003… 294 kilomteres… 7 hours in the saddle… the Poggio…

What say we meet at the cafe by the Duomo about 9:00… grab an espresso? Then we’ll head south – towards the sun, ride the flats for a few hours, take in a nice little climb called Turchino… can you smell the salt air yet? See those palm trees? Last one there buys dinner at that little ristorante on via Roma – the pasta is unbelievable… Oh, did I mention your legs will burn leg never before and your heart will be pounding out of your chest – that is if you want to be first up the Poggio…

Milan’s Duomo can seat 20,000, but expect plenty of
empty seats this Saturday AM.

Be sure to start your day with a cup ‘o Italian “black gold” – that’s espresso. I recommend Bar Ornaghi on Via Romagna before heading to the start.

The ride south from Milan in the Lombard plain, across the lush mountains that seperate the Ligurian coast from the rest of Italy, is one of the nicest routes you could dream of. Plenty of flat kilometers to stretch the legs, a reasonable but not too hard climb over the Turchino, and then a nice cruise along the seaside, amid palm trees and sushine. This is a great route to finish any ride – World Cup-worthy or otherwise. One rider will drink champagne, the rest get Italian wine, and the post-race meals here ensure everyone goes home “sassafied” (to quote Yosemite Sam)…

The route has several important climbs, but in the past few decades the race seems to be always decided within the final 10km either on the Poggio or by a bike length on Via Roma. In 1946, however, after a 6 year war-delay, “la primavera” was won by Fausto Coppi himself after a massive breakaway on the Passo Turchino at the 145km mark, which gains 532 meters over 11.5 km.

This Saturday, things will probably stay together until the three decisive climbs that start at the 260km mark – the Capo Berta gains 137 meters over 3 km ay 4% average grade, the Cipresa gains 240 meters over 6 km, and finally the Poggio (a climb so cool that Nike named a shoe after it! – (read the Pez-review here), gains 169 meters over 4km. None of the climbs are especially hard, but must be ridden fast and at the front – you try it after 6 hours in the saddle! Expect action on the Poggio, which could decide the race if a rider gets a gap and is a fearless descender.

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