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Route change to the 2001 Milan-San Remo

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24 February 2001

It has been reported that owing to mud-slides and torrential rain in February, and the subsequent closure of Liguria’s Ovada-Voltri road, Milan-San Remo’s Turchino Pass was likely to be omitted to from this year’s race route. According to sources in Italy, the adverse weather conditions had prompted event organisers RCS Sport into a panicked search for an alternative to the 20 kms climb, hitherto ever-present in the race’s 91-year history.

Sure enough, as Mapei’s Stefano Zanini sounded a San-Remo warning shot win with his stage win in the Giro della Riviera Ligure di Ponente, RCS sport yesterday ended days of speculation with the announcement that the Turchino would be removed from La Primavera’s 2001 race schedule. In its place, before the race meanders its way towards the coastal cavalcade of Liguria’s Savona-San Remo run-in, the 773 metre Bric Berton will provide the first examination on the revised 287kms route.

The subject of cagey denials when we spoke to RCS last week, the Bric Berton climb is likely to be greeted with the unanimous approval of mountain men restricted to a supporting role in the recent editions of the Italian Classic. Stretching over twenty three kilometres and featuring gradients of more than 10% in certain sections, the ascent is both longer and considerably steeper than the Turchino.

Moreover, with a second uphill leg-teaser awaiting riders 20 kms later at Colle del Giovo, the likes of Erik Zabel and Cipollini will have scant recovery time as the road descends back towards Savona.    

After years of sterile tactical stalemates, the prospect of a selective and hotly contested race therefore looms back into the realms of possibility. As a result, teams typically constructed around one sprint leader may be forced to rethink their race strategy, and riders like local favourite and Trofeo Laiguelia winner Mirko Celestino may replace the likes of Mario Cipollini on pundits’ lists of likely winners.
Photograph courtesey of Alessandro Federico