The 2010 Spring Classics season kicks off on Saturday, March 20, with the year’s longest one-day race – Milan-San Remo.

At 298 kilometres, the riders will experience nearly seven hours on their bikes, yet most of the decisive, and often explosive, action takes place in the last half-hour of the race.

Over the years, the race has been won either by attackers or decided by a sprint finish. Last year a long sprint by Heinrich Haussler (Cervelo) was caught on the line by sprinter Mark Cavendish (Columbia) with an amazing turn of speed – one of the most sensational finishes the race has seen in its 100 editions.

Although Cavendish will wear the coveted number one plate, the British rider has conceded that he doesn’t have the form to repeat his win this year. Haussler is out too, sidelined with a knee injury.

Read who we think will win in our article, What makes Milan-San Remo a great race, and who will win?>>

With a mixture of experienced former winners and fresh new talent on the start list, the 2010 edition of Milan-San Remo promises to provide a fitting curtain-raiser to the Spring Classics, as it always does…

Milan-San Remo 2010: The route
Milan-San Remo starts outside Castello Sforzesco in the heart of Milan and ends on the seafront in San Remo after 298km of racing.

The inclusion of more and more capi climbs over the years has balanced the improvement in the roads, bike technology and training techniques. However the inclusion for a second year of the Manie climb, 100km from the finish, is an extra handicap for the sprinters that could prove to be decisive.

It is only 4.7km kilometres long but climbs at an average of 6.7% and many of the sprinters will go into the red as they try to hang on. Some will get dropped and have to chase hard, while some will never get back on and their race will be over.

The short capi climbs begin in the final 50km with the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean.

The Cipressa (5.7km at 4.1 per cent) comes 28km from the finish and is often the launch pad for attacks. They rarely stay clear but can affect the race.

The Poggio (3.7km) is just 10.7km from the finish and almost always decide the race. Attacks go early and near the top as the sprinters try to hold on and save their legs. The twisting descent through the greenhouses is also a test of nerves with the final two kilometres on the flat to the new finish a last chance for an attack.

When Milan-San Remo finished in Via Roma, the slight rising road was also a factor, punishing whoever started their too early. The new finish near the port includes some extra corners that perhaps any late attacks and means a lead out from a team mate could be decisive.

Milan-San Remo 2010: Teams & leaders
HTC-Columbia, Mark Cavendish
Acqua & Sapone, Stefano Garzelli
Ag2r La Mondiale, Sebastien Hinault
Androni Giocattoli, Michele Scarponi
Astana, Allan Davies
BBox-Bouygues Telecom, Thomas Voeckler
BMC Racing Team, George Hincapie/Alessandro Ballan
Caisse d’Epargne, Marzio Bruseghin
Carmiooro, Francisco Ventoso
Cervelo Test Team, Thor Hushovd
Colnago-CSF Inox, Mattia Gavazzi
Euskaltel-Euskadi, Pablo Perez
Francaise des Jeux, Olivier Bonnaire
Garmin-Transitions, Tyler Farrar
ISD-Neri, Giovanni Visconti
Lampre-Farnese Vini, Alessandro Petacchi/Damiano Cunego
Liquigas-Doino, Daniele Bennati
Omega Pharma-Lotto, Philippe Gilbert
Quick Step, Tom Boonen/Sylvain Chavanel
Rabobank, Oscar Freire/Lars Boom
Team Sky, Edvald Boasson Hagen
Katusha, Filippo Pozzato
Milram, Linus Gerdemann
RadioShack, Daryl Impey
Saxo Bank, Fabian Cancellara

Milan-San Remo 2010: British riders
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Columbia)
Roger Hammond (Cervelo)
Jeremy Hunt (Cervelo)
David Millar (Garmin-Transitions)
Ian Stannard (Team Sky)

Milan-San Remo 2010: TV guide
British Eurosport: available on satellite, cable and internet
Saturday, March 20: 14.00-16.00, Live coverage, British Eurosport
Saturday, March 20: 23.30-00.30, Highlights, British Eurosport

Milan-San Remo: Previous winners
2009: Mark Cavendish (GB)
2008: Fabian Cancellara (Swi)
2007: Oscar Freire (Spa)
2006: Filippo Pozzato (Ita)
2005: Alessandro Petacchi (Ita)
2004: Oscar Freire (Spa)
2003: Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2002: Mario Cipollini (Ita)
2001: Erik Zabel (Ger)
2000: Erik Zabel (Ger)

Mark Cavendish Milan San Remo 2009

Milan-San Remo: 2009 top ten
1. Mark Cavendish (GB) Columbia-Highroad 298km in 6hrs 42mins 45secs
2. Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Cervelo at same time
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Cervelo at two secs
4. Allan Davis (Aus) Quick Step
5. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) LPR Brakes
6. Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas
7. Aitor Galdos (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
8. Enrico Rossi (Ita) Ceramica Flaminia
9. Luca Paolini (Ita) Acqua & Sapone
10. Peter Velits (Svk) Milram

How Milan-San Remo was won
We look back at past editions to see how the final outcome was achieved.

2009
How it was won: SPRINT

When Heinrich Haussler launched a long sprint and opened up a significant gap on the bunch, it looked like he had the race sewn up. But Mark Cavendish stunned Haussler by quickly making up the distance to catch and pass him on the line by a matter of centimetres.

2008
How it was won: LATE ATTACK

Fabian Cancellara launches a strong late attack, and none of the sprinters or their teams can match the time trial champion’s turn of speed in the closing kilometres. As late attacks go, its timing was perfect.

2007
How it was won: SPRINT

Philippe Gilbert and Riccardo Ricco attack on the Poggio but are caught. Oscar Freire takes the bunch sprint

2006
How it was won: POGGIO ATTACK

Samuel Sanchez, Frank Schleck and Rinaldo Nocentini, FilippoPozzato and Alessandro Ballan get away on the Poggio and stay away. Nocentini attacks with 600 metres to go but fades quickly. Pozzato of Quick Step counters with 300 metres to go just as the bunch is about to close him down.

2005
How it was won: SPRINT

Laurent Brochard tries a late attack inside the last 1.5 kilometres but it ends in a sprint, won by Alessandro Petacchi.

2004
How it was won: SPRINT

Igor Astaraloa and Samuel Sanchez are among those who try to get away on the descent of the Poggio but Petacchi’s Fassa Bortolo squad keep a lid on things to set up the sprint. Erik Zabel thought he had it, but is pipped on the line by Freire

2003
How it was won: POGGIO ATTACK

Luca Paolini of Quick Step attacks behind Danilo Di Luca of Saeco. Another Saeco rider, Mirko Celestino, and Paolini’s team-mate Paolo Bettini go with it. Paolini, Celestino and Bettini stay clear, with Bettini attacking late to clinch the win.

2002
How it was won: SPRINT

Bettini and Giuliano Figueras attack on the Poggio but Acqua & Sapone bring it back to set up Mario Cipollini for the sprint.

2001
How it was won: SPRINT

Erik Dekker of Rabobank attacks with two kilometers to go but the sprinters prevail, with Zabel pipping Cipollini

2000
How it was won: SPRINT

Bettini and Juan Carlos Dominguez have a go on the decent. Gian-Matteo Fagnini leads out Zabel to win

1999
How it was won: LATE ATTACK

The sprinters are caught napping by Andrei Tchmil, who attacks with 600 metres to go

1998
How it was won: SPRINT

The race splits on the descent of the Poggio and Zabel wins the 18-man sprint

1997
How it was won: SPRINT

A big crash mars the finish but Zabel avoids the carnage to win

1996
How it was won: CIPRESSA BREAK

Four riders, Gabriele Colombo of Gewiss, Alexandre Gontchenkov, Max Sciandri and Michele Copolillo attack on the Cipressa, a little over 20 kilometres from the finish. Colombo attacks again one kilometre from the line. The bunch is 30 seconds back.

1995
How it was won: POGGIO ATTACK

Laurent Jalabert and Maurizio Fondriest attack on the Poggio, with Jalabert edging it at the finish

1994
How it was won: POGGIO ATTACK

Gewiss rider Giorgio Furlan attacks on the Poggio, setting a record time for the three-kilometre climb of five minutes and 22 seconds to solo to victory. 

Milan-San Remo 2010: Related links

What makes Milan-San Remo a great race – and who will win?

Spring Classics 2010: Cycling Weekly’s coverage index

Milan-San Remo: Boasson Hagen’s race?

Hammond and Hunt in Cervelo’s San Remo squad

Cavendish improving but San Remo win unlikely says Piva

Sky positions Boasson Hagen for San Remo win

Boonen talks Milan-San Remo and Cavendish

Cavendish and HTC team recon San Remo finish

Milan-San Remo 2009: Links
Video: An emotional San Remo victory for Cavendish
Milan-San Remo 2009: Cavendish wins


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