Epic days: Milan-San Remo 2013

Despite freezing conditions and heavy snowfall forcing this edition of the Classic to take a mid-race interval, over half the field still toughed it out to the finish - Words: Micky McMahon

Photo: Yuzuru Sunada

La Classicissima di Primavera (the Spring Classic) falls in mid-March and has, in its 108-year history, regularly fallen victim to bad weather.

At 298 kilometres long, Milan-San Remo is the longest one-day race in the calendar, meaning that when conditions are less than ideal riders must endure wind, rain or snow, for longer than they might usually be expected to.

>>> Ten times bad weather made bike races even more epic

The 2013 edition of the race saw 200 riders take the start line south of Milan. Cold conditions and heavy snowfall had meant that the two key climbs of Passo del Turchino and Le Manie, falling at the 140-kilometre mark, were eliminated, as the weather quickly turned from light snow and sleet to something resembling a blizzard.

>>> Peloton dresses for wet weather at Milan-San Remo 2015

As the mercury continued to drop and visibility became severely impaired, organisers determined that it was too hazardous to continue, and the race was neutralised after 112km. The riders were ordered to board cars and team buses, and transported to the restart point.

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During the hiatus, riders posted pictures of their frozen beards and icicles hanging from their helmets on social media.

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One of the most memorable sights was that of Australian hardman Heinrich Haussler, who, while others retired or desperately attempted to get heat into their bodies, rode without gloves, to the astonishment of others in the peloton.

Ciolek Milan-San Remo 2013 _ Watson

Gerald Ciolek was the surpise winner of the snow-affected Classic. Photo: Graham Watson
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Sylvain Chavanel, who finished fourth behind eventual winner Gerald Ciolek, used the unplanned bus transfer to recuperate, and lauded the achievement of the 135 that had reached San Remo.

“During the race neutralisation I tried to sleep and recover,” said Chavanel. “I think all of the riders that finished are a little bit heroic. The conditions were really extreme.”

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