By Gregor Brown
The Milan-San Remo one-day classic will have to return to its former route with the Pompeiana climb ruled unsafe. The local government said today that the road above the Italy's Ligurian coast is closed and unable to support an international race on March 23. Its decision opens the door again to sprinters like 2009 winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and defending champion Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka).
"It's not possible [that the road can be repaired in time]. It's not my opinion but province's. This road isn't safe enough to allow an event of this level," Michele Russo, director of roads and transport for the Imperia province, told Cycling Weekly this morning.
"The province sent a letter to [race organiser] RCS Sport. We made a decision based on the road condition. The race is going to have to use the route it always has. We don't have a solution for them unfortunately."
Traditionally the race weaved westward along the coast towards San Remo with detours inland to climb the Cipressa and the Poggio. In September, RCS Sport said that for 2014 it would add the five-kilometre Pompeiana climb between the two to spice up the race. Doing so, it took out the La Mànie climb earlier in the race. The move effectively ruled out sprinters like Cavendish and Ciolek.
On Friday, Italian newspaper La Stampa reported problems with the SP50 road that climbs through the Pompeiana village and SP51 that descends past Castellero to rejoin the Via Aurelia on the seaside. Russo told Cycling Weekly that the Imperia provincial government met, decided the SP51 was unsafe and sent a letter to RCS Sport.
"We can't authorise the race to pass this road because it's truly... It was already a concern before but after a recent meeting it became certain [that it can't be used]," Russo said.
"There are not problems to climb up from Pompeiana. Instead, there are big problems when you go to descend past Castellero. Also, due to a quarry there, the road is really worn. The guard rails for protection are very low, and the quarry's trucks have damaged the guard rails. And there are a lot of potholes. Absolutely, a race caravan of that size can't pass."
Russo added that recent rain and landslides worsened the situation. The province closed the road to local traffic as it already had done in January. He said that the province could reopen it this weekend to alternating one-way traffic.
"It will probably be open again as soon as the mud dries and solidifies; right now it's liquid and almost impossible to haul away."
Race Technical Director Mauro Vegni was unavailable when Cycling Weekly tried to reach him for this article. Press Officer Stefano Diciatteo said that RCS Sport is monitoring the terrain and has time to verify if Milan-San Remo is able to use Pompeiana. The Imperia province, however, said "it's not possible."
Tweets of the week: Evie Richards tries skateboarding, Alex Dowsett's puncture nightmare and more
Here's a selection of our favourite tweets from the last seven days
By Alex Ballinger •
Lezyne Macro Drive 1300XXL review
A quality option that offers up a greater battery life than the competition and produces a wide beam that helps keep your peripheral vision informed
By Michelle Arthurs-Brennan •
We simulated Milan - San Remo 2020 on Pro Cycling Manager...so who won?
It's not quite the same as the real thing but it's as close as we're probably going to get
By Jonny Long •
Michal Kwiatkowski braves heavy snow and freezing temperatures to recon Milan-San Remo (video)
Michal Kwiatkowski looks seriously motivated to defend his Milan-San Remo title after heading out for a recon in heavy snow and freezing temperatures.
By Henry Robertshaw •
Milan-San Remo 2017 live TV guide
If previous years are anything to go by, Eurosport will be showing around three hours of live coverage from Milan-San Remo on Saturday, March 18, 2017
By Nigel Wynn •
Arnaud Démare: 'I don't have to justify myself' over Milan-San Remo allegations
Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare criticises riders who said he took a tow up the Cipressa climb, dismissing them as 'bad sports and sore losers'
By Nigel Wynn •
Daniele Bennati suffers fractured vertebra in Milan-San Remo crash
Veteran Italian rider Daniele Bennati came down in crash shortly before the climb of the Cipressa
By Richard Windsor •
Arnaud Démare accused by riders of taking a tow from team car in Milan-San Remo
Matteo Tosatto and Eros Capecchi allege that they saw Milan-San Remo winner Arnaud Démare hanging on to team car up the Cipressa climb - Démare deinies any wrongdoing - Démare's Strava file from race shows he ascended Cipressa faster than everyone else who uploaded files
By Nigel Wynn •
Geraint Thomas uninjured despite nasty Milan-San Remo crash
Welshman Geraint Thomas was taken down in a crash on the Cipressa climb, scuppering his plans to go on the attack in Milan-San Remo
By Gregor Brown •
Ben Swift on Milan-San Remo: 'Second is the worst place'
British sprinter Ben Swift reflects on his second podium appearance in Milan-San Remo, after narrowly missing out
By Gregor Brown •