The longest Monument of the year, Milan-San Remo takes place on Saturday March 20, 2021. The Italian race is back in it’s original spot after taking place in October last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The UCI WorldTour race is the longest of the one day spring Classics, providing a showcase of some of the best riders in the world over almost 300km.
The race is now in its 112th year, and it is expected to attract all of the biggest names of the sport, especially this year as riders look to make to most of their time racing when the season can be cancelled at any moment thanks to the virus.
A women’s version – Primavera Rosa – took place between 1999 to 2005, but was cancelled by the UCI in 2006. The first edition, in 1999 was won by Italian Sara Felloni and the last, in 2005, by German Trixi Worrack.
Milan-San Remo 2021 route
The route has been revealed and it is back to normal with the 299km route taking in the Capo Mele, Capo Cervo, Capo Berta, the Cipressa and the Poggio di Sanremo in the closing 60km.
One change is that the Colle del Giovo has been added instead of the usual Passo del Turchino as the famous climb is blocked by a landslide that will not be cleared before the race happens. There will be around 112km to go once they go over the top of Giovo as they return to the traditional route to the line that finishes on the Via Roma in San Remo.
Milan-San Remo route history
Despite being known as the ‘Sprinters’ Classic’, the Italian race would not be as prestigious as it is were it a straightforward procession to a bunch sprint, and instead the race is characterised by its tortuous length, thrilling conclusion and delicate balancing act between sprinters and attackers.
The introduction of La Manie in 2008 gave the advantage to attacking puncheurs, as a difficult, significantly-positioned climb to gain an advantage over those hoping for a bunch sprint. It contributed to a handful of more selective editions – Fabian Cancellara won from a solo break in 2008 and Simon Gerrans from a group of three in 2010, and in both 2011 and 2013 a group of seven contested the finish, won by Matt Goss and Gerald Ciolek respectively.
When La Manie was dropped in 2014, the organiser’s initial intention had been to make the route even harder by replacing it with the Pompeiana in a slot far closer to the finish. But that climb was deemed unsafe due to the possibility of landslides, so that since 2014 the race has featured neither climb.
Now the dynamic of the route has shifted comprehensively back to the sprinters.
After Alexander Kristoff (then Katusha) won the sprint from a sizeable peloton in 2014, the finish was moved back to its traditional finishing straight of Via Roma, and another sprinter was triumphant in the form of John Degenkolb (then Giant-Alpecin) in 2015 and Arnaud Démare (Groupama-FDJ) in 2016.
For the bold and the brave the Cipressa provides a potential launchpad for an attack at just over 20km from the finish, but for the more realistic, it’s the Poggio.
On the back of around 280km of racing the riders are exhausted upon reaching it, and, peaking at 5.5km from the finish, any rider who goes over the top first with a gap has a chance of zooming down the descent and holding off the sprinters for victory on the Via Roma.
Only two British riders have emerged victorious at the race with Tom Simpson being the first back in 1964 for Peugeot-BP-Engelbert team, the next came several years later in 2009 when Mark Cavendish (then Team Columbia-High Road) took victory in a bunch sprint British champion, Ben Swift (Ineos Grenadiers) has come close on various occasions.
Irish star, Sean Kelly, has taken victory twice, his first coming in 1986 and the latter coming close to the end of his career in 1992. Sam Bennett (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) who has already equalled the great ‘King’ Kelly’s achievement of winning the green jersey at the Tour de France, will be hoping to add his name to the list of winners in 2021.
Milan-San Remo 2021 start list
VAN AERT Wout
Deceuninck – Quick-Step
UAE Team Emirates
Ag2r La Mondiale-Cotroën
VAN AVERMAET Greg
Israel Start-Up Nation
Cofidis, Solutions Crédits
VAN DER POEL Mathieu
Total Direct Energie
Watching Milan-San Remo on TV
The race is broadcast on Eurosport and GCN Race Pass, with live coverage as well as a highlights package.
Our full guide on how to watch Milan – San Remo can be found here.
Elsewhere in the world, you can catch it live on Sporza (Dutch) and RTBF (French); Italy’s Rai Sport 2 and SBS in Australia will also show footage.
You can follow the action via Twitter, via the handle @Milano_Sanremo.
Milan-San Remo : Recent winners
2020: Wout van Aert (Bel) Jumbo-Visma
2019: Julian Alaphilippe (Fra) Deceuninck–Quick-Step
2018: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
2017: Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Team Sky
2016: Arnaud Démare (Fra) FDJ
2015: John Degenkolb (Ger) Giant-Alpecin
2014: Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Katusha
2013: Gerald Ciolek (Ger) MTN-Qhubeka
2012: Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge
2011: Matt Goss (Aus) HTC-Highroad
2010: Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank
2009: Mark Cavendish (GBr) Columbia-Highroad
2008: Fabian Cancellara (Sui) CSC
2007: Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank