The 111th edition of the Milan Sanremo 2020 was a little different this year. Due to the covid 19 pandemic, the one day classic was not raced in the cool spring temperatures but at the height of summer, adding to the extremity of the race! August of course is the peak of the tourist season in Italy, with August 8th expected to be the busiest Saturday! For this reason, the localities within the province of Savona did not feel they would be able to close the necessary roads and guarantee the safety of the cyclists or those watching. Therefore a sensible decision was made to divert the race course to the West.
As if racing in August heat wasn't tough enough already, the new course change made it slightly longer (305km) and adds in Niella Belbo and Colle Nava climbs- although these both have a few hundred metres elevation gain, the gradient is relatively easy from the Milan side. This new course also missed out the very famous Capi (Berta, Mele, Mimosa) from Albenga to Imperia, which are short climbs but you definitely know about them after 200+km in the legs! The racecourse meets back up with familiar territory at Imperia. And then our beloved Cipressa, the grand finale of Poggio and descent into Sanremo centre which needless to say, never disappoint!
For our Milan Sanremo event this year, we took a big ride the day before on Friday. We took the route out to Pieve di Techo, which follows the traditional route of the Milan Sanremo (in reverse) as far as Albenga before heading inland. Pieve di Techo is where the descent of the Colle Nava flattens out. Incidentally, climbing Colle Nava from this side is far more interesting! But for our ride we then headed along the new route towards Imperia. Rather than taking the tunnels that the peloton takes on closed roads (one of which is nearly 2 km long), we took a stunning route through winding olive lined strade before descending into Imperia and back along the coast in the traditional way.
Saturday race day saw the town getting ready for a few spectators (far less than normal due to restrictions) but there was definitely a buzz as we passed through in the morning. A gentle coastal spin and a keen eye on the MSR website to stay informed of key updates before watching the live streaming feed and then the live peloton fly past! Once again, the Greenhouses of Poggio saw the battle kick off, with Alaphilippe making a promising breakaway, only Van Aert able to chase. Alaphilippe looked to have dropped Van Aert at the crest of the Poggio but a couple of close encounters on the first few corners of the descent meant the skills of Van Aert allowed him to catch up, leaving it to a nail biting sprint right to the very end, which Van Aert just powered through on at the line!!
Always a thrill to watch and a pleasure to ride. We look forward to the next MSR which is now just 7 months away!
In the meantime, we continue to explore the stunning roads of Liguria and await your visit!