Milan San Remo
La Primavera First of the Season
69“It was bleak and the wind made a low moaning noise. I’d have felt scared if I hadn’t been used to bad weather in cyclo-crosses…I was sure of my victory and with only 100km to go I felt a new strength. The idea of crossing the line alone brought back all my energy.” Eugenio Christophe, 1910 frostbitten winner, hospitalized for a month after Milan San Remo
The first spring monument of the classics, La Primavera is frequently caught in a battle of indecisive weather. The environment’s drama of colliding air currents is an appropriate feature of this classic’s intensely fought race to the finish.
Historically, eager early season victories have occurred both via bunch sprints and by separations. In the past, Col de Turchino frequently determined the winner. Now no longer such a factor, other added features discourage the race ending in a predictable bunch sprint.
Italians have won it most often posting fifty firsts, with Eddy Merckx the most individual wins at seven, and Team Bianchi working together for fourteen victories. Costante Girardengo also won seven times but was disqualified once for going off course; incredibly he finished in the top three every year from 1917-1926.
Many were winners of other events, including world championships. As early as 1914, riders from outside Europe came to participate, attracted to the attention of its hard conditions. The route also has steadily increased making it the longest classic. It winds along the coast but toward its end, the little constant hills of the capi spring into play, and the race comes alive on the Cipressa. Eddy Merckx believed that everything had to be saved for the end, and Laurent Fignon sat on the back for 250 kilometers waiting for his two wins.
The separating move is now made most frequently on the Poggio, but even the descent into San Remo can help decide. Best chance is had by a long-suffering sprinter or by an enduring strongman who can handle final surges. The first of the First of the Season must truly be on form and able to fight to the finish.
Prayer for Milan San Remo
“You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it…do what you can, not what you can’t…This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way…” 702 Corinthians 8:11-20
We are thankful for the first tests of the season. We confess we focus on the long unknown rather than the short certainties that come with time. We ask to do what we can and blessing upon Milan San Remo.
Ponder Do I focus more on what I lack? Affirm I must concentrate on what I can control. Watch what you can do for your unique strategy.
69“The Most Terrible Conditions,” April 3, 1910 account translated from La Gazzetta dello Sport www.milansanremo.com.uk. After this victory, Christophe was hospitalized for a month for frost bite but took 2 months to return to full health.
70The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson