The big Milan-San Remo let down

Milan San Remo

Football is boring. Cycling is interesting.

Football is simple. Cycling is complicated.

Cycling is better than football.

This is how we’re all supposed to think isn’t it? Cycling is the reserve of the sporting connoisseur whose palate for action is more distinguished and refined than simply watching 22 dunderheads kicking a ball around a field. There is more subtlety on two wheels, more going on than any of us can see or realise, therefore it’s harder to understand, therefore you need to be more intelligent to understand it.

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Nokere Koerse

Nokereberg

The history of this race actually dates back to the Paris-Nice of 1938. Paris-Nice was only in its sixth year of existence and although it was still organised by Albert Lejeune and his pair of newspapers in Paris and Nice, it was struggling to attract a large amount of competitiors. Stage racing in France was still very much the exception, with the Tour de France itself the only other race of its kind in the country. The big bucks were to be made in the velodromes, a fact not lost on most riders.

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Milan-San Remo Preparation

Cycling : BOONEN Tom / Milan - Sanremo

Which is the best race to ride yourself into form for Milan-San Remo? Is it Paris-Nice? Or is it Tirreno-Adriatico?

While the respective race organisers ASO and RCS try to tempt the major G.C. riders to their events, the classics stars are also faced with a choice of how best to prepare for the first monument classic of the season.

Take a look at the results of Milan-San Remo for the last few years and it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that Paris-Nice provides the better preparation. Last year’s winner John Degenkolb was present at the French race as were the winners of the 2014, 2012 and 2011 editions, Alexander Kristoff, Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss. Additionally, all three podium finishers last year chose Paris-Nice – Degenkolb, Kristoff and Michael Matthews.

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The Attraction of Uncertainty

Vuelta

By losing the race on the last day, Sevilla was following an established Vuelta tradition in which the outcome remains uncertain until the final day. It’s a pattern that distinguishes the Spanish race from the Tour de France, where the winner nearly always has a very clear, unassailable margin.

As is written by Adrian Bell and Lucy Fallon in the book Viva La Vuelta. The race referred to is the 2001 edition where Ángel Casero managed to overhaul the Colombian Óscar Sevilla in the final time trial to win the Vuelta without winning a stage and without ever wearing the leader’s jersey.

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The Death of a Magazine

1958

I‘ve always collected things.

The first thing I ever remember collecting were Topps trading cards depicting the 1989 Batman movie with Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Myself and my brother would collect them together, taking our 50p pocket money on a Saturday, heading across the green to the local shop and buying a single packet each which would contain six cards, a sticker and a stick of bubblegum which we weren’t allowed to eat. There were 132 cards in all and we had the full set. We still do.

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Debutant Winners of a Monument Classic

Cobbles

A new year, a new cycling season and a new set of five monument classics waiting to be won by the strongest riders. Whenever talk turns to contenders for these one-day races, it’s often the case that we look to the names of previous winners as the riders most likely to battle it out for the win once more: John Degenkolb, Alexander Kristoff, Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara, Philippe Gilbert, Simon Gerrans, Dan Martin, Alejandro Valverde.

Failing that, there are plenty of other riders who have come close and have not quite made the top step of the podium, but who we would also expect to see in the thick of it in the monument classics: Greg van Avermaet, Sep van Marcke, Zdenek Stybar, Geraint Thomas.

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