Rain and landslides continue to wreck havoc on the race course for Milan-San Remo.
Bad weather and dangerous road conditions have already forced race organizers RCS Sport to remove the new Pompeiana climb. Now, deteriorating conditions and a last-minute course inspection have called into question the safety of the iconic Poggio and Cipressa.
“The bad news just keeps getting worse,” said Aldo Vanucci, an official with RCS. “Perhaps we must take all the climbs out of Milan-San Remo. At this point, the sprinters will all be even happier.”
According to officials in the San Remo area, the Poggio and Cipressa are riddled with fresh potholes and recent tourist hotel construction has badly damaged the guardrails. “Things are not so good, not so good at all,” lamented Guido Sardelli, a Ligurian public works official. “Pompeiana, Le Manie, Poggio, they are all gone now. I am trying not to cry.”
RCS Sport, already under criticism for the poor handling of the Pompeiana debacle, now finds itself in an unenviable position: hosting a classic, the first monument of the cycling season, without any climbs whatsoever.
“It is not even the 2007 route that Freire won on,” said Vanucci. “We are working as hard as humanly possible but I cannot patch the holes in the road myself or erect new safety barriers. I could call my two brothers, we could all try, but I fear we have reached a point of no return. The Poggio and Cipressa are in danger.”
Plans to re-route the race entirely are now under feverish review. In one scenario, the start would still take place in Milan, however from there the riders skip the run out to the coast and instead head inward towards Asti and then finish near Cuneo.
“Milan-Cuneo does not have the same music, it’s not the same symphony but we must play another tune,” said Vanucci. “However, we are preparing for all possibilities. Italy is beautiful no matter where you ride so who really needs the San Remo coastline?”
Already thrilled over the disappearance of the Pompeiana climb, sprinter Mark Cavendish says the Cuneo route may well guarantee him a second win in La Primavera. “I mean really, this is fantastic. I’ve got my best mates around me and the roads are flat as can be. No Poggio, no Cipressa? See you on the podium in Cuneo.”
RCS Sport has announced that a final decision on the Cipressa and Poggio will be announced minutes before the start on Sunday in plenty of time for teams to make whatever adjustments need to be made.