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Cycling, Milan-San Remo: meeting in the descent of Poggio


Milan-San Remo often boils down to a hill climb. A long 285 kilometer procession from the Lombard capital to Poggio, a steep slope whose foot is placed 9.2 km from the finish on via Roma de San Remo. Saturday March 18, the 114e edition of the first “monument” (the most prestigious one-day events) of the cycling season should not escape the norm.

Added in 1960 by the organizer to complicate the route, the Poggio, named after a hamlet overlooking the Ligurian Sea, is almost insignificant by its profile (3.6 km at 3.7%). And yet, every year, he torments the legs that climb him at breakneck speeds. Since 2016 and the victory of Frenchman Arnaud Démare, punchers have been enjoying themselves there. But as it slips Niccolo Bonifazio, rider of the Intermarché-Circus-Wanty team who walks the roads of Milan-San Remo in training, “the ascent of the Poggio ends at the bottom of the descent”.

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Matej Mohoric will not say otherwise. In 2022, the Slovenian had won thanks to a descent where he had taken all the risks, his nose in the exhaust pipes of the motorcycles of the organization, brushing the fall twice. “I destroyed cycling”, he was proud after crossing the finish line, pointing to the telescopic seatpost which he was the only one in the peloton to have. This gadget, allowing you to adjust the saddle height using a knob located in the hollow of the handlebars, allows you to lower the center of gravity to obtain an aerodynamic gain but also better control of your machine.

No one knows to what extent this technological contribution was decisive in gleaning his first “monument” as Matej Mohoric figures, whatever his mount, among the best downhill riders in the peloton. The rider of the Bahrain-Victorious team is not a pioneer: the Belgian Eddy Merckx, in 1969, and the Irishman Sean Kelly, in 1992, had already forged their victory in the toboggan which leads back to San Remo. But, in 2022, Mohoric recalled the importance of this descent for those who hope to hold one of the leading roles during the “Primavera”, the nickname of this classic which accompanies or precedes the arrival of spring. .

“No time to breathe”

“As the slopes are not so demanding, the descent can become fundamental or even decisive”confirms Jacopo Guarnieri, rider of the Lotto Dstny team, who trains regularly on the slopes planted with lemon trees of Poggio. “It is important but the climb remains essential, adds Frenchman Anthony Turgis (TotalEnergies), second in 2022. You have to be among the best runners at the top, those who can play for victory. » Positioning at the top is all the more important because it is “difficult to gain places in the descent because the road is not wide”specifies Niccolo Bonifazio, fifth in the “Classicissima”, the other nickname of the race, in 2015.

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