Milan-San Remo 2013: When snow almost stopped La Primavera – Gallery

'It wasn't heroic – we suffered a hell of a lot,' recalls Peter Sagan

This year's Milan-San Remo is expected to be raced in mild, sunny weather, but La Primavera doesn't always enjoy such spring-like conditions.

In 2013, the race became a battle for survival after the riders were enveloped in a snowstorm for the opening 100km. Riders were covered in snow and ice, and frozen to the bone in scenes that recalled the 1988 Giro d'Italia and the legendary stage over the Passo del Gavia. For a moment, winter snow almost stopped Milan-San Remo.
Six years on, riders still recall how cold they felt that day, how much they suffered and how crazy a day it turned out to be.
"The only thing I remember is that it was cold! It wasn't heroic – we suffered a hell of a lot," Bora-Hansgrohe's Peter Sagan told Cyclingnews ahead of this Saturday's race.
"I was on form and my legs felt good, but the 100km in the snow were tough and affected the whole race."
Sagan finished second to MTN-Qhubeka's Gerald Ciolek that day in a hectic small-group sprint after the riders had been bused over the Turchino and eventually started racing again on the Mediterranean coast. Before the restart, riders took warm showers, changed every item of clothing they could and cranked the heating up to maximum in their team vehicles.  
Only 135 riders finished the race, with Vladimir Isaychev (Katusha) last over the line. The likes of Tom Boonen and Niki Terpstra defied QuickStep team orders and climbed off after the bus transfer, deciding they’d had enough.
Vincenzo Nibali – then of Astana, and later the winner of the race, in 2018 – had wanted to join them after the cold froze his skinny Grand Tour physique. He joined the others under the petrol station canopy for the second start, but soon threw in the towel.   
"I wanted to climb, and I eventually did climb off," Nibali told Cyclingnews. "It was a really difficult day. It was extreme weather, and extremely cold because we rolled along under the snow for 100km. How can you race on a two-centimetre carpet of snow? It was impossible."

Britain's Ian Stannard often revels in cold conditions, and raced all the way to San Remo – even joining a strong attack group after the Cipressa. They were joined by Sagan, Ciolek, Fabian Cancellara and a few others, and held off the rest of the peloton. Stannard finished a cold but proud sixth.   
"It was pretty horrific," the Team Sky rider recalled to Cyclingnews. "I can remember getting on the team bus after 100km in the snow and feeling so, so cold. I was frozen solid. It was weird to be up there in the finale, but nice, too.

"Geraint Thomas had crashed, and Eddy Boasson Hagen didn't feel great, so I just went for it. It was nice to have a big day out on a legendary day."
Click or swipe through our special gallery of photos from the snow-affected 2013 edition of Milan-San Remo.

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