Varese welcomes La Classicissima
By Gregor Brown
The Milano-Sanremo will be lengthened for 2008 to celebrate the race's 99th edition and the running of the 2008 World Championships. Instead of its usual starting city, Milan, the race will start in Varese, home of the 2008 Worlds and many professional cyclists.
Varese, northwest of Milan, was thrilled to hear it will be hosting the start of La Classicissima. "It will provide the city with extra tourism and build on the foundation of cycling that already exist in our city," said a source the Comune di Varese (city hall). The distance is expected to be no less than 360 kilometres, which is an extra 60 kilometres than the current distance (294km in 2007).
"The use of the A8 [south-easterly toll way - ed.] will ensure a quick passage of the riders. ... We expect if the riders start at 8.30 [on a Saturday] they should not encounter much traffic."
Sources close to RCS Sport, organizers of the Springtime Classic and the Giro d'Italia, said that there are problems in completely closing the toll way, and, although the there will still be traffic, the riders will have a dedicated lane and will not be forced to pay the fare, which will be left to the second team car to handle.
"Milan still wanted the race since it is of historic value to the city," said an assistant of Milan's mayor, Letizia Moratti, to TuttoMilano. Once the riders reach Milan they will encounter the traditional parcours and traffic-free zone. "If there are any delays if entering the city then the race will just have to finish later than normal."
2006 Winner Filippo Pozzato was reportedly delighted with the idea. "'Pippo' likes the race from the past, the long ones," said a Liquigas team mechanic. "In fact, the morning of this year's race he wanted to go for some extra kilometres but we were not wake early enough to have our normal caffè and to prepare his bike."
The ongoing row between the Grand Tour organizers and the ProTour may be heightened by the new route proposal, which is well beyond the distance allowed for a one-day race in modern cycling. UCI President "Pat McQuaid feels that RCS and [its events director Angelo] Zomegnan are currently not following the agreed upon rules," a UCI source told Cyclingnews Saturday morning. "He noted that RCS and ASO 'do what they want anyway.'"
"We are open to other cities hosting the race start as long as it continues through Milan," continued Moratti's assistant to TuttoMilano. "We hope to further expand the race to 400 kilometres by 2009 to celebrate the 100th edition. We have already received letters of intent from Verona and Trieste."