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Vegni: "We want to shake things up a bit"
This year's Milan-San Remo looks almost certain to be the last time the sprinters will have a real chance to fight for victory.
Mauro Vegni, the head of cycling at RCS Sport, has confirmed to Cyclingnews that the Pompeiana climb will be added to the 2015 race route, making the first Monument of the cycling season more suited to hilly Classics and Grand Tour riders rather than the sprinters and finisseur riders who have filled the results for much of the 105-year history of the race.
RCS Sport wanted to include the Pompeiana in this year's race but a major landslide during the winter and then polemics with local authorities forced them to use a more traditional route. The cold and rain made for a hard race on Sunday but Norway's Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) emerged to win the 27-rider sprint on the San Remo seafront.
The inclusion of the Pompeiana will surely see very different names in the results.
The five-kilometre climb sits between the Cipressa and the Poggio and comes just 25km from the finish of Milan-San Remo. Any attacks launched on the Cipressa will have a far greater chance of staying away and most of the sprinters will have little chance of staying with the leaders over the series of three climbs that are packed into the last 37km of the 294km race.
Many riders and cycling fans have criticised RCS Sport's decision to radically change the Milan-San Remo route. The current finely balanced route creates a dramatic finale to a long day in the saddle, with many considering it sacred. Mark Cavendish compared the decision to asking graffiti artist Banksy to paint the inside of the Pantheon in Rome.
Vegni is clearly not attached to tradition and believes Milan-San Remo needs a shake-up. He wants to give Vincenzo Nibali and other Grand Tour riders a chance of victory and believes adding the Pompeiana is part of the evolution that has marked the history of La Classicissima. He points out that Poggio was added in 1960 and the Cipressa in 1982, with the intent of tipping the balance away from the sprinters.
"Our plan is to include the Pompeiana next year," Vegni confirmed to Cyclingnews.
"We couldn't use it this year because of the land slide during the winter but we want to use it to revitalise Milan-San Remo.
"People should understand that the Milan-San Remo route has always evolved as cycling has evolved, with more climbs added as the riders, the roads and the racing has evolved. The truth is that now the Cipressa and Poggio don’t make a massive difference. We think the race has been dominated by a handful of riders in recent years and we want to shake things up a bit.
"We might be making a mistake but we want to try and make Milan-San Remo more appealing. I don’t think there's anything wrong and it will widen the list of potential winners. It's true that Mark Cavendish might never ride Milan-San Remo again. That's a pity but it's also true that Alberto Contador has never ridden Milan-San Remo, neither has Chris Froome. We hope they will be on the start line next year."