By Gregor Brown
Milano-Sanremo is one of the sprinters' Classics, but there are decisive climbs that shape the final bunch gallop. The riders will face seven key climbs this Saturday, March 21, in 298 kilometres of racing.
Passo del Turchino: From the start at Milan's Castello Sforzesco, there are 117 kilometres south before the first climb of Passo del Turchino starts. The escape group that is typically in place before this 24-kilometre pass will search to hold a gap it can maintain along the Ligurian Coast and the race's westward journey.
Le Mànie: Organisers added in the Le Mànie climb in 2008 due to road construction. The 4.7-kilometre climb at 94 kilometres remaining also serves to weaken the sprinters' legs for the traditional final over I Tre Capi and the Cipressa/Poggio.
I Tre Capi: The sprinters' men will move to the front after Le Mànie to control the race over the narrow and twisty roads, and the approach of I Tre Capi: Capo Mele (-52.4km), Capo Cervo (-47.1km) and Capo Berta (-39.6km). Berta is the highest of the climbs, at a low 130 metres, but all three combine to eliminate all but the strongest for the race's finale.
Cipressa/Poggio: The Capo Berta leaves 39.6 kilometres to race and only 11.8 kilometres before the start of Cipressa. The 5.7-kilometre Cipressa and the 3.7-kilometre Poggio are perfect opportunities for attacks. A small group that can escape the sprint teams may have a chance to hold over final 6.2 kilometres off of Poggio if its advantage is large enough and the riders behind are unorganised.
The final three kilometres are flat and fast. They enable the remaining sprinters to regroup for the bunch gallop on Lungomare Italo Calvino.