Easter weekend Sanremo slugfest

Spaniard Oscar Freire (Rabobank) – pictured here winning the 2007 Sanremo – will be one of the top favourites for the 2008 Milano-Sanremo, this Saturday

Spaniard Oscar Freire (Rabobank) – pictured here winning the 2007 Sanremo – will be one of the top favourites for the 2008 Milano-Sanremo, this Saturday (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Modified percorso and in-form attackers likely to change finale

By Gregor Brown in Milano

The 99th Milano-Sanremo is set to be an Easter weekend slugfest along the Ligurian coast thanks to the number of attacking-type riders who are on form. The single-day race – 298 kilometres from Milano to Sanremo on March 22 – is the traditional first of five Monuments of the year, known as La Classicissima.

Italian cyclists will fight tooth and nail to win the biggest single-day outing of the year, and for every sprinter it is the race to have in one's palmarès. Win this race and you are cheered like a champion up and down the Via Roma and remembered forever in the books of cycling lore.

Strangely enough, this year the race will not finish on the famous Via Roma in Sanremo, but closer to the seaside due to construction and the Easter weekend. As normal, the race will descend the Poggio after 291.8 kilometres, head west on Corso Cavallotti, Via Fiume and pass under the red triangle on Corso Orazio Raimondo. However, it will then avoid Via Roma for the finishing stretch on Lungomare Italo Calvino – closer to the Mar Ligure – by taking a left at the fountain. The left will be followed by a quick right for 250 metres on Via Nino Bixio, a left on Giardini Vittorio Veneto and the final turn – a right – on to Lungomare Italo Calvino for the final 250 metres.

The race, organised by RCS Sport, will start near Milano's Piazza Duomo, in Castello Sforzesco. The castle, home for many of Milano's refugee cats and collections of artwork, will be the official partenza at 9:20 on Saturday. Leaving the fashion capital's glitz and glamour, the riders will roll out onto the race's parcours.

Two-hundred participants will head south across the Lombardia plain and Po River on their way to Campo Ligure. There they will encounter the race's first major obstacle, the Passo del Turchino (532m). The mountain pass, 24 kilometres long, is a little too early (155.7 kilometres remaining) and steady to decide the race. Most riders will roll the climb in their big rings and by the summit we should see an already-established escape group with minutes in hand.

To read the full Milano-Sanremo preview, click here.

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