Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Milan – San Remo 2007 – a dream come true

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07.00, Saturday, San Remo – a dream come true. I’ve been to, I can’t remember how many Tours, a clutch of Vueltas and Giros, but there’s something special about wakening-up here.

The Via Roma is just two streets away and the Poggio is a five minute drive – all those boyhood hours spent staring at pictures of Eddy Merckx notching-up his seven wins – and here I am.

San Remo
We drove from Nice via the Grande Corniche to Monaco, then Menton, and across the border in to Italia. As soon as you are in Italy, things get a bit dustier, the driving becomes more manic, and the scooters swarm.

San Remo
San Remo.

My initial plan was to go past San Remo then drive back in over the Poggio and do a preview in words and pictures, however I thought I would extend that to the Capo Berta, Cipressa and Poggio.

San Remo is a bustling town, it may be faded from the point of view of genteel people wintering here, but it’s anything but quiet, the Via Roma is the main drag – and it is heaving.

The shops are full of expensive consumer goods, the casino looks in good nick, and there are no charity shops.

San Remo
Famous names.

The Poggio
The turning for the Poggio is on the left, just on the outskirts of town; we drove the race route in reverse, up the race descent then the same for the Cipressa. Time was getting tight so I decided to turn there and leave the Capo Berta for another day. Suffice to say that both the Cipressa and Poggio are tougher and narrower than they look on TV – and the descents are wild.

It sounds corny, but I felt really excited as I drove the Renault Kangoo – yeah, it’s grim! – up the Poggio decent, it’s just a strip of tarmac, but it’s so special.

The Cipressa
Cipressa is a nice, quiet wee place with a church beside the road, right at the top of the climb.

San Remo
No doubt the riders won’t even notice the beautiful church which marks the top of the climb up to Cipressa town.

Poggio village isn’t the brawest of places, you get the feeling there’s not much dosh about, but there are bars so at least we’ll have a TV. From the bottom of the Poggio to the finish line isn’t as far as it seems on the box and you can imagine how desperate a finale it must be.

You have to fight for position on the coast road so you are at the front when the road narrows and the hairpins start, then keep your wits about you on the climb; the front is the only place to be on that decent and the same applies on the run-in too.

The Via Roma
The Via Roma isn’t as wide or glamorous as it appears on telly, and what you don’t realise is that it’s lifting all the way to the line – a really hard sprint to get right.

San Remo
Happy Campers.

It’s 14.15 and we’re in the bar / restaurant at the top of the Poggio; business is booming. We got up here early to beat the road closures. My friend Alessandro Federico is covering the race for too, and is chasing the riders down from Milano in the car. I’m doing the actual race report from here, courtesy of the telly in the bar, and the trusty BlackBerry; the live feed starts at 14.50.

San Remo
Tension mounts as the race draws closer…

When the live feed came though on the TV, a great cheer went-up in the bar, the place was packed and the female owner has a touch of the Bette Lynch about her, complete with blonde ‘bun’ – there was a great buzz in the place.

San Remo
Some fellas just never will see the point of carbon-fibre.

It became even livelier when Francesco Moser popped-in, he was part of the vintage cycle parade along the race route, and he’s still very popular – especially with the girls.