MILAN, Italy (VN) — With just over a month to go until the Italian classic Milano-Sanremo, organizers may have to bypass its new climb, the Pompeiana, due to heavy rain, landslides and safety concerns.
“At the moment [the climb] is confirmed and we are monitoring the terrain,” RCS Sport press officer Stefano Diciatteo told VeloNews Sunday. “We still have over a month to go and all the time needed to verify its feasibility.”
RCS Sport introduced the Pompeiana climb in September and said it made the Italian classic “more spectacular and unpredictable.” The new course, instead of heading straight for the Poggio after the Cipressa, turns away from the Ligurian Coast and climbs for 5km. The road passes the Pompeiana village with its 859 inhabitants, kicks up to 13 percent, and then twists back down 6.5km to Via Aurelia.
But even if the weather proves cooperative, safety concerns may force the organizers to stick to the race’s former route, Italy’s La Stampa newspaper reported Friday.
“The decision was made even before the recent bad weather,” Michele Russo, engineer for the Imperia province, told the newspaper. “We reported a number of problems linked to safety.”
“There were many doubts,” said Paolo Leuzzi, provincial police and town planning commissioner. “With the commander of the provincial police [Giuseppe] Carrega, I carried out an inspection of the route and many problems related to safety emerged.”
The newspaper reported that the descending road narrows too much and turns dangerously, at times without guardrails to catch possible stray cyclists. Recent rain pushed earth on the road near Castellaro and added to the problems.
RCS Sport previewed the climb before introducing it in the 105th edition of La Classicissima. It is unclear whether organizers felt the descent presented dangers. VeloNews attempted to contact race technical director Mauro Vegni, but he was unavailable.
As Diciatteo pointed out, RCS Sport still has a month to analyze the Pompeiana climb and its descent. If a course change proves necessary, Milano-Sanremo could return to its former route. The race climbed Turchino and raced along the coast westwards to reach Sanremo. It turned inland from Via Aurelia for La Mànie, covered the three capi — Mele, Cervo, Berta — and again turned inland for the Cipressa and the Poggio.
Snow last year forced Vegni to bus the riders past the Turchino and to skip La Mànie. The planned 2014 route again cut La Mànie to make way for Pompeiana.
The former route allowed some sprinters enough time to recover and offered attackers their chance. The new course, with the Pompeiana sandwiched between the Cipressa and the Poggio, swings the race in favor of the attackers and climbers. Some, like Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), questioned the change.
And 2009 winner Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) said he would skip the race, saying the changes are not to his liking.
“I can say for certain I will not race Milano-Sanremo this year, and maybe never again,” Cavendish told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “If the course is never like it was before, maybe I will never race it again, and my 2009 win will be my only one.”
He and the rest of the peloton will now wait attentively to see how the local government’s safety concerns affect the 2014 Milano-Sanremo.