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By Andrew Hood
A closed tunnel will force route changes for the 99th edition of Milan-San Remo on March 22 and make the season’s longest classic four kilometers longer than usual.
Race officials announced Tuesday that the additional climb, called Mànie, comes about 100km from the finish just before the arrival of three headlands at Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta as the route dips down to the Mediterranean Sea.
The climb will have a technical descent and could play a factor in the decisive part of the race when the peloton typically begins in earnest to reel in dangerous breakaways.
Former winner Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) said he doesn’t believe the additional climb will change the final outcome of the race.
“I tried the last 100km of Milan-San Remo, in particular because I wanted to see the new climb,” Petacchi told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It’s quite tough and has a challenging descent, but we’re still 100km from the finish, so I don’t think the race will be decided there.”
Race organizers already previously announced that road work on the traditional finishing straight at Via Roma is forcing another detour in the final kilometer.
After coming off the Poggio, rather than heading directly into a sprint onto the Via Roma, the course will instead loop along the seashore to finish near the old train station, adding almost one kilometer of flats after coming off the final decisive climb.
The route change will also bring the peloton into the full brunt of the typically strong winds along the Italian Riviera.
“The changes to the finish really won’t matter, even if it is windy. It might be head winds, but it might be tailwinds, too,” Tom Boonen (QuickStep) told VeloNews. “The key is to be in position over the Poggio and have legs to make a sprint. Maybe it’s a little longer in the flats, so maybe that gives you more time to get into position for the sprint. If you’re strong, you can win.”