Road

New Milano-Sanremo route ‘perhaps even tougher’

RCS Sport makes late decision to reduce team sizes by one rider, angering staffers.

The late changes to the route of Milano-Sanremo has provoked a hint of polemica.

Organizers of La Classicissima confirmed Tuesday that the race, scheduled for August 8 this year, will take on an altogether different parcours after provincial mayors prohibited the race from using the iconic Ligurian coast road on a key holiday weekend. The objection forced RCS Sport to prepare a new-look route that preserved little of the original, save for the oft-decisive final 40 kilometers.

RCS Sport director Mauro Vegni expressed anger that the officials involved wouldn’t allow the passage of his iconic race – but hinted that the new route could shake-up what is known as “the sprinters’ monument.”

“It’s as if they rallied against Milan-Sanremo, and that is a shame to see,” Vegni told La Gazzetta. “If that’s how they feel about the history and importance of Milan-Sanremo, then there was no better solution but to find a different route.”

However, it’s not all bad news, as Vegni feels the new route could shake up the race and bring in new contenders.

The 2020 edition will now take in new climbs the Monferrato and the Langhe before tackling the climb of Colle Nava just 70km from the finish line in Sanremo. From there, the race picks up the traditional closing salvo of the Cipressa and Poggio.

“The ending is perhaps even tougher,” Vegni told TuttoBiciWeb. “The Turchino was placed 120 km from the finish, the hill of Nava will be tackled instead … It’s a very interesting ending, which could prove to be even more selective.”

The veteran race director included that the new route packed an extra 500 meters of elevation, with the Nava climb falling closer to the final sprint that the now-abandoned climb of the Turchino. Vegni even hinted the new route could become the go-to.

“We will make an assessment of the future of Sanremo,” he said. “I don’t take anything for granted, but if in Liguria many mayors celebrated [that the route was changed], we certainly won’t get upset about it.”

The new climb of the Colle di Nava makes the race even tougher, said Vegni. Image: RCS

Later Tuesday, it was confirmed that team sizes for the race would be reduced from seven riders to six, allowing space for Bardiani-CSF and Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec to be brought in as late wildcards. The UCI confirmed that the move was designed “to support second-division teams.”

However, not everyone was as happy as Bardiani-CSF and Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec to hear of the new structure. Richard Plugge, boss of WorldTour outfit Jumbo-Visma, expressed his frustration that months of planning of rider schedules and specific rider training had gone to waste.

“Irresponsible and ridiculous decision,” Plugge said on social media. “The fact that this request is granted is incomprehensible for our governance less than 14 days before the start.”

Cedric Vasseur, manager of Cofidis, and Patrick Lefevere, head of Deceuninck-Quick-Step, also raised similar objections.

The new inland route of Milano-Sanremo.Image: RCS