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Trentin: San Remo without the Poggio is a ‘different race’

Riders are anxious to see if the San Remo course will feature the Poggio climb or if the character of season's first monument will change in dramatic fashion

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Is Milano-Sanremo without the Poggio still the same race? That’s the big question going around following reports that the spring classic’s most decisive climb might be sidelined due to road works in 2020.

Matteo Trentin — the Italian world champion runner-up — said the race won’t be the same if the Poggio is not part of the race course in March.

“It will be a different race without the Poggio,” Trentin said. “In any other race, no one gets dropped on the Poggio. At San Remo, it’s different.”

Race officials are still awaiting word on if the Poggio — the famous climb coming in the closing 10km of the season’s longest one-day race — will be part of the 2020 parcours. A major roadwork project could mean the race might have to do without its emblematic climb next spring.

Race organizers are considering a few different options if the Poggio is impassable. One idea could be to bring back the Le Maniè climb, a steep wall on the Italia Riviera that was used from 2008 to 2014. Another idea is to use the Pompeiana climb, a steep hump at 13 percent that is inland between the Cipressa and Poggio.

“It depends on what they do with the circuit. If it’s only Cipressa, then it’s no good. If they add Le Maniè and Pompeiana, then it could be good,” Trentin said. “From Pompeiana to the finish it’s still 20km. Without the Poggio, it will be a very different kind of race.”

Trentin admitted as an Italian it’s the major one-day race that he’d like to win more than others, simply for sentimental reasons.

“It’s the most boring race for 5 and a half hours, and the most exciting for 40 minutes,” he said. “As an Italian, it’s the race that every kid grows up watching and dreams of winning.”

Milano-Sanremo, as the season’s first monument, has undergone a few tweaks over the decades. The Cipressa and Poggio climbs were added to spice up what’s traditionally been called the “sprinter’s classic.”

Trentin, like most Italians, has a long-running love affaire with the race. Trentin has twice finished 10th in the race, and will lead a revamped CCC Team in 2020 as one of its top cards to play during the classics season.

“I think it’s beautiful because it’s so unpredictable,” he said. “A rider like [Vincenzo] Nibali can win, and so can the pure sprinters. The Poggio in any other race is a climb that no one is going to get dropped. But it’s different in San Remo. Other riders make the race difficult. It’s kind of a lottery. It’s a nice race to watch and to race.”

Milano-Sanremo is not the only of the five monuments to be at threat of route changes for 2020. The iconic Muur Van Geraardsbergen may be omitted from the Tour of Flanders, and the penultimate strip of pavé at Paris-Roubaix has been partially tarmacked, allowing riders an escape-route from the bone-chattering cobbles.

— Nicolas Van Looy contributed to this report