Over the weekend the Milan-San Remo ran its 107th edition of the grueling 298-kilometer race from the city of Milan to San Remo in Italy. Since the inaugural event in 1907 the race has been the first major race in the Spring Classic season and is the longest professional one-day race in modern cycling.
Past winners like Belgian Eddy Merckx, Mark Cavendish and Fabian Cancellara have all seen victory in what is dubbed a sprinters race with the majority of the race spent on the flats. The race winds its way along the Ligurian coastline toward the Italian Riviera to finish in the heart of San Remo. Known for its tremendous distance and unpredicatable and inclimate weather conditions the race is a favorite of many fans of the Spring Classics.
Though it is said to be the sprinters race there are a few challenging hills within the race and the winner can be decided by who is the most well prepared this early in the season and is a test of endurance with plenty of places to break even the strongest riders.
By the 140km mark the riders are already facing their first climb up the Passo del Turchino at an average gradient of 4% with some parts of the pass hitting 10%.
Within the final 30km the peloton reaches the Cipressa where it has been known to break the sprinters holding on over the top and ultimately separate the winners from the bunch. Then it is 7km down hill after the last climb up the Poggio di Sanremo to the finish line where this year’s edition saw a spectacular and chaotic bunch sprint to the finish.
However this year’s race is shrouded in controversy after Frechman and FDJ rider Arnaud Demare snatched the win from Ben Swift (SKY) after crashing out with some 20km to the finish on the Cipressa, where a touch of wheels at the front of the peloton took out a number of riders, including Australian Michael Matthews (OGE). But miraculously Demare was there at the finish line after being left behind by the bunch and he then outsprinted the greats for the line honours.
The controversy comes after Arnaud Demare uploaded his Strava file of the race where he seems to have topped all the leader boards for the category 3 Cipressa climb, beating men like Andre Greipel, Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg and Visconti Giovanni who funnily enough lead the peloton up the Cipressa in a solo break from the bunch just moments before Demare passes through.
Demare may by all means have pushed his hardest to rejoin the group, but Demare is a strong sprinter and not necessarily a climber.
With no video evidence we may never know how he managed to top the Cipressa and rejoin the peloton, but multiple eye-witness from the race including Matteo Tosatto and Eros Capecchi have made comment that they saw Demare holding onto the team car for a tow up the hill.
The race organisers RCA are yet to take any action as no evidence has been presented that demands an investigation.