Thursday, 15 March 2012

Milan-San Remo: 1910

The one day spring classic is 103 years old this year, and with the route still the longest one day race in the calendar its reputation as a tough, gruelling affair is not without its merits. This year however it looks as though the riders are set to race in 20 degree sunshine, a world away from the now infamous 1910 edition of Milan-San Remo...

The race left Milan in heavy rain barely above freezing. The Riders would carry on to face gale force winds and 20cm of snow left behind on Turchino Pass by a strong wintry storm. 65 riders started the race, only 4 made it to the finish.

Frenchman Eugenio Christophe would cross the finish line after a mere 12 hours and 24 minutes to take the win, followed by Italian Giovanni Cocchi over an hour later, the largest time gap between first and second in the history of the race. (In fact, Luigi Ganna finished second, but was later disqualified for hitching a ride in a motorised vehicle!). The Frenchman later remarked ''Not far from the summit (of Col De Turchino) I had to get off my bike because I started to feel bad. My fingers were rigid, my feet numb, my legs stiff and i was shaking continuously. I began walking and running to get my circulation back, looking at the countryside. It was bleak and the wind made a low moaning noise. I'd have felt scared if I hadn't been used to the bad weather in cyclo-crosses''. After the win, Christophe would spend a month in hospital recovering from frostbite amongst other things, it would take him almost 2 years to regain full health.

Last year Matt Goss finished in a winning time of 6 hours 51 minutes, in 1990 Giani Bugno set the fastest recorded finish time of 6 hours 24 minutes, almost half that of Eugenio Christophe. Bugno's record is yet to be beaten, maybe this year, with warmer weather and the extremely lean looking main contenders, that record may be beaten. Whoever crosses the line first should spare a thought for Eugenio Christophe and what he went through that hellish day, without stories like this, Milan-San Remo would not be the Monumental Classic it is today.

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