|Region||North West Italy|
|First Winner||Lucien Petit-Breton|
|Most Recent||Alessandro Petacchi|
|Most Wins||Eddy Merckx , 7 times|
Milan - San Remo, nicknamed la primavera, is an annual cycling race between Milan and San Remo. Currently it is the longest of all professional one-day cycling races (294 km). The first edition was held in 1907, when the Argentinean Frenchman Lucien Petit-Breton won. Today it is regarded as one of the 'Monuments' of the European professional cycling calendar, and is part of the UCI ProTour.
In the early years the main difficulty of the race was the Passo del Turchino, but when cycling became more professional the climb was too far away from the finish-line to be decisive. Therefore in 1960 the Poggio, a climb only a few kilometres before the finish, was introduced in the route. In 1982 the Cipressa, a hill near Imperia was added. The other hills are the so-called 'capi', the Capo Mele, Capo Berta and Capo Cerva. Despite these hills the race most often ends in a mass sprint.
The most successful rider in Milan-San Remo was Eddy Merckx; he won 7 times. The most recent edition (2005) was won by Alessandro Petacchi. In recent times, the most successful rider in the Via Roma of San Remo has been German Erik Zabel who has won it four times in his career and lost the 2004 edition to Óscar Freire because he lifted his arms to celebrate too early. It was the opening race of the UCI World Cup series until the series was replaced by the UCI ProTour in 2005.
Being the longest of all professional one-day cycling races at around 294 km in its 2005 edition, MIlan-San Remo is an unusual test of the riders' endurance due to it being held early in the season. It is won often not by the fastest sprinter, but one who is best prepared in the early season. The hills of Cipressa and Poggio has foiled many fast sprinters who could not stay with the front group. Alessandro Petacchi the 2005 winner had to put in such a concentrated effort to keep his fitness and lose weight in the off-season that racer Erik Dekker could not recognize him during the race.
Despite its flat parcours and long finishing straight, the sprinters teams have been foiled from time-to-time by a determined attack on the last hills towards the finish. Laurent Jalabert and Maurizio Fondriest escaped the peloton in the 1995 edition and stayed away to the finish line. More recently, classics specialist Italian Paolo Bettini attacked with several riders in the finale of the 2003 edition and stayed away. He credited his win to the lesson learned from the previous years' failed attempt, which was won by sprinter extraordinaire Mario Cipollini.
The 2006 edition will see more hills added into the route to make it more challenging for the sprinters teams, much to the chagrin of many previous winners who complained that the addition will change the character of the race, including Bettini himself. He remarked that he will take certain pride in winning the race that was more suited for the sprinters teams.