MILAN (VN) — Rain, cold and possibly snow for Milano-Sanremo? The Classica di Primavera looks as unwelcoming as the Hell of the North this year.
In Milan on Saturday morning, moms leave their children for school and hurry off for the last-minute weekend shopping. On their mobile phones — and they are always attached to them — their husbands ask: “Per favore, compra un po’ di prosciutto e grissini. Dai, anche qualche birra Moretti.”
The sun shines; the weekend looks promising. The children return home from Saturday school around 1 p.m., and families enjoy lunch and talk about the race that starts in the center, at Castello Sforzesco, at 9:45 a.m. Sunday.
The only catch is that it will be grim outside while they are sitting around their televisions, snacking on prosciutto and drinking Moretti beer. It seems likely that dad will not even bother to take the kids to see the start because mom is worried about them catching cold.
The Internet was a busy place on Saturday as pro cyclists worried about the weather checked the forecast for Milan and Sanremo.
• Wind data: Across Europe.
• Milan: The forecast.
• Sanremo: The forecast.
Two groups are plotting to take control — the attackers and the sprinters.
The former include Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) and Sylvain Chavanel (Omega Pharma-Quick Step).
Among the latter are Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Matthew Goss (Orica-GreenEdge), André Greipel (Lotto-Belisol), Thor Hushovd (BMC Racing) and John Degenkolb (Argos-Shimano).
Both groups must contend with the cold wind and rain swirling around Europe. The forecast calls for temperatures of 4° Celsius (39 Fahrenheit) at the start and 10°C (50F) at the finish in Sanremo. Rain and wind, up to 22kph (13.7 mph), will be a constant factor. The cold air will greet them first in the face and then from the left as they race west along the Italian Riviera towards France.
It is a grim reading, perhaps one to produce the worst weather since Italian Claudio Chiappucci won 22 years ago in 1991.
“It’s all about the wind and the weather. You can have two of the strongest teams in the world that don’t want the bunch together or want the bunch to be together, but it’s Sanremo; everything changes with the wind and the weather,” Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma) said Friday in a press conference.
“The cold does not worry me, but I prefer that it doesn’t rain. It’s also true that bad weather would make the race very hard and cut in half the different variables. Whoever has the legs will go to the front and stay there; from behind, no one will get back on.”
Pozzato, who won Sanremo in 2006, agreed.
“If it rains, it changes it all,” Pozzato said. “The roads turn slippery, especially with the olive trees leaving slick residue on the Cipressa.”
Race favorite Sagan met with the press Friday at the Citroën dealership in Milan. The sun lit the showroom, but wind howled down the street outside.
Sagan seems to be able to handle it all, as he proved last week in Tirreno-Adriatico. When asked about the bad weather forecast, he shrugged.
“The bad weather can help or hurt,” he said, “but it’ll be hard for everyone.”