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Weekend preview: Racing through Italy

“La Primavera,” “la classicissima,” Milano-Sanremo. The monuments are upon us, and this weekend is all about Italian racing at its best. Here’s what you need to know:

Milano-Sanremo, the hunt for spring glory

Milano-Sanremo is full of gnawing uncertainty, Andrew Hood writes in his excellent preview and analysis piece, and that’s why we love it. It’s the longest, “easiest” monument, and yet it is the most difficult to win. Why is that? It’s a lottery, dependent on so many unpredictable variables, and is one of just a few races across the calendar where the course is truly a blank canvas for the artistry of the world’s best bike racers.

Sadly, Giant – Alpecin’s defending champion John Degenekolb won’t be back this year, as he is still recovering from a nasty crash with a car that put six Giant riders in the hospital.

Keep an eye out for Paris-Nice star Michael Matthews of Orica – GreenEdge, Tirreno-Adriatico winner Greg Van Avermaet of BMC Racing, world champion Peter Sagan of Tinkoff, and Strade Bianche winner Fabian Cancellara of Trek – Segafredo, among many others. The list of contenders is long and diverse.

Tune in no later than 10:35 a.m. EDT Saturday, when the race has 50 kilometers to go, to catch the final climbs and rolling chess they inspire.

As always, check our TV listings page to find out where to watch.

Trofeo Alfredo Binda takes to the hills

The Women’s WorldTour returns Sunday with a hilly, 123km course that ends in Cittiglio, hometown of Alfredo Binda, a five-time winner of the Giro d’Italia between the two World Wars.

Last year’s champion Lizzie Armitstead of Boels – Dolmans returns, this time with both the world champion’s stripes and the WorldTour lead on her shoulders. She’ll be joined by teammate Evelyn Stevens, in her first race since breaking the hour record. Boels is once again the strongest team going into the race, but the course’s climbing will make it difficult to control.

Last year, Armitstead beat out the Rabobank – Liv pair of Pauline Ferrand-Prevot and Anna Van der Breggen in a small group sprint. Former world champion Ferrand-Prevot, who is returning from injury and was 11th at Strade Bianche, is motivated to prove she’s back on top form.

Live coverage will be available here beginning at 8:30 a.m. EDT.