Cycling, the time has come for the great races. On Wednesday 10 March the Tirreno-Adriatico starts, seven stages with 175 riders at the start. Saturday 20 March the 299 kilometers of the Milan-Sanremo, the first monument race of the year, the race that is worth a career. All the big names are at the starting line. Then the April of the classic monuments will come, namely the Tour of Flanders (4), the legendary Paris-Roubaix (11), the Liège-Liège (25). Then the Giro d’Italia (8-30 May), 21 stages, 104 edition, eight finishes in
ascent and 17 thousand meters in altitude. With 23 competing teams including 19 World Tour.
The Italian successes in February (at least one victory every Sunday) show that our cycling is growing.
We have quality young people: Davide Ballerini, Filippo Ganna, Gianluca Brambilla, Andrea Bagioli (he’s only 21 years old), Giacomo Nizzolo (Italian and European champion). And let’s not forget Matteo Malucelli from Androni-Sidermec. Who won the first stage of the Vuelta Tachira in Venezuela and Davide Gabburo of the Bardiani-Csf, first in the Gp Alanya in Turkey.
Young Italians highly sought after
This is why young Italians are highly sought after. In February our cycling achieved ten successes. In every way: time trial with Ganna, sprinting with Nizzolo, on a snatch with Ballerini (the fifth Italian ever to win the “Piccolo Fiandre”, classic with 13 walls and 9 pavé).
It should be noted that the Brianza-based Cantù, European champion two years ago, is at his third success this year after the two stages in the Tour of Provence. And then we remember Bagioli’s winning escape at the Royal Bernard Drome Classic (France), Nibali’s uphill sprint in the second arrival of Jebel Jais at the UAE Tour or Ciccone’s tenacity in the challenges with Dancers in Provence. In short, just enough to believe in a “Renaissance” of our cycling.
Watch out for the Dutch who are not flying but on bicycles
But watch out for the flying Dutchmen. The “old” Mollema won the LAIGUEGLIA Trophy. The young Mathieu Van der Poel – son of art and grandson of Poulidor – triumphed last Saturday in the Granfondo Strade Bianche di Siena. Crushing the world champion Alaphilippe (second). And the Colombian Egan Bernal, winner of the 2019 Tour, born in Bogotà but raised in Piedmont (third).
The Italians ended up knocked out. Dancers 17th, Rivi (18), Bettiol (26), Formolo (27). No way. The Dutchman who has won everything in cross (4 world titles) and on the road the Amstel 2019 and Flanders in 2020, is a mix of class and power. Which, at the moment, has no equal.
He also lined up the eternal rival Van Art, 2020 winner, the English Pidcock, the unexpected Michael Gogl (Austrian from Team Qhubeka Assos, professional since 2016). And the Slovenian scrooge Pogacar (30 million in 6 years; contract until 2026) winner of the Tour de France 2020. And, this year, of the UAE Tour (seven stages in the United Arab Emirates). Van der Poel, with a flurry of overbearing shots, made a void by presenting himself only in Piazza del Campo. His penultimate “stretch” of rare power – after 184 km of running, 63 of which on dirt – is one of the most beautiful and exciting things in cycling in the last ten years.
It starts on Wednesday 10 March from Lido di Camaiore and arrives in San Benedetto del Tronto in seven stages. The last is an 11 km time trial. The Tirreno-Adriatico is an ageless battle between old and new rulers of great tours. First the men from the standings won it. But since 2009 it has become something else: Scarponi, Garzelli, Evans, Nibali, Contador, Quintana, Roglic, Simon Yates. Nibali has won it twice. In 2012 on the American Chris Horner, in 2013 none other than Chris Froome. That in a few months he would have won the first of his four Tours. 175 riders from 25 teams are at the start. 19 World Tour formations including the Belgian of Van der Poel. The Italians have not won the race of the two seas since 2013. The inaugural edition (1966) was won by Dino Zandegù.
And here is the Milan-Sanremo, classic of cycling
The Milan-Sanremo (Saturday 20 March) is the first great classic in the seasonal cycling calendar. It starts from the Castello Sforzesco in Milan, passes the Colle del Giovo (the Turchino is impassable). And it catapults you to the Sanremo seafront after almost 300 km.
The most important one-day race in Italy. We are already at the 112th edition. Eddy Merchx holds the record for seven victories. The Italian riders have won it 51 times, Belgium 21. Followed by France (14) and Germany (7). The 19 World Tour teams are automatically registered. All the strongest riders will be present, starting with world champion Alaphilippe. Then Van Aert, Sagan (three times world champion in the line), Nibali, Pogacar. And all those who aim for the classics of the North. The show is guaranteed.