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Milan-San Remo 2021: Route, start list and all you need to know

Cyclist magazine
19 Mar 2021

A hub of television coverage, previews and all you need to about the 2021 Milan-San Remo

Milan-San Remo is the first Monument Classic of the year on the pro cycling calendar. Falling in March, it has the alternative name of 'La Classica Primavera' – The Spring Classic. Now back in its normal spot having been held later in the year in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's edition will be held on Saturday 20th March 2021.

It's one of the oldest races on the calendar, having been first held in 1907, and with a total route distance (including neutral zone) of over 300km, it's also the longest.

But the real selling point of Milan-San Remo is its sheer unpredictability. The race's length, combined with some spitefully placed climbs right at the end of the route and the constant risk of unpredictable weather, opens up the possibilities for a lot of riders.

Big breakaways, small breakaways, bunch sprints and brave solo attacks can all win on the day with everyone from the burliest of sprinters to the slightest of climbers in with a chance of riding to glory on the Ligurian coastline.

Milan-San Remo 2021: Key information  

Date: Saturday 20th March 2021  
Start: Milan, Italy  
Finish: San Remo, Italy  
Distance: 298km  
UK live television coverage: 0810-1700 GCN+, 1145-1615 Eurosport 1, 0830-1630 Eurosport Player (open to change)  
Last winner: Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma)

Milan-San Remo 2021: Route and profile

After a spat with local mayors, last year saw some of the race’s usual course across the Savonian coast exchanged for a hillier route through the Piedmonte countryside adding another 800m of vertical elevation to the route along with some new scenery.

This year, however, it's back to business as usual which, unfortunately, all but guarantees the traditional snooze-fest until the last 60 kilometres.

Even with the riders good and softened by the preceding 240 kilometres, the Tre Capi (Capo Mele, Capo Cervo and Capo Berta) are still barely noticeable bumps in the road. Their arrival signifies that it’s time for the teams to start pressing on in earnest.

Already wound up to near warp-speed by this point, the end game really kicks off with the 5.6km long Cipressa. With an average gradient of 4.1%, it comes after 263km and with gradients touching 9%, its a bona fide climbing test that has often foiled the plans of sprinters hoping to cling on for a bunch finish.

Most of the time it serves mainly as an opportunity to potentially get rid of some of your rivals rather than win the race outright, but it’s not impossible to launch a successful attack here either. Vincenzo Nibali made good ground on the bunch by attacking on the Cipressa in 2014, as did Pantani in 1999.

Still, to make anything stick has proven notoriously difficult, and the reason for that is the flat section that lies between it and the approaching Poggio. 

Usually, the Poggio di San Remo is the day’s decisive climb. Just look at the four previous editions of this race which all saw the winning attack come on the upper slopes of this iconic climb.

Coming a mere 9km from the finish, positioning here is vital, something that guarantees the peloton will hit it at almost sprint pace.

This ascent is only 3.7km and its ramps are not particularly severe, but the speed at which it is undertaken, added to the fatigue induced from the Cipressa not to mention the 280-odd kilometres the riders have ridden by this point, is truly phenomenal and means that groups coming over the top are often in a bedraggled state.

They're then Instantly thrown into a highly technical descent, which has also proven a launchpad for decisive attacks in the past. Yet when it levels out again in the middle of San Remo, the roads are wide enough that any escaped rider will find themselves well within sight of the bunch.

The final bend comes with 750 metres to go. Swinging right onto the Via Roma finishing straight, it's rare even for breakaway riders to get time to take their hands off the bars. 

How to watch Milan-San Remo 2021

Live coverage of this year's Milan-San Remo will be provided by Eurosport and GCN+ with full coverage of the entire race expected on the latter.

For a full guide on how to catch live coverage and highlights of Milan-San Remo 2021, visit our full TV guide here.

Milan-San Remo live coverage

All times are subject to change by the broadcasters

Saturday, 20th March: Eurosport 1, 1145-1615  
Saturday, 20th March: Eurosport Player, 0830-1630 (commentary starts around 1145 on a separate stream)  
Saturday, 20th March: GCN+, 0810-1700

Who are the favourites for Milan-San Remo 2021?

Headline names include defending champion Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma), 2019 winner Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck-QuickStep) and recent Strade Bianche winner Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix).

Former champions Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) and Arnuad Demare (Groupama-FDJ) will also be on the start line.

Milan-San Remo 2021: Teams

WorldTour teams

Astana-Premier Tech  
Bahrain Victorious  
EF Education-Nippo  
Ineos Grenadiers  
Intermarché-Wanty Gobert Matériaux  
Israel Start-Up Nation  
Lotto Soudal  
Movistar Team  
Qhubeka Assos  
Team BikeExchange  
Team DSM  
UAE Team Emirates

ProTeam Wildcards

Alpecin Fenix   
Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec
Total-Direct Energie 
Novo Nordisk 

Milan-San Remo previous winners 

2020 - Wout van Aert (BEL) Team Jumbo–Visma
2019 - Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) Deceuninck-QuickStep
2018 - Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) Bahrain-Merida
2017 - Michal Kwiatkowski (POL) Team Sky
2016 - Arnaud Demare (FRA) FDJ
2015 - John Degenkolb (GER) Giant-Alpecin
2014 - Alexander Kristoff (NOR) Katusha
2013 - Gerard Ciolek (GER) MTN-Qhubeka
2012 - Simon Gerrans (AUS) Orica-GreenEdge
2011 - Matthew Goss (AUS) HTC High Road
2010 - Oscar Freire (ESP) Rabobank
2009 - Mark Cavendish (GBR) Colombia-HTC
2008 - Fabian Cancellara (SUI) CSC