This weekend is the first really big professional road race on the calendar, Milano-San Remo. Up until now, it’s roughly been the equivalent of spring training, but Milano-San Remo is the first race of the year that really, really counts. It’s got history; it’s a race that the racers’ fathers’ fathers dreamed of winning. It’s got scenery, speeding along the Italian coast in the first rays of spring. It’s long, at almost 300km/185miles. And it’s got speed. The only climbs are relatively shallow and come late in the race, and M-SR would almost be easy if the peloton weren’t just drilling it for more than six and a half hours before they get to the 3km finishing straight in San Remo. The race usually ends in a bunch sprint, but on occasion a wily racer can keep a gap off the last climb, the Poggio, since the descent is sinuous and narrow.
In 1992, the Ariostea team’s leader Moreno Argentin stormed up the Poggio, breaking free of his rivals well before the crest of the climb. The veteran Italian would keep his lead all the way down the descent that emptied into the finishing straight, where he would celebrate his first win at Milano-San Remo.
Or at least he would have if Sean Kelly hadn’t absolutely blistered the Poggio’s descent. We are talking LEGENDARY. It’s not that Argentin wasn’t making a fast descent, though he was being a bit conservative. No, it’s that Kelly was brilliant. He wasn’t even the at the front of the chasers at the crest of hill, but he leaves them all behind like they had opened parachutes. Kelly is on Argentin’s wheel right as they entered the straight, and even at 36yrs of age the former TdF green jersey winner still packed a formidable sprint. It was Kelly’s second M-SR win and the last major win of his illustrious career.
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