If it is well known to the whole world that the First Edition of the ‘Classicissima’ dates back to 1907, only a few people know the origins of the bike race called the Milano-Sanremo, the longest professional one-day bicycle race.
It all began, echoing a famous Shakespearean comedy, “In a Midsummer Night’s Dream“ of 1906 – Those were the years of the unique Belle Époque, the years in which the Art Nouveau reigned, the years noble and wealthy people throughout Europe would hit the Riviera coast for their vacations, the years the Café Européen of Monsieur Rigollet was the inner core of the Sanremo culture. It was right there, inside the beautiful setting of that Cafe’, that a spark was ignited.
From cars to bicycles – The echo of the colossal fiasco of the 1906 car race from Milan to San Remo had yet to be turned off. The race consisted in two different stages (Milan-Acqui and Acqui-Sanremo). Tragically only 2 cars out of 32 starters made it to the finish line. On the basis of that unhappy experience, the personalities and worldly politics of the city who gathered at Café Européen, together with the Sanremese Sport Union and Tullio Morgagni, a ‘La Gazzetta dello Sport’ journalist, asked the fundamental question: “In your opinion, is it physically possible to bike ride from Milan to Sanremo?”.
They decided to find out if it really was. Morgagni submitted the initiative to his director, Eugenio Costamagna, who gave his blessing and the support of the newspaper. The organization of the event was a task given to Armando Cougnet, who arranged a ‘path of beauty’ of 281 km.
The First Edition of legends and defections – On March 19, 1907 on St. Joseph’s day, the first edition of the Milan-Sanremo bicycle race was held. At the pre-race meeting, provided at the Osteria della Conca Fallata of Milan along the Naviglio Pavese, out of 62 pre-registered riders, only 33 brave souls presented themselves at the starting line. It was a hellish day of rain and cold, and the first to win the event and cut the finish line was a Frenchman, Lucien Mazen, under contract with ‘Bianchi’ and known to all as the ‘Petit Breton’, because of the small stature that characterized him. He won the first edition, averaging 26.2km/hour.
The Sanremo modern era
- Since then, the race became a Super Classic, a the legend of the two wheels, and witnessed epic feats (like peloton breakings, getaways on the legendary Poggio and severe group crashes only a few meters from glory) and heroic battles of the greatest cyclists of all time. It also witnessed the unbelievable human evolution in the sportconsidering that the last edition, March 2012, was won by Australian Simon Gerrans with a time of 6h59’24”, with a stratospheric average of 42.632 km/h.
A New Legendary Challenge: 29TH MARCH 2014
Mark the date for something Extraordinary!
Just like the Milan-Sanremo bicycle race, the UMS175 was born from a very simple yet powerful question: IS IT POSSIBLE?
This is exactly what the founders and the organizers asked themselves before embarking in this incredible journey.
The Milan-Sanremo concept was born over 100 years ago as an automobile race before becoming a Tradition in the bicycle racing world. A fascinating race able to excite the crowds and pile up over a century of incredible feats.This year, on March 29th & 30th a selected number of athletes Will write a new chapter of this century old tradition.
This unfathomable feat of endure will ultimately test the limits of the human body allowing us to follow the footsteps and connect to the spirit of our predecessors.