22 February 2021

Milano- Sanremo: a legendary sprint finish

Milan, 14 April 1907.

 

It is 4:30 in the morning, and the first Milano‑Sanremo in history has just taken the start outside the Osteria della Conca Fallata, under a pouring rain.

 

Thirty-three riders set off to cover 281 km in the wind, cold and mud. Here is roughly how this epic race unfolded.

 

  • By the time the riders reached Pavia, the peloton had thinned out significantly, and 8 contestants – including all the favourites – were left at the front.
  • In Pozzolo Formigaro, along a rough and bumpy stretch, Gerbi found a strip of packed soil, which he – a famous breakaway specialist – used to open up a hundred-metre lead and clip off eventually, while his opponents were jolting over the cobblestones.
  • Along the climb up the Turchino, the gap continued to widen, despite the rain turning to snow. Gerbi cleared the summit 3 minutes ahead of Ganna, Galetti and Garrigou, and 5’ ahead of Petit-Breton who had suffered a puncture in the meantime.
  • Near Savona, Garrigou managed to jump across to Gerbi. As soon as he knew that Petit‑Breton was quickly bridging the gap, Gerbi pushed down the pace and settled, allowing his teammate to move to the front with just 25 kilometres remaining to the finish.
  • Three riders were left jostling for the final shoot-out. Gerbi was slightly slower, so he led out for Petit-Breton who popped out and sprinted to victory. Gerbi and Garrigou finished in second and third, respectively, only to have the standing reversed after Garrigou appealed against Gerbi for having helped his teammate somewhat too vigorously.

This was the first edition of what became known as “La Classicissima”.