The unending kilometres of build-up, the Cipressa, the Poggio. For over 100 years the men’s peloton have contested La Classicissima as one of the big hitters of the early season (back when March was the early season and not January).
But something’s been missing – the women’s peloton. Finally, that’s about to change.
Paolo Bellino, The CEO of RCS Sport—who organise Milan-San Remo as well as most of Italy’s premier bike races—told the Italian outlet Bici Pro that his company is working on a women’s edition of Milan-San Remo for 2024.
“We are thinking of a race on the same day as the men’s race,” Bellino said, “but on a different course, probably from Arenzano to San Remo.”
The town of Arenzano lies 160 km to the south of Milan on the Ligurian Sea, 120 km east down the coast from San Remo. The reason for the change of start location is necessitated by the UCI’s maximum distance of 170 km for women’s races, meaning organisers are not currently allowed to replicate the 300 km slog that the men complete.
But that’s not good enough, for Annemiek van Vleuten at least, who wants a contest to rival her male counterparts.
“A women’s version of Milan-San Remo should be the longest one-day race ever, with a final involving the Cipressa and the Poggio,” the Dutchwoman told Cycling News. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t race 200 or 250 miles. Let’s start with 200 kilometers and gradually increase that distance.”
Whether that happens is very much up in the air. But the move from RCS Sport to introduce a women’s Milan-San Remo is the latest in a long line of major events opening to women’s editions and follows their takeover of the Giro Rosa (now the Giro d’Italia Donne), as well as the introduction of the women’s Paris-Roubaix, which unsurprisingly, has proved as much of a hit as the men’s Paris-Roubaix.