The sweet boredom of the Milan-Sanremo at the Pogacar test
The Classicissima is a long wait for something that may not arrive. And he knows how to give a damn about all this
There are a large number of people who do not understand and never will understand why a large number of people enjoy watching bicycle racing. They don't do it out of malice or out of disdain for the latter, but because they really don't understand it. Watching sport on TV is something that implies somewhat violent action, made up of fairly close peaks of "things that happen" and fairly immediate understanding. In front of basketball or taekwondo, perhaps even without knowledge of the rules, one can be enraptured by what one is observing. Of "things that happen" there are several and easy to identify.
This is not the case in cycling. In cycling there is the principle of waiting. We await those moments in which there are "things that happen" but we don't know if they will really arrive. Hopefully. And even when they materialize they usually stabilize, the peaks are (almost never) close together, there is always a time for reflection, for calming down. All of this, depending on who is watching, can be wonderful, the very essence of cycling, what makes it an exceptional sport, or the sporting representation of boredom.
Lately the races have become more heated, the peaks have come closer together, the attacks have lengthened the range of action and controlling a race, anesthetizing it, is more complicated, it is not always possible. And so the scripts have been enriched and, often, the paths have changed to facilitate all of this. Even those of the most important and prestigious one-day races. Not there Milan-San Remo (which takes place today, the day before San Giuseppe, which was, and for a long time, the day of the Classicissima). Why Milan-San Remo doesn't know, can't, mustn't change. It is the exception that does not need change. It is the triumph of waiting, of that procrastination and condensing the "things that happen" into a few, very few kilometres.
The Milan-San Remo is very Italian, it is because, as often happens in Italy, what needs to be done is set aside, postponed. Can a Milleproroghe decree exist elsewhere? In most European countries it would not even be imaginable, in Italy it has been there since 2005, it has been institutionalized.
The Milan-San Remo is a long wait, for those few kilometers first up and then down, the Poggio, which can decide everything or decide nothing. It will be known only upon arrival.
Poggio's judgment is never really definitive, it has an appeal, the descent, and a cassation, those two thousand meters of flat that lead to the finish line. Sometimes only a few centimeters from the finish line. There is nothing more unpredictable in cycling than Milan-San Remo.
The Classicissima welcomes everything, everyone, anyone who has the desire, and legs, to adapt to it. To accept the kilometers that seem endless, two hundred and ninety-four, the morning in the Po valley, the afternoon on the Riviera, the constant tension that wears down the nerves and therefore the legs, the absence of bad slopes where you can make selections, the need to use your imagination, the improvisation, to avoid finding too many sprinters between the wheels. Above all to accept to be patient, to find the right moment, the right one to mess up a story that sometimes seems to proceed tired, but it's just suspense. A wait that you seek, that you want. A wait that maybe for some rhymes with boredom, but it's a boredom as sweet as the March sun on the Ligurian sea.
A wait to which even those used to going their own way, especially on their own, will have to adapt. People like Tadej Pogacar, Wout van Aert, Mathieu van der Poel, Julian Alaphilippe.
Above all Tadej Pogacarwhich this year has shown that it is very, very strong, but it is nothing new, and which will be presented at the Via di Abbiategrasso – yes, this year the Sanremo starts from Abbiategrasso because the Stramilano is in Milan the next day, a it's a pity that one hundred and sixteen years of history have to submit to city priorities – with the already much heralded will to take a race that shouldn't be, at least on paper, suitable for him.
However, Sanremo has the faculty, perhaps the power, to ignore what the paper says, to nonchalantly tear up the predictions. Predictions are always boring and trivial. To exclude from the roll of honor riders who could not fail to win it, such as Peter Sagan or Tom Boonen, and welcome other completely unexpected ones: Matthew Goss or Gerarld Ciolek. Or Vincenzo Nibali who took his most unexpected victory on the Riviera. Perhaps, precisely for this reason, the most beautiful.
Tadej Pogacar wishes, dreams, wants, to be the next name on that list. He wants it as others dream of it, everyone. Because it costs nothing to dream, because after all the long waits, those that can also be mistaken for boredom, there is always the hope that nothing can go the way it should. Just devote yourself to the right saint. Or rather no, just devote yourself to any saint, San Remo does not exist, everything must be attached, everything spun like the sigh that one must take to climb to the top of the Poggio, detach everyone, throw a bomb downhill and try not to be caught .