CYCLING Preview: Two iconic races in Italy this weekend: Milan-Sanremo and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda

Another win for Vincenzo Nibali at Milan-Sanremo? (Photo: ANSA)

Two of the oldest races in cycling comes this weekend, both in Italy: the reversed Milan-Sanremo for men on Saturday – in its 109th edition – and the Trofeo Alfredo Binda for women, which started back in 1974 and has been a pioneer for women’s cycling in Europe ever since.

Men: Iconic Milan-Sanremo comes on Saturday

One of the longest races on the UCI World Tour is also one of its most celebrated: the 109th edition of Milan-Sanremo, with a route of 294 km going almost straight south.

Founded in 1907, this is one of the ancient “Monument Races” that are highly prized within the sport. The route features a stunning, giant climb starting at the 107 km mark and peaking at 143 km on the Passo del Turchino, with a rise from 136 m to 544 m at the summit. There are six further climbs in the final 66 km, with two tough climbs in the final 25 km.

The field includes four former champions and 11 former medalists:

● Alexander Kristoff (DEN) ~ Winner in 2014; second in 2015
● Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) ~ Winner in 2018; third in 2012
● Arnaud Demare (FRA) ~ Winner in 2017; third in 2018
● John Degenkolb (GER) ~ Winner in 2015
● Peter Sagan (SVK) ~ Second in 2017
● Heinrich Haussler (AUS) ~ Second in 2009
● Philippe Gilbert (BEL) ~ Third in 2008 & 2011
● Jurgen Roelandts (BEL) ~ Third in 2016
● Michael Matthews (AUS) ~ Third in 2015
● Caleb Ewan (AUS) ~ Second in 2018
● Julian Alaphilippe (FRA) ~ Third in 2017

Nibali’s win in 2018 was the first by an Italian since 2006; riders from the same nation have not won two in a row since Matthew Goss and Simon Gerrans (AUS) did it 2011-12.

There are many more stars entered, including 2017 World Tour champ Greg van Avermaet (BEL), 2016 Tour de France runner-up Romain Bardet (FRA), Spain’s 2018 World Road Race Champion Alejandro Valverde and many more. So far in 2019, Viviani won the Great Ocean Race in Australia in January and Alaphilippe impressively took the Strade Bianche on 9 March.

Look for results here.

Women: Women’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda on Sunday

The 44th edition of the Trofeo Alfredo Binda takes place on Sunday, over a south-to-north course from Taino to Cittiglio, over 132 km. The course is hilly, with a 200 m climb up the Cunardo in the first third of the race and then four loops over the Orino in the final 72 km.

The entries include nine former medalists:

● Kasia Niewiadoma (POL) ~ Defending Champion
● Chantal Blaak (NED) ~ Second in 2018
● Marianne Vos (NED) ~ Winner in 2009 & 2010; third in 2018
● Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA) ~ Winner in 2013
● Jolanda Neff (SUI) ~ Third in 2016
Coryn Rivera (USA) ~ Winner in 2017
● Cecile Uttrup (DEN) ~ Third in 2017
● Arlenis Sierra (CUB) ~ Second in 2017
● Tatiana Guderzo (ITA) ~ Second in 2012

Niewiadoma was third in the season-opening Strade Bianche and Blaak was runner-up in last week’s Ronde van Drenthe.

Look for results here.