I

"Going down the Poggio is

Bimportant as going up. [ No one can relax" JJ

test to ride. The Poggio isn't, unless you count dodging the dustbins that line the road. The Poggio is like an empty velodrome: it needs a race to work.

In a modern Milan-San Remo the Poggio is a chessboard where moves are made in rapid succession. The opening moves kick off a chain of events that only unravels at the end, setting sprinter against sprinter, while the late attack specialists plot to upset their day.

The steepest gradient comes just before a green-painted house on the inside of a left bend. Then the last quarter of the Poggio begins. Sprinters begin to hope they will be there at the end. It's steeper now, not much but still steeper. This is where a climber might attack for no other reason than he can.

Above A fan gets a perfect snap of 2006 San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato Left Descending the Poggio can be a treacherous business

It won't work, not now. More left and right bends, up past the cylindrical concrete irrigation pools that feed the farms below. The gradient relents. The mood changes. The sprinters know they will be there now. The summit comes quickly, and rag-tag farms are replaced by the smart houses of Poggio di San Remo village. The last gambit is an attack across the top and a reckless descent. It's worked in the past and it will be tried again.

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