Milan-San Remo live streams: How to watch the first cycling monument of 2024

The Spring Classics officially start this Saturday with the 115th edition of Milano-Sanremo—a nearly 300-kilometer road race that’s the first of cycling’s five Monuments, a distinction reserved for just five of pro cycling’s oldest, longest, and hardest road races. Also known by its nickname, “La Primavera,” Milano-Sanremo is often called the easiest Classic to finish, but the hardest one to win—and for good reason.

Even with 114 editions in the record books, Milano-Sanremo is the second-youngest Monument. It was first organized in 1907 after a group of Sanremo businessmen—eager to lure more tourists to the town and its newly-built casino—approached Eugenio Camillo Costamagna, co-owner of Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, a popular sports-only newspaper that was already the main sponsor and promoter of the Tour of Lombardy (and later the Giro d’Italia), which had been raced for the first time in 1905.

Costamagna agreed to promote the race if riders could prove that it was even possible to make it from Milan to Sanremo—roads were terrible at the time—and if the Sanremo dignitaries could raise the funds necessary to run the event. Well, after a group of test riders (local pros) completed the route and the businessmen raised the cash, the rest, as they say, was history.

Here’s everything you need to know about the season’s first Monument:

The Route

Almost all of Milano-Sanremo’s 115 editions have started in downtown Milan, in the shadow of the famous Duomo cathedral. But last year, the organizers moved the race outside of the city, citing the logistical headaches that often come with shutting down portions of a major city for a bike race.

As a result, last year’s race began in Abbiategrasso and this year’s will begin in Pavia, a town about 30 miles south of Milan. The change shortens the overall distance of the race but not enough to diminish the event’s distinction as the longest road race of the season.

From Pavia, the riders will cover about 44K of flat roads before rejoining the original route in Casteggio. From there, the race follows the same route used for over 100 years: across the plains of Lombardy to Ovada and then up and over the Turchino Pass. From the top of the Turchino, which was once a decisive moment in the race, but isn’t anymore (it’s too far from the finish, and teams are larger and more well-organized than they used to be) the course plunges to the Ligurian coast and the Mediterranean Sea.

Up to this point–except for riders who make it into the early breakaway–the race will be more of a training ride. But once they hit the coast, the pace will slowly start to wind up as the contenders’ teams start assembling at the front of the peloton and begin a more organized chase to bring back the breakaway.

With 230K in their legs, the riders hit the Capo Mele, the Capo Cervo, and the Capo Berta, three successive climbs that serve as the final warm-up for riders and teams who have spent the day just trying to avoid crashes and burn as little energy as possible. Called the “Tre Capi,” these climbs aren’t super challenging, but they’ll probably wean a few tired riders from the breakaway–and maybe the back of the bunch.

But the race to win Milano-Sanremo begins in the lead-up to the day’s penultimate climb: the Cipressa (5.6K @ 4.5%). This is by no means a climb known for its difficulty; it’s not too long, and it’s not very steep. But it arrives after 260K of racing, a distance that in itself is longer than almost every other race on the calendar; so it will force a selection. And that selection will be even more… uh… selective… if someone attacks–and someone always does.

When this happens, Milano-Sanremo turns into a miss-and-out in which riders fight at the back of the pack just to stay in contact with the peloton. If they’re dropped on the Cipressa, their chances of making it back to the leading peloton are small, and even if they do, they’ve probably used up so much energy that they’ll just get dropped on the final climb, the Poggio.

The ascent of the Poggio begins just 9 km from the finish line, and the battle to be at the front of the bunch leading into it is one of the most intense moments of the season. Like the lead-out to a Tour de France field sprint, teams will go all-out to drop their captains right where they need to be to anticipate, cover, and launch attacks on the climb.

On paper, the Poggio (3.7K @ 3.7%) is even easier than the Cipressa, but by then, the riders would have covered almost 280K on the day, and the last 30 of them have been pretty fast. This is—usually—where the race is won or lost. For sprinters, the top of the Poggio is like the finish line before the finish line: if they make it over the top with the leaders, they still have a chance to win the race. If they’re dropped, their race is over.

Expect a fast but cagey race up the climb as riders accelerate off the front. If they get a good gap, they’ll certainly continue on with the move. But some contenders will just cover accelerations made by other riders, perhaps saving their attacks for once the race crests the top of the climb and makes a left-hand turn to begin the descent.

And oh, what a descent it is. The Poggio might be the only climb in pro cycling with a downhill that’s more famous than the climb itself. Steep and winding, it’s extremely technical, and the race is often won by a rider willing to risk it all through the downhill’s tight hairpins.

From the bottom, just 2 km remain until the finish line, which is just enough road for a surprise attack or—if a larger group makes it over the climb together—for teammates to try and organize themselves for the group sprint on Sanremo’s Via Roma.

How to Watch

If you’re a Max subscriber, then you have free access to the streaming platform’s B/R Sports package, which is the only legal way to stream the race in the USA. With apps for smartphones, streaming devices, and smart TVs—and of course a terrific website—you should be able to access the race from wherever you are.

This is the longest race of the season, and you don’t need to watch all of it. (But we’ll probably have it on in the background while we do things around the house or ride our indoor trainers.)

In Europe, Daylight Savings Time begins in late March, so American fans on the East Coast are just five hours behind the race’s local time. That means you want to be tuned in and streaming at about 11:15 a.m. ET, just as the riders pass through San Lorenzo al Mare, at the base of the Cipressa. Depending on the average speed, the race should finish around noon ET.

What Happened Last Year

In last year’s edition, the Netherlands’ Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck) saved his best attack for the top of the Poggio, breaking away over the top of the climb and extending his lead on the Poggio’s technical descent.

Despite a trio of superstars chasing behind him, a group that included two of the world’s biggest superstars–Belgium’s Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Slovenia’s Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)–and one of the world’s best time trialists–Italy’s Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers)–van der Poel was able to stay away. He won the race alone, 15 seconds ahead of the trio. Ganna finished second; and van Aert–winner of the race in 2020–was third.

Riders to Watch

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Deceuninck)

The defending champion, van der Poel, was seemingly built to win races like Milano-Sanremo. His attack over the top of the Poggio in last year’s finale blew the race apart, and his superior bike handling skills (honed by years of racing on the winter cyclocross circuit) helped him add to his advantage on the climb’s treacherous descent.

Milano-Sanremo will be the first race of van der Poel’s 2024 road campaign–and his first competition since winning the world cyclocross championships in the Czech Republic on February 4th. For many riders, Milano-Sanremo would be a rude way to start the season, but Van der Poel has proven that he doesn’t need a lot of races in his legs to be a contender: this was his first race of the season in 2022, and he finished third.

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates)

Milano-Sanremo will be Pogačar’s second race of the season. After winning his second Strade Bianche with an 81-kilometer solo breakaway, he skipped Tirreno-Adriatico to train instead. Now he returns to competition, hoping to add a fourth Monument to his already impressive resume.

We’re hoping to see another long-range move by the Slovenian—even if everyone will be expecting it as he doesn’t possess a sprint to rival many of the other favorites. Will he go on the Cipressa? The Tre Capi? Wins from long range are rare nowadays, but if there’s one rider who could pull one off it’s Pog.

Matej Mohorič (Bahrain-Victorious)

Mohorič won Milano-Sanremo in 2022 with a daring attack on the descent of the Poggio. The Slovenian smartly had his mechanics put a dropper post (designed for mountain bikes) on his road bike, allowing him to lower his center gravity heading into the tight hairpin bends of the Poggio’s descent. It was a brilliant decision.

Mohorič is rounding himself into form and looks primed for a successful Classics campaign. A stage winner at February’s Tour of Valencia, he was fifth at Strade Bianche. Despite being a former winner, he’ll likely be overshadowed by some of the bigger names on the start list, which probably suits him just fine.

Mads Pedersen (Lidl-Trek)

Pedersen started the season with a bang, winning two French stage races: the Etoile de Bessèges and the Tour de la Provence. He then took a break before returning to action at Paris-Nice, a stage race that riders often use to put the finishing touches on their form for Milano-Sanremo. At last year’s Classics, he was the only rider who seemed unfazed by van der Poel, Pogačar, and van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike). A win on Saturday would justify the former world champion’s confidence.

Christophe Laporte (Visma-Lease a Bike)

Laporte is often overshadowed by van Aert, but when given a chance, he consistently delivers–especially in the Classics. The European Champion has only raced three times so far this season–like van Aert–he’s racing less in the hopes of being at his best for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix. Now he’s starting Milan-Sanremo as his team’s captain–van Aert is still training–so he’ll have the entire squad at his service.

Jasper Philipsen (Alpecin-Deceuninck)

Alpecin-Deceuninck has two cards to play. Van der Poel is the obvious favorite, but don’t be surprised if his teammate, Belgium’s Jasper Philipsen, is fastest to the finish line in Sanremo. Perhaps the world’s best sprinter (he won four stages and the green jersey at last year’s Tour de France), he’s also a strong Classics rider (he was second to van der Poel in last year’s Paris-Roubaix).

A stage winner at the recent Tirreno-Adriatico, he has the form he needs to win and can just sit back and follow wheels while van der Poel polices the pointy end of the bunch. If a large group makes it over the Poggio together, and he’s in it, he’ll prove tough to beat.

Jonathan Milan (Lidl-Trek)

An Italian hasn’t won Milan-Sanremo since Vincenzo Nibali in 2018. This year, the home nation’s best chance might come from Pedersen’s teammate, Jonathan Milan. Just 23 years old, Milan won a stage and the Points Classification in last year’s Giro d’Italia with Bahrain-Victorious. The Italian took two stages to Philipsen’s one at Tirreno-Adriatico and—alongside Pedersen—gives Lidl-Trek a powerful 1-2 punch.

Other Riders to Watch: Neilson Powless (EF Education-EasyPost), Filippo Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers), Michael Matthews (Jayco AlUla), and Biniam Grmay (Intermarché – Wanty).

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