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Top 20 Countdown
 
 

By Barry Boyce,
CyclingRevealed
Historian



 

Top 20 All Time Major Classics #13

Milan-San Remo 1954: Van Steenbergen's Great Sprint

CR Timeline 1954

Milan , Italy welcomed the 45 th running of La Primavera on March 19, 1954 . The start list included four former Milan-San Remo champions, Fausto Coppi (1946, 1948, 1949), Gino Bartali (1939, 1940, 1947, 1950), Louison Bobet (1951), and Loretto Petrucci (1952, 1953). Coppi entered the race as the reigning World Road Race champion and wore the Rainbow Jersey.

219 riders started the race under dark clouds, cold temperatures and wet conditions. Italian Donato Piazza gained the first real breakaway at the base of the famed Passo Turchino . The chase was long and hard but the peloton came back together along the Mediterranean 's Ligurian coast.

*Race profile courtesy of Internet site: www.econ-outlook.com.au/tom/cycling/palmares.html

The peloton remained together until the final climb. Three riders escaped on the Capo Berta 39 km from the finish (in 1954 the Cipressa and Poggio had not been added to the route, so the Capo Berta was the last launching pad for breakaways). Riccardo Filippi (Ita), Raoul Remy (Fra), and Stan Ockers (Bel) attacked and opened a gap. Fausto Coppi set a pace that strung out the remaining peloton. The sprinters in the group, including Belgian Rik Van Steenbergen, lost contact with the leaders. A hard chase ensued along the flat run-in to San Remo .

Three rider escape on the Capo Berta

Coppi leads the chase

Van Steenbergen struggles on the Capo Berta

Pictures courtesy of Internet site: www.milansanremo.co.uk

Into the outskirts of San Remo the three attackers were still ahead but the chase group was closing quickly. The chase group had grown to over 50 with the stronger sprinter regaining contact with the pack. The breakaway was caught as the lead-out riders went to work.

Onto the Via Roma the sprint opened up at full speed. The explosive Rik Van Steenbergen came off the wheel of Fausto Coppi and won a very hotly contested sprint. Frenchman Francis Anastasi was second and Italian Giuseppe Favero nipped Coppi for third.


Rik Van Steenbergen's sprint victory ( Picture courtesy of Internet site: www.milansanremo.co.uk )

 

M-SR March 19, 1954
282 Km

1. Rik VAN STEENBERGEN (B) 7h10'03"

2. Francis Anastasi (Fra)

3.Giuseppe Favero (Ita) +05"

Starters: 219
Finishers: 95
Average Speed: 39.334 km/h

 

 

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