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Ed Beckmann, Sports Tours International tour guide and top wrench tells us about his recent weekend at the Milan Sanremo. Read a bit further down about his experience.
Sports Tours International Ambassador and author of the 100 Climbs series of books shares his early spring classics highlights. Have a read below.
Simon Warren reveals his early spring classics highlights
As I came over from Belgium where we saw in the start of the European classics season with the Omloop het Nieuwsblad, I stayed in the Ibis hotel which is conveniently placed near Nice airport (free shuttle to Terminal 1, then walked). On arrival I made some preliminary checks ahead of arrival day. I walked to the airport parking at Nice airport and checked the vehicle and exit routine the night before. The hotel Ibis is ok about leaving luggage and parking van there before the airport pickup.
As the first flights were slightly delayed and I had good notice, I could get the tram to Nice and get to see the centre, in preparation for the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Nice later in the year where I also be working.
The day started with a message from the clients due in for the first pickup, saying that their plane had an issue and would be delayed. Thanks to the Nice arrivals page I was able to keep the client posted with a succession of changes before the cabin crew knew. In the end, they were delayed until the time of the second pickup and thus we were able to consolidate them with no additional delays to anybody. Meanwhile the self-drives called to say they had arrived safely and we were able to plan the evening welcome.
The hotel staff were very organised with our rooms and keys ready – it was explained that bikes would be stored securely in the garage when they had been built. The group got to know each other and discuss details of the next few days over a good meal.
Gathering at 09.15 for final bike fettling before our ride out, we were joined by a guest rider from France Bike Rentals. Michelle got on well with the group and we all enjoyed a beautiful ride along the coast to San Lorenzo station, where we looked at the old B & W photos which were on display in the windows and doorways. A true sense of history before we took on the challenges of the Cipressa and Poggio.
Having taken plenty of photos of the stunning views we were at the Poggio with time to spare. Although we were tempted to head a little more inland we decided to make use of the welcoming cafe overlooking the GF finish at the top of the Poggio, before a stunning descent to the event village and the finish line experience. Throughout the morning the riders had been enjoying the views and looking forward to the race finish and the Gran Fondo; the finish line experience was of interest but not seen to be a highlight.
However, as the barriers were opened and the clear finish straight opened up in front of us everyone immediately appreciated the significance of the moment. On approaching the line we could hear the English commentator welcome Sports Tours riders in, and the clients were even more stunned as they realised they were to step onto the podium. Still excited about the experience, we had time for a leisurely return to the hotel before wandering back (under 1km) to sample the hospitality and see the finish from above the track.
It was wonderful for the clients to see on the big screens the Pro riders take the descents they had done just a few hours before.
As official tour operator for the Milan Sanremo we provide a great programme of exclusive VIP access and hospitality options. Our full programme is available here
Everyone chose to make their own way to the start, setting off at very civilised times between 08.15 and 09.15. The weather was again predicted to be decent – up to 16 degrees and sunny. The start was busy but well-organised. With approx. 500 riders there was the sense of a decent event. Some in our group were not riding but they were there to cheer the riders off and take charge of the extra layers they had worn to take the chill off the morning. They then returned to the van and took it to meet the group at the finish, the cafe from the day before providing the perfect vantage point for the final 300m of the ride.
The route itself was said to be beautiful and with a tough surprise. Whilst we had sampled two of the climbs the day before, in the full route they were split by some more challenging sections, and the group came in tired but elated about the challenge they had just enjoyed. As a demonstration of the team spirit they had generated over the weekend, the group waited at the finish for the last rider to roll in before making their second descent of the Poggio together.
The afternoon saw plenty of time to enjoy the pasta party, Sanremo and the beautiful coastline.
Because the Gran Fondo finish was not late in the afternoon the day before, everyone managed to pack their belongings without stress or time pressure, and we had an uneventful journey back to Nice Cote d’Azur airport.
We had time to discuss future challenges and which ones would suit various riders; a few could share their memories of trips that others were interested in doing, and almost everyone left with their next trip in mind.
As for messages within the group – they were still swapping messages with each other as they continued their journeys, reflecting on a superb weekend in Sanremo.
This weekend trip offers you the opportunity to ride your bike with us on the Saturday to watch the 2020 Milan Sanremo and to then cycle the 2020 Gran Fondo Sanremo on the Sunday. We offer a hotel in Sanremo centre and we have guided rides and mechanic available. Also available are:
Ed did a great job making sure we all had an enjoyable time. Whether we did things as a group or individually, he was flexible and we enjoyed having him as part of our group.
Ed was fabulous. Polite, knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. He made the trip great!
I really liked the first night meal at the hotel to introduce the group and then the whatsup chat group. But then recommend only breakfast the rest of the time.
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