Milano-Sanremo is not Monument

Picture & Article by John Pierce, PhotoSport International.

John Pierce passing down “kungfu” to his apparentice:

Some of us are old enough to know it, and if we don’t pass it on you younger guys will never know it.

In Cyclingnews there is a piece about Milan San Remo. In the article he refers to that race as the first of the” Monuments” – That is not necessarily correct.

“The 99th Milano-Sanremo is set to be an Easter weekend slugfest along the Ligurian coast thanks to the number of attacking-type riders who are on form. The single-day race – 298 kilometres from Milano to Sanremo on March 22 – is the traditional first of five Monuments of the year, known as La Classicissima.”

I know what he means, but he should refer to Milan San Remo as a Classic, as indeed it is.

The Monuments of cycling are indeed, just that Monuments to the fallen soldiers of the first world war. These monument events are listed as being five events.


In my experience, both Paris Roubaix and Liege Bastogne Liege, are indeed war memorials. The roads that are used are protected under local council laws, these are the same roads used by the young soldiers of the first world war.

Roubaix is known as “L’enfer du Nord” which translates to “The Hell of the North” – well, that expression came from the soldiers who were posted there. The rough farm tracks and cobbled lanes that are used, are the ones that were left after the bombing (WW1) .

After the war it was decided to dedicate the race to the fallen soldiers of the Great War. The race starts in Compiegne, 60kms north of Paris where the French made the Germans sign the WW1 Armistice.

In the same Compiegne railway sidings in WW2 Hitler made the French surrender and declared war on the rest of Europe. He then had the same rail carriage taken by road to Berlin and ceromoniously destroyed.

The race traverses the Arenberg forest – itself is a war memorial, dedicated – consecrated ground – it is forbidden to drive through this area on any day – except Paris – Roubaix – and even then only the race can go through the Arenberg.


Liege Bastogne Liege is the same, the race route passes many Tanks or Panzer wagons, the only survivors from WW2 – Houfalize, well, to this day it’s very sad what first the Germans did to the town and then what we did to oust the German occupation – It was worse in may ways than Dresden. There is a German Panzer in the town square to this day.

The total German advance was stopped, hundereds of tanks, simply halted by a handful of British and American small tanks – Ther are several small Sherman (USA) and Churchill (GB) tanks set in concrete also as memorials to the struggle that saw the tide of war turn against the Germans.

They forced the Germans to run out of petrol, by attacking the fuel dump. There is a small memorial by the roadside – I’m sure not a single rider has ever noticed.

The Milan San Remo is known as la Primavera which means “the spring”, it is not a Monument to anybody – however it is a monumental event.


  1. Hello, i’m from Portugal and see this article and like very much. I want request autorization to put this text translated to portuguese in my blog.

    Continue the great work.

    Can you give me your email for keep in touch?!

  1. 1 France's Second Most Famous Bike Race

    […] revered races of all, and five of them are known as ‘The Monuments’, monuments to the fallen soldiers of two world […]

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