The inaugural Milan-Sanremo was held in 1907. 33 riders started. 14 finished. The race took over 11 hours to complete on bobbly, uncomfortable roads with riders having to repair their own punctures and battling hunger. There are those who still yearn for those pioneering, seemingly halcyon days.
The Bici d’Epoca community is not only fascinated with the bike itself but its rich culture and distinct stile di vita. Each year ahead of the Milan-Sanremo, this group of elegant individuals, many adorning carefully manicured moustaches and all knitted in vintage chic from yesteryear, gather in Milan. They are here for the Classicissima d’Epoca, a non-competitive version of the one-day classic, which they ride on lovingly resorted bikes and in their thick woolen jerseys, rolled up socks, replenishing their thirst from heavy, steel bidons.
Leaving Milan just before midnight they arrive along the Ligurian coast by 15:00 the following afternoon, mere hours before the professionals charge into the coastal town made famous by its casino and annual music festival. The professionals may be faster. But they are significantly less elegant.