The 1970 Milan-San Remo

The 61st Milan-San Remo was held on Thursday 19 March 1970 over a distance of 288 Km. Out of the 248 riders who had entered 236 took to the start on a bright morning at the Castello Sforzesco (right), an imposing castle in the centre of Milan with a history going back as far as the 14th century.

1970 Start list >>

The field passed the famous cathedral in the neutralised zone with the 108 Italian competitors dreaming of emulating Loretto Petrucci, the last home winner in 1953.

The race was started in the suburbs of Milan by the UCI president Signor Rodoni who dropped the chequered flag at 0927 (below). A break went almost immediately and included the eventual winner Michele Dancelli but lasted only 6 Km. Over the next few kilometres several attacks went but were soon brought back.

The start at the Castello Sforzesco
Official start by Signor Rodoni
The 20 Km mark saw the first of many crashes. However it was nothing serious just leaving the Italians Tartoni and Ballini struggling off the back.  Luciillo Lievore (Zonca) who had been the first to attack went away for the next 20 km gaining a maximum lead of 30 seconds gaining valuable publicity for his sponsors as he went through Pavia. Lievore was absorbed as the race crossed the long viaduct over the River Po. The first hour saw 45 Km covered over flat roads but these were soon to change as the hills loomed out of the mist.

At 60 Km the prime at Voghera was won by Jos Van Der Vleuten (Willem II). The peloton remained together for the next half hour. The 91 Km mark was reached after two hours of racing and saw the Novi Ligure prime approaching. This prime played a large part in the outcome of the 61st Primavera. With the increased speed a group of eighteen formed a lead and were soon out of sight as the road went up and down. The 18 leaders were Franco Bitossi (Filotex),
Roger De Vlaeminck, Eric De Vlaeminck, Eric Leman (Mars-Flandria), Michele Dancelli, Carlo Chiappano (Molteni), Gerben Karstens (Peugeot),  Walter Godefroot (Salvarini), Italo Zilioli, Joseph Huysmans (Faemino), Luciano Soave (Dreher), Aldo Moser (GBC), Adriano Pella (Germanvox), Rolf Wolfshohl (Fagor), Rik Van Looy, Herman Van Loo, Harm  Ottenbros (Willem II) and Mauro Simonetti (Ferretti).


The eighteen reached the foot of the Passo del Turchino at Ovada with 120 Km covered and climb at high speed. Two crashes within twenty minutes in the bunch saw Jan Janssens and Lopez Rodriguez taken to hospital. Patrick Sercu abandoned as his team car had not spotted him in a crash and left him without a wheel!

The picture on the right shows the break nearing the top of the Turchino with almost five minutes advantage. Dancelli mops his brow under the warm sun and leads his team-mate Carlo Chiappano. Next come Rolf Wolfshohl, veteran Aldo Moser and Franco Bitossi who took the Turchino prime. The winter landscape of the Apenines was about to be left behind. Lay ahead were the palm trees and bays of the Ligurian coast. Only the 12 Km descent to Voltri lay in their way.

At Voltri with 155 Km covered Chiappano lead the break from Moser, Van Looy and Wolfshohl bringing up the rear. The bunch now four minutes in arrears had gained one minute on the descent of the Turchino. The peloton was in one long line headed by the yellow Mann and the white jerseys of the Watney teams, working for Van Springel and Verbeeck respectively who had missed the break.

On the Turchino
At the next time check the break had a lead of 3:50 over the peloton. This gap would not decline for the next 60 km due to a strong tail wind which gave the leaders a good chance of staying away until the finish.

At Loano with 218 km covered
Carlo Chiappano sprinted away to take a prime. After the prime he eased allowing his team leader Dancelli to continue at high speed in a clever one-two. The few riders who had noticed thought that this was nothing to worry about and one man would not be able to stay away alone for the remaining 70 km. After only 5 km in front Dancelli had a lead of 1:10 over the others.

Chasers on Capo Berta
The wind was now blowing even more strongly than ever from right behind the 27 year old Italian who had won the Trofeo Laigueglia just a month before. Into Alassio Roger De Vlaeminck attacked and chased alone but was two minutes in arrears. Dancelli climbed the Capo Mele and Capo Cervo in impressive style and increased his lead to 3.30 as De Vlaeminck weakened.

Through Diano Marina and onto the Capo Berta which reaches a height of 130m above sea level. The Molteni rider cruised up the climb while the break ambled along lead by Jos Huysmans. The picture on the left shows the chasers.  Huysmans and Moser are out of picture slightly ahead. Then come Godefroot, Karstens, Roger De Vlaeminck, Leman, Simonetti, Zilioli, Wolfshohl, Van Looy, Eric De Vlaeminck, Pella, Bitossi, Ottenbros, and Soave. Chiappano has been dropped and can be seen behind the race directors' car.

At the top of the Capo Berta the break came to life with Godefroot followed by Leman jumping away. They were followed by Wolfshohl on the descent. This had the effect of cutting the lead of
Dancelli by one minute but only 20 km remained to pull back the other two and a half minutes.
Ten Miles remain for Michele Dancelli
Dancelli on the Poggio
The picture above left shows Dancelli going strongly with around 17 km to the finish on the Via Roma. Above right on the Poggio with mechanic Ernesto Colnago looking out of the top of the Molteni team car. Inside the car was team owner Mr Molteni himself and as San Remo got closer shouted to Dancelli that he would give him his factory if he won (he actually got a large bonus) and shouted even more when he heard that Eric Leman was chasing solo 2:15 behind. Once on the Poggio however they realised that he would not be caught.
Dancelli wins the 1970 Milan-San Remo
"Michelelino" crosses the finishing line 1:39 ahead of Gerben Karstens. Karstens had caught Leman in the last metres of the race throwing his bike over the line believing he had won! Eddy Merckx headed the sprint for eighth place as the peloton arrived 1:56 after Dancelli. Just as the peloton lined up for the sprint a massive crash in the bunch left the road covered in bikes and bodies. A sad end to La Classicissima for many.
Dancelli celebrates
Michele Dancelli and the crowd celebrate the end of the Italian 17 year wait for a home victory. The pain and suffering of his 70 km lone battle has been well worth it. Following the win on a Colnago machine Ernesto changed the logo on his frames to the Asso di Fiori (Ace of Clubs) logo now known the world over.

1. Michele DANCELLI (Ita) in 6h 32'56"
2. Gerben Karstens (Hol) à 1'39"
3. Eric Leman (Bel)
4. Italo Zilioli (Ita)
5. Walter Godefroot (Bel)
6. Rolf Wolfshohl (Ger)
7. Mauro Simonetti (Ita) à 1'43"
8. Eddy Merckx (Bel) à 1'56"
9. Frans Verbeeck (Bel)
10. Guido Reybrouck (Bel)



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