The 1984 Milan-San Remo

Race date: Saturday 17 March 1984
Distance: 294 Km
Started: 227
Finished: 63
Weather conditions: Cold at the start with rain. Light snow on the Turchino Pass. Becoming milder at the finish with a favourable wind.

The 75th edition of Sanremo was won by 32 year old Francesco Moser. Going into the race Moser's form and confidence was very high as less than two months earlier he had broken the hour record in Mexico City (below left) eclipsing the figures set by Eddy Merckx in 1972. In fact the man from Trento in Italy actually set a new record not once, but twice, in four days. Using the latest technology after exhaustive tests in a wind tunnel and with huge medical back-up, Moser added more than a kilometre to Merckx's record, taking the total through the 50km barrier for the first time. The record stood until 1993 (Graeme O'Bree) and the attempt further opened the door to new technology in cycling. Moser retired from the professional ranks in 1987.

Francesco Moser hour record

Moser during the hour record attempt -  image © Cor Vos

Moser before depart of 1984 Sanremo

The favorites to win Milan-San Remo included the Irishman Sean Kelly (Skil-Reydel), recent winner of Paris-Nice, who would also be encouraged as the race fell on St. Patrick's. Others with a good chance were Adri Van der Poel (Kwantum Hallen), fourth overall and points jersey in Tirreno-Adriatico and the most prolific winner so far in '84 was the Belgian Eddy Planckaert who had twelve victories under his belt already. Two hundred and twenty seven men left Milan on a grey morning with light snow falling on the Turchino Pass some one hundred and forty kilometres away.

First to attack was the French rider Jacques Michaud (Coop-Hoonved) but he was brought back by Eddy Planckaert (Peugeot). There was little action from now until the Turchino and those who punctured were able to regain their places easily.

On the Turchino successive bunch falls eliminated Bernard Hinault (La Vie Claire) and Greg Lemond, the former damaging his right brake lever (below left) and was unable to descend fast enough to catch the bunch. Lemond gave up after the rest of his Renault-Elf team, minus Marc Madiot, had waited for him.

First over the top of the Turchino with a lead of four minutes was little known Italian Elio Festa (Santini-Galli). Festa had been away for several kilometres but his lead was soon cut as Phil Anderson (below right) set off in pursuit. The Australian, riding for Peter Post's Panasonic-Raleigh team, passed Festa on the descent and reached the Mediterranean alone with a lead of three minutes and growing.


Bernard Hinault waits for assistance but his race is over
Anderson escape

Phil Anderson's escape lasted 120km

Anderson had been away for around eighty kilometres when the reaction came, lead by Alain Bondue (La Redoute), who was determined to establish himself as a top road man. With him were Sean Yates, Dominique Garde (Peugeot-Shell-Michelin), and Jos Haex (Europ Decor-Boule D'or) who had all been active in Paris-Nice but they had a deficit of nearly four minutes.

It was on the third of the capi, the Capo Berta that Anderson began to weaken. The plan of the Panasonic team to send Anderson away forcing a chase allowing the Panasonic sprinters, such as Eddy Planckaert, to enjoy a tow seemed to have failed. By the Cipressa the field was all back together as the peloton swallowed up the chasers along with Anderson who had been away for 120Km (75 miles).

On the descent of the Cipressa a crash saw Jan Raas (Kwantum Hallen) end up in a tree overhanging a long drop. He needed a visit to hospital with suspected renal damage. This turned out to be injured ribs which required the use of a corset and rest. Other crashes involved Guido Bontempi (Carrera-Inoxpran) and Marino Lejarreta (Alfa Lum) and Roger De Vlaeminck (Gis Gelati-Tuc Lu ).


left -  Jan Raas ends up in a tree
Centre - Bontempi nearest camera and Lejarreta sitting
Right - Roger De Vlaeminck looses vital seconds as the service car is trapped behind

Crash involving Conti

Silvano Conti (Bianchi-Piaggio) shouts for assistance following a crash 

Moser forces pace

Determination is etched on the face of Moser as he forces the pace

On the climb of the Poggio Rene Bittinger, a team-mate of Sean Kelly, attacked looking very strong. He was joined by Marc Madiot who had been near the front of the bunch all day. When Stephen Roche (La Redoute) and Paul Haghedooren (Europ Decor) joined them it began to look very serious. However Daniel Caroli (Santini) and Francesco Moser (Gis Gelati-Tuc Lu), showing himself for the first time, brought up the peloton to cross the summit of the Poggio more or less intact. Over the top Moser, with relatively few road miles in his legs, went clear. Kelly looked round expecting the Panasonics to chase. Not a rider from Panasonic moved. Kelly sat tight watching Moser disappear round the next bend.

At the foot of the Poggio with only the roads of Sanremo to negotiate Moser had a lead of about one hundred metres with Giuseppe Saronni (Del Tongo-Colnago) heading the bunch. The advance plans of the Gis team had been for Moser to attack on the Poggio protected by Roger De Vlaeminck. He was to stay near the front to help De Vlaeminck prepare for the sprint. As it happened De Vlaeminck had fallen while descending the Cipressa so Moser was alone.

Francesco Moser was not to be caught and turned the final bend onto the Via Roma. With one hundred metres to go he was able to turn around and see that nobody else was yet around the corner. Moser raised his arms aloft to celebrate his first (and only) victory in Milan-San Remo. He was to copy three others, Petit-Breton, Merckx and Coppi who won Sanremo after taking the hour record.

If Mosers' victory had been too easy the sprint which followed was frantic with Sean Kelly beating Eric Vanderaerden (Panasonic), Paolo Rosoli (Bianchi) and Daniel Caroli. Of the unknowns Caroli had impressed helping Moser to catch the break on the Poggio and being fresh enough to contest the sprint. Sixty-three riders finished, half of them sprinting in behind Kelly with the rest delayed by up to sixteen minutes.

Moser winsMoser celebrates

Francesco Moser wins the 1984 Milan-San Remo

Colour images © Alain Landrain
B/W images from International Cycle Sport and
© Cor Vos