Milan-San Remo final route confirmed, plus a look at the favourites
Sunday sees first Monument of the 2014 season, with sprinters expected to battle it out

RCS Sport has this afternoon confirmed the route of Sunday's Milan-San Remo - and the good news for sprinters such as Mark Cavendish is that further changes that might have seen the addition of a further climb haven't been deemed necessary.

Last month, the planned route of the race, due to include the tough climb of the Pompeiana in between the ascents of the Cipressa and Poggio on the longest one-day race in the calendar, had to be changed after the new climb was ruled out on safety grounds.

Instead, RCS Sport said they planned to run the race on the route used between 1982, when the Cipressa was introduced, and 2008, which saw the debut of the Le Manie climb.

The prospect of the course being revised led to riders such as Team Sky's Chris Froome, attracted by the tougher closing stages of the race, deciding to give it a miss, while 2009 winner Cavendish's Omega Pharma-Quick Step team put him on standby for the race.

Earlier this month, a fresh landslide prompted fears that the Le Manie climb, cut from the race from this year onwards, might have to be reintroduced due to an unsafe bulding close to the Via Aurelia which the race is due to follow along the Ligurian coast, or that another diversion, still involving a climb, might need to be included.

That won't now happen, and the 105th edition of the race will now follow a 294km route almost identical to that last used in 2007.

Although Cavendish negotiated the Le Manie climb on his way to that 2009 victory, on two occasions since then his challenge has come to an end there, when a crash split the field in 2011, and when he was dropped on the ascent the following year.

The favourites

Cavendish, along with Cannondale's Peter Sagan - second to MTN-Qhubeka's Gerald Ciolek last year - is among the favourites for the race. So too are Giant-Shimano's John Degenkolb and Lotto-Belisol's André Greipel. Germany's other world class sprinter, Degenkolb's team mate Marcel Kittel, isn't riding.

Among the other big names expected to figure is Fabian Cancellara of Trek Factory Racing who like Cavendish is looking to win the race for the second time, having won it in 2008.

BMC Racing's Philippe Gilbert, is looking to join Cancellara and become just the second current member of the peloton to have won three of cycling's five monuments - he's a past winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Tour of Lombardy. He's twice made the podium here, finishing third in both 2008 and 2011.

Only two men racing have won the race on largely the same course (it finished then on the Via Roma, rather than the current Lungomare Italo Calvino) that will be used on Sunday, and they're both Italian.

One is Omega Pharma-Quick Step's Alessandro Petacchi, winner in 2005 and riding the race for the 15th time. He's settled into his role as one of Cavendish's leadout men, but could in the absence of Tom Boonen could be a useful Plan B should something happen to the British champion.

The other is Pippo Pozzato of Lampre-Merida, who won here the following year - the 50th victory by an Italian rider, and the last by someone from the country that hosts the race.

Two other Italian riders are more fancied, however, according to the bookmakers, and they're both team mates of Pozzato - Sacha Modolo and Diego Ulissi.

Italy's biggest threat in recent editions, and the man who would probably have been favourite this year had the route included the Pompeiana, is Astana's Vincenzo Nibali. He finished third in 2012, but admits that this year's parcours doesn't suit him and it is unclear whether he will race.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.