The first Pro event was held in 2007 and when the 2008 season was announced I could see that it had moved to it's pre Northern Classics slot. I can see as a race organizer or indeed a Pro Team itself how they would benefit from the move as it serves as a good tester of form. But in doing so has it resided itself to being a semi-classic and only ever hoping to be a warm up event to the main objectives in April. I would have preferred that Italy had taken hold of the end of season races in the same way that Belgium dominates the beginning. For a whole bunch of riders the Worlds holds little appeal as the course can be varied and one year it may suit and the next not. Whereas the Monuments are there set in stone for generations to tackle again and again and the riders can compare themselves against the great names of the past.
Does it bode well as a form tester. The answer has to be YES, as in the first year it made the switch Cancellara had a fantastic season, from start to finish. Bizarrely no Italian or Belgian has won it, but if it had been run in the days of Andrea Tafi I am sure he would have wanted to dominate the podium steps as much as he did in the Northern Classics, being a native of the area.
Although personally I have little interest in riding the Fondo in the Fall (due to the retro theme) I would love to ride this the day after of before the Pro's, and I am surprised that the organizers of the race have not capitalized on this and taken a few pointers from the Ronde van Vlaanderen. I doubt whether we'd see 18,000+ people of on the White Roads but the sense of occasion to an event hosting a amateur version at the same time is not to be under estimated as a draw to the tifosi.
2007 Alexandr Kolobnev (RUS) Team CSC
2008 Fabian Cancellara (SUI) Team CSC
2009 Thomas Lovkvist (SWE) Team Columbia-High Road
2010 Maxim Iglinsky (KAZ) Team Astana