With the season drawing to a close, Il Lombardia, the fifth of the five monuments of road cycling, gives riders a last chance to grab a big win. It takes in some of the most beautiful roads in Italy, including the stunning Lake Como. In the previous two editions, wet weather has turned the event into a war of attrition but with its punishing distance (256km) and series of hills, this is still a race for the puncheurs.
- For its 108th edition, the route has undergone considerable change and this year will start, and not finish, in Como, and conclude in Bergamo.
- There’s a largely flat run towards the first climb of the day, the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo, traditionally a key climb at the end of the race.
- The next real test is the Colle Gallo, a 7.4km climb with a maximum gradient of 10%, but it is on the following ascent of Passo di Ganda – a leg-sapping 9.2km, averaging 7.3%, maximum 15% – where the first selections might occur.
- Next up is the Berbenno whose 10% ramps may further whittle the contenders before the critical though short ascent of Bergamo Alta – perfect for attacks. Then there’s only 3.4km of downhill left before the finish line in Bergamo.
- The descent to the line is fast before a final right-hand turn into the finishing straight. The sprint to the finish will decide not only the race winner but maybe even the 2014 WorldTour winner.
- 25 teams will take the start, each with eight riders. In addition to the 18 WorldTour teams, a number of ProContinental ones such as Columbia and Caja Rural are participating along with the Italian Pro Continental squads.
- If Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) wins Il Lombardia he’ll be the first rider to win a monument in three consecutive years since Moreno Argentin (Liege-Bastogne-Liege 1985-87). (Thanks to @irishpeloton.)
- Italian riders have won the race 47 times, with Fausto Coppi holding the record for the most victories (five).
Who to watch
Il Lombardia is not too dissimilar in terms of route and length to Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but the only riders to have won both in the same season are Eddy Merckx and Moreno Argentin. But there’s so much more riding on the outcome of the race, so we’re expecting a shoot out between El Pistolero and El Imbatido.
Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) will be fighting for the WorldTour number one spot with every point pivotal in deciding who will end the season as the world’s number one-ranked rider, team and nation. Contador currently leads with 620 points, 14 more than Valverde, with Simon Gerrans (Orice-GreenEDGE) in third place on 478.
But it’s not just about the two Spanish riders. They’ll be competing for victory with many others including the recently crowned world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), who will be giving those rainbow stripes their first outing on a parcours that suits him.
Other riders capable of springing an attack on the final climb include Philippe Gilbert (BMC) and defending double champion Rodriguez. Let’s not forget Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Cadel Evans and Samuel Sanchez (both BMC), talented young Italian Davide Formolo (Cannondale), former world champion Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Ben Swift (Sky). Whatever the outcome this Sunday, it’s bound to be an enthralling race.
Live action and highlights will be shown on British Eurosport. For other coverage check cyclingfans.com.
Link: Official website