One of VeloVoices’ regular guest writers lives in the beautiful hills surrounding Il Lombardia and couldn’t resist sharing with us her enjoyment as this year’s race finished in Bergamo. Here’s how Nathalie Novembrini spent last Sunday – enjoy!
When I read this year’s Il Lombardia would finish in Bergamo, I was excited that my hometown would once again host this fantastic race. On the other hand, with the start in Como, I had a problem. I needed to take a bus and two trains to get there and it would have been almost impossible for me to be at the sign-in at 9:00am. Luckily my friend Serena put me up in Varese, not far from Como. So on Saturday I took the bus and trains to Varese and on Sunday we woke up at 5.30am to take the first bus to Como and our own personal Giro di Lombardia.
When we reached the sign-in at Como, it was deserted. There was an empty stage, plenty of barriers, two or three workmen and us under a grey overcast sky. Yes, we love to arrive early at the races to secure the best spots.
All the riders arrived just 30 minutes before the start. In front of the stage there was a huge crowd of photographers, journalists and even some people without accreditation, so it was difficult for fans to ask the riders to stop in order to take pictures or get autographs. Riders just wanted to get out of that chaos to concentrate before the race.
Slowly and surely, every rider managed to reach the start line and set off towards Bergamo. The new route had been criticised in previous weeks in the Italian press. Many thought it was less spectacular and too easy. I didn’t ask the riders what it was like to race the 108th Il Lombardia. Nevertheless, I found it an exciting spectacle.
After the start, Serena and I headed to Bergamo too, but by train … well, two trains. However, it was a pleasant three-hour trip because at the station we met my friend Wei Yuet Wong, one of the photographers whose work I admire. As soon as we reached Bergamo, we just had enough time to exit the station before the riders completed their first passage through the town. Then we met other friends involved in cycling and the time passed quickly talking about races and the riders.
The arrival was crowded but we managed to find a good spot between the finish line and a big screen to watch the last kilometres of the race.
You can appreciate our astonishment when we saw the leading rider – Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp)! He was never mentioned as a favourite (at least, not in Italy), probably because of all the bad luck he’s had this season.
It was an intense day and not only for the riders. This was our last race of the season, but we’re already planning how to tackle next year’s race, with the inverted route from Bergamo to Como!
Thanks – and maybe we’ll join you next year, Nathalie!
(Header photo by Gian Mattia D’Alberto/La Presse)