The Race of the Falling Leaves is a bittersweet race, really. Sweet because it’s one of the most beautiful races, with plenty of excitement to accompany its travel-porn shots of Lake Como; bitter because it’s the last Monument of the season, and, for VeloVoices, it’s the last race we cover in the season. Oh, and because George Clooney hasn’t invited us over to his Lake Como villa. But Vincenzo Nibali didn’t care about any of that – he did what he does best. Took the race by the scruff of the neck and finished solo for the win. Julian Alaphilippe descended like a stone for second and Gianni Moscon filled out the podium.
Rider of the Race
The race was fast, it was exciting, it was everything a Monument should be. But during the twisty-turny, super-tight Sormano descent in the last 40km, Quickstepper Laurens De Plus was chasing after the leader of the race, Ag2r’s Mikael Cherel, when he overcooked a particularly tight corner and went over the guardrail at speed – bike and rider flying into the air before disappearing down what looked to be a long sheer drop. We all feared the worst and with hardly any information about De Plus’s condition, it really took the shine off the race for me.
As we all anxiously awaited news on the fallen rider, we saw helicopter pictures of the crash site, with an ambulance and medical staff on the mountain side. With no news, it was even speculated that De Plus was up and walking around. But it wasn’t De Plus, it was his teammate, Dries Devenyns, who stopped to give his teammate comfort as he was being treated by the medical staff. I wonder if Devenyns even considered what he was going to see when he heard the news over race radio and stopped at the corner. If he didn’t know, it must have been terrifying looking over the edge of what Dan Martin calls ‘one of the most dangerous downhills of any WorldTour racing’. For me, that makes Devenyns my Rider of the Race.
Vincenzo Nibali took his second Il Lombardia title in classic Shark style – attacking on the penultimate descent, taking crazy risks to distance Thibaut Pinot, riding the final climb and descent of San Fermo della Battaglia alone. The Italian crowd went wild as Nibali went across the finish line by himself.
But the Frenchman who took the second step of the podium wasn’t Pinot, it was Quickstepper Julian Alaphilippe who caught Pinot on the final climb and just went right past him and, again, took the descent with confidence and audacity to come in 10sec ahead of a scrappy peloton to take second.
And there’s a reason why we call him Angryphilippe.
Third on the podium was Sky’s Gianni Moscon. Considering the serious accusations against him from earlier this week and his highly questionable behaviour earlier this year, his result wasn’t particularly popular with a lot of cycling fans.
1 Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) 6:15:29
2 Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) +0:28
3 Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) +0:38
4 Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) same time
5 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2r La Mondiale) s/t
For full race review, go to CyclingNews
Header Image: Vincenzo Nibali; ©GETTY/Corbis/Tim de Waele