Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) wins the final stage at Settimana Lombarda.
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Late withdrawal of sponsors prompts decision
The Settimana Lombarda will not take place in 2012 due to financial difficulties, organiser GS Domus announced on Monday. The race was scheduled to take place from August 28 to September 1, taking in a route through the provinces of Bergamo and Brescia in Lombardy. It switched from its traditional spring date to early September last season, when Thibaut Pinot (FDJ-BigMat) emerged victorious.
“It was a difficult decision and one which we only took definitively in the last hours,” organisation president Stefano Civettini said on Monday. “In recent months we have put considerable work into trying to organise an event in keeping with the history of our beloved Settimana Lombarda. In fact, the stages had already been designed.”
The Settimana Lombarda – like many other races in Italy and beyond – had struggled in recent years due to the global financial crisis, but it was the late withdrawal of several sponsors that saw the organisers take the decision to pull the plug on the 2012 edition of the race.
“The already difficult general economic situation […] was exacerbated by the withdrawal of some sponsors right at the last minute, which made it impossible to have the economic guarantees necessary to put on the race,” Civettini said.
“From a sentimental point of view, it wasn’t an easy decision, but it was a considered one. We thought that a race rich in history and intrigue like ours didn’t deserve a sub-par edition. We decided to take a year’s sabbatical in order to come back next year even more motivated and convinced that we can continue to write the history of a race that has existed for over 40 years.”
The Settimana Lombarda was first held as the Giro Ciclistico Bergamasco in 1970, and then took on its historic moniker of the Settimana Bergamasca the following year. Up until 1987, the race was open to amateurs only but boasted an impressive role of honour in that period, with winners including Fausto Bertoglio (1972), Czeslaw Lang (1980) and Zenon Jasula (1986).
After a hiatus in 1988, the race would return as a pro-am event, launching the careers of Lance Armstrong (1991), Pavel Tonkov (1992) and Wladimir Belli (1994) among others. Renamed the Settimana Lombarda by Bergamasca in recent years, winners have included Riccardo Riccò (2005), Robert Gesink (2006) and Michele Scarponi (2010).
The Settimana Lombarda is the third Italian stage race not to be held this season due to financial problems, following the cancellation of the Giro di Sardegna and Brixia Tour.
However, another stage race will take place in Lombardy in September as the controversial Giro di Padania returns for a second edition from September 3-7, and includes two stages in the region. Last year’s race saw demonstrators repeatedly block the route in protest at the involvement of the Lega Nord political party in the organisation and naming of the event.