By Gregor Brown
The time has flown by and here we are at the end of the season, the last classic of the calendar, Giro di Lombardia. Starting with the Milano-Sanremo in March, also in Italy, the one-day classics have come and gone, leaving us with the romantic special. Lombardia is synonymous with the changing of the seasons and plants changing to a golden hue, hence the nickname 'race of the falling leaves' (or Classica delle foglie morte in Italian).
This year, like Paris-Tours, marks the century edition of the Giro di Lombardia. 99 editions of this autumn classic have been run which have provided the tifosi with epic battles and heroic winners. Riders from Fausto Coppi to Eddy Merckx, Roger De Vlaeminck to Damiano Cunego have won this classic, climbing over Lombardia's famed Madonna di Ghisallo and etching their names in the annals of this "Monument."
Initially called the Milano-Milano in 1905, it became the Giro di Lombardia in 1907; rapidly rising to "classic" status, especially considering the addition of the Madonna del Ghisallo in the 1920s. Then a dirt road is now paved but the climb is still an epic. Rising 511 meters in 8.6 kilometres; the climb hits percentages of 14% before reaching the Sanctuary at top.
The parcours of the 100th Giro di Lombardia, like the last two years, will start in Mendrisio, Switzerland and finish in Como, Italy. Almost all of the 245km are completely in the Lombardia region. From Mendrisio the riders will travel towards Como, going up and around Lake Como, a small section of climbing around Lecco, before heading to the main attraction. The riders will snake their way north towards Bellagio turning left, starting the famed ascent of Madonna del Ghisallo; topping out with 45km to go.
Cyclingnews will be covering the Giro di Lombardia live, with coverage starting at 15:00 CEST (Europe)/9:00 EDT (USA East)/6:00 PDT (USA West)/23:00 AEST (Australia East).