The climb of San Fermo della Battaglia, so often decisive in the outcome of Il Lombardia, will be absent from the finale of this year’s race due to a road closure owing to the threat of landslides.
The race, which takes place on Saturday, October 13, will once again start in Bergamo and finish in Como, with a sportive ride held on the same roads on Sunday.
The route of the 2018 edition of Il Lombardia was presented by RCS Sport in Como on Thursday morning. With the exception of the absent San Fermo della Battaglia, replaced by the easier and shorter Monte Olimpino climb near Como, the course is markedly similar to last year’s race, which was won by Vincenzo Nibali.
Despite the loss of the San Fermo della Battaglia climb, some 4000 metres of vertical climbing feature on the 241km course, and the race’s six climbs include the traditional ascent of the Madonna del Ghisallo and the viciously steep Muro di Sormano, which returned to the Race of the Falling Leaves in 2012 after a 50-year absence.
After setting out from Bergamo, the first climb is the Colle Gallo after 54km, which is followed by the Colle Brianza after 113km. The route then winds towards Lake Como and hugs the shore before climbing towards the Madonna de Ghisallo (8.5km at 6.5%).
The ascent of the Ghisallo is followed by the tough Muro di Sormano, and this combination should provoke the first major selection of the race. The summit of the Sormano comes with a shade under 50km to go, and after a rapid descent to Nesso, the race returns to the shore of Lake Como before climbing again to Civiglio.
The summit of the Civiglio climb comes with 14km remaining. Rather than swing left afterwards to tackle San Fermo della Battaglia, the route of Il Lombardia will instead proceed directly to tackle the short and punchy ascent to Monte Olimpino in the finale. The climb is 1.7km in length with an average gradient of 5% and a maximum pitch of 9%. The summit comes 3km from the finish, and a quick descent leads to the finish in Como on Lungo Lario Trento e Trieste.
“It's always highly satisfying to present the Il Lombardia course, the last of the Classic Monuments of the season, traditionally the first occasion for 'revenge' after the UCI Road World Championships. [It is] a race that has seen all the great champions of the sport winning in its history of more than 100 years,” race director Mauro Vegni said.
With this year’s Worlds due to take place on a mountainous course in Innsbruck two weeks beforehand, Il Lombardia ought to attract a field of considerable depth. Two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali is among the riders expected to participate. Six wildcard teams have been invited: Androni Sidermec, Bardiani CSF, Israel Cycling Academy, Nippo-Vini Fantini, Fortuneo-Samsic and Wilier-Selle Italia.
Il Lombardia will be preceded by Tre Valli Varesine on October 9 and Milan-Turin on October 10. Milan-Turin will once again finish atop the climb of Superga.
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of the Italian end of season Classics, with full live coverage of Il Lombardia on October 13.