Tour of Lombardy: start line gallery

The gruppo gathers in Milan for the last classic of the season

The Tour of Lombardy rolled out of the centre of Milan on Saturday, with the peloton riding in front of the new offices of the Lombardy Regional council before heading north to the hills around Lake Como.

The city centre location and the modern buildings meant there was no real autumnal feel to the 'Race of the Falling Leaves' but most of the riders seemed happy to end the season with a final fling in one of the major classics on the calendar.

New world champion Thor Hushovd was again the centre of attention as he showed off his rainbow jersey. The Tour of Lombardy is the last ever race for the his Cervelo TestTeam and the riders lined-up on the front of the peloton for the start of what will be an emotional race.

Despite talk of a rider protest about the comments from Italian anti-doping investigator Ettore Torri, the race started on time. The International Rider's Association decided to downgrade their protest by giving out leaflets and some riders had a sicker on their helmets saying: I race with my heart.

Gilbert the big favourite

2009 Lombardy Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is the big favourite for a second consecutive victory today.

The Belgian studied the new finale of the race during training on Friday and said he liked it because of the technical descent, which will make it difficult for any chasers to get back to the front group.

This year's race is now 260km long and includes the tougher Colma di Sormano climb (40km from the finish) after the steep climb to the Madonna di Ghisallo (with 57km to go). However it is the final San Fermo di Battaglia climb overlooking Como that is expected to decide who wins the final classic of the 2010 season.

As usual the early action along the shores of Lake Como was fast and furious. The early break consisted of six riders: Tony Gallopin (Cofidis), Gianluca Mirenda (ISD-Neri), Diego Caccia (ISD-Neri), Mauro Da Dalto (Lampre-Farnese Vini), Kjeil Carlström (Team Sky) and Michael Albasini (HTC-Columbia).

They went clear after 15km and had a seven-minute lead as the race reached Sorico after 100km of racing.

Check out our full Tour of Lombardy start line gallery here.

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