Complete Live Report
Tre Valli Varesine 2018 start list
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Nibali hoping for final day of form at Il Lombardia
Valverde debuts rainbow jersey at Tre Valli Varesine
From the Giro dell'Emilia to Il Lombardia: The final act of the European road season
- 140km remaining from 209.9km
As we pick up the action, a group of five riders has a lead of 6:55 over the peloton. Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), Edoardo Zardini (Willier Triestina-Selle Italia) and Paolo Toto (Sangemini – MG Kvis) escaped after 35km of racing, and quickly established a lead of 8:40 over the bunch.
In recent kilometres, Astana, Israel Cycling Academy and Gazprom-Rusvelo have all begun to chase at the head of the peloton, and the gap has come down accordingly.
There was a very brisk beginning to proceedings, with Lennard Kamna (Sunweb) among the early attackers, but it took 35km for a break to establish itself. The escapees covered some 48km in the opening hour of racing after leaving the start in Saronno.
- 134km remaining from 209.9km
The flattest part of the route was that opening segment in linea from Saronno towards the climb to Castello Cabiaglio (7.2km at 3.5%). The escapees are over the summit and dropping towards Varesew for the first time.
- 138km remaining from 209.9km
The flattest part of the route was that opening segment in linea from Saronno towards the climb to Castello Cabiaglio (7.2km at 3.5%). The escapees are over the summit and dropping towards Varese for the first time.
On reaching Varese, the riders tackle six laps of the 'short circuit', which takes them on a 12.6km loop over the climb of Montello (1.7km at 5.5%). The race then faces two laps of the 'long circuit,' a 21.2km route over Montello and Morosolo (1.7km at 7.6%).
- 133km remaining from 209.9km
The bunch is continuing to close in steadily on the five escapees. The gap is now down to 4:20.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) makes his debut in the rainbow bands of world champion today, but insisted that he is not a contender for victory. "No, today is not an objective for me," Valverde said. "Today is about enjoying the jersey." Read more here.
Valverde hasn't always found Italy so welcoming. When the Tour de France crossed the border in 2008, the Italian Olympic Committee matched the DNA from a blood sample taken from Valverde on the rest day in Cuneo with the blood bags seized as part of Operacion Puerto. CONI moved to ban Valverde from racing in Italy, which prevented him from riding the 2009 Tour as it briefly crossed into Italy on stage 16. In 2010, Valverde was belatedly a worldwide ban as a result of the evidence gathered by CONI.
- 129km remaining from 209.9km
Matteo Bono (UAE Team Emirates), Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), Edoardo Zardini (Willier Triestina-Selle Italia) and Paolo Toto (Sangemini – MG Kvis) crossed the finish line in Varese for the first time with a lead of 5:05 over the peloton.
Vincenzo Nibali's lone victory of 2018 came in dramatic fashion at Milan-San Remo. After injury ruined his Worlds build-up, he is looking to salvage something from the final phase of his season this week. A third win at Il Lombardia is the objective, and 8th place at Saturday's Giro dell'Emilia was an encouraging sign for Nibali, who fractured a vertebra when he crashed on Alpe d'Huez at the Tour de France. Stephen Farrand spoke with Nibali yesterday. "I'm chasing them like two lines on a graph," Nibali said of competing against riders who been side-lined by injury as he was. "I feel as though I'm narrowing the gap, but I might run out of time. I could be in my best form in two or three weeks, but I'll be on holiday by then." Read the full story here.
- 120km remaining from 209.9km
The peloton's deficit has dropped once more to 4:20, though at this early juncture, there is no real urgency to the pursuit.
Astana are the team performing the bulk of the pace-making in the peloton. The Kazakhstani squad has Miguel Angel Lopez, Dario Cataldo and Luis Leon Sanchez in its line-up this afternoon.
Groupama-FDJ's team is led by Thibaut Pinot, who placed on the podium a year ago. Jeremy Roy was a late addition to the team after Anthony Roux was ruled out by injury. Roy is retiring at the end of the season and finished Paris-Tours believing it was his final road race as a professional. The 35-year-old will bring the curtain down on his career at the Chrono des Nations on Sunday.
2017 winner Alexandre Geniez returns to the Tre Valli Varesine this year, and he is joined in the AG2R La Mondiale team by Worlds silver medallist Romain Bardet. The two Frenchmen are among the leading contenders for victory this afternoon.
Worlds bronze medallist Michael Woods is in Varese as part of a strong EF-Drapac line-up that also includes Rigoberto Uran, who is usually a reliable performer in Italy at this time of the year. Uran won Milano-Torino in 2017 and has placed third at Il Lombardia on no fewer than three occasions - in 2008, 2012 and 2016.
- 90km remaining from 209.9km
The escapees have completed two laps of the 'short' circuit. Their lead over the peloton stands at 3:15. Movistar have joined Astana at the head of the bunch.
Danilo Celano (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) has attacked alone from the peloton and is pursuing the break. He is 2:30 down on Bono et al, while the bunch is at 3:15.
Bahrain-Merida have also sent a detachment of riders to the head of the peloton, and the break's advantage is now beginning to tumble gently. The gap is down to 2:35.
Another notable presence in today's race is Michael Matthews (Sunweb). He was bizarrely overlooked for the Australian Worlds team, but Matthews has been in sparkling late-season form and will not be fazed by this course. Wilco Kelderman and Sam Oomen also feature for Sunweb.
- 76km remaining from 209.9km
Celano has been caught by the bunch, which is now 2:10 behind the five leaders. The average speed after 3 hours of racing is 41.33kph.
On the fourth ascent of the climb of Montello, Luca Wackermann (Bardiani-CSF), Manuel Penalver (Delko Marseille) and Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo) pile on the pressure at the front of the peloton.
- 70km remaining from 209.9km
With two 'short' laps and two 'long' laps remaining, the break's lead is down to 1:35.
Bora-Hansgrohe have been active at the head of the peloton in recent kilometres, and their injection of pace has lowered the gap to inside a minute. Rafal Majka, Pete Kennaugh and Davide Formolo are all in their squad this afternoon.
- 63km remaining from 209.9km
Bono has been distanced from the break, leaving Michael Storer (Team Sunweb), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), Edoardo Zardini (Willier Triestina-Selle Italia) and Paolo Toto (Sangemini – MG Kvis) at the front of the race. Meanwhile, a nine-man move has taken shape just off the front of the peloton.
Paweł Poljański (Bora-Hansgrohe) was a faller earlier in the race, and he has been taken to Ospedale del Circo in Varese for assessment.
- 53km remaining from 209.9km
A counter-attack led by Rafal Majka has made contact with the remnants of the break, and we now have a group of 14 riders at the head of the race.
The riders in the front group are: Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Leo Vincent (Groupama-FDJ), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Andrea Bagioli (UAE Team Emirates), Floris De Tier (LottoNL-Jumbo), Michael Gogl (Trek-Segafredo), Michael Storer (Sunweb), Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF), Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF), Edoardo Zardini (Wilier-Selle Italia) and Paolo Totò (Sangemini-Mg. K Vis-Vega).
- 52km remaining from 209.9km
The break's lead expands to 25 seconds on the climb of Montello, and Luis Leon Sanchez leads a counter-attack across in pursuit.
Tonelli, Toto and Storer were among those to struggle in the break on the climb of Montello. Luis Leon Sanchez is in pursuit, meanwhile, in the company of Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) and Sebastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ).
- 46km remaining from 209.9km
Ten riders remain at the head of the race: Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Leo Vincent (Groupama-FDJ), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Andrea Bagioli (UAE Team Emirates), Floris De Tier (LottoNL-Jumbo), Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF) and Edoardo Zardini (Wilier-Selle Italia). Joe Dombrowski leads the chasing peloton.
Luis Leon Sanchez, Reichenbach and Kudus are on the cusp of bridging across to the leaders to form a break of 13 riders.
- 43km remaining from 209.9km
The situation as the Tre Valli Varesine approaches the two final 'long' circuits sees a group of 13 riders with a lead of a half a minute or so over the peloton. Antonio Pedrero (Movistar), Pierre Latour (AG2R La Mondiale), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Leo Vincent (Groupama-FDJ), Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe), Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Andrea Bagioli (UAE Team Emirates), Floris De Tier (LottoNL-Jumbo), Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani-CSF), Edoardo Zardini (Wilier-Selle Italia), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Sebastien Reichenbach (Groupama-FDJ) and Merhawi Kudus (Dimension Data) are our leaders.
- 42km remaining from 209.9km
Two laps to go for the peloton, and the deficit has stretched out to 47 seconds.
- 40km remaining from 209.9km
EF-Drapac are very prominent in leading the pursuit in the main peloton. Buchmann, meanwhile, sets the tempo in the break.
Pedrero has been sparing in his efforts in this break, mindful that his Movistar team has been intermittently chasing on behalf of Valverde. Their lead has come down slightly to 36 seconds.
- 34km remaining from 209.9km
The speed is high as the break swoops down off the penultimate ascent of Montello. Next up is the climb of Morosolo, which will give the riders a first sight of the tough finale to this race.
Simon Clarke is leading the line for EF-Drapac in the bunch. The American squad have two options this afternoon in Michael Woods and Rigoberto Uran.
- 30km remaining from 209.9km
The break's lead is down to just 19 seconds as the road begins to climb once again. Giulio Ciccone sets the tempo on the front, with Majka on his wheel.
A delegation from Groupama-FDJ has moved to the head of the peloton as they approach the base of the climb of Morosolo. The climb proper is short at 1.7km, but the road kicks up once again after a brief lull, and then there is only the shallowest of descents towards the line in the closing 4 kilometres.
Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo) accelerates in the main peloton, and that effort has reduced their deficit to just 11 seconds.
Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb) is the next to have a go, and this Dutch onslaught may well peg back the fragmenting front group on this climb.
Ciccone leads a lined-out front group over the crest of Morosolo, but the peloton is upon them.
- 28km remaining from 209.9km
The escapees have been caught but there is no let-up in the pace. The bunch is strung out into one long line, and many riders were jettisoned out the back on the climb.
Buchmann and Sanchez were both part of the break, and each man has continued to ride on the front after the move was pinned back.
Kelderman attacks again as the road climb after the level crossing atop Morosolo. George Bennett (LottoNL-Jumbo) tracks the move.
Kelderman and Bennett are brought to heel and the pace drops slightly as the gradient stiffens.
- 26km remaining from 209.9km
David Gaudu takes over for Groupama-FDJ on the narrow roads over the top of the climb. As the road flattens out, George Bennett launches another speculative effort.
- 23km remaining from 209.9km
Three riders have escaped over the other side of the final climb. Mathias Frank (AG2R La Mondiale), Robert Power (Mitchelton-Scott) and Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) have a small lead over a chasing group featuring Giovanni Visconti. The bunch trails at 20 seconds.
- 21km remaining from 209.9km
Into the final lap for Skujins, Power and Frank. Tolhoek, Visconti and Kelderman are in the five-man chasing group just behind them.
Eight riders at the front as the two groups merge: Mathias Frank (AG2R La Mondiale), Robert Power (Mitchelton-Scott),Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Emanuel Buchman (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Ivan Santaromita (Nippo- Vini Fantini). They have 20 seconds on the bunch.
David Gaudu attacks forcefully in the bunch on the climb of Montello. Nibali is among the riders to track the Frenchman's move.
Gaudu relents over the top of Montello after whittling the bunch down to 20 or so riders. Rigoberto Uran (EF-Drapac) attacks on the descent and opens a small gap. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) leads the chase with Sam Oomen on his wheel. Kelderman, Visconti and the break are still up the road.
- 16km remaining from 209.9km
Pete Kennaugh, incidentally, managed to bridge across to the leaders, meaning that we have nine riders in front: Mathias Frank (AG2R La Mondiale), Robert Power (Mitchelton-Scott),Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo), Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), Giovanni Visconti (Bahrain-Merida), Antwan Tolhoek (LottoNL-Jumbo), Emanuel Buchman (Bora-Hansgrohe), Pete Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Ivan Santaromita (Nippo- Vini Fantini). The reduced peloton is at 14 seconds.
- 15km remaining from 209.9km
After Uran is brought back by the Valverde group, Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy) launches a lone counter-attack and sets off in pursuit of the escapees.
Luis Leon Sanchez bridges across to Boivin, but they have only the smallest of leads over the peloton. The nine leaders, meanwhile, are around 15 seconds clear.
- 13km remaining from 209.9km
Valverde and Nibali converse in the reduced peloton. With Visconti up front, there is no onus on Bahrain-Merida to contribute to the chase.
Boivin and Sanchez are still caught in the no man's land between the break and the peloton. AG2R La Mondiale have taken up the reins in the bunch.
- 9km remaining from 209.9km
Boivin and Sanchez are 13 seconds behind the nine leaders, with the reduced peloton a little further back.
- 8km remaining from 209.9km
The leaders are still collaborating smoothly on the approach to the final climb up Morosolo, but their unity will surely be fragmented on its slopes.
- 7.5km remaining from 209.9km
These nine riders still have a gap of 15 seconds over Boivin and Sanchez, and a handful more over the Groupama-FDJ and AG2R La Mondiale-led peloton.
- 7km remaining from 209.9km
Buchmann sets the pace in the front group on the lower slopes of the climb. Sanchez and Boivin has reduced their deficit to 11 seconds.
Robert Power attacks on the climb of Morosolo. Skuijns follows, with the rest of the break not far behind.
Power, Skuijns, Kelderman, Frank and Kennaugh are at the front of the race as the break splits under Power's forcing.
Sanchez and Boivin, meanwhile, have been swallowed by the bunch, which is just over 10 seconds back.
Gaudu accelerates on the climb of Morosolo. Bennett is on his wheel, with Pinot tucked into third position in the bunch. Michael Woods is also prominent.
Robert Power has continued his onslaught and opened a gap over the top of Morosolo. Kelderman et al have been distanced.
- 6km remaining from 209.9km
Mathias Frank leads the chasers, but the bunch is closing in upon them.
Power is caught by Kelderman, Skuijns, Kennaugh and Frank as the road kicks up once again.
As soon as Power is caught, Pete Kennaugh attacks alone, and the Manxman has opened a gap over Kelderman, Power, Skuijns and Frank.
- 4km remaining from 209.9km
There is action in the main peloton, meanwhile, as Rigoberto Uran attacks and then catches and passes the chasers. The Colombian is in lone pursuit of Kennaugh as the road climbs once again.
Rigoberto Uran has caught Kennaugh and zoomed straight by him. The Colombian is on the narrow road to takes in the final metres of climbing in this Tre Valli Varesine.
The bunch is upon the chasers, meanwhile. Thibaut Pinot accelerates on the final part of the climb, with Michael Woods marking him on behalf of Uran.
- 3km remaining from 209.9km
Rigoberto Uran leads over the crest of the climb, but Pinot is bridging across with Woods on his wheel. Toms Skuijns also remains in contention.
- 3.8km remaining from 209.9km
Rigoberto Uran leads over the crest of the climb, but Pinot is bridging across with Woods on his wheel. Toms Skuijns also remains in contention.
- 3.5km remaining from 209.9km
Pinot, Woods, Kelderman, Frank, Kennaugh and Skuijns have caught Uran at the head of the race, leaving seven riders in front.
- 3km remaining from 209.9km
Pinot and Woods lead the seven-man group into the final 3km. Valverde, Nibali and Bennett are in a rather elite chasing group behind.
- 2km remaining from 209.9km
Woods and Uran somehow manage to forge clear in a two-man move. Pinot claws his way back up to them.
- 1km remaining from 209.9km
The seven leaders are back together as they enter the final kilometre. They can't afford to sit up and watch one another with Valverde et al chasing behind.
Uran keeps the pace high in the break, with Kelderman and Pinot on his wheel.
Uran has done enough to ensure this move will stay clear and he swings over before the sprint...
Pinot hits the front in the sprint, but Skuijns comes around him...
Toms Skujins (Trek-Segafredo) wins Tre Valli Varesine.
Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) finishes second for the second year in a row. Pete Kennaugh (Bora-Hansgrohe) takes third ahead of Michael Woods (EF-Drapac).
Skuijns underlined his form by playing a key role in helping Bauke Mollema win the GP Beghelli at the weekend, and he was full value for his victory here. It's disappointment for Pinot, though he offered confirmation of his condition ahead of Il Lombardia, where he has gone close in recent years.
1 Toms Skujins (Lat) Trek-Segafredo 04:55:41
2 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) Groupama-FDJ
3 Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Bora-Hansgrohe
4 Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
5 Mathias Frank (Swi) AG2R La Mondiale
6 Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Team Sunweb
7 Rigoberto Uran (Col) EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 00:00:04
8 Julien Simon (Fra) Cofidis, Solutions Credits 00:00:13
9 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Bahrain-Merida
10 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Trek-Segafredo
Thanks for following our live coverage this afternoon. A full report, pictures and results are available here, while Stephen Farrand will have all the news and reaction from Varese.