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12km cut from Il Lombardia route in late course change

The updated profile for the 2020 Il Lombardia
The updated profile for Il Lombardia (Image credit: RCS Sport)

Organisers of Il Lombardia announced a late change to the course for Saturday's Monument, cutting 12km from the route to bring it down from 243km to 231km and making it the shortest edition of the race since 1960.

Il Lombardia, which originally was positioned in the first week of October, moved to August 15 this year as part of the mass rescheduling of events due to the coronavirus pandemic. The date is a national holiday in Italy, Ferragosto.

RCS Sport cut a U-shaped detour after the Colle Brianza that would have taken the peloton to the outskirts of Lecco before turning back toward Oggiono. The race will instead take a more direct route to Oggiono after the Colle Brianza, which comes at the halfway point.

The change has no impact on the selective features of the course: the iconic climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo, the fearsome Muro di Sormano, and the ascents of the Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia in the final 20km. The race finishes on the waterfront in Como with a fast 5km run-in from the last climb.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) will make his debut in Il Lombardia as a top favourite after taking the overall victory in Tour de Pologne, his fourth stage race win of the season.

Also on the start line for the first time will be Mathieu van der Poel, whose Alpecin-Fenix team were invited to all of RCS Sport's one-day races. Last year's winner Bauke Mollema and his Trek-Segafredo teammate and two-time Il Lombardia champion Vincenzo Nibali will return.

The climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo marks the beginning of the Il Lombardia end-game, with the 8.3km climb hitting double-digit gradients near the bottom and at the top. A fast descent brings riders immediately to the base of the Colma di Sormano.

The Sormano starts with a gentle 6.6 per cent grade over 5.1km. Then riders detour onto a very narrow and incredibly steep stretch of tarmac 1.9km in length that averages almost 16 per cent and tops out at nearly 30 per cent.

The harrowing descent on the other side is one of the trickiest in pro cycling and caused several riders to crash in the 2017 edition, with Jan Bakelants, Laurens De Plus, Simone Petilli and Daniel Martínez all injured after going off-road into a ravine.

The Sormano breaks up the peloton but it is typically the 4.2km ascent to Civiglio where the winning moves emerge, with the 9.5 per cent climb topping out with 17km to go.