Alaphilippe has had a hugely successful year, winning Milan-San Remo, Strade Bianche, La Fleche Wallonne, and two stages of the Tour de France, but said his form was not where it needed to be approaching the final Monument of the season.
Gilbert, a two-time winner of ‘the race of the falling leaves’, is therefore the headline rider in QuickStep’s seven-man line-up. However, the veteran Belgian has focused more on the flatter Classics in the past couple of years, winning Paris-Roubaix in April and targeting the Yorkshire World Championships last month.
Mas, then, may well emerge as the Belgian team’s biggest threat. The 24-year-old Spaniard, who placed 51st on his Lombardia debut last year, finished 10th at Milano-Torino on Wednesday, a race Gilbert did not finish.
Joining Gilbert and Mas on the start line in Bergamo is Bob Jungels, who has so far been unable to replicate his sensational spring performances in the second part of the season, and who also failed to finish Milano-Torino. The 23-year-old Brit James Knox makes his Monument debut, while the squad is rounded out by Rémi Cavagna, Eros Capecchi, and Petr Vakoc.
"We won two Monuments this year – Sanremo and Roubaix – and we are very motivated to end our European season with another strong performance in Lombardia, a beautiful race where we’ve tasted success several times," said sport director Davide Bramati.
For a third year in a row, Il Lombardia will head from Bergamo to Como, with a total distance of 243km. After a couple of early climbs, the action heats up on the iconic Madonna del Ghisallo, with the famous chapel at the top, and the Colma di Sormano, the steepest section of which is known as ‘the wall’. With just over 20km to go comes the decisive climb of Civiglio, followed by San Fermo di Battaglia, which tops out with just over 5km to go.
"The route doesn’t bring anything new, which means it’s the same tough parcours that will end up making a serious selection by the time we’ll approach the last climb, the Battaglia, which should be decisive, as was the case so many times in the past," Bramati said.
Deceuninck-QuickStep to Il Lombardia
- Eros Capecchi (ITA)
- Rémi Cavagna (FRA)
- Philippe Gilbert (BEL)
- Bob Jungels (LUX)
- James Knox (GBR)
- Enric Mas (ESP)
- Petr Vakoc (CZE)