This year's Il Lombardia race – the final event on the UCI WorldTour calendar – will cover a new, tougher route between Como and Bergamo to celebrate the 110th edition of the end of season Classic.
The new route of the 'Race of the Falling Leaves' includes the iconic climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo cyclist's chapel, the long and steep Valcava, and the Selvino, before the steep cobbled climb to Bergamo Alta and the fast descent to the finish below the city. The route includes 4,400 metres of climbing, 1,000 metres more than last year’s route to Como, where Vincenzo Nibali won alone. It also includes two new climbs, to Sant'Antonio Abbandonato and Miragolo San Salvatore, which add a further 15.2km of climbing in the final 70km. 65% (3,000m) of the total elevation will be covered in the final 115km of the race.
The 240km route confirms Il Lombardia as the toughest Classic on the calendar, with the best climbers and grand tour contenders the likely protagonists. Ireland's Dan Martin was the last winner in Bergamo in 2014, when he beat Alejandro Valverde and Rui Costa after a select group of riders emerged in the finale of the race.
"This year we celebrate 110 editions of the race, something that very few races worldwide have achieved. It's the final monument Classic that characterises the end of the cycling season and so brings with it great numbers and great protagonists,” Mauro Vegni, the director of cycling at organiser RCS Sport said at the presentation in Bergamo.
“The race will be broadcasted in 163 countries across five continents and we will be live in Italy thanks to host broadcaster RAI, reaching around one million spectators in our home country. As usual it will be the best riders will be in action and I'm sure they will make for a great race.”
Technical director and former rider Stefano Allocchio revealed that local riders had discovered the Sant'Antonio Abbandonato and Miragolo San Salvatore climbs.
"We've decided to add two brand new climbs in the finale compared to the previous finish in Bergamo in 2014," he said. “That will make the course even more selective. Other key climbs will be the Madonna del Ghisallo, the first one to be faced in this edition, Colle Brianza, Valcava and in the finale Selvino and the classic Bergamo Alta short punchy climb, just a few kilometres from the finish line"
Shark's tooth profile
The route has a shark's tooth profile, with the Ghisallo coming after 50km. The tough finale begins with the Valcava after 130km. It is 11.65km long, with an average gradient of 8% that stays in double figures for the final five kliometres.
A long descent takes the race to the new climbs, with the Berbenno used as a warm-up. The climb to Sant'Antonio Abbandonato is 6.5km long with a gradient of 8.9%. A steep descent leads to the foot of the Miragolo San Salvatore climb, which is 8.7km long at 7%. It ends at the 200km point in the race route, with the Selvino and the cobbled ramp up to Bergamo Alta divided by a fast descent and valley road. Many of the roads are narrow and twisting, on both the climbs and descents, adding an extra factor to the race, especially in the event of rain and falling leaves.
RCS Sport has already confirmed the teams for this year's race. As well as the 18 WorldTour teams, wild card invitations have been given to Androni Giocattoli, Bardiani-CSF, CCC Sprandi, Cofidis, Gazprom-Rusvelo, Nippo-Vini Fantini and Wilier-Southeast.
Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of Il Lombardia, with a photo gallery, news and interviews from the race.