MTN-Qhubeka to replace Vini Fantini in Il Lombardia

Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung will ride the Il Lombardia in October. The first African Professional Continental team received the wildcard invitation after Vini Fantini-Sella Italia withdrew from the race. Race organizers also announced that the race will once again start in Bergamo and finish in Lecco.

MTN-Qhubeka will be the 25th team in the race, with organisers noting that the team was the winner of this year's Milan-San Remo with Gerald Ciolek. Vini Fantini had earlier been awarded one of the wildcards, but returned the invitation after two of its riders tested positive for EPO around the Giro d'Italia.

"Giro di Lombardia is a race I watched live last year and it goes over such beautiful and tough terrain and has a similar type of finish to Milan-Sanremo with hard climbs near the end,” team principal Doug Ryder told Cyclingnews. “It will be a great event for our team and fantastic to end our first Pro Continental racing season with a World Tour event. We have had 7 UCI victories this season and we are looking forward to a successful autumn."

The race, to be held October 6, will start in Bergamo and early on will feature the Valcava climb (9.6km,  9% and 1336m). Coming later, the Muro di Sormano will be a real challenge. It is only 2km but has a 15% average gradient, narrow roads, and 25-30% grade hairpins. There are two more major climbs before the finish, the Ghisallo with a maximum gradient of 14% and the Vila Vergano, which kicks up to 15%.

The 25 participating teams include all 19 WorldTour teams plus Androni Giacattoli-Venezuela, Colombia, IAM Cycling, MTN-Qhubeka, Europcar and NetApp-Endura.

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