This year’s Il Lombardia will bring down the curtain on the men’s WorldTour calendar, with a new route from Como to Bergamo that avoids the steep Muro di Sormano climb and the testing descent where Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) crashed into a ravine, but still includes 4,500 metres of climbing to make the one-day hardest Classic of the season.
According to race director Mauro Vegnu of RCS Sport, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), Tao Geoghegan Hart (Ineos Grenadiers), Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo), Chris Froome (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Evenepoel are amongst those expected to ride.
Evenepoel crashed when the race was moved to August 15 as part of the post-COVID-19 lockdown calendar. He lost his balance on the descent of the Muro di Sormano, hit a low stone wall of a bridge, and fell into the ravine below. He suffered a fractured pelvis that disrupted his winter and early 2021 season but has now made a full recovery and is apparently keen to return to Il Lombardia to cancel memories of his crash.
Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech) won in 2020 after distancing George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) on the final San Fermo della Battaglia climb overlooking Como.
This year’s Il Lombardia will be held on Saturday, October 9, a week after this year’s rescheduled edition of Paris-Roubaix. Racing in Italy packs the calendar before and after 'the race of the falling leaves', but with the Tour of Guangxi cancelled yet again, Il Lombardia will decide the overall winner of the individual, team and national UCI WorldTour rankings. There is no women’s edition of Il Lombardia.
The finish of Il Lombardia has switched between Como and Bergamo in recent years and returns to Bergamo for the first time since 2016 when Esteban Chaves won. Dan Martin also won in Bergamo in 2014 and this year’s race will mark the end of his successful career.
The 239km race will start on the edge of Lake Garda and climb the Ghisallo from the easier inland Asso side before descending to the lake edge at Bellagio. The route then heads east via Lecco to tackle the major climbs of the race in the Bergamo hills.
The 9.4km Roncola climb comes after 100km and includes an early section at 17 per cent and a long central part at 8.2 per cent. It is followed by the Berbenno, the 11km Dossena and a gradual road up to the 1,257-metre high Zambla Alta, followed by a steep descent and equally steep 9.2km Passo di Ganda - the back side of the well-known Selvino climb.
A 20km descent via 19 hairpins launches the riders to Bergamo with the final steep climb up to historic Bergamo Alta offering a chance for a late attack.
The fast descent to the finish in Viale Roma is also open to late attacks as Martin proved, before the finish in the streets of Bergamo Bassa.
“It will be a route without super hard climbs like the one in Sormano but a series of climbs creates a total elevation of 4,500 metres,” Vegni said at the route presentation.
“Like every year there will be great champions at the start, who I am sure will put on a show. We have riders of the calibre of Pogačar, Roglič, Evenepoel, Geoghegan Hart, Nibali and Froome just to name on the provisional start list.”
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