Rory Sutherland will ride both Il Lombardia and Paris-Tours this weekend, taking a late flight from Milan on Saturday night to be at the start of Paris-Tours on Sunday morning in order to ensure that his UAE Team Emirates squad have the minimum number of five riders to be able to start the French race.
Sutherland was not expected to finish the hilly 243km Il Lombardia but, finished in 104th, almost 20 minutes down on race winner Bauke Mollema. He's likely to clock up 400km of racing across the two days in the saddle.
The Australian veteran was selected by UAE Team Emirates for both races due to a shortage of fit and on form riders for the final weekend of racing in Europe. UCI rules insist that teams field a minimum of five riders and so Sutherland accepted to double up when he got the call from his directeur sportif.
Sutherland hasn’t been confirmed with UAE Team Emirates for 2020 and is maybe facing retirement but he did not complain.
"Sometimes being a bike rider isn’t all fairies and unicorns. Sometimes you need to fill in the gaps," he tweeted.
"It is what it is. I'm 37 years old, I've done this for long enough, I know how it works and I just go with it," Sutherland told Cyclingnews with a smile and shrug at the start of Il Lombardia.
"It's what happen at the end of the season when people get sick, tired and injured. That's when you grab the older, more experienced guys, who don’t complain too much when the call comes and they say 'we need you for another race.'
Sutherland is a seasoned domestique. He turned professional in 2006 for Rabobank, raced for six seasons in the USA and then returned to Europe in 2013, riding for Saxo-Tinkoff, Movistar and UAE Team Emirates. His 2019 season started at the Tour Down Under in January and will end with 71 races spread across ten months. He is trusted for his work as a domestique and intends to do his job right to the very end of the final week of the season.
"I want to do the best job I can at Lombardia and we'll figure the rest later," he explained, going with the flow.
"I've got a flight to Paris at nine o'clock. I'll then head to the start and we'll see what happens in the race."
Will he then be done for the year?
"Apparently. But I'll be ready if I get another call," Sutherland said.