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Tour of Lombardy: start line gallery

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World champion Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) was at the front of the bunch before the start.

World champion Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) was at the front of the bunch before the start. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton gathers in the centre of Milan for the start.

The peloton gathers in the centre of Milan for the start. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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World champion Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) lines up at the end of the peloton.

World champion Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam) lines up at the end of the peloton. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Russian champion Alexandre Kolobnev (Katusha).

Russian champion Alexandre Kolobnev (Katusha). (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Big favourite Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) waits for the start with his teammates.

Big favourite Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) waits for the start with his teammates. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) at the start.

Edvald Boasson Hagen (Team Sky) at the start. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha).

Carlos Barredo (Quick Step), Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha). (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Chechu Rubiera (RadioShack) sets off for his last major race.

Chechu Rubiera (RadioShack) sets off for his last major race. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The Specialized bikes await the Saxo Bank riders

The Specialized bikes await the Saxo Bank riders (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) fastens his helmet.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) fastens his helmet. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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The riders roll out of Milan.

The riders roll out of Milan. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Luca Paolini (Acqua & Sapone) before the off.

Luca Paolini (Acqua & Sapone) before the off. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) was one of the last riders to start.

Andy Schleck (Saxo Bank) was one of the last riders to start. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) enjoys racing in Italy.

Richie Porte (Saxo Bank) enjoys racing in Italy. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) checks his race radio.

Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) checks his race radio. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Marco Velo (Quick Step) begins his last race as a professional .

Marco Velo (Quick Step) begins his last race as a professional . (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Patrik Sinkewitz (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) returned an adverse analytical finding for HGH.

Patrik Sinkewitz (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) returned an adverse analytical finding for HGH. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) is a potential dark horse.

Matti Breschel (Saxo Bank) is a potential dark horse. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Chris Horner (RadioShack) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transition) roll out.

Chris Horner (RadioShack) and Tom Danielson (Garmin-Transition) roll out. (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)
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Alessandro Ballan (BMC) was looking to get a big win at the Tour of Lombardy.

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) was looking to get a big win at the Tour of Lombardy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) was looking to cap a dream season with a win at Lombardy.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) was looking to cap a dream season with a win at Lombardy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) in Milan at the start of the 2010 Tour of Lombardy.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) in Milan at the start of the 2010 Tour of Lombardy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) looks every inch a world champion.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) looks every inch a world champion. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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A contemplative Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) before the start.

A contemplative Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) before the start. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The new start in Milan proved popular with the fans.

The new start in Milan proved popular with the fans. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) extended his season in order to honour the rainbow jersey in Lombardy.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) extended his season in order to honour the rainbow jersey in Lombardy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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This years' Tour of Lombardy starts in Milan, at the Palazzo Lombardia.

This years' Tour of Lombardy starts in Milan, at the Palazzo Lombardia. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The mighty Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) signs on.

The mighty Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) signs on. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) is the new darling of the tifosi after a fine season.

Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) is the new darling of the tifosi after a fine season. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd was riding his final race for Cervelo.

Thor Hushovd was riding his final race for Cervelo. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) resplendent in the rainbow jersey.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) resplendent in the rainbow jersey. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) was in demand on the start line.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) was in demand on the start line. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was in high spirits after his win in Paris-Tours last week.

Oscar Freire (Rabobank) was in high spirits after his win in Paris-Tours last week. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alessandro Ballan (BMC) has had a disappointing time of it this season.

Alessandro Ballan (BMC) has had a disappointing time of it this season. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The gruppo rolls out in Milan.

The gruppo rolls out in Milan. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) is ready to go.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) is ready to go. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Marco Velo (Quick Step) was riding his final race as a professional at the Tour of Lombardy.

Marco Velo (Quick Step) was riding his final race as a professional at the Tour of Lombardy. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Don't mess with the best. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) is ready to get down to business.

Don't mess with the best. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) is ready to get down to business. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is chasing his first big classic win in some time.

Filippo Pozzato (Katusha) is chasing his first big classic win in some time. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) in determined mood in Milan.

Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) in determined mood in Milan. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Follow this man. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) will be a marked man throughout 2011.

Follow this man. Thor Hushovd (Cervelo) will be a marked man throughout 2011. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) at the start in Milan.

Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) at the start in Milan. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Tour of Lombardy rolled out of the centre of Milan on Saturday, with the peloton riding in front of the new offices of the Lombardy Regional council before heading north to the hills around Lake Como.

The city centre location and the modern buildings meant there was no real autumnal feel to the 'Race of the Falling Leaves' but most of the riders seemed happy to end the season with a final fling in one of the major classics on the calendar.

Despite talk of a rider protest about the comments from Italian anti-doping investigator Ettore Torri, the race started on time. The International Rider's Association decided to downgrade their protest by giving out leaflets and some riders had a sicker on their helmets saying: I race with my heart.

Gilbert the big favourite

2009 Lombardy Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) is the big favourite for a second consecutive victory today.

The Belgian studied the new finale of the race during training on Friday and said he liked it because of the technical descent, which will make it difficult for any chasers to get back to the front group.

This year's race is now 260km long and includes the tougher Colma di Sormano climb (40km from the finish) after the steep climb to the Madonna di Ghisallo (with 57km to go). However it is the final San Fermo di Battaglia climb overlooking Como that is expected to decide who wins the final classic of the 2010 season.

They went clear after 15km and had a seven-minute lead as the race reached Sorico after 100km of racing.

Check out our full Tour of Lombardy start line gallery here.