The final Monument of the season, Il Lombardia, is set to take place in the falling leaves of Northern Italy on Sunday, October 5, with defending champion Joaquim Rodriguez' Katusha squad yet to be announced.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep confirmed today that new world champion Michal Kwiatkowski will take the start for the "Race of the Falling Leaves".
The Polish rider has had a whirlwind week of celebration and appearances after winning the men's world title in Ponferrada.
"I went home after a great welcome at the Warsaw airport," Kwiatkowski said. "My family and my girlfriend were there, along with many journalists and supporters. It was really nice to meet all those people and see how huge cycling has become in Poland."
He is still trying to come to grips with the fact that he is world champion, but thinks lining up in the rainbow jersey on Sunday might finally let it all sink in, but other than that he is understated in his ambitions for the race.
"I probably will realize what I've truly done when I wear the rainbow jersey at the start of Il Lombardia. About Il Lombardia, I've never been able to finish it. I got sick last year the night before the start. So with this jersey, I at least have to do better than last year," he joked. "To me it's beautiful to show my jersey for the first time in a monument. Let's see what I can do considering all the great emotions I've had in the last days. Of course I will try to do my best to honour the race and the jersey."
The course this year tackles the famed Madonna del Ghisallo early in the race, with the key climbs coming in the final 60km: the Passo di Ganda, which kicks up to a 15% gradient and averages over 7% for 9.2km is the first major difficulty at kilometre 191.9, followed by the at kilometre 229.8 which is 5.5km long. The last kicker in Bergamo serves up a maximum 12% grade with just 4km to go, with a little pave for added excitement.
Omega Pharma-Quickstep for Il Lombardia: Julian Alaphilippe, Gianluca Brambilla, Michal Golas, Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels, Pieter Serry, Rigoberto Uran Uran, Carlos Verona
BMC behind Gilbert
BMC Racing brings two-time winner Philippe Gilbert and Cadel Evans to Il Lombardia. Evans once debuted his rainbow jersey in the race, but now toes the line for his last appearance in the event before his retirement.
Gilbert, the winner of the race in 2009 and 2010, will be joined by Samuel Sánchez, who was runner-up in 2006, 2009 and 2012 in addition to a third-place finish in 2007.
BMC for Il Lombardia: Yannick Eijssen, Cadel Evans, Philippe Gilbert, Ben Hermans, Steve Morabito, Samuel Sánchez, Tejay van Garderen, Larry Warbasse.
Giant-Shimano rallies behind three
The Giant-Shimano team named three protected riders for Il Lombardia: world individual time trial bronze medalist Tom Dumoulin will try for a result together with Simon Geschke, who also put in a strong performance for Germany at the Worlds, and Frenchman Warren Barguil.
“All three of these guys showed strongly at the World Championships on Sunday and have a strong support team around them here,” coach Addy Engels said.
“Hopefully all three can still be there in the final and from there we will adapt to the situation on the road, but having options presents up with a strong opportunity to play a part in the outcome of the race.”
The full roster has not yet been announced, but will also include Tobias Ludvigsson and Georg Preidler.
Lampre rides for Costa
The Lampre-Merida team may have lost its hold on the rainbow jersey, but it will try to win the last Monument of 2014 with the former world champion Rui Costa.
Costa and his teammates Nelson Oliveira, Przemyslaw Niemiec and Matteo Bono will preview the final part of the course on Friday with directeur sportif Maini Orlando.
“The final part of the course will be open to more outcomes than in the past editions of Il Lombardia," Maini said. "The altitude difference of the final sector of the course is notable, but there will be also space to recover. Considering these characteristics, I think that a breakaway could stay away - it will be important for us to be at the head of the bunch with as many riders as possible."
Lampre-Merida for Il Lombardia: Matteo Bono, Valerio Conti, Kristijan Durasek, Przemyslaw Niemiec, Nelson Oliveira, Jan Polanc, Rui Costa and Rafael Valls.
Tinkoff-Saxo needs WorldTour points
Tinkoff-Saxo will put its weight behind Alberto Contador in Lombardia, with the aim of getting the better of Alejandro Valverde in the overall UCI WorldTour rankings.
The team is bringing a stellar line-up, with former winner Oliver Zaugg sacrificing his ambitions for his team captain.
In addition to Contador and Zaugg, Jesus Hernandez, Chris Anker Sørensen, Ivan Rovny, Sergio Paulinho, Nicki Sørensen and Michael Rogers will toe the line in Como.
Trek for Il Lombardia: Calvin Watson, Eugenio Alfaci, Fabio Felline, Fränk Schleck, Julian Arredondo, Laurent Didier, Riccardo Zoidl, Yaroslav Popovych
AG2R La Mondiale for Il Lombardia: Romain Bardet, Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez, Mikael Cherel, Matteo Montaguti, Rinaldo Nocentini, Jean-Christophe Péraud, Domenico Pozzovivo, Alexis Vuillermoz
Europcar for Il Lombardia: Jérôme Cousin, Cyril Gautier, Fabrice Jeandesboz, Vincent Jérôme, Christophe Kern, Davide Malacarne, Maxime Mederel, Romain Sicard