Welcome to Cyclingnews' live race centre for full coverage of the final Monument of the 2016 season.
Hello there, good morning, and a warm welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of Il Lombardia.
So, here we are then. It's the final Monument of the 2016 season - and what a way to finish it off. The autumn Italian classics are always a treat and here we have the big one. It's hilly, scenic, and unpredictable - settle yourselves in for a great day of racing.
It could be a wet one...
The riders have just rolled out of Como and the race is underway
Before we get going, here's a look at the profile
Plenty of attacks in the opening kilometres but nothing is sticking just yet.
If you haven't done so already, now's probably the time to read our in-depth race preview from our man in Italy, Stephen Farrand.
Gazprom-Rusvelo, the Russian Pro Conti team who've enjoyed plenty of invites to RCS races this year, are clearly keen to make it into the break today. Gert Dockx (Lotto-Soudal), Gianfranco Zilioli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff) were off the front with a small gap but the Gazprom men promptly shut it down.
This year's route has been reversed from last year, with the riders starting out in Como, where Vincenzo Nibali took victory 12 months ago, and making their way to Bergamo. There are a few completely new climbs on the menu today but with 4,440m of elevation it's going to be as tough as ever. In the last 120km there's barely a metre of flat road, and when it does come it's bound to be intense as the riders in contention prepare for the punchy Bergamo Alta climb that precedes the finish.
Still no sign of a breakaway as the pace remains frantically high out there.
20km covered and it's still relentlessly quick out there. So quick, in fact, that the peloton is beginning to fragment.
The reigning champion Vincenzo Nibali is not out there today but in Fabio Aru and Miguel Angel Lopez there's every possibility that the title might stay in the Astana family.
@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 1st Oct 2016 09:32:43
Still no breakaway. I bet there are plenty of riders out there who'd have been hoping for an early break and a relaxed start to proceedings. Flat roads are hard to come by in this race but the ones we do have are being covered full gas so far.
TUEs are still dominating the headlines in the wider cycling world as the Fancy Bears story rumbles on. At the centre of the storm is Bradley Wiggins, who, after a brief appearance on a British political talk show, has just opened up and talked at length about his use of triamcinolone acetonide ahead of three Grand Tours. Here's the story:
Puncture for Rigoberto Uran, who is definitely one to watch today. The Colombian was third at the Giro dell'Emilia and then cruised home to take third at Milan-Turin having sat back while his teammate fought for victory.
More action at the front of the bunch as three riders skip clear. Etixx-QuickStep lead the chase.
There's not long until the first climb of the day. After 56km the riders will head up the famous Madonna del Ghisallo, which has become a fixture of Il Lombardia
@tinkoff_team Sat, 1st Oct 2016 09:52:36
Bardiani-CSF's Sonny Colbrelli is off the front on his own at the head of the race. Who's going to join the Tre Valli Varesine winner?
Zdenek Stybar has bridged across to Colbrelli.
The move comes to nothing as the duo are caught by the peloton, which is once again cracking under the pressure here. What an intense start to proceedings.
The riders are heading towards the picturesque town of Bellagio on lake Como.
184km remaining from 240km
The strung-out peloton hits the foot of the Madonna del Ghisallo climb.
More attacks come on the Madonna del Ghisallo, with Mickael Cherel, Damiano Caruso, Stefan Denifl, and Rudy Molard going clear.
Those four have opened up a decent lead on the climb. This could be our break of the day...
The quartet has over a minute now as they crest the climb and begin the descent.
So, this is our breakaway:
Damiano Caruso (BMC), Stefan Denifl (IAM), Mickael Cherel (AG2R-La Mondiale), and Rudy Molard (Cofidis).
IAM Cycling will be pleased to have got a man in the break. This is the team's final WorldTour race.
163km remaining from 240km
Our four leaders stretch out there advantage as the peloton enjoys some well-earned respite. The gap is up at nearly five minutes.
Here's a reminder of who exactly is in the race. Have a flick through and pick your winner...
A shot of our breakaway from @spaziociclismo
A shot of our breakaway from @spaziociclismo
After two hours of racing, the average speed is 44.5km/h.
Seven minutes is the gap now for our four leaders.
The breakaway are about to hit the second climb of the day - the Colle Brianza. It's only a short one (4km) and the gradient of six per cent shouldn't do too much damage.
A nice shot of the breakaway at the famous Madonna del Ghisallo chapel earlier
It's Cannondale and Astana doing the chasing as we approach the 100km mark
The gap comes down to six minutes as the powers that be in the peloton continue to tighten their grip.
The clouds are still looming above northern Italy as the riders make their way along the final flat part of the course ahead of the crucial series of climbs.
The gap continues to fall. It's down at five minutes now.
120km remaining from 240km
Caruso, Denifl, Cherel and Molard hit the half-way mark with a lead of just over four minutes.
A reminder of the stage profile:
Still it's Cannondale and Astana doing the lion's share of the work. Moreno Moser is currently burning quite a few of his own matches, working in the interests of Uran.
We're coming up to the toughest climb of the race. It's the Valcava, and this is what it looks like.
@ORICA_BE Sat, 1st Oct 2016 12:07:11
Lampre-Merida lead the peloton onto the Valcava. The Italian team have a couple of cards to play today, with Rui Costa always dangerous on a course such as this, and Diego Ulissi packing a fast finish if he can survive the climbs.
The Valcava isn't doing much damage in the peloton. The accumulated effort, however, will certainly take its toll later in the race.
There's damage up front, though. Denif, unable to hold the pace, is dropped by his breakaway companions.
FDJ are in command of the peloton on the upper part of the climb. Sebastien Reichenbach is their main man today.
Cherel is dropped from the breakaway now as well.
@stephenfarrand Sat, 1st Oct 2016 12:36:36
98km remaining from 240km
Caruso and Molard come to the top of the Valcava together at the head of the race.
The peloton comes over the top of the climb now, 3:14 in arrears.
Caruso and Molard give it everything on this fast, and unevenly surfaced, descent, while Denifl sits up and takes it a bit more gently.
Attack! Philippe Gilbert and Mathias Frank clip off the front of the bunch.
Gilbert has a teammate up the road but BMC are clearly keen to make things happen today. Could Greg Van Avermaet be a contender today? You'd probably think this is too hilly for the Belgian, but then we said that about the Olympics...
85km remaining from 240km
Cherel is still chasing the two leaders. He's 45 seconds or so in arrears. Denifl is a minute clear of the peloton still, which itself is three minutes behind the front of the race.
We grabbed a word with Gilbert this morning. This is his final race with BMC and he's clearly keen to go out with a bang.
The climb might have been ridden steadily but the race is really on as the peloton comes to the end of this descent.
Jan Bakelants and Romain Hardy are away with a small gap over the bunch.
The road kicks up again now for the climb to Berbenno. It's only a short one but it'll still sting. FDJ still lead the bunch with four men on the front, with lots of riders having fallen away already.
Bakelants and Hardy sweep up Denifl and they're now making their way up to Cherel.
And Denifl is dropped from that group now. Not a great day for the Austrian.
The peloton is down to around 50-60 riders. All the main favourites are in there.
Dan Martin is a previous winner of Il Lombardia, and has to be considered among the top favourites today.
"It's always strange racing this late in the year," he said at the start this morning. "I just want to have a good day today. Since the Tour it's been hard - I've been tired - but I always do well in this race, and i'm relly motivated. We have a strong team with options to play."
68km remaining from 240km
Caruso's chain comes off on the descent from Berbenno. The Italian can't pedal and has to stop to sort it out. There's a nice gesture from the Cofidis mechanic, who offers his assistance, but Caruso doesn't need it.
With 68km remaining, here's how the situation looks.
Leaders: Damiano Caruso (BMC) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis)
Chasers: Jan Bakelants and Mickael Cherel (AG2R) and Romain Hardy (Cofidis)
64km remaining from 240km
The climbs come thick and fast now and this is the crucial part of the race.
The riders are now on the Sant'Antonio Abbandonato. This is how it looks.
The action kicks off early on the climb, with Winner Anacona putting in an attack. It's splitting up.
Caruso, having made it back up to Molard, now drops his breakaway companion on the climb.
The chase group is going to be caught soon by the peloton.
Orica-BikeExchange put Carlos Verona on the front. Esteban Chaves is in with a shout today. He was 8th last year after bonking in the finale, and showed he still has his Vuelta form by winning the recent Giro dell'Emilia.
@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 1st Oct 2016 13:36:29
Julian Alaphilippe is suffering at the back of the bunch as we come to the upper slopes of the climb.
Matvey Mamykin takes off with a decent attack. The talented Katusha neo-pro is looking to try something from range.
Caruso gets out of the saddle and pushes on. He has distance Molard by nearly a minute now.
A shot of Caruso on the previous descent
Here we go! The race is really starting to split up now. Visconti goes for Movistar, and Valverde is soon up to join him, accompanied by Darwin Atapuma.
Aru and Chaves are alive to the threat and work their way back
Bardet attacks now. And now Chaves!
Uran thinks about an attack, as does Aru.
This is the big selection of the race
Robert Gesink went on the attack ahead of Valverde, and Chaves is on his way over now.
Gesink went away with Diego Rosa, Davide Villela, Pierre Latour and a couple of others. All the names to follow.
As Chaves and Bardet successfully make it over to that group, Brambilla and Aru take off in pursuit.
The riders have crested the climb and are now heading down another technical descent.
A reminder of the percorso with just over 50km to go.
Caruso comes to the bottom of this descent and he's putting in a really good ride. He has 2:10 over the group of favourites.
Here's the first group of favourites:
Gesink, Rosa, Bardet, Barguil, Chaves, Latour, Villella, Pellizotti, De la Cruz, Mamykin
Latour goes on the attack.
De la Cruz goes after Latour and the duo swallow up Molard.
The trio only has a small gap over the group of favourites, led by Diego Rosa.
There's barely a metre of flat out there. The riders are now on the Miragolo San Salvatore climb.
De la Cruz, Latour, and Molard are pegged back.
Valverde has made it over with Visconti. Brambilla also in there.
Uran makes it across now. That's a great effort from the Colombian to drag himself back into contention.
Caruso has 45 seconds over this 17-rider group of favourites.
Caruso is caught so we have the group of favourites at the head of the race. Names to follow.
Here's the lead group:
Fabio Aru, Diego Rosa (Astana), Romain Bardet, Pierre Latour (AG2R), Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange), Alejandro Valverde, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Rigoberto Uran, Davide Villella (Cannondale), Gianluca Brambilla, David de la Cruz (Etixx-QuickStep), Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin), Alessandro de Marchi (BMC), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo), Rodolfo Torres (Androni), Rudy Molard (Cofidis).
43km remaining from 240km
Diego Rosa leads the group. He's doing all the work here as he looks to set Fabio Aru up for victory.
Molard is dropped.
@Movistar_Team Sat, 1st Oct 2016 14:16:29
De la Cruz loses contact now.
Dan Martin is probably the biggest name to miss out on this selection. Alaphilippe has been struggling too but Etixx have Brambilla up there looking strong. Mollema, Poels, Lopez, and Rui Costa also absent.
The leaders are hurtling down another hairpinned descent. It's only a short one, with the Selvino climb up next.
Gesink and Villella exchange words after a hairy moment on one of those bends. The pair bumped into each other but managed to stay upright.
@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 1st Oct 2016 14:29:32
Brambilla hits the front and gives it everything, with the motorbike unable to go fast enough to keep a safe distance. The Italian is keen to break this group up ahead of the climb.
@Il_Lombardia Sat, 1st Oct 2016 14:32:44
Time for the Selvino!
Chaves attacks and causes some real damage
Uran and Bardet join Chaves and the trio has a slim advantage.
Rosa had lost contact but he's been summoned back, and he's summoning the effort to give even more for Aru in the chase.
Rosa hits the front once more for Aru, but then goes on the attack himself. Is he the stronger of the Astana men out there?
Rosa has the trio in his sights.
30 seconds is the gap between the leading group and the rest of the favourites.
Rosa is closing in on the leaders but this is a big effort and will be costly, especially after all the work he did for Aru before the Sardinian decide to hand over the leadership.
29km remaining from 240km
Rosa finally makes it.
Visconti leads the chase for Valverde, but that group is 35 seconds in arrears.
It looks like this group will be the one that makes it. The chasers are losing ground despite having more numbers.
No Tinkoff riders anywhere to be seen so Movistar will be confirmed as winners of the WorldTour teams ranking at the end of the day.
The leading quartet are heading downhill on a twisty 'shoe-laced' descent, with lots of tight switchbacks and lengthy straight sections where they can pick up speed again.
There's a bit of rain on the descent which makes things trickier still.
Valverde hits the front in the chase group. The gap is holding at just above 40 seconds at the moment but the key period will come when they hit the flat.
A reminder of who's left in the chase group:
Fabio Aru (Astana), Pierre Latour (Ag2r La Mondiale), Rodolfo Torres (Androni - Sidermec), Alessandro De Marchi (BMC), Davide Villella (Cannondale - Drapac), Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx - QuickStep), Alejandro Valverde, Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Warren Barguil (Giant - Alpecin) and Robert Gesink (LottoNL - Jumbo).
17km remaining from 240km
This could go either way. If the leading quartet collaborate well then they have a great chance of staying away. If everyone in the chase group commits fully, however, they could still make it back. But it doesn't look like anyone other than Valverde is too interested here.
Aru, Latour, and Villella are all exempt as they have teammates up the road.
15km remaining from 240km
The clock indicates that the gap is coming down. 20 seconds is being shown now.
I'm not sure the clock can be trusted as it falls to 15 seconds. The gap in reality is much higher, and the pace in the front group is certainly quicker than in the chase behind, where Aru sits up and stretches his back.
We get a new time check and it is indeed up at nearly a minute. There's not enough motivation in this chase group, and you have to ask why.
Torres puts in a brief attack and that kicks off some hostilities in the chase group. That probably just plays into the hands of our leaders.
10km remaining from 240km
The quartet swap turns and thoughts will soon turn to how to reach out for victory.
This is where the race should be decided - in the last 5km with the steep cobbled climb of Bergamo Alta
8km remaining from 240km
1:10 is the gap now. The chase group are out of it.
Who's going to win Il Lombardia then?
Get your predictions in via Twitter - @paddyfletch
7km remaining from 240km
The leaders hit the cobbled streets in the town and they're about to hit the climb.
Rosa, Uran, Chaves, and Bardet still working well together but the attacks are not far away.
5km remaining from 240km
5km to go!
@Etixx_QuickStep Sat, 1st Oct 2016 15:15:16
Torres is chasing hard here on his own but he's not going to make it back.
The Italian, who has done the most work throughout the day out of this group, takes off. Chaves goes after him and drags the others across.
The group hit the cobbles now and take on the really steep gradients up to the citadel.
Chaves injects some pace now. The road is lined with fans on either side.
3km remaining from 240km
Double digit gradients now and Bardet is struggling!
Rosa distanced too. Chaves leading the way with Uran
Rosa giving everything to get back on terms. It looks like game over for Bardet.
3km remaining from 240km
3km to go now and Bardet will have to use all his descending skills to stand a chance of getting back on. Bu it's very unlikely.
Rosa makes it back on. Great effort.
This is a gentle but fast descent. A key selection formed here in 2014 when Dan Martin won.
2km remaining from 240km
Cat and mouse up front as Chaves and Uran watch out for a flyer from Rosa.
1km remaining from 240km
And Rosa goes now!
Uran brings him back. Chaves is just following the wheels.
Uran, on paper, probably has the fastest sprint.
1km remaining from 240km
500 to go and Rosa goes for it!
Rosa gets a small gap but Uran is back on terms.
Sprint finish - Chaves coming through
Chaves takes it on the line from Rosa!
Esteban Chaves wins Il Lombardia
What a sprint from the diminutive Colombian. What a season he's had.
Chaves stayed in Uran's wheel as the Cannondale man closed down Rosa's long-ranger and that was key. Uran was never able to come round Rosa, but Chaves came roaring through and just took it on the line.
Bardet came in fourth, six seconds back, while Villella led the chase group over the line a minute later.
@GregIenco Sat, 1st Oct 2016 15:26:49
1 Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-BikeExchange 6:26:36
2 Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana Pro Team
3 Rigoberto Uran (Col) Cannondale-Drapac
4 Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:06
5 Davide Villella (Ita) Cannondale-Drapac 0:01:19
6 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 0:01:24
7 Robert Gesink (Ned) Team LottoNl-Jumbo
8 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Alpecin
9 Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) BMC Racing Team
10 Pierre-Roger Latour (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
"It's unbelievable, I can’t believe I’ve won Lombardia," says Chaves.
"I turned pro here in Lombardy with Coldeportes, I lived in Bergamo for two years, and now I’ve won this race - its really special. I want to say thank you very much to everyone at Orica-BikeExchange. I'm really happy and feel really proud of my team."
@Il_Lombardia Sat, 1st Oct 2016 15:34:52
Plenty of photos to be found in our race report:
Diego Rosa deserves a special mention for his ride. He put in a fair amount of work earlier in the day for Fabio Aru before it emerged he was the stronger of the two, and then did a mammoth effort to bridge to Chaves, Uran, and Bardet. If Astana had known that from the start, would Rosa have arrived at that sprint that little bit fresher?
Lombardy was the last race on the WorldTour calendar, so it's now official: Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) tops the 2016 WorldTour ranking. Movistar take the teams classification.
That's it for our live coverage today. That was a great race and a cracking way to round of the 2016 WorldTour. Thanks for joining us - we'll leave you with our full race report.
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