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The Race of the Falling Leaves is rather greener of hue in 2020 after the UCI, seemingly eager to sweep everything out of the path of the Tour de France and World Championships on the revised calendar, tucked the traditional grand finale of the cycling season into the middle of August. It’s a most incongruous slot for an event with the history and prestige of Il Lombardia, and not one that has been well received in Italy. In a letter to Tuttobici this morning, former race director Carmine Castellano witheringly described the notion of a summertime Tour of Lombardy as “a lengthened Coppa Agostoni, with all due respect for the Coppa Agostoni.”

The clash with the Critérium du Dauphiné deprives Il Lombardia of some putative contenders – most notably, Julian Alaphilippe, Thibaut Pinot and Egan Bernal – but there is still a box office feel to today’s race, not least because of the presence of one Remco Evenepoel, who is making his Monument debut. At only 20 years of age, the Belgian is the favourite for victory in Como, but his route to victory is not a straightforward one. It runs over the Colle Gallo, Colle Brianza, Madonna del Ghisallo, Muro di Sormano, Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia – and it runs through men like Vincenzo Nibali, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Aleksandr Vlasov, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) and Richard Carapaz (Ineos).

The race rolls out of Bergamo at 12.20 CET after a minute's silence to remember the victims of the coronavirus pandemic in the city and beyond. Bergamo was one of the cities worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the dark days of late March, it seemed impossible to imagine that Largo Porta Nuova would play host to the start of a bike race in 2020.

The gruppo is due to hit kilometre zero at 12.25. The distance is a slightly reduced 231km this year, but all the familiar ascents from this iteration of Il Lombardia are on the course. 

54.4km – Colle Gallo (7.4km at 6%)

114.8km – Colle Brianza

167km – Madonna del Ghisallo (8.6km at 6.2%)

180.5km – Muro di Sormano (1.9km at 15.8%)

214.3km – Civiglio (4.2km at 9.7%)

225.7km – San Fermo della Battaglia (2.7km at 7.2%)

The temperature is 28°C at the start in Bergamo and is expected to rise above 30°C as the afternoon draws on. Quite a difference from the frigid conditions faced by winner Giovanni Gerbi and the eleven other finishers in the first edition of the Giro di Lombardia on November 12, 1905.

-231km

The peloton has passed kilometre zero and the 2020 edition of Il Lombardia is underway.  

Today’s edition of Il Lombardia takes place on the Italian public holiday of Ferragosto but the date won’t bolster the crowds on the roadside. The race is effectively taking place behind closed doors, with tifosi barred from lining the roads on the Madonna del Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano, while there will be no big screens for spectators at the finish in Como and the podium will not be open to the public.

-225km

There is a brisk early pace, but no break has gone clear as yet.

All eyes will be on Remco Evenepoel this afternoon. The Deceuninck-QuickStep man has a 1.000 batting average in stage races this year - he's won the Vuelta a San Juan, the Volta ao Algarve, Vuelta a Burgos and Tour de Pologne - and he struck a confident note ahead of Il Lombardia. Though that's hardly news: the Belgisch wonderkind's default setting is confident. "If I'm a favourite maybe it's my own fault…" Evenepoel told reporters on Thursday. "I feel really, really good, my preparation was very good, so I'm in the best shape of the season so far. It's perfect timing. For a six-hour race with a lot of climbing, I think you need to be in good shape and I think we did a perfect job." Read more here.

Deceuninck-QuickStep's Remco Evenepoel races to victory on stage 3 of the 2020 Vuelta a Burgos to take the overall lead

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Tour de Pologne would ordinarily have struggled for attention last Saturday given the clash with Milan-San Remo and a Tour de l'Ain that doubled as a Tour de France dress rehearsal, but Evenepoel's outsized talent is such that he would demand our attention even if he were riding his turbo trainer. He attacked alone with 51km to go on the toughest stage in Poland to solo to victory and effectively seal the overall title. 

-218

There have been lots of early accelerations, but no ruptures in the peloton as yet. Androni-Sidermec are especially active in trying to get a man (or two) up the road.

Max Schachmann has flown under the radar somewhat ahead of Il Lombardia, but the German champion was one of the outstanding performers before the coronavirus interrupted the season, winning Paris-Nice, and he rode very strongly indeed on his return to action at Strade Bianche, taking third. He was quieter at the Tour de Pologne and though he has ridden Il Lombardia just once in his career (73rd in 2019), he will surely be in the mix by the time we reach Lake Como later in the afternoon. He's joined by Rafal Majka and Patrick Konrad in the Bora-Hansgrohe team today.

Strade Bianche 2020 - 14th Edition - Siena - Siena 184 km - 01/08/2020 - Maximilian Schachmann (GER - Bora - Hansgrohe) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2020

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-208km

It's been a fast start to proceedings but the bunch is still together as it loops around Bergamo and circles back towards the first climb of the day, the Colle Gallo.

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo) is chasing a third victory at Il Lombardia after his triumphs in 2015 and 2017. A third win would put him level with Costante Girardengo, Sean Kelly, Gino Bartali, Damiano Cunego, Gaetano Belloni and Henri Pélissier in the record books. Alfredo Binda has four wins and, of course, Fausto Coppi holds the record, with five Giro di Lombardia triumphs, including four-in-a-row from 1946 to 1949.

“I was missing a bit of sharpness at Milan-San Remo, but my condition confirmed to me that I was going in the right direction. With the team, we’ll study the most suitable strategy,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport ahead of the race.

Vincenzo Nibali at the start of Il Lombardia

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

-203km

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team) attacks and opens a small gap over the peloton at Mornico al Serio. The American was the main driver in the early break at Gran Piemonte on Wednesday and he seems keen on another big day out here.

Rosskopf isn't being granted much leeway, however, and it seems that the American's attack won't stick.

'You will rise again Bergamo' reads the banner at the start of Il Lombardia

The peloton pauses for a minute's silence ahead of Il Lombardia behind a banner reading 'You will rise again Bergamo.' (Image credit: Getty Images)

-198km

Rosskopf's solo effort is snuffed out. Gruppo compatto.

Although Julian Alaphilippe is an absentee (he’s in action at the Critérium du Dauphiné), Deceuninck-QuickStep have a solid team around Remco Evenepoel this afternoon. Tour de l’Ain stage winner Andrea Bagioli, Portuguese revelation João Almeida and strongman Dries Devenyns are among those lining up alongside the Belgian.

Remco Evenepoel leads Deceuninck-QuickStep at Il Lombardia

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

-187km

Rosskopf tries again, this time with six others for company: Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates) and Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert).

That septet is joined by four more riders: Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM). It looks as though we finally have our early break.

-180km

Break: 

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 2:40

The intensity has finally slackened in the peloton and the escapees are stretching out their advantage accordingly as they scale the Colle Gallo (6km at 6.7%).

For all the polemics about its place on the calendar this year, it should be noted that a lack of respect for the Tour of Lombardy is not an entirely new phenomenon. Ahead of a 1981 edition where Bernard Hinault, world champion Freddy Maertens, defending champion Fons De Wolf and Roger De Vlaeminck were among the high-profile absentees, the late Gianni Mura delivered a memorably cutting assessment of the depth of the peloton: "They call it, imbued with lyricism, the Race of the Falling Leaves. And that's true - only this time it seems to me that a lot of falling leaves have numbers pinned on their backs." 

In any case, there's certainly no questioning the motivation of the men lining out at this year's race. There has been a blistering pace thus far, with 47.45km covered in the first hour.

-177km

The escapees are approaching the summit of the Colle Gallo and their lead over the peloton is up to 3:40. It's very interesting to note the presence of Petr Vakoc in this move. The Czech is a key support rider for Mathieu van der Poel, but Alpecin-Fenix have decreed that he can best serve the cause by getting up the road early on.

Away from Il Lombardia, stage 4 of the Critérium du Dauphiné is taking place today. At times, the opening three stages felt as though they could have been taking place on Zwift (the poor souls caught in the hailstones on Thursday certainly wished they'd been racing on a virtual platform), but the race is not short on drama today. Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) was a non-starter due to a back injury, while Steven Kruijswijk (Jumbo-Visma), Emanuel Buchmann and Gregor Muhlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe) have all abandoned after an early crash. Julian Alaphilippe is in the day's early break.

-171km

Both the break and the bunch are over the top of the Colle Gallo, and the gap stands at 3:25.

Situation:

Break:

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 3:25

The lay of the land of the 2020 edition of Il Lombardia.

The lay of the land of the 2020 edition of Il Lombardia. (Image credit: RCS Sport)

Il Lombardia is descending the Colle Gallo and heading towards Felice Gimondi country, though the race will not pass through his home village of Sedrina, which is about 8km up the Val Brembana from Villa d'Alme. 

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of Felice Gimondi's death at the age of 76. He won the Giro di Lombardia on two occasions, in 1966 and 1973. He gave the ceremonial start to the race in Bergamo in 2018.

(Image credit: Bettini)

-157km

Break:

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 3:10

Ordinarily, one would ask whether it was possible for a 20-year-old debutant to win Il Lombardia. This week, Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Geert Van Bondt found himself being asked whether it was possible for Evenepoel to lose Il Lombardia. “Of course, he always can,” Van Bondt told Sporza. “He's not alone at the start. And this is his first Lombardy, as it is for teammates like Andrea Bagioli and Joao Almeida. You can't say in advance that he'll win."

-145km

Rosskopt, Vakoc and the escapees pass Villa d’Almè with a lead of 3:26 over the peloton.

Stephen Farrand has more on the abandons of Steven Kruijswijk and Emanuel Buchmann at the Critérium du Dauphiné here.

At Il Lombardia, the pace has abated briefly in the peloton and the escapees have quickly tacked on another minute to their advantage, which now stands at 4:28.

-139km

Break:

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 4:28

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) was a very impressive winner at Gran Piemonte in midweek, having already been Primoz Roglic's key domestique at the Tour de l'Ain last week. He'll be back in the service of the Slovenian at the Tour de France, but Bennett has one more chance to ride for himself at Il Lombardia. His best finish here was 10th in 2018, but Bennett's sparkling form makes him an obvious contender for victory in Como. "I know it's a super opportunity for me. With a team like ours, stacked with talent, you've got to take your chances when you can, so I'm going all in for Il Lombardia. I'm optimistic," Bennett said yesterday. Stephen Farrand has the full story here.

BAROLO ITALY AUGUST 12 Podium George Bennett of New Zealand and Team JumboVisma Celebration Trophy during the 104th Giro del Piemonte 2020 a 187km race from Santo Stefano Belbo to Barolo 294m GranPiemonte GranPiemonte on August 12 2020 Barolo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The man who came closest to living with Bennett's winning move on Wednesday was one Gianni Moscon, who has been largely anonymous since his remarkable purple patch in late 2018 - save for for his battling 4th at the Yorkshire Worlds and, of course, for his disqualification from Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne for throwing his bike at Jens Debusschere. That was Moscon's last race before the lockdown, and the Ineos rider has since stated that he will miss the Grand Tours in 2020 in order to focus on the Classics. He placed third in Il Lombardia in 2017, though it's unclear what his place will be in the hierarchy of an Ineos team that also includes Richard Carapaz, Eddie Dunbar and Ivan Sosa.

BAROLO ITALY AUGUST 12 George Bennett of New Zealand and Team JumboVisma Gianni Moscon of Italy and Team INEOS during the 104th Giro del Piemonte 2020 a 187km race from Santo Stefano Belbo to Barolo 294m GranPiemonte GranPiemonte on August 12 2020 Barolo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-125km

The escapees are on the false flat that leads into the Colle Brianza (4.3km at 7.9%) with an advantage of just under 4 minutes over the peloton.

Situation

Break:

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 3:54

After two hours of racing, incidentally, the average speed was 44.2kph. The terrain becomes decidedly more rugged once the race heads towards the shores of Lake Como.

Vakoc and the break are on the upper slopes of the Colle Brianze with a buffer of just over 4 minutes on the peloton. 

Deceuninck-QuickStep and Jumbo-Visma are the teams commanding affairs in the peloton, as befits the fact that they have the form men of the race in their ranks in Remco Evenepoel and George Bennett.

-116km

Break:

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 4:10

Remco Evenepoel's procession drew all the attention at the Tour de Pologne last week, but Jakob Fulgsang was the best of the rest in second place overall. The Astana man went too hard too soon in the break at Strade Bianche and suffered accordingly, placing 5th, but the Dane is a real threat here. He placed 4th in both 2019 and the rain-soaked 2010 edition, and he is joined by Mont Ventoux Denivele Challenge winner Aleksandr Vlasov in the line-up today. That pair will also be in action for Astana at the Giro d'Italia in October.

Jakob Fugslang before the start of Il Lombardia

(Image credit: Getty Images)

-110km

Over the top of the Colle Brianza for the break, who have a lead of 3:05 over the peloton.

Wout van Aert’s stunning sequence of results has left Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) feeling a little like last year’s man, but it’s worth noting that the Dutchman took a decent third place at Gran Piemonte in midweek. The Dutchman has downplayed his chances at Il Lombardia, however, saying “if you look at the course, it’s too difficult for me.” According to Wielerflits, Van der Poel stated that his first aim is to survive the inevitable cull on the Muro di Sormano and then see what he has left for the finale. And his prediction for Il Lombardia was rather like everybody else’s: “Whoever beats Evenepoel on Saturday wins.”

SANREMO ITALY AUGUST 08 Mathieu Van Der Poel of The Netherlands and Team AlpecinFenix Canyon Bike during the 111st Milano Sanremo 2020 a 305km race from Milano to Sanremo MilanoSanremo MilanoSanremo on August 08 2020 in Sanremo Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-100km

Into the final 100 kilometres for the 11 escapees, whose advantage is gradually melting beneath the incessant afternoon sunshine. The gap is down to 2:23.

The race is now climbing steadily towards Valbrona before the quick drop down to Onno on the south-eastern branch of Lake Como immortalised in the opening lines of Alessandro Manzoni's I promessi sposi. Soon afterwards, the race reaches the centrepiece of the Giro di Lombardia and the climb of Madonna del Ghisallo.  

UAE Team Emirates have an interesting squad at Il Lombardia, with Fabio Aru leading the line alongside Diego Ulissi, who placed second at Gran Piemonte and Valerio Conti, who caught the eye with his performances at the Tour de l'Ain. Brandon McNulty is also in action after competing at the Tour de Pologne. The American is in his first season at UAE Team Emirates and began his campaign with strong displays at the Vuelta a San Juan and Ruta del Sol. We caught up with the young American in Argentina in January to run the rule over his progress to this point.

UAE Team Emirates’ Brandon McNulty is one of a number of new, young signings that have shown a lot of promise for the near future

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

-90km

Break:

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 2:53

-81km

The race has reached Onno on the shore of Lake Como and there is an almost Pavlovian response from the peloton to the sight of those waters. The speed ratchets up in the bunch and the break's lead has dropped to 1:24.

Situation

Break:

Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team), Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Petr Vakoc (Alpecin-Fenix), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb), Alexander Riabushenko (UAE Team Emirates). Andrea Pasqualon (Circus-Wanty Gobert), Daniel Savini (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Denis Nekrasov (Gazprom-RusVelo), Emmanuel Morin (Cofidis) and Marco Frapporti (Vini Zabù – KTM).

Peloton at 1:24

-78km

The race is 5km or so from the base of the Madonna del Ghisallo (8.6km at 6.2%). which is closed to the public this afternoon.

The Tour of Lombardy scaled the Ghisallo for the first time in 1919 and the ascent immediately became a fixture on a route that wound its way around the branches of Lake Como. During a post-World War II edition of Il Lombardia, parish priest Ermelindo Viganò noticed riders making the sign of the cross as they crested the summit, prompting him to ask Pope Pius XII to place the protection of cyclists under the patronage of the Madonna, and the chapel was re-dedicated accordingly. These days, the chapel incorporates a museum, which poignantly displays the crushed bike of the late Fabio Casartelli, the Como native killed when he crashed on the Col de Portet d'Aspet at the 1995 Tour.

Fausto Coppi had already contributed to the chapel’s renown by using the climb as a springboard during his sequence of four successive Tour of Lombardy victories, and he joined Gino Bartali on the final leg of the torch relay that brought a flame from the Vatican to Ghisallo in 1949. A little over four years later, the breakdown of Coppi’s marriage and his relationship with Giulia Occhini would earn him the censure of Pius XII, but by then, Il Campionissimo had long since consecrated the Ghisallo as holy ground.

 

2019 winner Bauke Mollema had this to say before the start: "It’s a bit strange because it’s super warm and sunny so not like Lombardia normally is. It’s a race I like and love, so I hope in to be in the finale again and do a good result. My legs are pretty good in the last few weeks at Occitanie and the Tour de l'Ain, so I think I'll be there in the final."

Il Lombardia

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

-72km

The break is beginning to fragment on the Madonna del Ghisallo, and Davide Gaburro (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) is alone at the head of the race, but the peloton is just 30 seconds behind them.

Astana and Deceuninck-QuickStep are setting the tempo on the lower slops of the Madonna del Ghiasallo. The Ghisallo-Sormano combination should see the peloton whittled down considerably.

Gaburro is caught and passed by James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation), Florian Stork (Team Sunweb) and Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team). Piccoli forces the pace and is trying to forge clear alone over the Ghisallo.

Piccoli is in front with Rosskopf and Stork chasing him, but the Deceuninck-QuickStep-led bunch is picking off the remnants of the break and has closed to within 18 seconds of the leaders.

Rosskopf rids himself of Stork and sets off in lone pursuit of Piccoli. Devenyns sets the tempo in the peloton for Evenepoel.

-69km

Piccoli and the chasing Rosskopf will struggle to hold off the bunch. The gap to the bunch is just 13 seconds and they have 5km of climbing to the chapel at the summit of the Ghisallo.

Rosskopf is caught by the bunch. James Piccoli is the last man standing from the early break, but the Canadian surely won't last too long at this rate.

Meanwhile, many riders are being jettisoned off the back of the bunch by the QuickStep pace-making, most notably Fabio Aru. This is very early indeed for a rider of his calibre to be distanced. 

Devenyns leads the bunch with Evenepoel on his wheel. Fuglsang and an Astana delegation are lined up just behind Evenepoel. Vincenzo Nibali is also tucked in near the front of the bunch, which is about to catch Piccoli.

-68km

James Piccoli is caught by this reduced peloton of perhaps 50 riders. The break's adventure is over. The brutal pace and the heat has whittled down the peloton very, very early.

Devenyns is the only help Evenepoel has left but maybe this is all the help he thinks he needs. It's hard to shake off a sense that Deceuninck-QuickStep want this race to be decided on individual strength rather than team tactics. Will Evenepoel go from distance again?

-67km

Vincenzo Nibali still has Giulio Ciccone, Gianluca Brambilla and Bauke Mollema for company in this front group. Michael Woods (EF Pro Cycling) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and a few Ineos riders are still in this severely reduced front peloton. 

-64km

Dries Devenyns has put in a fine shift on the front on the Madonna del Ghisallo, whittling the peloton down to 30 or 40 riders. Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) is still hanging in there, but the real cull might come on the following Muro di Sormano.

Devenyns leads the race past the tolling bells of the chapel atop the Madonna del Ghiasallo, with Evenepoel tucked safely on his wheel.

After a rapid descent, the race will face directly into the Colma di Sormano (5.1km at 6.6%), which segues immediately into the brutal Muro di Sormano (1.9km at 15.8%), which features pitches of 27%.

-61km

Devenyns leads on the descent on behalf of Evenepoel. We can expect the race to splinter still further on the slopes of the Muro di Sormano. 

Evenepoel and Devenyns exchange a few words at the head of this leading group of perhaps just 25 riders. The riders behind are braced for an onslaught on the Sormano, but it's notable that Trek-Segafredo have five riders in this group - Nibali, Mollema, Conci, Brambilla and Ciccone.

Mathieu van der Poel and Max Schachmann are also both in this front group as they hit the base of the Colma di Sormano, the antechamber to the pivotal Muro di Sormano. Again, Dries Devenyns sets the pace. 

An exchange of words between Nicola Conci and Evenepoel at the head of the race on the approach to the Muro di Sormano. The Italian declines Evenepoel's offer to slot in and help with the pace-making. 

-57km

There are three Astana riders lined up behind the QuickStep duo: Fuglsang, Vlasov and Harold Tejada. An animated Nibali, meanwhile, has a brief parley with George Bennett. But for now, everybody is content to leave the pacek-making to Dries Devenyns of Deceuninck-QuickStep. 

-56km

Devenyns sets the pace on the Colma di Sormano and plenty of riders are suffering behind, with a little over 3km still to go to the rather more demanding Muro di Sormano.

Simon Clarke (EF Pro Cycling) sits at the back of the group and sticks his tongue out at the passing television motorbike to underline the briskness of the pace being imposed by Devenyns.

-54km

Dries Devenyns' very lengthy cameo at the front continues, and plenty of riders are beginning to show the strain in this reduced front group. Richard Carapaz is tucked in near the rear of this group, together with his Ineos teammate Eddie Dunbar. Brandon McNulty (UAE Team Emirates) is also in here, together with his teammate Diego Ulissi.

-52km

Abandon all hope ye who enter... The front group reaches the Muro di Sormano and this could change the complexion of the race altogether...

Astana take over from Devenyns on the Muro, with Tejada setting the pace ahead of Fuglsang and Vlasov. Big gaps are opening in this front group. Van der Poel, Schachmann and Dunbar are among those losing ground.

Tejada swings over and now Vlasov takes over with Fuglsang on his wheel. Evenepoel, Nibali, Mollema, Ciccone, Woods, Bennett, Rafal Majka and Carapaz are all still in there. Van der Poel, who looked in trouble earlier, is still just about in contact.  

Max Schchmann is dropped but not definitively distanced. The German champion is stalking the group and if he can limit his losses, he could well get back into the race over the other side.

There are a dozen riders in this front group nearing the top of the Muro di Sormano: Vlasov, Fuglsang, Evenepoel, Nibali, Mollema, Ciccone, Woods, Bennett, Majka, Carapaz, Ulissi and Van der Poel.

-51km

Jakob Fuglsang hits the front on the steepest section of the Muro. Evenepoel still looks comfortable - or as comfortable as one can at 20% - on this climb. Van der Poel is losing contact and this group is breaking up in the final 400m or so of climbing.

Michael Woods has also lost contact with the front group, as have Ulissi and Carapaz, but they are still close enough to get back on over the other side. 

The strongmen are coming to the fore at the top: Vlasov, Fuglsang, Evenepoel, Nibali, Ciccone and Bennett are at the front, with Mollema scrambling to get back in touch, while the rest of race is scattered across the hillside.

Nibali and Mollema are beginning to show the strain as George Bennett takes over at the front of the race in the closing 200m of the Muro di Sormano, but they are staying - just - in touch.

-50km

George Bennett leads over the top of the Muro di Sormano, with Fuglsang, Vlasov, Evenepoel, Ciccone, Nibali and Mollema for company.

Evenepoel takes over on the descent. He's not eager to have Schachmann, Majka, Carapaz, Van der Poel et al latch back on.

Trek-Segafredo have three riders - Nibali, Ciccone and Mollema - in the leading group of seven after the Muro di Sormano. Astana have Vlasov and Fuglsang. George Bennett and Evenepoel are the two lone riders. And this septet looks to be stretching out a decent gap over the chasers.

Ulissi and Rafal Majka are the second group on the road, a handful of seconds down on the seven leaders. Mathieu van der Poel is reportedly at 1:30.

-46km

Break:

Aleksandr Vlasvov, Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team), Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo), George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) and Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep)

 

Chasers 1:

Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) and Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) at 0:28

 

Chasers 2:

 Richard Carapaz (Ineos) and Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix) at 1:33

-42km

Vincenzo Nibali forces the pace on this sinuous descent off the Sormano. The onus is on Trek-Segafredo, with their numerical superiority, to try to get men up the road and out-manoeuvre Evenepoel before the finale.

We saw a bike on the roadside minus a rider on the descent, and now there is no sign of Evenepoel in this front group. RAI has reported that Evenepoel has crashed...

Remco Evenepoel has crashed. A television replay shows the Belgian crashing into the wall on a bridge on the descent, and flipping off his bike and over the other side. 

The former QuickStep rider Laurens De Plus crashed on that same descent on Il Lombardia in 2017. An ambulance is paused on the roadside and it looks as though medical personnel are already descending the grass embankment to attend to Evenepoel.

-37km

Six riders remain at the front after the descent off the Sormano and Nibali's pace-making on the descent: Aleksandr Vlasvov, Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team), Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma). They have a minute or so in hand on the chasers and it seems the winner of Il Lombardia will come from this sextet. 

The on-screen graphic suggests that Van der Poel has closed to within 20 seconds of of the six leaders, who perhaps stalled more than they realised when they took on bidons after the descent.

-35km

RAI television's motorbike-mounted reported Andrea De Luca has reported that Evenepoel is conscious after his crash on the descent of the Sormano. 

The leading six must be aware of Van der Poel's pursuit, because they have begun to pile on the pressure again at the head of the race. They won't want the Dutchman for company in the finale.

Break:

Aleksandr Vlasvov, Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team), Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma)

Chaser 1:

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix)

-29km

Richard Carapaz, Max Schachmann, Rafal Majka and Diego Ulissi are in the third group in the road, but they don't look to be gaining anything on the six leaders and the lone chaser Van der Poel.

Remco Evenepoel is being stretchered into an ambulance, with his directeur sportif Davide Bramati by his side. RAI has reported that Evenepoel is conscious.  

-27km

We're no longer being given time gaps for Van der Poel, but our most recent information suggested that the Dutchman was 30 seconds down on the six leaders.

A reminder of the six names in the front group: Aleksandr Vlasvov, Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team), Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma).

-25km

The break is about 5km from the foot of the Civiglio (4.2km at 9.7%). It would be a surprise if there were still 6 men in front over the top.

Van der Poel has been caught by Carapaz, Schachmann, Majka and Ulissi to form a five-man chasing group, a minute or down on the leaders.

-23km

Aleksandr Vlasvov, Jakob Fulgsang (Astana Pro Team), Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) and George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma)

 

Chasers at 1:15:

Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates), Max Schachmann, Rafal Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Richard Carapaz (Team Ineos).

-20.5km

Nibali sets the pace on the lower slopes of the Civiglio. The Italian looked to to be struggling with cramp after the descent of the Sormano, so perhaps Mollema and Ciccone are the team's anointed options in the finale.

The three Trek riders are in front. Fuglsang sits at the back of the group and eyes up George Bennett. The New Zealander has no teammate here, but he has plenty of momentum after winning Gran Piemonte.

Carapaz, Van der Poel and the chasers, meanwhile, are now 1:43 down and long out of the hunt for the win.

-19.5km

Jakob Fulgsang accelerates and George Bennett immediately responds. This duo opens a gap over the rest and now Trek-Segafredo must close it down. 

Nibali puts in a big turn in a bid to chase them down and then swings over. That looks like the end of his challenge, and now it's up to Mollema and Ciccone.

Nibali sits up, and now Vlasov attacks the other two Trek riders and bridges swiftly across to Fuglsang and Bennett. 

George Bennett and the Astana duo of Aleksandr Vlasov and Jakob Fuglsang are in front, 15 seconds clear of Ciccone and a flagging Mollema. Nibali is further down the climb. Trek's numerical advantage looks to have been wasted completely on this run-in.

-18km

Break:

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Aleksandr Vlasov, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team)

Chasers at 0:21:

Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Chaser at 0:54:

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)

Vlasov sets the pace for Fuglsang in the final kilometre of the Civiglio, while Bennett sits on the Dane's wheel. 

Mollema and Ciccone have steadied the ship a little on the upper part of the Civiglio, and they have cut their deficit slightly to 15 seconds. 

-17km

Vlasov is beginning to struggle as Fuglsang pushes on the pace near the top. THe Dane will surely knock off the pace over the top to make sure he has the Russian for company on the run-in to the final climb of San Fermo della Battaglia.

Vlasov is struggling to keep contact, but then again, he looked in the horros at various points after attacking on Mont Ventoux last week but still emerged a resounding winner. 

-16.5km

Vlasov inches his way back up to Fuglsang and Bennett over the top of the Civiglio. This trio has 17 seconds on the Trek-Segafredo tandem of Ciccone and Mollema.

-15km

Break:

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma), Aleksandr Vlasov, Jakob Fuglsang (Astana Pro Team)

Chasers at 0:17:

Giulio Ciccone and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Chaser at 1:33:

Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo)

Ciccone and Mollema have stuck gamely to their task over the top of the Civiglio, and this duo are just 13 seconds back. They might well get back on before San Fermo della Battaglia, but does either man have the legs to live with Fuglsang and Bennett on a climb?

The summit of San Fermo della Battaglia (2.7km at 7.2%) comes 5.3km from the finish in Como, and the first man to the top will expect to carry off the spoils.

-10km

Mollema overshoots a corner, but he manages to stay upright and rejoin Ciccone. They have 14 seconds to recoup on the leaders.

Out in front, Vlasov is vying to become the second Russian winner of Il Lombardia after Vladisav Bobrik in 1994.

-9km

Vlasov, however, looks to be sacrificing himself for Fuglsang. The Russian takes a long turn on the front with Fuglsang and Bennett on his wheel. Ciccone and Mollema are at 17 seconds.

Ciccone and Mollema are losing ground again on the three leaders, and it doesn't look as though the Trek duo will get back up to Fuglsang, Vlasov and Bennett.

-7.7km

The climb of San Fermo della Battaglia begins and George Bennett immeidately accelerates. Fuglsang follows, while Vlasov is distanced by 20 metres or so.

Bennett puts in another dig, but he can't shake Fuglsang and Vlasov isn't out of the equation just yet either. The Russian is climbing at his own pace but limiting his losses for now.

Fuglsang comes through and takes a turn with Bennett, which Vlasov will hardly appreciate. The have 30 metres or so on the Russian and 33 seconds on Mollema and Ciccone.

-6.5km

Fuglsang takes another long turn in front, but Vlasov isn't giving up behind.

George Bennett attacks for the third time, and Fuglsang responds smoothly...

-6.3km

Jakob Fuglsang launches a crisp acceleration of his own and Bennett can't respond. The Dane looks over his shoulder, sees Bennett is in difficult and then he kicks again. This looks like the winning move.

-6km

Fuglsang is pedalling with disarming facility and he is stretching out his advantage over George Bennett. 

Bennett digs in and is still pedalling well, but the 35-year-old Fuglsang is on another level and already has 16 seconds in hand.

-5km

Jakob Fuglsang is over the top of San Fermo della Battaglia. He has 20 seconds in hand on George Bennett as he begins the drop towards Como.

Vlasov was third over the top, while Mollema chases alone in fourth after Ciccone had to stop for a bike change near the top of San Fermo della Battaglia.

-3km

Jakob Fuglsang is on course to win the second Monument of his career after landing Liege-Bastogne-Liege last year.

-2.5km

Bennett betrays signs of fatigue on the descent. He is a mite sloppy on a couple of corners and Fuglsang's advantage is out to 24 seconds.

-1km

Into the final kilometre for Fuglsang, who has 26 seconds in hand on Bennett.

The summertime edition of Il Lombardia will have a northern European winner. Bennett will claim second place, while Fuglsang's teammate Vlasov should hold off Mollema for third.

Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) wins Il Lombardia.

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) takes second, 30 seconds down.

Aleksander Vlasov (Astana) takes third at 50 seconds after teeing up his teammate Fuglsang for victory.

Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) takes 4th at 1:22. His teammate Giulio Ciccone holds on for 5th. 

Max Schachmann has crashed on the descent of San Fermo della Battaglia. Television pictures show he was hit by a non-race car that drove across the road and across Schachmann's path. This incident raises serious, serious questions for organisers RCS Sport and the police in Como. 

Schachmann is mercifully back on his bike and is riding into the finish, but that cannot detract from the gravity of what just happened. How on earth was the road open to the public in the closing kilometres of a Monument like Il Lombardia? 

Jakob Fuglsang takes the win but this has been a race overshadowed by crashes. Recmo Evenepoel's race was ended by his crash on the descent of the Sormano, while Max Schachmann has just been inexplicably brought down by a car on the race route. 

Result

1 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana Pro Team 5:32:54

2 George Bennett (NZl) Team Jumbo-Visma 00:00:31

3 Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana Pro Team 00:00:51

4 Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:19

5 Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 00:01:40

6 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo 00:03:31

7 Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe 00:04:31

8 Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates 00:05:20

9 Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation 00:06:00

10 Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix 00:06:28

Deceuninck-QuickStep have provided an update on Remco Evenepoel, who crashed out of the race on the descent of the Sormano: "First update on @EvenepoelRemco. He is at the Como hospital, where he is conscious and his condition is being assessed by the medical team. We hope to have more news soon."

COMO ITALY AUGUST 15 Aleksander Vlasov of Russia and Astana Pro Team George Bennett of New Zealand and Team Jumbo Visma Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Astana Pro Team Breakaway during the 114th Il Lombardia 2020 a 231km race from Bergamo to Como ilombardia IlLombardia on August 15 2020 in Como Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Schachmann crossed the line in 7th place and he wears a disbelieving smile as he stands outside an ambulance at the finish line. The German champion doesn't appear to be seriously hurt although he did seem to be nursing an arm when he crossed the line.

Jakob Fuglsang, meanwhile, talks RAI television through his win: "I felt good but you never know how the others feel. I saw George Bennett was strong and he'd won a couple of days ago. It was important to reduce the group and Vlasov was a campione today. He gave me a big hand to finish things off. In the finale I told myself to wait for the sprint, I thought that I could beat him [Bennett]. But when he attacked a second time I decided to go myself and he faded."

COMO ITALY AUGUST 15 Arrival Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Astana Pro Team Celebration during the 114th Il Lombardia 2020 a 231km race from Bergamo to Como ilombardia IlLombardia on August 15 2020 in Como Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Fuglsang added that he didn't see Remco Evenepoel's crash. "I didn’t see anything. I saw Vincenzo go on the front and descent at full speed. I was third wheel and saw there were only a few of us left. I didn’t know what had happened but then I asked and they told me he'd crashed. We can only hope he's okay."

Deceuninck-QuickStep directeur sportif Davide Bramati has spoken to Sporza about Evenepoel's crash. "“We didn’t see the fall ourselves, we only heard about it on the race radio. When we saw that Remco's data had stopped, we already thought it was him. When we got there, all I saw was his bike. A bike without a rider, that's not a pleasant sight. I walked straight down and quickly saw that he was okay. He could talk and said he had pain in his right side. He's in the hospital now, with the doctor, Patrick [Lefevere] and his family. I think he'll be all right. But may the bad luck stop for us now.”

The CPA has just tweeted... its congratulations to Jakob Fuglsang. Surely it would be more appropriate for the riders' representative association to be asking why a random car on the course crashed into one of its members in the closing kilometres? 

COMO ITALY AUGUST 15 Arrival Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Astana Pro Team Celebration during the 114th Il Lombardia 2020 a 231km race from Bergamo to Como ilombardia IlLombardia on August 15 2020 in Como Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

George Bennett (Jumbo-Visma) on his second place finish: "I tried with everything but I couldn't drop him [Fuglsang]…. During the race I felt I had good legs and wanted to attack on the Civiglio. I just couldn't follow Fuglsang that last time. I'm disappointed now but in a few I'll be happy for this result."

COMO ITALY AUGUST 15 Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Astana Pro Team George Bennett of New Zealand and Team Jumbo Visma during the 114th Il Lombardia 2020 a 231km race from Bergamo to Como ilombardia IlLombardia on August 15 2020 in Como Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

COMO ITALY AUGUST 15 Podium Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Astana Pro Team Celebration Trophy during the 114th Il Lombardia 2020 a 231km race from Bergamo to Como ilombardia IlLombardia on August 15 2020 in Como Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

More reaction from second-placed George Bennett: "If you’d told me at the start of the week, I’m sure I’d have been happy with it but I can’t help but feel disappointed. I really thought I could win. Astana just had the numbers and I really had to make sure I wasn’t in a two-on-one in the finish and I knew that Jakob was a lot faster than me in a sprint. I had to try to drop him but it was too much and I dropped myself. It’s like that. It’s still a great race and I had a lot of fun. I’m sure I’ll look back and be happy about it but just for the moment it’s hard not to be a little disappointed.”

Deceuninck-QuickStep have just announced that Remco Evenepoel suffered a fractured pelvis and a right lung contusion in his crash on the descent of the Sormano. He will remain in hospital in Como overnight before returning to Belgium on Sunday.

"Placed into a precautionary neck brace and taken to the Como hospital by ambulance, Remco was conscious at all times as he underwent a series of examinations to reveal the extent of his injury," reads the statement.

"Unfortunately, the X-rays showed a fractured pelvis and a right lung contusion, which will keep Evenepoel – a winner of four stage races this season – on the sidelines for the upcoming period. Our rider will remain in the hospital overnight under observation, before flying on Sunday to Belgium."

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quickstep) on stage 1 of the 2020 Tour de Pologne

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Bora-Hansgrohe, meanwhile, have confirmed that Max Schachmann was taken to hospital after finishing 7th at Il Lombardia, and the team will provide an update on his injuries later on Saturday. The German champion was struck by a car that drove across the course on the final drop into Como.

Thanks for following our live coverage of Il Lombardia this afternoon. A full report, results and pictures are here, while further details on Remco Evenepoel's condition can be read here. The report from today's action at the Criterium du Dauphine is here.

COMO ITALY AUGUST 15 Arrival Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark and Astana Pro Team Celebration during the 114th Il Lombardia 2020 a 231km race from Bergamo to Como ilombardia IlLombardia on August 15 2020 in Como Italy Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images

(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

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