Il Lombardia – Sept 29th – The Race of the Fallen Leaves Preview

The final major race of the 2012 season and the final monument of the five monuments in cycling. Il Lombardia is perhaps the most beautiful of all the monuments and arguably, the most selective. Sure, it doesn’t have the cobbles and mud of Roubaix. It doesn’t have the length of Milan San-Remo. It doesn’t have the punchy cobbled climbs of Flanders. But what it has are long, steep climbs like Liege and it often has terrible weather. Oh, and the climbs at Lombardia are a little steeper and much, much longer. This is the climbers classic and all other one-day-men need not apply.

Lombardia for the last few years has provided some scintillating racing. Last year, Zaugg with a cheeky attack and solo ride for the final 15km. The year prior, one of the best of Lombardia with Gilbert and Scarponi going head-to-head. 5 consecutive Bettini and Cunego coups (three for the Prince, two for Paolo). Il Lombardia is an amazing race settled in that sweet spot around Lake Como where all the mountain walls plunge into the depths of the Lake making for steep and undulating terrain with the most gorgeous backdrop in cycling. Watch last year’s race below:

2012 is the 106th edition of the race which first ran in 1905. With various starting and ending cities over the years the centrepiece is Lake Como and next to that the Ghisallo climb past the Madonna del Ghisallo, the patron of cyclists. This year the brutal Muro Di Sormano at 2km and 15% avg is in the race again coming just ahead of the Ghisallo. This famous and controversial climb has been in and out of the race for decades as it once caused chaos on the roads as riders would slip and fall in the wet weather. It is a killer climb and will be influential at sorting the pretenders from the contenders.

Following the Sormano is the traditional Ghisallo 8.5km (6.2%) and then the switchback descent down into Onno followed by the Salita di Ello (Villa Vergano) climb 3.2km (7.4%). From here, the riders tumble off the final climb and power their way to the finish line 10km later in Lecco.

The favorites coming into the event are Philippe Gilbert, Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodriguez, Alberto Contador, Rigoberto Uran and perhaps Nibali is the top hope for Italy?

Should be a great race.

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