Friday Group Ride #41

The end of the season is well and truly here with tomorrow’s Tour of Lombardy. As the fifth and final Monument of the season, this is a PRO’s last real chance to score a win of note and either capitalize on a great season or hope to rescue a lousy one.

Unlike Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, the winner of Lombardy, the race of the falling leaves, is often a man of the Grand Tours, but not in the way you think. It’s true that the roll of winners included Fausto Coppi, Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Francesco Moser, Bernard Hinault, Sean Kelly and Tony Rominger, but the majority of winners have been riders who aspired to do well at the Grand Tours, but rarely put together the form for a win. What more of them have in common is a win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

Indeed, in the last 20 years, only two riders have put together a Grand Tour win and success at Lombardy in the same year. Three-time winner Damiano Cunego did it back in 2004 when he won the Giro d’Italia, and sustained his form all the way from May to October. Prior to that Tony Rominger did it in ’92 following his win in the Vuelta a Espana when it was still held in April.

And while it may seem that a rider should be able to capitalize on great form from World’s, so far, only Paolo Bettini has been able to cross the finish line at Lombardy in the arc-en-ciel.

Clearly, Lombardy is not a race for Thor Hushovd, but Cadel Evans seems to be both hungry and going well. However, following his win in the Tour of the Piedmont, Philippe Gilbert seems to be on track to repeat in Lombardy. Clearly, Matti Breschel and Filippo Pozzato will have something to say about who wins.

I say Gilbert will be too heavily marked to win. I’m going with Evans.

What say you?

Image: John Pierce, Photosport International

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2 comments

  1. michael

    after hearing about Gilbert training in the Italian Alps and using the Stelvio for climbing intervals I thought to myself “here is a man on a mission”. he reconed the new climb and descent, new who the main protagonists would be ie Nibali, and devised a plan to counter his strengths.

    Brilliant, brilliant win by Gilbert – you can be the strongest but without proper planning and strategy all the form in the world will not help you. I think he learned his lesson from World’s, using his team to profound effect today. He looked SO strong on the final two climbs, and his descent to drop Nibali was beautiful to watch.

    All hail Gilbert, in one of the classiest rides of the year. If he wasn’t among your favorite riders in the peloton already, he should warrant your attention now!

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