Il Lombardia Race Preview – 2017

Course:

As Autumn begins to set in across Europe, the race of the falling leaves once again signifies the end of the year’s major races, concluding the season’s monuments campaign with Il Lombardia. Starting in Bergamo and travelling 247km to the finish at Como, the day’s racing is expected to be fierce as ever, with plenty of riders in good form after a late surge in promise off the back of the Vuelta a España and World Championships last month. The route itself is based upon 2015’s course, one which delivered Vincenzo Nibali the win on that day, packing much of the toughest climbing into the final third of the day’s racing. Though a couple of recognised ascents are present during the opening 150km, it is not really until the riders reach the Madonna del Ghisallo where life in the saddle gets really difficult. Lasting for 8.6km and averaging a gradient of 6.2%, the rise includes maximum inclines of 14% and should give an early indication of who is contention for the final win. The biggest challenge of the day soon follows, a chance of seeing some big names crack on the Muro di Sormano and its mind numbing gradients which touch 27%; under 2km of gruelling climbing. A relatively extended period without climbing lasts until 226km has been completed, from which point the final fireworks are anticipated to be ignited. The climb to Civiglio is a likely launchpad for an attack, a 4.2km rise which peaks at 14%, with riders reaching the summit and hurtling down to face their final climb of the day; San Fermo della Battaglia (3.3 km, avg. 7.2%). The final kilometres are not technically demanding, though after such a fatiguing affair, even the slightest inclines are bound to be magnified.

 

Il Lombardia Race Preview 2017Il Lombardia Race Preview 2017

Contenders:

Rigoberto Uran has shown to be in brilliant form late in the year and will find the finale of this year’s race suited to his talents. The Colombian looks to have peaked perfectly for this last monument and will enter the race with great confidence of succeeding in his endeavours. Able to stick the pace of the favourites on the steepest sections and possessing a punchy acceleration which few can match, Uran is a major contender on a day where those lacking in condition will be hit hardest.

Vincenzo Nibali shall have flashed a grin when first seeing the course for 2017’s edition of his native monument, the route mirroring the one which previously delivered him the win at this race a couple of years ago. With the demands meeting that of a queen stage at a grand tour, Nibali is certainly equipped with the tools needed to survive, but it is still uncertain whether he is truly poised to put his rivals to the sword once again here. If still in contention after the ascent of Muro di Sormano, then there is a strong possibility he will seek to breakaway solo in the remaining kilometres and replicate his win of 2015.

Adam Yates was not far behind Rigoberto Uran during the week’s Milano – Torino and will believe that a tweaking of tactics could land him a major victory to add to his growing palmarès. He has had to endure an awkward year of racing, but now looks to be edging closer to the kind of form which makes him a true contender on such a tough day of attritional racing. Yates will need to focus on conserving energy for as long as possible, as with terrain which is not perfect for the British rider, he knows that every ounce of power will be required to make one big attack stick right to the line at Como.

Julian Alaphilippe appeared on course for the World Championship title late in the day at Bergen, but the race failed to follow his plan ideally, though Il Lombardia offers an ideal remedy to that misfortune. Another who is likely to favour a late solo move, the Frenchman will benefit from a more conservatively ridden race, allowing him to exploit the tactics of bigger favourites and commit to his move when others are beginning to flag. His performance at the World Championships off the back of the Vuelta a España was particularly encouraging, with expectations high for a good performance as a result.

Bauke Mollema is certainly capable of springing a surprise upon the big name contenders at this year’s Il Lombardia, with a tougher route providing him with some ideal opportunities to try and escape the bunch. The Dutchman has clearly targeted this race with full intentions of animating the proceedings when possible, aiming to pounce near the end of the day with one of his unmarked moves which has previously secured him major honours in the past.

Outcome:

1st Rigoberto Uran 2nd Vincenzo Nibali 3rd Bauke Mollema

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Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 15 Preview

Course:

A day which could be a headache in waiting for the general classification riders, the main consensus however, is that a breakaway is mostly likely to decide the outcome on Stage 15 of this year’s Giro d’Italia. Starting in Valdengo, the route totals 199km as it makes its way to the finish in Bergamo, taking in a couple of sharp categorised climbs within a short space of time to animate the race. A somewhat rolling opening to the day, an essentially flat start will make it a hotly contested affair to join a move with the potential to survive into Bergamo. The first of the two main challenges of the day comes once the riders hit the Category 2 Miragole San Salvatore, an 8.7 km climb which averages 7% and possesses maximum ramps of 11%. Though the ascent is steep, especially towards the summit, it is regular enough to try and tap out an even pace all the way to the top. A brief downhill section then leads straight into the base of the Selvino, a Category 3 climb which is easier than its predecessor, lasting for 6.9km with an average gradient of 5.4% (max 9%) and could allow a degree of regrouping amongst the frontrunners. The race subsequently drops downhill quite rapidly, before then opening out onto relatively flat terrain once again, with everything likely to be decided by the unrecognised Bergamo Alta rise with under 5km left. The historic climb twists its way through the streets, offering a cobbled section early on and reaches 12%, before a short downhill section finishes within touching distance of the flamme rouge.

Giro d’Italia 2017 – Stage 15 Preview

Contenders:

Luis Leon Sanchez was a common provocateur during the first half of this race, appearing to be in strong enough form to make days such as these a realistic goal for a stage win. He has since become considerably quieter, yet is likely to simply be keeping his powder dry ahead of days he feels are worth investing his efforts into winning. The Spaniard will be confident of finding a place for himself amongst the key breakaway, focusing on pacing himself upon the Miragole San Salvatore, aiming to stay within reach of his rivals and put them to the sword with his sprinting capabilities.

Omar Fraile produced a monstrous effort to secure his first grand tour stage win earlier in the week and will view Stage 15 as having great potential of allowing him to double up at the Giro d’Italia. There is no question as to his form right now, putting in strong efforts as part of the breaks, while sailing up the climbs with real venom when necessary. The finale in Bergamo is ideal for Fraile to attack in order to drop remaining rivals, already demonstrating how hard it is to close him down once he commits to a move.

Diego Rosa is the rider most likely to be backed by Team Sky today, joining in with the moves on Stage 15 as they continue to try and salvage their Giro d’Italia. The Italian is a big fan of this part of his homeland and could prove interested in trying to showcase this by taking the win in Bergamo. Overall, the day does suit him rather well, but there shall be reservations as to how well he will be able to contest the less well fitting finish.

Laurens De Plus seems to be enjoying a strong run of form right now at the race and could be another rider capable of making it into Bergamo as part of a race winning move. The Belgian rider has shown enough already to make it hard to question his climbing abilities right now and would be best advised to utilise these in order to overcome his disadvantage in any potential sprint for the line.

Other riders who are worth watching for are Rui Costa, Giovanni ViscontiDylan TeunsWinner AnaconaMichael Woods and Davide Villella.

Outcome:

1st Omar Fraile 2nd Diego Rosa 3rd Luis Leon Sanchez

Rapido Guide – Il Lombardia Preview 2016

Course:

It shall seem a lifetime ago since the riders battled it out amongst themselves for glory in the Spring classics, but they shall soon need to get back up to speed with the rigours of those races as the peloton tackle the final monument of 2016. Il Lombardia is the last major one day race of the year ahead of the World Championships and offers canny puncheurs a final chance of glory before the peloton goes into hibernation until next season. This extremely lumpy course will be a gruelling affair once the pressure ratchets up and the favourites become twitchy to the movements of their rivals on the final climbs en route to the finish. The day totals 241km as it snakes its way from Como to Bergamo, looking to chip away at the riders until the last 50km of racing instigates skirmishes to breakout, likely to form an elite group which fractures in the final 20km to the line. With more climbing than recent years, it should allow purer climbers to deal greater damage to the puncheurs, the latter favouring a small group reaching the line from which they can sprint to victory ahead of the true mountain men.

Il Lombardia

Contenders:

Romain Bardet looked in great condition at both Giro dell’Emilia and Milan-Turin, riding aggressively in the latter stages of both and certain to feel encouraged by those performances as he enters this final major race of his season. His team AG2R La Mondiale worked really well during the earlier Italian races last week, placing Bardet perfectly throughout the day and setting him up neatly for attacks late in the race.

Esteban Chaves has been in great form as of late and has improved consistently throughout the season to confirm his status as one of the most exciting prospects within the peloton for next year. He won Giro dell’Emilia with a typically clever move, though something which he might struggle to succeed with today as a result of Il Lombardia‘s much more hotly contested nature.

Rigoberto Uran has established a talent for performing well in these one day races which come after La Vuelta a España, often emerging as one of the strongest riders as the favourites approach the finale. He felt somewhat aggrieved to miss out on the win during Milan-Turin and is riding extremely strongly right now ahead of this last big battle. He should be confident of staying with the strongest and is one of the fastest finishers in a reduced sprint after a day like this.

Diego Ulissi is somewhat of an outsider, but his showings in the previous week and a finish which plays to his strengths perfectly mark him out as a true contender for victory today. Assuming he can stay with the frontrunners late in the day, Ulissi will prove extremely difficult to beat in a sprint to the line.

There is a great breadth of riders who could all ride themselves into contention for this last monument of the year, including big name contenders such as Alejandro ValverdeJulian AlaphilippeBauke MollemaDan Martin and Greg Van Avermaet.

Outcome:

1st Romain Bardet 2nd Rigoberto Uran 3rd Esteban Chaves