A sensational finale of a sensational season? – Il Lombardia 2019 Preview

Although there is still a race left in China, the traditional cycling season comes to its end this weekend.

The start is in Bergamo, the finish is in Como, which was the case in the previous two occasions too. This is the route where Vincenzo Nibali did that insane downhill solo in 2015, also the finish of the 15th stage at this year’s Giro d’Italia had the almost same program.

Seven hills on the 243 km long road, the most famous one is the Madonna di Ghisallo, where there is a church (which is a cycling museum) is located on the top, meanwhile, the steepest ascent is the  Muro di Sormano with its 27% slope.

Nevertheless, the last two climbs, especially the Civiglio might be the right place for a winning attack.

Il Lombardia 2019 – The Route

In the finish only the last 200 m is flat, but as we could see it so many times in the past, the race is rather designed for a solo victory or for an eventual duel between two breakaway riders. (Like it was the case last year.) Due to the steep descent of the Civiglio, the race suits the downhill specialists most.

But thank God, we have plenty of them among the starters, after an extraordinary season, the creme de la creme of the elite peloton is going to take part in this event. Some of them are in really good shape. Unfortunately, last year’s winner Thibaut Pinot (Groupama.FDJ) won’t be there on Saturday,  but let’s see who will:

Egan Bernal (Ineos)

Right after his Tour de France victory Bernal attended the Classica San Sebastian, but hasn’t finished. The Giro della Toscana was his real comeback to racing: he attacked and finished 2nd. He was at the start line at another Italian one-day race too, he finished 8th at Giro dell’Emilia, 6th at Milano-Torino and finally he won the Gran Piemonte.  He seems really enjoy to race in recent weeks, and he has the team for it.

Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma)

Another rider with recent successes. Roglic wasn’t in form at the World Championship in Yorkshire, no wonder, it happened only two weeks after his Vuelta a Espana victory. He revived in sunny Italy and won two races: Giro dell’Emila and Tre Vari Varesine. He is considered to be a better downhill rider than Bernal.

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida)

But not so good as Nibali. He is Mr. Lombardy, two-time winner of the race, but had an impressive ride on the Lombardia-stage of this years’s Giro too. (And Richard Carapaz showed, how to race as a clever GC-rider, he put his wheel behind Nibali on that stage.) Despite of his 2nd place in the Giro General Classification and the stage win at the Tour de France, he doesn’t really have a successful season behind him. But you can never know, you can never prepare for a shark attack properly.

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)

No more in the rainbow jersey (btw, Mads Petersen, the news world champion doesn’t attend this race), but in the good old fighting mood, Valverde is in the peloton of Il Lombardia.

Philippe Gilbert (Deceuninck-Quick Step)

He had that memorable moment at the World Championship when he had to give up the race, although he was in good shape in the first part of September. Another big fighter, who already has two Lombardia-victories in his backpack (2009,2010).

Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates)

Everyone who followed the one-day races since September, inclusive the two Canadian ones, knows very well, that Ulissi is in good shape and he is active at every races he attends.  Maybe this Saturday will be his big day.

Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo)

It looks like it started a quite new season for the Trek-Segafredo riders after the World Championship. This season wasn’t really theirs, but apparently they have mentally profited from Pedersen victory and now they are really active.

Ciccone tried almost desperately fulfill a successful break at the Giro dell’Emilia, but it wasn’t enough for the glory. But there is always a new race, a new chance to prove yourself.

Another notable mention:  Esteban Chaves (Mitchelton-Scott), Dan Martin (UAE Team Emirates), Sergio Higuita and Michael Woods (Team EF), Jakob Fuglsang (Astana), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo)

Il Lombardia 2019 – Startlist

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