The last monument of the year and this year with a new route. Classica Delle Foglie Morte is the last goal for many riders this season and the last race with such a packed field. This edition of Il Lombardia will have 684 climbing meters more than the last edition in 2020. However, we will not have the same tough climbs as Muro di Sormano or Civiglio. After all that is said, the race has 4659 climbing meters and even more meters descending.
Important climbs and descends
This climb is likely to have some sort of impact. It is the first major climb and I imagine a few teams will be keen to getting satellite riders up the road. This climb starts with 144 km left which is very far out.
The next difficult climb is the Dossena. It is quite long but the gradients are not that tough. It starts with 88.5 km left.
Passo di Ganda
The second to last climb of the day. It is steeper towards the top with a 1.5 km section at 9.5%
Descend from Passo di Ganda
This is where it can get very interesting. We have a very, very technical section. We have thirteen corners in a row where it will be easy to spot the good descenders and the bad ones. Without a doubt, a move will be made here in the front group.
This is the last climb of the day. It is a very nasty ramp very close to the finish. If you are not comfortable in your sprint, this is your last chance.
Run in to the finish line
The weather tomorrow will be good for the cyclist but not very entertaining for us viewers. Temperatures around 17 degrees Celcius and almost no wind at all. However, after the tricky descend the riders will turn into a headwind until the last climb of the day. It is in a populated area, but if the wind picks up it could be very difficult to stay away.
How will the race pan out?
All the important details have been covered. We have a stunning monument of 239 km and 4659 climbing meters. We do not have any game-changing climbs. What can we compare it to? I think the Olympics Road Race is a perfect race to compare Il Lombardia to. That race was 236 km and had 4582 climbing meters. It had a more decisive climb in Mukuni Pass but Passo di Gandi will have that role here.
I think we will see the first moves on Roncola even though it is very far out. It is also likely it will happen on Dossena. I think Quick-Step would like to ride offensively and keep Alaphilippe in the peloton in case it comes back together. I also expect Bahrain, UAE, and INEOS to put pressure on Jumbo-Visma in order to isolate him. It will be difficult given the way Vingegaard rode in Giro dell’Emilia but not impossible.
I expect a very open race but in the end, you have to remember. 239 km and 4659 climbing meters. It is brutal. Once again, the best preparation will have been a good effort in La Vuelta or Giro dell’Emilia + Milano Torino.
Jumbo-Visma (Roglic + Vingegaard) is a very strong duo. You barely need to give an introduction to Roglic, it is easier to say he is winning everything at the moment. Vingegaard had a long break after the Tour de France, but he showed great form in Giro dell’Emilia. It will be interesting to see if Vingegaard will be a domestique or have a more free role early in the race. I think the best choice is using him to put pressure on other teams.
UAE (Pogacar + Ulissi) is a good duo too. Pogacar has been a level below Roglic in the Italian races but it is worth remembering he did Tre Valli Varesine one day before Milano – Torino which is a factor as he was not as fresh as Roglic or A. Yates. Ulissi is in good form too. Normally, I would argue there are too many climbing meters or the race is too long for him, but he really impressed me in the Giro d’Italia earlier this year (4th on stage 17). I think he will be underrated by many tomorrow.
INEOS (Moscon + Adam Yates) are in my opinion the best cards for INEOS tomorrow. Moscon is flying, we saw that in Roubaix. Are there too many climbing meters? Perhaps, but when he is in form, he can manage it. Just remember WC in 2018. He is an exceptional rider when he has good legs. A. Yates is the safer approach. 4th in Giro dell’Emilia and 2nd in Milano-Torino. He will be up there again tomorrow.
Quickstep (Almeida + Evenepoel + Alaphilippe) is what the wolfpack brings. I am fairly certain Almeida is their best option. He is riding very well at the moment and he is extremely fast in a sprint. It is great to see Evenepoel back at this race after his crash here last season. What a season from him. He is in fantastic form but he will need to win solo which can be difficult. Alaphilippe won Worlds but had bad legs in Milano – Torino. He has been struggling with races that have a lot of climbing meters. Personally, he is the biggest question mark for me tomorrow. I do hope he attacks the Descend from Passo di Ganda.
Mohoric might not be the first rider to pop up in your head but he did really well earlier this year in San Sebastian and that race had 4000 climbing meters in it. Furthermore, he is a fantastic descender and will be able to make a move if he survives Passo di Ganda. On short and steep ramps he is not half bad either. And his sprint? It is pretty good too.
Gaudu has had a very good season. Recently, he finished top 10 in both Giro dell’Emilia and Milano – Torino. I have a hard time seeing him take the win tomorrow but I think he will finish in the top-10.
Woods is not the best descender in the peloton which can be a huge problem for him tomorrow. When the riders attack on the descend from Passo di Ganda I think he will get into trouble. I think last year’s route would have been better for him. Another rider I expect in the top-10.
Valverde is a fantastic one-day racer. I doubt he will be able to win it tomorrow, but if they bring the old veteran late into the finale, he is one of the smartest riders.
Trek-Segafredo (Nibali + Mollema) is the last two riders who I expect to go well tomorrow. Nibali was flying in Tour of Sicily but he was not very good in Tre Valli Varesine or Milano-Torino. I expect the shark is hiding something and he is another candidate to attack on the descend from Passo di Ganda. I expect a good result from Mollema even though he didn’t look too good in his preparation. A 7th place in Giro dell’Emilia is a good sign.
Who will win?
I think it will be a numbers game tomorrow. The teams with the most options are more likely to succeed. In my opinion, Almeida ticks all the right boxes. A sublime climber, a good descender and in case of a sprint, he is very fast.