Vincenzo Nibali uses his superior descending skills to distance his rivals and take a memorable solo victory in Il Lombardia

Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) used his incredible descending skills and knowledge of the course to escape from his rivals to take the biggest single-day race win of his career in Il Lombardia, Italy, on Sunday.

The Italian road race champion attacked on the descent of the Civiglio, and utilised every centimetre of the twisting road to open up a gap that his rivals were powerless to close.

It marks a successful end to a season that – up until today – Nibali would probably have preferred to forget: off-form in the Tour de France in July, and disqualified from the Vuelta a España in August.

Spaniard Daniel Moreno (Katusha) made up for the last-minute withdrawal of injured team leader Joaquim Rodriguez to finish second behind Nibali, with Frenchman Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) in third.

WorldTour winner and pre-race favourite Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) finished in fourth place.

The early stages of the six-hour race were played out with an 11-man escape group out front. This split apart on the ascent of the Ghisallo with 75km to go, which also saw the chasing peloton start to fragment for the first time.

Dennis Van Winden on the front during the 2015 Tour of Lombardy

Dennis Van Winden on the front of the escape group

Former world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) was the first rider to launch a move on the steep climb of Muro di Sormano, a move which saw the peloton finally crumble into bits. Defending Lombardia champion Daniel Martin (Cannondale-Garmin) was one of those dropped.

Astana were active throughout the day, working hard to chase down the break and then to keep Nibali at the forefront of the action. The team’s Diego Rosa – who won Milano-Torino on Thursday – was particularly active, and finished in fifth place himself.

Alessandro Vanotti and his Astana teammates during the 2015 Tour of Lombardy

Alessandro Vanotti and his Astana teammates during the 2015 Il Lombardia

The Astana-led chase group caught Kwiatkowski on the Civiglio climb with 19km to go. Rosa attacked first, followed by Sky’s Sergio Henao but they were soon brought back. Pinot then attacked, followed again by Rosa and Mikel Nieve (Sky).

After they were reeled in, Nibali those his moment to launch what would turn out to be the race-winning move. Going clear over the top of the Civiglio and waving good bye to his rivals, who would not see him again as he swept down the hill.

Moreno and Pinot were the most active in the chase, and Moreno almost caught Nibali before the final descent of San Fermo della Battaglia, but he couldn’t quite make the junction and that was game over as Nibali once again stretched his advantage on the final descent to the finish in Como.

Il Lombardia 2015 profile

Il Lombardia 2015 profile

Simon Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) was Britain’s top finisher, in 18th place. Adam Yates (Orica-GreenEdge) finished in 56th place, with British national champion Peter Kennaugh (Team Sky) in 72nd.

After winning the final WorldTour race of the 2015 calendar and capping off Astana’s late-season purple patch that includes Fabio Aru’s Vuelta a España victory, Nibali will now take part in the Abu Dhabi Tour, starting on Thursday.

The peloton on the Ghisallo during the 2015 Tour of Lombardy

The peloton on the Ghisallo during the 2015 Tour of Lombardy

Vincenzo Nibali wins the 2015 Il Lombardia

Vincenzo Nibali wins the 2015 Il Lombardia

Result

Il Lombardia 2015: Bergamo to Como, 245km
1. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana in 6-16-28
2. Daniel Moreno (Spa) Katusha at 21 secs
3. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 32 secs
4. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 46 secs
5. Diego Rosa (Ita) Astana at same time
6. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Team Sky at same time
7. Tony Gallopin (Ned) Lotto-Soudal at 56 secs
8. Esteban Chaves (Col) Orica-GreenEdge
9. Sergio Henao (Col) Team Sky at same time
10. Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Etixx-QuickStep at 1-10
Other
18. Simon Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 4-25
56. Adam Yates (GBr) Orica-GreenEdge at 11-58
72. Peter Kennaugh (GBr) Team Sky at 15-01

  • David Sundheim

    Ha! That’s great! Sorry, I maybe got a bit carried away. I am just happy to see races won by the likes of him and Sagan, winning because of their descending skills! It’s great to see such a display rewarded. Especially from a guy who has had a pretty bum year.

    Also I know all the Froome supporters are at odds with Nibali. So I was hoping g to ruffle some feathers.

    Racing with some real gusto and displaying bike handling skills! Something your not likely to see from the “golden boy” Froome.

  • FPCyclist

    Are you his agent? Wow, easy mate.

  • reece46

    You mean we didn’t see him cheating this time?

  • anon

    that was a flag thrown (?) by a spectator landing at the right place in the right moment

  • Jonathan Seyghal

    What was with his Jersey though? The bonus trocolore.

  • David Sundheim

    Don’t you just love to watch him?!?! He is one of the few riders that truly does it all… He climbs well! Descends brilliantly! Times trials descently! Grand tours, he consistently performs well! In Blizzards! On cobbles! Wet or dry, hot or cold! He is a fun rider to watch…. So fearless.

  • Andrew Bairsto

    Fabulous race and a fully deserved win.