The 2011 Tour of Lombardy takes place in Italy on Saturday, October 15, bringing the curtain down on the Union Cycliste Internationale’s 2011 WorldTour.
This year’s edition of the ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’ starts in Milan and finishes in Lecco after 241km of racing. The 2011 route reverses the order of the two decisive climbs from last year – Colma di Sormano comes first followed by the climb to Madonna del Ghisallo. Before that, the riders must tackle the energy-sapping ascent of Valcava after less than 70km of racing.
The final sting in the tail of this year’s Lombardy route is the short but sharp Villa Vergano, less than 10km before the finish line. It offers the ideal launchpad for a late attack… for those brave enough to take the final descent at full tilt.
Belgian attacker Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) has won the race on the last two occasions – and again ranks as one of the favourites for the win.
Gilbert will come up against an incredibly strong starting line-up that includes Thomas Voeckler (Europcar), Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), Nicolas Roche (Ag2r), Joaquin Rodriguez (Katusha), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Sylvain Chavanel (Quick Step), Rigoberto Uran (Sky) and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo). The only other former Lombardy winner on the start sheet is Damiano Cunego (Lampre), who won the race in 2004, 2007 and 2008.
Last year, Gilbert distanced fellow escapee Michele Scarponi on the final climb to take a solo win. Nibali will be hoping for better luck this year after he fell victim to the wet conditions in 2010, crashing heavily on a descent whilst in the lead group.
Gilbert is already at the top of the UCI’s 2011 WorldTour ranking having taken a string of victories throughout the season including Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec, Amstel Gold Race, Fleche Wallonne, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and Clasica San Sebastian. A good result here will cement his position as the year’s most consistently successful rider in the WorldTour.
The Tour of Lombardy has only been won by a British rider once – Tom Simpson in 1965, the year he won the World Championship. Newly-crowned World Champion Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) had been scheduled to take part in the race but decided not to start. The severity of the climbs do not suit the British sprinter and he did not want to ‘dishonour’ the race by pulling out half-way through.
In 2012, the race shifts to a late September date and will be called Il Lombardia.
Tour of Lombardy 2011: Route
Date: Saturday, October 15 2011
Start: Milan, Italy
Finish: Lecco, Italy
Major climbs: Valcava (1336m at 78.4km), Colle Brianza (533m at 122.8km), Colma di Sormano (1124m at 159.1km), Madonna del Ghisallo (754m at 195.2km), Villa Vergano (522m at 232km)
Tour of Lombardy 2011: Teams
Acqua & Sapone
Ag2r La Mondiale
BMC Racing Team
Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli
Tour of Lombardy 2011: The Brits
Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad)
Daniel Lloyd (Garmin-Cervelo)
Steve Cummings (Sky)
Tour of Lombardy 2011: TV schedule
British Eurosport: 4.30-5.15pm, highlights
British Eurosport: 11.25pm-midnight, highlights
2010 podium: Gilbert takes second win
Tour of Lombardy: Recent winners
2010: Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
2009: Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
2008: Damiano Cunego (Ita)
2007: Damiano Cunego (Ita)
2006: Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2005: Paolo Bettini (Ita)
2004: Damiano Cunego (Ita)
2003: Michele Bartoli (Ita)
2002: Michele Bartoli (Ita)
Tour of Lombardy: Last year’s top ten (2010)
1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
2. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 12 secs
3. Pablo Lastras (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne at 55 secs
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Saxo Bank at 1-08
5. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo at same time
6. Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 1-12
7. Mikel Nieve (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi at 2-07
8. Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) BMC Racing Team at 3-01
9. Carlos Barredo (Spa) Quick Step at 3-25
10. Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha at 3-50