By Jonny Long
Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) sealed his maiden Monument victory after solo-ing to victory at Il Lombardia 2019.
As the attacks came in thick and fast in the closing kilometres, the Dutchman countered with 18km remaining as the group of favourites let him go up the road.
The 32-year-old kept his head down and pushed hard as his advantage crept up, with those behind failing to get organised and chase the Trek-Segafredo rider down.
Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) attempted to peg Mollema back but left it too late, as he eventually out-sprinted Egan Bernal (Ineos) to take second, with Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) fourth.
Mollema becomes the first Dutch winner of Il Lombardia since 1981, with no Italian rider making the top 10 for the first time since 1990.
How it happened
Cesare Benedetti (Bora-Hansgrohe), Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck - Quick-Step), Toms Skujinš (Trek-Segafredo) and Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), made it into the early breakaway, opening up a gap of 1-50 over the peloton before more riders including Fausto Masnada (Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec) jumped across and the advantage grew to 5-45.
As they started the climb to Madonna del Ghisallo, Skujinš attacked with 71km remaining. Behind, Ineos paced the peloton up the Ghisallo, before Masnada then went it alone up front, maintaing a gap of 2-38. The Italian was the first over the summit as Bob Jungels (Deceuninck - Quick-Step attacked the peloton behind.
Mikel Landa then abandoned the race as the bunch started the climb up to Muro di Sormano, having not finished a single Italian one-day race this past week.
With 61km remaining, Skujinš had got back on to Masnada on the descent, with the Muro di Sormano up ahead and an advantage of two minutes over the peloton.
Simon Geschke (CCC), Pierre Rolland and Gianluca Brambilla attacked on the climb, the escapees now only a minute up the road. Soon after Rafał Majka (Bora-Hansgrohe) stretched his legs, with Ivan Sosa (Ineos) and Pierre Latour (Groupama-FDJ) going with him, as Michael Woods (EF Education First) also followed.
More attacks came in thick and fast as riders realised the quality of riders that were starting to go up the road. Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo), Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma) and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) made their moves with Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Enric Mas (Deceuninck - Quick-Step) and Valverde all coming across as 23 riders found themselves in the front group on the descent of the Muro.
After a momentary pause in the action, Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) and Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) decided to chance their arm, going off the front with 34.5km to go.
Vincenzo Nibali then narrowly avoiding coming off his bike, swerving into the kerb after a stray bottle made its way through the pack, the Italian somehow managing to remain upright.
Movistar's Rubén Fernández then upped the pace on the orders of Valverde, who was feeling good, as Kuss grimaced in his wheel, the peloton beginning to whittle down behind into the serious contenders.
After Wellens had been caught, Buchmann was also soon swallowed up following Alejandro Valverde launching a big attack off the front. The former world champion lingered out ahead before being brought back in as Bauke Mollema made his own bid for freedom with 18km to go.
Pierre Latour was the next to attack, as Sosa dragged the group of favourites on to the Frenchman's wheel. Michael Woods then emerged at the front of the group, being closely watched behind by Roglič.
Latour went again, pounding the pedals as Woods kept him in touching distance, before going a third time with Roglič then marking the Frenchman.
Sosa then dropped off as Bernal moved up to second wheel behind Roglič, with Mollema taking his gap up the road out to 20 seconds.
With 17km to go, it was fourth time lucky for Latour, who finally managed to open up a gap in his attempt to jump across to Mollema. However, the Frenchman was brought back in on the descent of the Civiglio, meanwhile Mollema had increased his gap to 27 seconds up ahead with 13km to go.
As Fuglsang led the chase group of favourites down the descent, he encountered his second sketchy moment on the tricky hairpins, managing to stay up right as he negotiated a corner at speed.
With 10km to go, Mollema's advantage was 45 seconds, as Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) came to the front of the peloton before Roglič came over the top and attacked, knowing Mollema would soon be out of reach up ahead if he wasn't already.
With less than 7km to go, Michael Woods tried to ride Valverde off his wheel, with Roglič visible up the road. The Slovenian had brought Mollema to within 30 seconds to go with half a kilometre to go to the top of the climb but after another kilometre Valverde had managed to bring the chase group back to Roglič.
Michael Woods then went again, as the favourites desperately tried to reduce Mollema's advantage. Egan Bernal then launched from behind, but was unable to shake off Valverde and the others.
With 5km left, the chase group were still looking around at each other, as Valverde set off on his own to close the gap of 20 seconds to Mollema.
No-one could pull the Dutchman back, though, as he stayed strong to cross the finish line in first. Behind, Valverde fought off Bernal in the sprint finish to take second, with Jakob Fuglsang finishing fourth.
Il Lombardia 2019: Bergamo to Como (243km)
1. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, in 5-52-59
2. Alejandro Valverde (Esp) Movistar, at 16 seconds
3. Egan Bernal (Col) Ineos
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, both at same time
5. Michael Woods (Can) EF Education First, at 34s
6. Jack Haig (Aus) Mitchelton-Scott
7. Primož Roglič (Slo) Jumbo-Visma, both at same time
8. Emanuel Buchmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 52s
9. Pierre Latour (Fra) Ag2r La Mondiale
10. Rudy Molard (Fra) Groupama-FDJ, both at same time
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