It ended up looking like a story between two teams as three Trek-Segafredo riders and two Astana men, along with Bennett, went clear on the descent of the Colma di Sormano after a nasty crash for Remco Evenepoel (Deceunick – Quick-Step), who was conscious as he was transported to hospital.
Trek’s trio of Vincenzo Nibali, Giulio Ciccone and defending champion Bauke Mollema were all dropped on the Civiglio climb as Bennett stayed with Fuglsang and Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana).
How it happened
The riders started the 114th Il Lombardia in Bergamo with a very challenging route of 231km to Como where the second Monument of the year finished.
An 11-man break went up the road early on, including Petre Vakoč (Alpecin-Fenix), James Piccoli (Israel Start-Up Nation) and Joey Rosskopf (CCC Team).
It was Piccoli who went solo, with around 70km to go, but behind the peloton was flying up the climbs, bringing the time gap down rapidly, with Astana and Deceuninck – Quick-Step doing the work.
Piccoli was caught just a couple of kilometres later as Evenepoel asked for more pace before they hit the steep slopes of the Colma di Sormano.
On the Sormano, Vlasov and Fuglsang shared duties with Mathieu van der Poel (Alpecin-Fenix), Richard Carapaz (Ineos) and Diego Ulissi (UAE Team Emirates) all dropped out of the back.
As the lead group went over the top Nibali went to the front and tried to create a gap on a very tricky, tight and twisty descent.
All the riders were keeping up well with Evenepoel at the back. It was only on one bend, where the road tightened on the exit of a corner to go across a bridge, that the 20-year-old Belgian went into the wall and over the other side.
As the lead group got to the bottom there were only six riders left: Bennett, Vlasov, Fuglsang, Nibali, Ciccone and Mollema.
They all worked well together as riders such as Van der Poel were chasing behind. But as they hit the penultimate climb of Civiglio Fuglsang attacked with Bennett on the wheel. Soon after, Vlasov attacked across to Bennett and his team-mate, Fuglsang.
All three Trek riders were in trouble, Nibali especially, as he had put in a big effort to work for his team.
The three leaders then started to work together over the top and on the way to the last climb of San Fermo della Battaglia.
Bennett attacked at the base of the climb, immediately distancing the Russian champion, Vlasov.
Bennett tried another three times to drop Fuglsang before the two-time Critérium du Dauphiné winner hit the New Zealander hard with a vicious attack.
The winner of Gran Piemonte, just three days previous, Bennett was not able to get back on terms with the great Dane who took the win by over 30 seconds.
Il Lombardia 2020 – Bergamo to Como (231km)
1. Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, in 5-32-54
2. George Bennett (NZl) Jumbo-Visma, at 31s
3. Aleksandr Vlasov (Rus) Astana, at 51s
4. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-19
5. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 1-40
6. Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Trek-Segafredo, at 3-31
7. Max Schachmann (Ger) Bora-Hansgrohe, at 4-31
8. Diego Ulissi (Ita) UAE Team Emirates, at 5-20
9. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Start-Up Nation, at 6-00
10. Mathieu van der Poel (Ned) Alpecin-Fenix, at 6-28