by Simone Gambino / Image Credit @

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The rushing autumn brings with it the conclusion of an intense and exciting cycling season. As if to exorcise its conclusion, tomorrow, Saturday 8 October, two events will be staged, each of which, taken individually, would have deserved an exclusive scenario.

Planimetria/Map Il Lombardia 2022

Shortly after 10.00 a.m. the 116th Giro di Lombardia will start from Largo Bortolo Belotti in Bergamo, and will end on Lungolario Trento in Como at around 5.00 p.m., after covering 253 kilometres packed with climbs. After the initial 20 flat kilometres, there will be no less than five hills to climb in the space of the next 100km. In order, the riders will tackle the Forcellino di Bianzano, the Passo di Ganda, decisive last year when the race ended in Bergamo, the Passo della Crocetta, the Forcella di Bura and the Colle di Berbenno. This will be followed by 60 kilometres of respite in which we will leave the Orobic province heading north-west towards the Lake of Como. At this point, having reached Bellagio, the cyclists will find on their way the legendary climb of Madonna del Ghisallo, after which there will be 60 kilometres to the finish.

Altimetria/Profile Il Lombardia 2022

The first half of this will see alternating climbs, descents and false-flats. Then the final circuit will present the double climb towards San Fermo della Battaglia, interspersed with the ascent towards Civiglio. At minus 8,500 metres, the second passage on the San Fermo, decisive for the conquest of Lombardy, will be the prelude to the final dive towards the finish line on the lakeshore. Since 2009, when Philippe Gilbert outsprinted the Iberian Samuel Sanchez, Como has always witnessed solo finishes. This is likely to be the case tomorrow as well.

The recent history of the race of the “dead leaves” has been characterised by five one-two wins by as many champions (Michele Bartoli, Paolo Bettini, Damiano Cunego, Philippe Gilbert and Joaquin Rodriguez) capable of repeating themselves in the space of twelve months between 2002 and 2013. Since then, the only one to triumph twice in Lombardia has been Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan), albeit not consecutively in 2015 and 2017. Tomorrow the “Shark” will attach the number on his back for the last time, marking the end of an era for Italian cycling. He will be imitated by Alejandro Valverde (Team Movistar), the Murcian, whose victory in the closing classic has eluded him three times by a whisker. Leaving aside the inevitable emotion generated by these two illustrious farewells, the favourites of the prediction go unquestionably to the winner of the last edition and number one in the world ranking: Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates). The star rider from Slovenia will find on his way the man who dethroned him at the Tour de France, the Dane Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo Visma). Both have prepared for the last monumental classic of the season in the best possible way, although the Slovenian, who won the Tre Valli Varesine a few days ago, seems to be in slightly better shape. As third wheel stands the Spaniard Enric Mas (Team Movistar). The Mallorcan, second at the recent Vuelta Espana behind the future world champion Remco Evenepoel (Quick Step Alpha Vinyl), who will not be present tomorrow, convincingly won the Giro dell’Emilia a week ago, arriving alone, after having pulled away from Pogacar, at the top of the climb leading to the Santuario di San Luca above Bologna. A winner outside this trio would be a real surprise, very welcome if, by some miracle, it were to be achieved by an Italian rider.

Three hours after the conclusion of the Giro di Lombardia, 300 kilometres further north, another cycling event will take place, no less eagerly awaited by Italian fans. On the velodrome track in Grenchen, near Bern, Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) will go on the assault on the hour record held by his teammate, Englishman Daniel Bingham. After a season in which everything went wrong, the grenadier from Verbania is attempting the feat that has seemed to be written in his destiny since his debut. For the best Ganna, exceeding the 55.548 metres set on the same track 50 days ago by his performance engineer would objectively constitute the minimum. Having said that, in a wretched season, it might even be OK to take the record tomorrow night in the meantime and then, perhaps, repeat it in crescendo in the middle of next week, as Francesco Moser did in Mexico in January 1984.

As is now well known, the hour record lived a troubled life in the closing years of the last century with all the winning performances, following Merckx’s record in 1972, downgraded to best human performance. Finally, starting in 2000, with the 49.441 recorded by Chris Boardman on the Manchester track on 27 October of that year, there was a return to harmony between performance and regulations. In any case, from a formal point of view, a successful attempt by Ganna tomorrow night would bring the record back to Italy after 65 years. It was, in fact, 18 September 1957 when Roger Riviere, the great and unfortunate French champion, at the Vigorelli velodrome in Milan with 46.923 metres dethroned Ercole Baldini who, exactly one year earlier on the same track, had stopped at 46.394.