Two-time winner Philippe Gilbert headlines our squad for the season’s final Monument.
One of the few foreign riders to have triumphed at Il Lombardia multiple times (2009 and 2010), Philippe Gilbert will end his season at “The Race of the Falling Leaves”, which the Paris-Roubaix reigning champion is set to race for the 11th time in his career on Saturday, when the peloton will travel from Bergamo to Como, the picturesque town that gets to host the finish of the year’s fifth Monument for the 35th time in history.
Colle Gallo, Colle Brianza, Madonna del Ghisallo, Colma di Sormano – with its excruciating 27% gradients – Civiglio, and San Fermo della Battaglia (which returns after two years) are the six climbs dotting the 243km-long course that will gradually thin out the peloton and provide the terrain for attacks at the 113th running of the race, which the Wolfpack will once again start as leader of the UCI World Team Classification.
Tenth at Milano-Torino on Wednesday, a strong and morale-boosting result that came one month after his last race, Enric Mas will be another rider who could play an important role on Saturday, part of a solid Deceuninck – Quick-Step line-up which will include also Eros Capecchi, Rémi Cavagna, Luxembourg Champion Bob Jungels, James Knox – who is making his debut in a Monument – and Petr Vakoč.
“We won two Monuments this year – Sanremo and Roubaix – and we are very motivated to end our European season with another strong performance in Lombardia, a beautiful race where we’ve tasted success several times”, said sports director Davide Bramati. “The route doesn’t bring anything new, which means it’s the same tough parcours that will end up making a serious selection by the time we’ll approach the last climb, the Battaglia, which should be decisive, as was the case so many times in the past.”
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele/ Getty Images