Who joins the ranks of great cyclists like Bernard Hinault, Eddy Merckx and Fausto Coppi? In their days, they were the best in la classica delle foglie morte, as it’s nicknamed in Italy – in English: the classic of the dead leaves.
The race dates back to 1905. The route has changed many times since those early days. Still, an all time favorite is the Madonna del Ghisallo climb.
Il Lombardia has been thoroughly overhauled in 2014. In fact the only climb left since last edition is Madonna del Ghisallo. And while riders were leaving from Bergamo and finishing in Lecco, this year they start in Como to head for Bergamo. The sheer duration of the hilly – if not mountainous – classic is 254 kilometres.
No matter what, the Giro di Lombardia is a spectacle in it’s own right. Look at the names, they are mesmerizing. Colle dei Pasta, Colle Gallo, Passo di Ganda and the climb from Brambilla (no, not Gianluca, the rider – the village of Brambilla) to Berbenno.
The climbs of Vallico di Valcava and Muro di Sormano – both fierce and gruesome – have been left out and all in all the route looks somewhat less laborious, but make no mistake: we are in Lombard hills and this is no place for the weak. It all starts with the riders going up 8.5 kilometres climb to beg for mercy at the top. The Madonna del Ghisallo goes up by an average grade, but this is just part of the story. The middle section is flat if not descending, so the real climb is never under 9%. To welcome the riders the steepest section of 14% is at the bottom.
When cresting and passing the famous shrine atop it has only just begun. After the Madonna del Ghisallo – by the way, she is patroness of cyclists – the riders have 200 kilometres ahead of them, sprinkled with obstacles with those sweet and misleading names like Colle dei Pasta, Colle Gallo, Passo di Ganda and, of course, the ascent from Brambilla to Berbenno. Futhermore the finale is peppered with a short and venomous 7.3% climb to Bergamo Alta with a steepest section of 12%. Upon cresting it’s a 3 kilometres downhill to the finish line.
Purito time, again?
Tour of Lombardy 2014: Images and more
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