The first edition of the Tour of Lombardy was called Milan-Milan, it took place in 1905. The route of the Classic of the falling leaves has been changed many times since those early days. Milan, Bergamo, Varese, Sesto San Giovanni, Monza and Como, all those places have seen starts as well as finishes of Il Lombardia.
The first rider to win this illustrious classic was Italian Giovanni Gerbi, nicknamed ‘Il Diavolo Rosso’ (the red devil). In 1905 he had a lead of not less than 40 minutes. His big secret: studying the course thoroughly. His compatriot Giuseppe Brambilla was his successor, and in 1907 Frenchman Gustave Garrigou took the win. In fact, he won the race when it was named ‘Giro di Lombardia’ for the very first time.
Overall, Italians won the race 69 times and legend Fausto Coppi holds the record of most victories (five).
The 1978 edition was quite bizarre. In those days Il Lombardia was the last race of the Super Prestige. Every Italian team was collaborating to stop Frenchman Bernard Hinault from winning, since they wanted their countryman Fransesco Moser to win the Super Prestige that year. They succeeded.
Bernard Hinault came back one year later, still pissed off. Looking for revenge, he attacked early in the race and won. The weather was extremely bad, which made his victory in Il Lombardia ánd the Super Prestige of 1979 all the more heroic.