Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) won the 110th edition of the Il Lombardia, beating Diego Rosa (Astana) and Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) in a 3 rider sprint off.
It was an early start in Como for the 110th edition of Il Lombardia which also took place under grey skies. Rain would threaten all day but it turned out to be a false threat, and the cool conditions were near perfect for racing. The peloton got out the blocks with a bang as a number of teams tried to place a rider in the break of the day. It took over 60 kilometers though before Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), Rudi Molard (Cofidis), Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling) and Mickael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) went clear.
At 241km in length, the peloton was happy to give the break some space as they rode over 7-minutes ahead. The incredibly difficult course though certainly sapped the energy of the leading riders and without too much of an acceleration from the peloton, the gap started to decrease with still 140km to go. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were looking after the interests of Igor Anton today, keeping him protected in the main peloton.
With 100km to go, the race reached the summit of the Valcava and the pace setting employed by FDJ and Movistar saw a greatly reduced peloton start the descent. The 4 rider break started to split on the following climb and this put the 45 rider peloton in the driving seat. Anton was still present in the peloton when the Miragolo San Salvatore began with 55km to go. It was on this climb though when the race favourites started to play their cards.
The break was caught midway up the climb and then a few attacks from the peloton saw a 16 rider group go clear over this penultimate climb of the race. Anton just missed the split and was left chasing with Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) and 9 other riders just behind. Unfortunately Anton’s group would not get back as a good few teams had more than 1 rider present in the split and could drive the pace.
The climb to Selvino saw the definitive move of the race take place when Chaves attacked and took Bardet and Uran with him. Rosa later rode across the gap to the trio when it was evident that their team leader, Fabio Aru didn’t quite have the legs today even though Rosa had already done a fair amount pacing throughout the day. One final kicker at 3km to go saw Rosa put in an attack followed by a counter move from Chaves, which got rid of Bardet. Rosa tried again with 2km to go but Uran closed the gap and led the race under 1km to go. Rosa then tried to go long, starting his sprint at 350m to go and almost held on but Chaves just got his wheel ahead in the last 10m to take the final monument of the year.
Anton was our best placed rider, coming home in 27th position, 8 minutes down on the race victor. Not quite the result we had hoped for in our final World Tour race of the year but an incredibly difficult race at that which saw only 61 riders credited with a finishing time out of 200 starters.
Igor Anton – Rider
Today was the last race of the year and it is a very special race for me. In the past I have done it 5 times already and it has always been a very, very hard race. Today, it was the hardest Lombardia I have done. I am happy though because I gave my all, I suffered a lot and spent all my energy but I finished in the 2nd group. I would have liked to have been more in the front but it was difficult with guys like Chaves and Uran going so well. My objective was to get to the penultimate or final climb and take it from there, so I am happy that I could do that but the other guys were just stronger today. I am now thinking ahead to the holiday’s after a long season with this special team.