Roadside Lombardia: The Fall Classic

Our Italian photographer Ale has battled the worst of the weather at nearly every assignment we’ve sent him on this year; Tirreno, Milan San Remo, the Giro and the wet Worlds so what’s one more day in the rain? Despite the weather Ale wouldn’t have missed the 2013 Giro di Lombardia for anything…

A long drive, three great climbs and a wonderful edition of the Lombardia have been the good company of my trip today from central to northern and back to central Italy. The weather wasn’t nice but not miserable as in too many occasions this year. I’m tired now, while sitting in an anonymous autogrill on the way back home, but I would start it again from the very beginning.

With only one more classic in the pocket (Giro dell’Emilia, next Saturday) my chasing season is going to be over in a few days. So the plan for today was to enjoy as much as possible of the race. My usual plan, I have to say! Coming into Bergamo I was worried about the weather; I can’t say it was a nice morning but was much better than expected. The temperature was never below 13°C during the whole day, even on the mountains. Comparing these conditions to the one I met in Florence last Sunday I feel I obtained a big upgrade from the top.

The favourites today were the same four of the World’s final, but Nibali, being Italian was the most wanted one by the tifosi. The most wanted by photographers was Rui Costa, who was smiling all the time, all the moments; it must be strange to pass from a regular career in the bunch to be the World Champion. At the start line he was surrounded by some supporters from Portugal, his country, and a nice girl (I guess she is his girlfriend) has posed with him for all the world’s magazine photographers while all other riders were watching this scene.

The race moved at 11am and my plan was to spot on Valcava a long climb (more than 10 km) where the race started to be serious. The Valcava road climbs through the trees and today there was also some fog, low clouds, so that the Fall seemed anticipating some weeks. But, again, the weather was not too bad and, despite the race was showing a “relaxed” bunch in pursuit of seven riders, the first passage of the day was deserving the deviation.

The next one was important. Even more than the final; because the Muro di Sormano is the most interesting climb of the year. A narrow nasty road, so steep that I will avoid to try to describe it. Just believe that.

Or look at Contador’s picture, the king of the climbers almost stopped in a very bad moment for him. The average speed (of the best riders) on these two kilometers is few km/h over 10. You can imagine the last one.

However this year there was not the same battle we’ve seen on 2012 edition when Purito Rodriguez attacked; today Quintana was setting the pace in favour of Valverde so that the overall situation was more or less under control by the Spanish. But the great surprise was to come.

Last spot of the day is Villa Vergano; it’s just three years this climb has been introduced in the route and it’s the third year I’m watching here the final; I avoid the finish in Lecco for two reasons. The first one is the drive back; I want to leave the road in a decent time to return not too late in the night at home. The second one is about the fact that at the finish there are several more photographers better than me to take good picture. I want to spot something different that only we have.

And today I was fully satisfied about the Purito’s picture I took at the corner, inside the village when the road twists from one side to another, passing almost inside houses.

I have to say that on Villa Vergano climb there were many people; many were foreigners but a lot were Italian, and all Italians were really very happy about Rodriguez attack and his win. Especially glad when Valverde took second. Our country has been very bad against Purito when he was second at Giro last year and second at World’s in Florence. We felt we had something to give back!

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