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LOMBARDIA’21 PEZ PREVIEW: Who’s Hot For the Falling Leaves?

The Queen Autumn Classic

Lombardia Race Preview: The final ‘Monument’ of the 2021 season is this Saturday in the north of Italy – Il Lombardia. It has been a long and exciting year, Ed Hood looks forward to the ‘Classica delle foglie morte’ as the curtain closes on the WorldTour.


You can watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free coverage of Il Lombardia on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream original and exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.


Eli Iserbyt
Cyclo-cross has already started and Eli Iserbyt is winning

Yes, it’s that time of the year again, Eli Iserbyt is already winning those big ‘crosses, the Track Worlds aren’t far away and the six days. . . Well, I wish I knew what to tell you about the six days. . .

2021 Il Lombardia promo

BUT, I digress, the ‘Classic of the Falling leaves’ is upon us. The Primavera is the longest and the one the Italian riders would kill to win; De Ronde is perhaps the most physical with all those positioning battles into the ‘hellingen’ and the one the Belgian riders would kill for the win; Roubaix has reclaimed it’s title as the filthiest and most acrobatic – unusual attributes for a Queen; Liege has arguably the toughest parcours but Lombardia is without doubt the most beautiful, the lakes and mountains of Lombardy are stunning, there’s scenic beauty abounding, just a few cobbles – but even those are nicely laid – and little mud, even on a wet edition.

lombardia'21 map

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Il Lombardia route map and profile

The organisers’ endless tinkering with the percorso continues; the once crucial Madonna del Ghisallo ascent comes as the first of the day’s seven climbs totalling 4,500 metres of climbing over the 239 kilometres between the Como start and Bergamo finish with the final major ascent of the day the Passo di Ganda coming with 32km to go – but the race may well be decided on the short Colle Aperto into Bergamo Alta, with the summit at just 3.2km before the drop to the Bergamo finish.

Il Lombardia route

Those who enjoy watching the riders struggle up tortuous ramps will be disappointed to observe there’s no ‘wall’ of Sormano included, this year.

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No ‘wall’ of Sormano this year

‘Surprise’ winners are possible, remember Oliver Zaugg who won in 2011 and went on to win, well, nothing. . . Recent winners have all been ‘quality’ – so let’s start with previous winners, we have five on board, can they repeat?

Oliver Zaugg
Oliver Zaugg, who?

2014: Dan Martin (Israel Start-Up Nation & Ireland) my amigo and PEZ contributor, Callum says that it would be nice for Dan to sign off his career here with another win. It’s not happening, Dude.

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Dan Martin – Maybe

2015 & 2017: see also, ‘back from the grave’Vincenzo Nibali (Trek-Segafredo & Italy) just when we thought the Straits of Messina were safe, his dorsal fin appeared, tall and menacing with the final stage and GC wins in the tour of his home island. His descending skills are legend and his morale will be sky high.

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Final stage and overall win for Vincenzo Nibali in Sicilia

2016: Esteban Chaves (Team BikeExchange & Colombia) despite a stage win in Catalunya back in March and a top 10 in the Flèche in April it’s hard to see him on the podium this year albeit late season form is a funny old thing, some riders are already on holiday in their heads whilst some wish they had more races coming up to exploit their ‘good legs’ that have come along.

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Chaves on the attack in Lombardia’16

2018: Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ & France) recent form suggests perhaps not, but he’s a man who puts the ‘un’ in predictable, so who knows, although fifth in the Coppa Bernocchi just could mean something?

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Pinot – Maybe not the same rider he was 2018

2019: Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo & The Netherlands) the big man is an aerodynamicist’s nightmare with that bobbing style of his – just don’t let him up the road, he’s not easy to retrieve.

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Mollema pulled it off in 2019

2020: Jakob Fuglsang (Astana-Premier Tech & Denmark) won in the grand manner last year but a broken collar bone courtesy the Benelux Tour means there will be no defence.

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No repeat for Fuglsang in 2021

And these days no race analysis is complete without looking at those Slovenian strongmen; there’s no Matej Mohorič but there are, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Primoz Roglič (Jumbo-Visma). Recent results suggest that the double Tour de France winner’s best form may be behind him, although he took 3rd place in Tuesday’s Tre Valli Varesine. Roglič, the double Vuelta winner, who just the other day won his second Giro dell’Emilia, announcing himself as a strong favourite for Saturday.

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Nice win for Roglič in the Giro dell’Emilia at the weekend

On the subject of ‘strongmen,’ French Champion du Monde, Julian Alaphilippe (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) has capabilities ideally suited to this percorso and to win this beautiful race in that beautiful jersey would be a dream for any rider. A feat the late, great Tom Simson. However, as Callum observes; ‘has he been partying?’

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You can’t rule out the World champion

Few are stronger right now than home boy, Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain Victorious) but at time of writing he’s not on the start sheet and whilst he rides Gran Piemonte this week perhaps il Lombardia is just TOO hilly for the man with diamonds in his legs?

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Will Colbrelli be in Como?

Then there’s the ‘New Wave’. Top of that list has to be a certain 21 years-old, Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck – Quick-Step & Belgium), recent winner of one of the traditional Lombardy ‘warm up’ races, the Coppa Bernocchi. The small but perfectly formed wonder kid has unfinished business here following his horror 2020 crash which landed him in hospital and has been one of the few obstacles on his route to the very top. Revenge is a strong motivator.

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Evenepoel has the form, but does he have the tactics and the bike-handleing?

Two years older than Remco is his 23 years-old Portuguese team mate, João Almeida hot off second in Emilia and winner of the recent Tour of Luxembourg.

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No.2 for Deceuninck – João Almeida

The ‘New Wave’ in cinema originated in France so it’s only fitting there’s a man from that nation to consider, Benoit Cosnefroy (AG2R-Citroen) is older that Remco at 25 years-of-age but is very much a young man on the up with recent wins in the Bretagne Classic and Tour du Jura, a podium in the European Championships and a top 20 in the Worlds despite doing an excellent job for team patron, ‘Ala’.

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Cosnefroy was strong at the Worlds

Another 25 year-old and who also has unfinished business here is Russia’s Aleksandr Vlasov (Astana-Premier Tech) who was third here last year – but it’s a long season . . .

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Vlasov – Astana’s best man

To conclude on the ‘New Wave’, last year’s Danish winner, Fuglsang may not be here but compatriot 24 years-old Tour de France second place finisher, Jonas Vingegaard (Jumbo-Visma) has to be considered when the road rears skywards.

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Roglič or Vingegaard for Jumbo

And to keep the Boss happy back there in Vancouver, we best include climber, Michael Woods (Israel Start-Up Nation & Canada) in this preview.

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Israel and Canada’s hope – Michael Woods

My ‘straw poll’ looks like this, PEZ men Al Hamilton and Spencer Martin plump for Roglič with my Amigo and long term race observer, Dave agreeing. Whilst fellow PEZ pundit, Chuck Peña and Callum go for Alaphilippe.

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Is Primoz Roglič the favourite?

But watch for the results of Tre Valli Varesine, Milano-Torino and Gran Piemonte for more pointers.

Another season ends, it seems just like yesterday we previewed the Primavera. . .

Il Lombardia 2021 – 2016-2020 Winners


You can watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free coverage of Il Lombardia on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream original and exclusive cycling documentaries. Watch it all with GCN+ on any device.


# Stay PEZ for the ‘Race Report’ on Saturday, all the Lombardia news in ‘EUROTRASH’ and the ‘BREAKDOWN’ on Monday. For live action go to SteephillTV. #

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