The race starts in Como and features a first “classic” sector, which stretches through Cantù, Erba, Asso and Onno, and ends with the Ghisallo climb along the Bellagio slope. This is a must of the race, but it will not probably be decisive in this edition (despite its 14% gradient), as the finish is still a long way off. The route then runs past Asso, Pusiano and Oggiono; after clearing the Colle Brianza climb, the course crosses the upper Brianza zone and the territory surrounding Merate, to finally enter the province of Bergamo through Calusco d’Adda. In Torre de’ Busi, the route takes in the Valcava climb (9.6 km with a 9% gradient, max. slope: 17%, 1,336 m), on a narrow and winding mountain road, with 14 hairpins. The route drops down into Costa Valle Imagna along a technical descent (reaching steep gradients), continues across Ponte Giurino (second fixed feed zone), and then takes a first-ever climb up Sant’Antonio Abbandonato and Miragolo San Salvatore. Both ascents feature steep gradients, a narrowed roadway and a technical profile. A short descent leads to an uncomplicated climb up to Selvino, followed by a long descent with a few hairpins in-between. Then, a further 9 km will lead to the classic itinerary through the upper city, and then all the way to the finish line along the Sentierone.
Over the final kilometres, the route runs across the upper city (Bergamo Alta), climbing up to reach Porta Garibaldi and then Largo Aperto (covering 200 metres on pebble paving). In the first sector, gradients never fall below 10% (with a maximum of 12%). Along the descent, the roadway is wide and the surface is smooth. With 1.800 m to the finish, a sharp bend and a sector on narrowed roadway lead through Porta Sant’Agostino. The road bends to the left after the flamme rouge and then, 250 m before the finish, the last right-hand bend leads to the finish line, after an 8-metre wide, flat home stretch on asphalted roadway.
Celebrated by Manzoni, Byron and Stendhal, Lake Como is considered as one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Nowadays a major tourist destination, also for Hollywood celebrities such as George Clooney, the city and its surroundings are a major pole in the Italian silk manufacturing chain. Historically, it was the third city in Italy receiving a medal of honour for its contribution to Italian Unification, with reference to the battle of San Fermo in which Garibaldi led the Hunter of the Alps (Cacciatori delle Alpi) corps to defeat the Austrian forces, thus defending the city of Como. The city centre overlooks the lake of the same name. Rising in the historical district is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the city’s Duomo, one of the major cathedrals in Italy. Its dome was designed by Sicilian architect Filippo Juvarra. Every day, a cannon shot is fired at 12:00, marking noon for all the citizens. The shot can be heard throughout the city centre and the urban area. Main events include the traditional Sant’Abbondio festival, dedicated to the patron saint and celebrated every year on August 31, as well as the evocative Sagra di San Giovanni Battista. The latter is a historical re-enactment of the Mediaeval wars that were fought on Lake Como, which features a magnificent fireworks display and a lake cruise that sets sail in Como and takes passengers on a journey with live music and dancing. Como has hosted six Giro d’Italia stage finishes, and it was finish city for the “Il Lombardia presented by NAMEDSPORT” classic several times. This year, conversely, the “classic of the falling leaves” will be starting here, as it has only done twice before.
The city of the “Thousand”, hence named after the many volunteer soldiers that committed to the cause of Italian Unification, led by Garibaldi, is divided into Bergamo Alta (the upper town), namely the historical district, and Bergamo Bassa (the lower town). The upper town (Città Alta) is one of the few towns in Italy whose centre is still entirely surrounded by walls. Piazza Vecchia is the heart of the city; main sights include the Contarini fountain, Palazzo della Ragione and the civic tower (Torre Civica). Major landmarks also include the Colleoni Chapel, one of the many monuments in Bergamo dedicated to Bartolomeo Colleoni, a famous warlord who was born in Solza, on the bank of the Adda River. By the end of his career, he had become captain-general of the Army of Venice. This was a land of warlords and a land of Popes too, with John XXIII, known as “the Good Pope”, who was born in Sotto il Monte, nearby. A number of characters of Italian Comedy are “native” to this area, too, the most famous of which being Arlecchino (Harlequin) and Gioppino. Bergamo was hometown to many football stars (both the former coach of the Italian national team Donadoni and Giacinto Facchetti were born here) and cycling champions such as Felice Gimondi – Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España winner – and Paolo Savoldelli, an unstoppable downhill racer, dubbed the “hawk from Bergamo” (who was born in Clusone, nearby). Ivan Gotti and Beppe “Turbo” Guerini, both of whom scored major achievements in top races, were native to the area, too.