This short post series has walked us through the possible ways of winning Il Lombardia – by attacking solo from a distance (or from even further away), in a tight bunch sprint, or in a two-up finish.
We have looked back on past achievements – Coppi in 1948, Pogačar in 2021, Bettini in 2006 and Chaves in 2016. Now, can you imagine how the 2022 Il Lombardia will be settled?
This year, the race is reversing direction, starting in Bergamo, as per tradition, and finishing on the lakefront in Como, after a 253-km trek.
There will be, however, major news in the final part of the route: the peloton won’t be riding the Muro di Sormano. Coming up after the Ghisallo will be a first ascent to San Fermo della Battaglia, followed by a pass over the finish line, leading into the final circuit. The riders will immediately tackle the Civiglio, followed by another climb to San Fermo della Battaglia. At the summit, the finish will be a little over 5 kilometres away.
Looking at the profile, every inch of the route in the last 70 km – that is, early along the Ghisallo climb onwards – could be the right place to launch a race-winning attack.
Will anyone go flat out along the ascent to the cycling sanctuary, as Coppi did in 1948, wreaking havoc on the peloton and maybe causing some of the favourites to be left behind?
Or, rather, will the riders wait for the Civiglio, with its gradients hovering around and above 10%, where Bettini launched his first attack in 2006? Past the top, the finish in Como will only be 17 kilometres away – not a big deal for the aces who will take it to the start line on Saturday.
Anyone aiming at a solo victory may take one last shot in the approach to San Fermo della Battaglia. The summit comes just 5,000 metres from the finish, and grabbing a handful of seconds here may mean staking a claim for victory, as Bettini did.
If all of that doesn’t work, it will come down to a (very) select group sprint, with the last riders left in contention closely watching each other’s move and then go all in for the final dash to the line.
The truth is that we just can’t tell. We don’t know what is going to happen on Saturday, on the 116th edition of Il Lombardia, and that’s what makes it so special
It’s going to be unpredictable, unprecedented and extraordinary.