Lombardia 2022 will be remembered because, like no other race, it witnessed a true sport handover, the end of one era and the beginning of a new one for world cycling. On the one hand, yet another triumph for Tadej Pogačar, who adds one more trophy to his already formidable career. The Slovenian makes it a double at the Lombardia and brings his successes in Monumental Classics to three. On the other, the farewell to arms of the die-hard Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde, the Shark and the Imbatido.
Let’s begin with the latter, and that moment no one hoped to experience but which, eventually, just had to arrive. As chance would have it, it arrived on the same day, so as to make the blow for cycling fans even more powerful. It must be said however that, combined, they have almost 200 victories in the professional ranks, they have won practically everything, and until the very end they were competitive at the highest level: Nibali finished 4th in the Giro d’Italia at the age of 37, let’s not forget that, and Valverde was considered among today’s outsiders and finished 6th. From the start in Bergamo to the finish in Como the spotlight was for them, ‘Thank you’ and ‘We will miss you’ could be heard and read at every step of the way. Don Alejandro took his wife and children with him, climbed onto the podium to enjoy his last applause as a professional racer, soaking up the autumn version of always stunning Como. Nibali publicly thanked all those who had made him feel their affection in these last few months.