07 October 2017

50 km to the arrival of Il Lombardia. The race flares up!

The fifth and last of the great one-day monuments of the season . Follow it LIVE with Velon!

 

Buongiorno from the 111th Il Lombardia NamedSport, the fabled ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’.

 

The beautiful, challenging route, featuring 4,000m of total elevation, culminates with a final section that places a series of steep climbs – starting with the classic Madonna del Ghisallo, 64km from the finish line – between the riders and final victory.

 

WEATHER

Bergamo (10.00) sunny, 15°C. Wind: weak, 7km/h

Como (17:00): few clouds, 17°C. Wind: weak, 2km/h

 

COURSE

The race sets off from Bergamo, southbound. The route initially leads through the Bergamo plain (over the first 40km), and then up along the Val Cavallina, all the way to Casazza, to tackle the first climb of the race: Colle Gallo (763m). A fast-running descent leads back from Val Seriana to Bergamo; here the route goes back onto flat roads and eventually arrives in Brianza. The course passes briefly across Colle Brianza (533m) and descends into Pescate, then heads for Valmadrera and Oggiono. Finally, it rolls past Pusiano and Asso, and drops down into Onno, heading for Bellagio, where the Ghisallo climb (754m) begins. The climb has a maximum 14% gradient, on a wide road, with several hairpins.

The descent runs quickly on long, straight stretches up to Maglio, where the Colma di Sormano climb (1,124m) begins abruptly after a right-hand bend. After some kilometres with moderate gradients, a few hundred metres past Sormano, the route turns left to tackle the Muro di Sormano (2km at a 15% gradient). The road is tight and very steep, and it runs partly through the woods, with very narrow hairpins and sharp gradients exceeding 25% and reaching almost 30% after about 1,000 metres.

After clearing the Colma, the road climbs down into Nesso (initially a false-flat drag, followed by a very technical descent with several hairpins on a narrowed roadway). Here, the route takes the coastal road that leads to Como. A harsh climb up to Civiglio follows (614m), with steady 10% gradients (the roadway is markedly narrowed at the top of the climb); the route then drops down, runs through Como again, and then heads for the final climb in San Fermo della Battaglia (397m). There are two feed zones: the first in San Sosimo (km 112-115) and the second in Onno (km 182-185).

 

POINTS OF INTEREST

Bergamo – Start

Also known as the “City of the Thousand”, for the many volunteer soldiers who fought under Garibaldi for the unification of Italy in the mid 19th century, Bergamo is divided into Bergamo Alta and Bergamo Bassa – upper and lower Bergamo. Bergamo Alta is one of the few towns in Italy whose centre is still entirely surrounded by walls.  Bergamo is the home of the former cyclist Felice Gimondi, winner of the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a Espana, World Championship, Paris-Roubaix, Milano-Sanremo… and Il Lombardia NamedSport (in 1966 and 1973, the latter, wearing the rainbow jersey of the World Champion).

 

Shrines to Cycling – Colle Gallo (Km 55.9) and Madonna del Ghisallo – Km 183

The Santuario del Colle Gallo dates to 1690 when a pilgrim had a vision of the Virgin Mary. Like the Madonna del Ghisallo, the Madonna del Colle Gallo has been elected the patroness of cyclists and, since its renovation in 1990, the Sanctuary has become a popular cyclists’ meeting point. According to the legend, the medieval count Ghisallo was saved from bandits by the Virgin Mary, and the Madonna del Ghisallo subsequently became the patroness of local travellers. When the climb up to Madonna del Ghisallo became part of the route of Il Lombardia NamedSport, a local priest, Father Ermelindo Viganó, proposed that the Madonna be declared the patroness of cyclists. This was confirmed by Pope Pius XII. The shrine of Madonna del Ghisallo contains a small cycling museum with photos and artifacts from the sport. There also burns an eternal flame for cyclists who have died.

 

Muro di Sormano – Km 194

The “Muro di Sormano”, also referred to as “the world’s toughest cycle path” by cycling enthusiasts, is one of the iconic and most famous climbs of Il Lombardia NamedSport, along with the “Madonna del Ghisallo”. It was first inserted in the route back in the 1960s to make the race even more challenging, but was then dismissed, only to make its comeback in 2006 after the old road surface was replaced with a new tarmac layer. The climb is as spectacular as it is challenging, for its incredibly steep gradients. Each metre is numbered, and elevation is marked to provide riders with consistent reference points as they make their way to the top, between two wings of crowd.

 

Como – Finish

Birthplace of Pliny the Elder, author, natural philosopher, and naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, who perished during the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD, and his nephew Pliny the Younger, author and magistrate. The physicist Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), who gave his name to the unit for electric potential difference (voltage), was also born in Como.