Home roads: I knew the roads very well because I often train around Sormano, San Fermo and the villages near Lugano. That made it even nicer to win today. On Friday I reconned the race route to study the new race finish, with the innovation of the Civiglio climb followed by San Fermo. I liked the idea of a long range attack, because it was a very hard finish which did not suit the really light climbers. I carefully measured the distance from the Civiglio to the finish line, with the descent and then the valley road to the foot of San Fermo. I checked how far apart the climbs were, because I knew that the Civiglio could be the crux of the race.
The art of descending: I can’t explain how I descend the way I do. You either have it or you don’t, I think, although, as a descender, Sagan is even crazier than I am: at least I try to keep a margin for error. Everyone knew that I wanted a result today, which meant that I was very closely marked on the way up the Civiglio. We all had the same number of kilometres in our legs, and it wasn’t easy to invent a race-winning move, but I managed to come up with something at the top of the descent. I was kept constantly aware of what was happening behind me. I built a good lead and I knew the reaction from the chasing group would be strong, but I rode at a very even pace and, once I reached at the top of San Fermo, the ride into Como seemed to go by in a moment.
An ambition fulfilled: I have always wanted to win a big one-day classic, and I’ve come close in the past. I’ve always been competitive in one-day races although, since I started concentrating on three-week tours, I’ve lost some of my acceleration. But when there are very hard climbs, like today, it’s easier for a climber like me, and finally to take the win here means a lot to me. I’ve often had good form here, only for a fall or a bit of bad luck to intervene. But now I have won, and I’ve always said that a win in Il Lombardia is worth a Liège-Bastogne-Liège.