Vincenzo Nibali capped off a week of strong performances at races in Italy with his second win at il Lombardia. This was the 50th pro career win for the captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM. A couple of days earlier Nibali had to settle for third at the one-day race Tre Valli Varesine, and Sonny Colbrelli missed out on winning the GP Beghelli only by a few seconds.
As the final Classic of the season and one of the late races, il Lombardia is often dubbed the race of the falling leaves. The course between the Northern Italian cities of Bergamo and Como is littered with iconic climbs such as Colle Gallo, Colle Brianza, the ascent to Madonna del Ghisallo, the Colma di Sormano, the Civiglio und and the San Fermo della Battaglia as the final obstacle for the riders. Vincenzo Nibali had already won this race in 2015 and was considered the big favourite for this year’s race by many experts. And he could rely on strong support as the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM fielded riders such as Janez Brajkovic, Enrico Gasparotto, Antonio Nibali, Domen Novak, Franco Pellizotti, Luka Pibernik and Giovanni Visconti in his support. From the team’s perspective, the main goal was to get a win one of cycling’s monuments in its maiden season.
At first, six attackers took charge of things and built an early lead of 12 minutes. But these riders were caught on the lower slopes of the Colma di Sormano. From there the group of favourites kept various attackers on a short leash, granting them no more than one minute. As for the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, Giovanni Visconti was in charge of most of the support duty in the final 50 kilometers, coming fresh from his win at the Giro dell’Emilia one week earlier. As for the last 20 kilometers, Vincenzo Nibali was on his own. When Frenchman Thibaut Pinot attacked on the steep Civiglio climb, Nibali did not react right away. But he managed to jump to the Frenchman on the final kilometer of the climb and made good use of the following, twisting descent and his great bike handling skills to put 7 seconds into his rival on the descent into Como.
From there to the beginning of the San Fermo della Battaglia as the last climb of the day, this gap had grown to 9 seconds, and on the way to the top of that climb, Vincenzo Nibali extended his lead to a reassuring 38 seconds. In his wake Julian Alaphilippe launched a counterattack, but he could not get any closer to the leader. Thus Vincenzo Nibali got to properly enjoy the 50th win of his pro career: The Sicilian animated the numerous spectators along the streets of Como to applaud, high-fived the crowd on the finish straight and crossed the finish line with his arms raised, celebrating his second win at il Lombardia. Behind the captain of the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM that scored its first win at one of cycling’s monuments ever, the podium positions changed multiple times throughout the race’s highly entertaining finale.
Vincenzo Nibali’s win did not come out of the blue, however: At the one-day race Tre Valli Varesine, he and Thibaut Pinot had proved to be the strongest climbers, but they were both beaten in the sprint by Alexandre Geniez who had only caught up with the leading duo on the final kilometer. Despite his 3rd place finish many experts agreed that Nibali had been the strongest rider of the race. At the GP Beghelli the BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM had shown a strong team performance for most of the race, supporting Sonny Colbrelli. He only had to fend for himself on the final 5 kilometers, but that was where Luis Leon Sanchez placed his decisive attack. Six seconds behind the solo winner Colbrelli managed to win the bunch sprint for 2nd place.
111TH IL LOMBARDIA: BERGAMO - COMO, 247KM
1. Vincenzo Nibali, ITA/BAHRAIN MERIDA PRO CYCLING TEAM, in 6:15.29 hours
2. Julian Alaphilippe, FRA, + 0.28
3. Gianni Moscon, ITA, + 0.38