It’s sad to see this season come to a close, but The Tour of Lombardy, the last ProTour race of the year, will be held this Saturday. Paolo Bettini will go for his 3rd straight win in this event, where last year he won in the Rainbow Jersey.
First held in 1905, The Tour of Lombardy is the last major classic of the year and is hence dubbed “The Race of the Falling Leaves”. The course is, on average, 160 miles (260 km) in length. The race runs through the Lombardy region in northern Italy and includes spectacular scenery through locations such as Lake Como. The course is fairly selective since it includes some significant hills that usually reduce the race field to a small group.
Also, Alexandr Kolobnev of Team CSC conquered the first-ever running of the Monte Paschi Eroica last Tuesday, a 180-kilometre race composed of 7 sectors of hilly white gravel roads around Siena, Italy. The 26 year-old Russian, silver medallist at the World Championships nine days prior, completed the last forty kilometres solo. Second was taken by his Swedish CSC team-mate, Marcus Ljungqvist, and third by Ukrainian Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ceramica Flaminia). The first running of the Monte Paschi Eroica revealed that Italy has a race to match some of the great pavé Classics of the north. Andrea Tafi, the only Italian to win both Northern Classics Paris-Roubaix and Ronde van Vlaanderen, was in Siena to watch the race unfold, and was happy with what the organizers had created.
“Starting today Italy has its own Roubaix,” said the retired cyclist to La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It was a spectacular show. The Eroica has become a Classic. Let’s mark a date, put it at the beginning of March, like our Het Volk, leading to the [Northern] Classics.” Perhaps if RCS Sport moved the race to an early March date it would draw more attention as preparation for the Northern Classics, and provide an option for those riders who don’t want to travel to Belgium so early in the spring. Filippo Pozzato, this year’s winner of Het Volk, missed out on the winning move in Eroica, but he was impressed with what he saw. In total, 113 riders started the epical journey (Fränk and Andy Schleck did not take part as planned due to a missed flight from Luxembourg), and 42 made it to the historic Piazza del Campo.