A fairly brief preview of Sunday’s Tour of Lombardy

I’ll try and keep this fairly short, but these things always get away from me. The Tour of Lombardy, also known as Il Lombardia or the Race of the Falling Leaves, is our final formal appointment in 2014. It’s the autumn one-day race.

Unlike most one-day races, which are either hilly or flat, the Tour of Lombardy could actually be considered mountainous. The climbs are long, aerobic efforts, so most of the main contenders are the guys we see competing for the Grand Tours.

There’s been a change of route this year. These are the four main climbs. You can see that they’re pretty long.

  • Madonna del Ghisallo – 8.5km at 6.2%
  • Colle Gallo – 7.4km at 6%
  • Passo di Ganda – 9.2km at 7.3%
  • Berbenno – 5.5km at 5.3%

If Berbenno is the least impressive of those, it might be the most significant as the summit comes only 18km from the finish. However, there are plenty of other lumps and bumps, not least the short Bergamo Alta climb after which there is just 3km to the finish. In keeping with this year’s theme, it even features a stretch of cobbles. They’re not knackered up pavé in the brutal spring classic sense, but all the same, what better way to end the season?

Who will win?

Joaquim Rodriguez won last year and the year before but it’s a different route and he hasn’t looked especially amazing this year. The new world champion, Michal Kwiatkowski is riding and so is the Queen of the Bridesmaids, Alejandro Valverde who, appropriately enough, came second last year.

Alberto Contador is also showing his face. Oddly, considering how much Grand Tour success he’s had, he’s never won a really major one-day race, but he’s been riding well and defying the odds of late, so don’t rule him out. Also on the start line are Philippe Gilbert and Dan Martin, both of whom do have Monuments to their name.

As for Brits, Ben Swift rides for Sky, but probably as support, while both of the Yates boys are riding for Orica GreenEDGE. It’ll be particularly interesting to see how they go as this is the kind of race they should be looking to win before too long.