Vincenzo Nibali has a Monument
Not a statue, not a commemorative building of some description, but a win in the Tour of Lombardy (Il Lombardia), one of cycling’s five Monuments.
It’s a big deal. When people measure a cyclist’s worth, they often look to the diversity of wins. It’s one of the reasons why Eddy Merckx is out on his own. He won pretty much everything: all three Grand Tours, the points classification in all of them, the mountains classification in two of them, countless stage wins, all sorts of stage races and, crucially, all five Monuments. If there’d been a prize for most croissants eaten during a race, he’d have made damn sure he won that as well.
Vincenzo Nibali has won all three Grand Tours, but up until yesterday he’d never won a Monument. He’s had a few top tens, been third in Milan-San Remo and runner-up in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, but the more he’d focused on three-week races, the less likely a one-day win had seemed to become.
The win came not through climbing or a sprint finish, but through endurance and fiendish descending – Nibali’s trademark. He attacked with 17.5km to go and went downhill in occasionally sick-making fashion. The very best descending involves putting you and your bike as close to catastrophe as physically possible without ever quite getting there. The finer the margins, the better the descending, which makes for a hard watch.
Here’s a video of the descent. If you can only be bothered watching a snatch of it, watch the bit after 4m23s when he skips through a narrow gap between a motorbike and a brick wall. You don’t need to speak Flemish to understand the commentary for that bit.
Nothing. 2016, I suppose. There’s a few odds and ends, like the Tour of Abu Dhabi, but the Tour of Lombardy is the finish as far as this website’s concerned. I’ll add a few off-season odds and ends in the coming months and try and preserve some form for the Tour Down Under in January.