Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo) attacked on the Civiglio climb and rode the remaining 18 kilometers of the race alone to win Il Lombardia on Saturday.
The win is the biggest result in Mollema’s palmares after the team time trial world title he took in September, and his victory at Classica san Sebastian in 2016.
Behind the Dutchman, a strong chase group failed to collaborate and left it too late to bring back the 32-year-old. Mollema was able to gain as much as 50 seconds as he time trialed to the win, holding off a chase group led home by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Egan Bernal (Ineos).
“I wasn’t one of the biggest favorites for this race, but I felt really good in the last few weeks,” said Mollema. “I was just waiting for my moment, and luckily it was today.”
The Dutchman had put in a string of strong but under-the radar performances in the last week of racing in Italy, bagging three results in the top seven.
Bernal had been one of the riders that many were backing as the favorites for the day. However, the Colombian was more than content with his third place.
“To be on the podium is really big for me,” said the Tour de France winner. “It was my first monument, so I’m really happy. It is difficult for me to say in the front of this kind of race. But I really like [them], and I will try to improve. But I’m still only 22-years-old, this is really big for me”.
Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) had been another top favorite for the day. The Slovenian finished seventh after being the first rider to launch a committed chase of Mollema when the Trek-Segafredo rider started building a solid gap.
The super-steep Muro di Sormano saw the first selection of the race with around 70km to go. The 25 percent ramps of the narrow climb saw the peloton explode as the remnants of the eight-rider breakaway were caught.
Around 20 riders went clear over the summit of the Sormano and the group swelled to around 40 as they hit the flat lakeside road that led to the final pair of climbs of the race.
Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal) attacked off the front, but the four remaining Jumbo-Visma riders kept the pair under control.
The attackers were caught on the Civiglio climb as Movistar accelerated and started to pile on the pressure, splitting the group down to around 15. Valverde was the first to make a serious move, with Roglic left to neutralize the threat. As the lead group fell apart under the changes of pace, Mollema sensed his moment.
“I knew I had to go because when the guys were attacking on the Civiglio, they were more explosive than me,” he said. “When they slowed down I knew it was my moment to go, as I can always keep going.”
Mollema had established a sizable gap by the top of the climb, and was able to use the full road to his advantage through the tricky descent.
“When I knew I had 20 seconds, I thought I had a really good chance,” he recalled. “I knew the descent really well and they wouldn’t go faster than me down there.”
The chase group started to swell on the descent of the Civiglio, and as they moved toward the final climb of the day, the size of the bunch was to its disadvantage. As they hesitated and looked at each other, waiting for one another to lead the chase, Mollema continued riding his own race, growing his gap to over 50 seconds.
Roglic’s patience snapped as the group failed to co-operate, and went off in solo pursuit. As the Slovenian hit the final climb of the day with just 10km to go, he was joined by Valverde, Bernal, Michael Woods (EF Education First), Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), and Jakob Fuglsang (Astana).
Mollema continued to look strong at the front of the race, and it seemed clear he was on course for the victory.
The new-formed chase group started attacking each other more than they concentrated on bringing back Mollema, and though they brought the gap down to around 20 seconds, the Dutchman’s win never was in doubt.
“To win this race, it’s unbelievable,” he said in his post-race interview.
Behind Mollema, Valverde won the sprint for second place by the narrowest of margins.
Il Lombardia Results
|1||MOLLEMA Bauke||Trek - Segafredo||5:52:59|
|2||VALVERDE Alejandro||Movistar Team||0:16|
|3||BERNAL Egan||Team INEOS||0:16|
|4||FUGLSANG Jakob||Astana Pro Team||0:16|
|5||WOODS Michael||EF Education First||0:34|
|7||ROGLIČ Primož||Team Jumbo-Visma||0:34|
|8||BUCHMANN Emanuel||BORA - hansgrohe||0:50|
|9||LATOUR Pierre||AG2R La Mondiale||0:50|
|10||MOLARD Rudy||Groupama - FDJ||0:50|
|11||GAUDU David||Groupama - FDJ||0:50|
|12||MAJKA Rafał||BORA - hansgrohe||0:50|
|13||MAS Enric||Deceuninck - Quick Step||0:50|
|14||SOSA Iván Ramiro||Team INEOS||0:50|
|16||IZAGIRRE Gorka||Astana Pro Team||2:08|
|17||VISCONTI Giovanni||Neri Sottoli - Selle Italia - KTM||2:08|
|18||MARTIN Dan||UAE-Team Emirates||2:09|
|19||MOSCON Gianni||Team INEOS||2:12|
|20||ROLLAND Pierre||Vital Concept - B&B Hotels||2:30|
|21||FRANK Mathias||AG2R La Mondiale||2:30|
|22||CICCONE Giulio||Trek - Segafredo||2:37|
|23||FORMOLO Davide||BORA - hansgrohe||2:37|
|24||BENOOT Tiesj||Lotto Soudal||2:46|
|25||GHEBREIGZABHIER Amanuel||Team Dimension Data||2:47|
|26||CRAS Steff||Team Katusha Alpecin||3:28|
|27||BRAMBILLA Gianluca||Trek - Segafredo||3:28|
|28||VILLELLA Davide||Astana Pro Team||3:41|
|29||WELLENS Tim||Lotto Soudal||3:51|
|30||WARBASSE Larry||AG2R La Mondiale||3:51|
|31||HINDLEY Jai||Team Sunweb||3:51|
|32||FRANKINY Kilian||Groupama - FDJ||3:51|
|33||GESINK Robert||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:53|
|34||KUSS Sepp||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:53|
|35||BENNETT George||Team Jumbo-Visma||3:53|
|37||FERNÁNDEZ Rubén||Movistar Team||3:53|
|38||KELDERMAN Wilco||Team Sunweb||5:50|
|39||SBARAGLI Kristian||Israel Cycling Academy||6:02|
|40||VALGREN Michael||Team Dimension Data||6:02|
|42||GAUTIER Cyril||Vital Concept - B&B Hotels||6:02|
|43||SKUJIŅŠ Toms||Trek - Segafredo||6:02|
|44||ROSSETTO Stéphane||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||6:02|
|45||STORER Michael||Team Sunweb||6:02|
|47||DE LA PARTE Víctor||CCC Team||6:02|
|48||HAMILTON Chris||Team Sunweb||6:02|
|49||PERNSTEINER Hermann||Bahrain Merida||6:02|
|50||GEOGHEGAN HART Tao||Team INEOS||6:02|
|51||BETANCUR Carlos||Movistar Team||6:02|
|52||JUNGELS Bob||Deceuninck - Quick Step||6:02|
|53||CLARKE Simon||EF Education First||6:02|
|54||GILBERT Philippe||Deceuninck - Quick Step||6:02|
|55||NIBALI Vincenzo||Bahrain Merida||6:02|
|56||KANGERT Tanel||EF Education First||6:02|
|57||PEREZ Anthony||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||6:58|
|58||BENEDETTI Cesare||BORA - hansgrohe||10:09|
|59||CARUSO Damiano||Bahrain Merida||10:09|
|60||ULISSI Diego||UAE-Team Emirates||10:44|
|61||CATALDO Dario||Astana Pro Team||10:48|
|62||POWLESS Neilson||Team Jumbo-Visma||10:48|
|63||ROTA Lorenzo||Bardiani - CSF||12:34|
|64||CARBONI Giovanni||Bardiani - CSF||12:34|
|65||PETILLI Simone||UAE-Team Emirates||12:34|
|66||SCHÖNBERGER Sebastian||Neri Sottoli - Selle Italia - KTM||12:34|
|67||EARLE Nathan||Israel Cycling Academy||12:34|
|68||VERONA Carlos||Movistar Team||12:34|
|69||GAROSIO Andrea||Bahrain Merida||12:34|
|71||MARCZYŃSKI Tomasz||Lotto Soudal||12:34|
|72||HAGEN Carl Fredrik||Lotto Soudal||12:34|
|73||SCHACHMANN Maximilian||BORA - hansgrohe||12:34|
|74||KONRAD Patrick||BORA - hansgrohe||12:34|
|75||HANSEN Jesper||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||12:34|
|76||HIGUITA Sergio||EF Education First||12:34|
|77||BATTAGLIN Enrico||Team Katusha Alpecin||12:34|
|78||EG Niklas||Trek - Segafredo||12:34|
|79||POLANC Jan||UAE-Team Emirates||12:34|
|80||BONGIORNO Francesco Manuel||Neri Sottoli - Selle Italia - KTM||12:34|
|81||EDET Nicolas||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||12:34|
|82||ZOIDL Riccardo||CCC Team||12:34|
|83||CAPECCHI Eros||Deceuninck - Quick Step||12:34|
|84||GESCHKE Simon||CCC Team||14:00|
|85||PAUWELS Serge||CCC Team||16:02|
|86||VELASCO Simone||Neri Sottoli - Selle Italia - KTM||17:37|
|87||FORTUNATO Lorenzo||Neri Sottoli - Selle Italia - KTM||17:37|
|88||FLÓREZ Miguel Eduardo||Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec||17:37|
|89||MASNADA Fausto||Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec||17:37|
|90||MORABITO Steve||Groupama - FDJ||17:37|
|91||WYSS Danilo||Team Dimension Data||17:37|
|92||ROSSKOPF Joey||CCC Team||17:37|
|93||HERRADA José||Cofidis, Solutions Crédits||17:37|
|94||TEN DAM Laurens||CCC Team||17:39|
|95||MARCATO Marco||UAE-Team Emirates||17:39|
|96||MÜLLER Patrick||Vital Concept - B&B Hotels||19:55|
|97||MADOUAS Valentin||Groupama - FDJ||19:55|
|98||RUMAC Josip||Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec||19:55|
|99||MEINTJES Louis||Team Dimension Data||19:55|
|100||GEBREMEDHIN Awet||Israel Cycling Academy||19:55|
|101||COVILI Luca||Bardiani - CSF||19:55|
|102||CAVAGNA Rémi||Deceuninck - Quick Step||19:55|
|103||ORSINI Umberto||Bardiani - CSF||19:55|
|104||SUTHERLAND Rory||UAE-Team Emirates||19:55|
|105||COURTEILLE Arnaud||Vital Concept - B&B Hotels||19:55|
|106||DOMONT Axel||AG2R La Mondiale||20:52|
|108||VANMARCKE Sep||EF Education First||21:54|
|109||BAKELANTS Jan||Team Sunweb||25:05|
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.