Autumn in Italy: Hilly one-day races cap off the season

The WorldTour calendar concludes with the hilly Il Lombardia monument race, which caps off a series of one-day Italian races.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Il Lombardia caps off cycling’s European season at the end of a series of Italian races this Saturday. Stars Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), Daniel Martin (Quick-Step Floors), and Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors) will vie for one final victory in cycling’s autumn monument.

The race is also the last on the traditional WorldTour calendar. Afterward, only new WorldTour events follow: the Tour of Turkey and the Tour of Guangxi.

“The last week’s races in Tuscany and Emilia gave me the signals I was looking for,” 2015 winner Nibali said. “I’m ready for these two last races of the season. The main objective is always Il Lombardia but I want to ride also a great Tre Valli too.”

Last year’s Lombardia winner Esteban Chaves (Orica-Scott) fractured his shoulder in the Giro dell’Emilia. He will miss this year’s race around Lake Como. Many other stars, however, will cover the famous Ghisallo and Sormano climbs before the finish in Como.

The start list includes 2014 winner Dan Martin, Tour of Flanders winner Philippe Gilbert, Giro d’Italia champion Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb), Mikel Landa (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Milano-Sanremo winner Michal Kwiatkowski (Sky), Rigoberto Urán (Cannondale-Drapac), and Fabio Aru (Astana).

The 111th edition covers 247 kilometers and around 4,000 meters of climbing. The technical lakeside roads and the final Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia climbs above Como should settle the 2017 winner.

Many of the same cyclists remain in the Bel Paese from Saturday’s Giro dell’Emilia through Lombardia, October 7, which is the final of five monuments and the only one in the autumn. Luis Angel Maté (Cofidis) spent his extra time visiting the family of Michele Scarponi, who died this spring while training when a driver hit him with a car.

The Tre Valli Varesine runs Tuesday and Milano-Torino on Thursday. “It’s an exciting race with a tough, demanding finishing circuit,” Sunweb sports director Aike Visbeek said of Tre Valli Varesine. The race concludes with nine circuits around Varese, host of the 2008 worlds won by Italian Alessandro Ballan. “There’s a big chance for a really tough final with small groups going up the road, but we can equally see a small group come into the finish for a sprint.

“We have a good group for both scenarios with guys like Wilco Kelderman, Warren Barguil, and Tom Dumoulin to be offensive and go with the moves. Then we have Michael Matthews as a weapon for if the race looks like it will come back for a small group finish. So we have two very good options for the race and look forward to being involved.”

Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) won in a similar manner last year thanks to his sprint. The race is celebrating its 97th edition with past winners including Fausto Coppi, Gino Bartali, and Eddy Merckx.

Milano-Torino links the north’s two industrial cities with the Superga climb covered twice, the last being the finish line. Miguel Angel López (Astana) last year won cycling’s longest running race, which first began in 1876.

Stars Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe) and Chris Froome (Sky) already closed their seasons. The rest have a chance to finish in style. “I have some big goals coming up,” Nibali said last month. “The 2017 season is not over yet.”