Pinot dethrones Nibali to win Tour of Lombardy
France’s Thibaut Pinot dethroned two-time winner Vincenzo Nibali to finish his season on a high in the Tour of Lombardy, the fifth and final ‘Monument’ of the one-day classics season yesterday.
Pinot, of the Groupama-FDJ team, soloed over the finish line at Lake Como to win the 241kmlong ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’, which began in Bergamo. Italy’s defending champion Nibali (Bahrain) finished second at 30secs behind, with Belgian Dylan Teuns (BMC) third at 43sec.
“To win here in front of Vincenzo, I couldn’t have dreamed of better!” said the 28-year-old climbing specialist, who also won the Milan-Turin semi-classic in midweek.
He becomes the first French winner of the race since Laurent Jalabert 21 years ago.
Pinot finished third in 2015 and fifth in 2017 – the years when Nibali, 33, who has won all the Grand Tours, was victorious in the race through northern Italy. “Among the monuments, Il Lombardia is the nicest in my mind,” continued Pinot. “I’ve always wanted to win it. I’m in the form of my life but to win ahead of Nibali is something very special.”
“It’s my most beautiful victory. I’m glad he attacked at Sormano. That was the key to success.” Under the sunshine, the race sprung to life after 50km at the Muro di Sormano, where Nibali and Pinot overtook Lotto’s Primoz Roglic who had lead going into the very steep climb.
“When I saw Nibali attack on the Sormano, I said to myself ‘bingo, it’s a good move’,” explained Pinot. “Vincenzo is a unique rider. Few would have done like him.”
The pair, joined by Roglic, powered ahead in the descent, along with young Colombian Egan Bernal.
A group including newlycrowned world champion Alejandro Valverde trailed at 40 seconds without being able to close the gap.