Il Lom­bar­dia

Il Lom­bar­dia | Oc­to­ber 7 | Italy

Cycling Weekly - - Contents - Stephen Pud­di­combe

For a rider like Vin­cenzo Nibali, who is one of the best climbers in the world but can’t sprint to save his life, win­ning one-day Clas­sics is tough go­ing. Un­like a rider such as four-time Liège-bas­togne-liège win­ner Ale­jan­dro Valverde (Mo­vis­tar), who can af­ford to ride con­ser­va­tively safe in the knowl­edge that he can wait for a sprint, the Bahrain-merida man is obliged to be more imag­i­na­tive in his ap­proach, and con­trive a way to reach the fin­ish alone and ahead of the rest of the race.

His Achilles heel was ex­posed in 2012 when, de­spite hav­ing tar­geted the Spring Clas­sics and hav­ing great form, Nibali was out­sprinted at Mi­lan-san Remo, and caught in the fi­nal kilo­me­tre at Liège-bas­togne-liège.

Nibali ap­pears to have found his niche in Il Lom­bar­dia, a home race that he won for the sec­ond time in his ca­reer last week­end. Com­pared to other one-day Clas­sics in gen­eral, and the other four Mon­u­ments (con­sid­ered to be cy­cling’s most pres­ti­gious) in par­tic­u­lar, this one is tai­lored to­wards his tal­ents — es­pe­cially the route that was used this year, which was the same as the one used dur­ing his pre­vi­ous tri­umph here in 2015.

The sever­ity of the early climb­ing was enough to root out any heav­ier fast fin­ish­ers who might have been able to sur­vive to the fin­ish on an eas­ier par­cours. The po­si­tion­ing of the fi­nale’s hard­est climb, the Civiglio, at around 20km from the line, also played into Nibali’s pen­chant for long-range at­tacks, and, just as in 2015, he used it as a launch­pad for his race-win­ning move. His no­to­ri­ously brazen de­scend­ing abil­ity was also put to use on the fol­low­ing tech­ni­cal down­hill, on which he dropped his only break­away com­pan­ion Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), sub­se­quently solo­ing to a classy vic­tory that he made look easy.

The re­sult means Nibali now has two Mon­u­ment wins to go with his four Grand Tours, among them the holy grail of the Tour de France as well as two Giro vic­to­ries. Now he’s mas­tered Il Lom­bar­dia, ar­guably no other ac­tive rider can claim to have such a ver­sa­tile and im­pres­sive pal­marès, and to have built it with such panache and show­man­ship.

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