Concerts all ends in the same way. The band plays one of the best songs and then disappears behind the stage, leaving a yelling public hoping they will come back for two or three more songs.
The cycling season is just the same, with the world championships being the best song played by the best band in the world — a peloton dressed up in national kit colors battling for the rainbow jersey. This year we’ve been amazed by an amazing race on Innsbruck course (yes, the one ending with the brutal Hottinger Holl climb we tested for you) won by the immortal Alejandro Valverde.
Luckily for us, the riders are staying behind the curtain for just 10 days and will be back in action on October 10 to play three fantastic songs on our very special Italian stage.
First up on the playlist is Milano-Torino, the oldest classic on the entire calendar, raced the first time in 1876. It’s so deeply rooted in Italian cycling culture that there is even an unofficial, self-supported amateur version of it in July called Coppa Tre Zone. But returning to the pro race, the riders will be facing a 186 km course that is almost flat for the first 160 km; the menu for the last 25 km presents the Superga climb twice, with the finish line at the top of the second climb. The riders with the best chances of success are powerful climbers or classics riders with strong climbing aptitude. Last year it was Rigoberto Uran who took the lead and crossed the line solo next to the beautiful Basilica di Superga, closely followed by Adam Yates.
The concert will continue the following day with Gran Piemonte, a long, 245 km race through the Piedmont region, showcasing the landscape of one of the lesser-known Italian regions. Insider tip: This could be the best time to discover it. Riding on the same roads as the pros and tasting Barolo and truffles might be one of the best cycling holidays one could imagine. But the peloton won’t have time for vacations, having to climb Serra di Ivrea four times before the finish in the center of Ivrea. It was a fully Italian podium last year, with Fabio Aru winning ahead of Diego Ulissi and Rinaldo Nocentini. Will the Italians rule it again?
And finally, the best song of all before the lights go down on the European cycling calendar: Il Lombardia, on October 13. The usual stunning “classic of the falling leaves.” A mix of history and epic climbs. Though the race route changes every year, this time the riders will be headed to Como the same way as last year, when Vincenzo Nibali nailed it with a spectacular attack at the top of the Civiglio and maintained his gap on the San Fermo della Battaglia climb before flying down to Como again to the finish line. The weather is always something to consider in Il Lombardia. We have seen many wet editions, making the race even more challenging. Will Gianni Moscon, third last year, improve his position and conquer his first Classic race? Other riders to watch will be Alaphilippe, in search for revenge after the Worlds, or even De Marchi, ending the season strongly.
Lombardia is for sure an unpredictable race. It could be won attacking very early, or waiting for Civiglio or even San Fermo to move. Let’s see what will happen on Sunday during this final, beautiful song.