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Il Lombardia: Vincenzo Nibali takes the final Monument of the season in descending masterclass

Joe Robinson
7 Oct 2017

Vincenzo Nibali wins Il Lombardia after dropping Thibaut Pinot on the penultimate descent

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) took the second Il Lombardia title of his career in an emphatic fashion, dropping Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) on the penultimate climb of the day.

Entering the race as pre-race favourite, Nibali did not disappoint launching an attack on the climb of the Civiglio before dropping Pinot with over 15km remaining.

Julian Alaphilippe (Quick-Step Floors) managed to take second ahead of a chasing bunch that saw Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) take third.

The Italian proved his class, riding solo to victory in Como for the second time in three years. This second Monument victory at Lombardia will be added to his four Grand Tour titles.

The race of the fallen leaves

The final major one-day race of the season worked its way through the streets of northern Italy at Il Lombardia.

Alternating its route every season, this year took the peloton from Bergamo to the lakeside town of Como over a 247km course.

Earmarked as the climber's classic, there was 4000m of altitude gain for the riders to contest with as well as plenty of short and sharp inclines.

Amongst the climbs were the Madonna del Ghisallo and brutal Muro di Sormano. The later being famed for its brutally steep inclines that top out at 27%.

The winning attacks were expected to be made on the final two inclines of the Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia in the final 20km.

The start of the race got off in a traditional manner, with a medium sized break establishing itself gaining a large lead.

Six riders managed to escape up the road with a mixture of WorldTour and Pro Continental riders taking the lead.

Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) and Lennard Hofstede (Team Sunweb) managed to escape alongside Davide Ballerini (Androni Sidermec), Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani-CSF) and Mathias Le Turnier (Cofidis). 

Pier Paolo de Negri (Nippo-Vini Fantini) completed the breakaway that consisted of three home riders.

With the race reaching its final 100km, the break's gap had been brought down to six minutes after it establishing a ten minute lead earlier in the day.

As the main group hit the slopes of the Ghisallo, Primoz Roglic (LottoNl-Jumbo) attacked taking Laurens De Plus (Quick-Step Floors) and Mickael Cherel (AG2R La Mondiale) with him.

Up front, Ballerini and Le Turnier pushed on from the original break with Roglic providing the chase behind.

De Plus and Cherel managed to bridge across to Le Turnier, who was the sole leader. Meanwhile Roglic had been joined by Winner Anacona (Movistar) and Jan Polanc (UAE Team Emirates) in the main chase group.

Much of the day's work was being done by Bahrain-Merida who were protecting team leader Vincenzo Nibali. The Italian was looking to regain the title he took in 2015 and was hotly tipped as a pre-race favourite.

As the peloton hit the dreaded Surmano, Giovanni Visconti took the front protecting Nibali with Fabio Aru (Astana) and Egan Bernal (Androni-Sidermec) also poking their noses into the wind.

The descent of the Surmano proved tricky with De Plus crashing over the barriers in dramatic fashion on one of the many tight bends. Thankfully, the rider suffered no serious injuries despite the severity of the fall.

Teammate of De Plus, Philippe Gilbert was next to attack drawing Alessandro De Marchi (BMC Racing) with him looking to bridge the gap to race leader Cherel. This attack also saw Pello Bilbao (Astana) jump from the main group joining the two chasers.

Eventually, these three riders caught Cherel and combined to make a four-rider lead group. As they hit the penultimate climb of the day, it was a surprise to see former winner Dan Martin (Quick-Step Floors) being dropped from the main group.

Just before the summit of the Civiglio, Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) launched an attack drawing out counterattacks from Nibali, Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).

With many of the attacks being half-hearted, the favourites began to look upon one another, in what resembled a high risk game of poker.

In typical fashion, Nibali launched an attack on a descent with 15km to go, testing Thibaut Pinot's (FDJ) descending skills to the limit. Thanks to his superior ability going downhill, the Italian managed to gap his French competitor.