Missing Il Lombardia

Yesterday, was the race of the falling leaves, one of the five Monuments (major Classics races) of the cycling season. We should’ve been there enjoying the live racing, drinking Aperol Spritzs in some of our favourite cafes and appreciating the wonderful scenery. We weren’t there for two reasons: my beloved’s hip and the parcours.

We prefer to stay in Como rather than Bergamo to watch the race. We’ve done Bergamo, it’s a perfectly lovely town but it’s much further away from us by car than Como. We like it when the race starts in Como, as it did in 2016. Last year’s race started in Bergamo and, thanks to traffic problems, we had a nightmare of a journey to collect our accreditation. Naturally we were expecting this year’s race to start once more in Como. It didn’t. It started in Bergamo, again.

Consequently we were more than happy to watch the race on the big screen. The main action at the pointy end of the race involved last year’s winner who lives nearby in Lugano, Vicenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), initially going mano-a-mano with the winner of this week’s Milano-Torino, Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ). The latter dropped the former and prevailed to win his first monument and become the first Frenchman to win the race since Laurent Jalabert in 1997.

Despite missing out on a trip to Como, it’s not all doom and gloom. We rather enjoy a bit of la dolce vita at this time of year, the cycling is merely an excuse or rather our reason to visit. Instead, mindful of my beloved’s soon-to-be-replaced hip, we’ve decided to spend a couple of days in Alassio at one of our favourite hotels which has a Thalassotherapy treatment centre. My beloved will be able to soak his cares away during the day and we’ll be able to enjoy nibbles and Aperol spritzs galore in the evening. We’ll be strolling along the shore rather than the lake – a result all round!

In order to have a complete break, we’ll be leaving the mobile phones, iPads and Macs at home. It’ll be a three-day digital detox. I wonder how we’ll fare?

(Two images from the race courtesy of RCS and La Presse – D’Alberto / Ferrari)

Postcard from Il Lombardia

Last week-end was my beloved’s and my maiden Il Lombardia. We’ve visited and cycled in the area many times but never watched the race live. This year’s edition kicked off in Bergamo, a delightfully historic town with some truly memorable architecture, great shops and restaurants – just perfect for a week-end’s break.

A wet start to 109th Il Lombardia
A wet start to 109th “Il Lombardia”

 

One of the many churches
One of the many churches

 

Crowds forming to greet the riders despite the wet weather
Crowds forming to greet the riders despite the damp weather

 

View of the Upper Old Town of Bergamo
View of the Upper Old Town of Bergamo

 

Best view in the town
Best view in town

 

It's going to be a long, hard and probably wet day in the saddle
It’s going to be a long, hard and probably wet day in the saddle

Here’s the “Three Amigos” and my dedicated team of cake and cookie testers. It’s a tough job but someone’s got to do it. It was nice of them to offer. Ian has recently renewed for two years with Sky thereby continuing his love affair with Nice which he now calls “home”.

Ian Boswell signing on for his last race of the season
Ian Boswell signing on for his last race of the season

Larry meanwhile has signed on for another year with IAM – still the best kit in the peloton.

Larry Warbasse of IAM Cycling
Larry Warbasse of IAM Cycling

Joe aka the King of Utah has another year with Cannondale.

Joe Dombrowski leading the way for the Cannondale boys
Joe Dombrowski leading the way for the Cannondale boys

I had hoped that twice runner-up Samu Sanchez might be third time lucky this year but he was clearly riding in support of PhilGil.

#SamuSighting
#SamuSighting

The bookies’ favourite, thanks to his win earlier win in Tre Valli Varesine, Vincenzo Nibali looked focused and set to redeem what was by his standards a miserable 2015 season.

His Nibs
His Nibs

Former Cote d’Azur resident, Max Monfort looked deadly serious before the start. Intent on his role supporting Tony Gallopin or dreading the torrential downpour?

Race face for Max Monfort
Race face for Max Monfort

A magical part of the world though (sadly) no sighting today of local resident George Clooney. He’s obviously not a cycling fan.

And we have sunshine in Como
And we have sunshine in Como

 

And boats bobbing in the lake
And boats bobbing in the lake

The race takes a first pass through Como en route to the final climb of the day. Messrs Kwiatkowski and Wellens leading here, were overhauled by eventual race winner Vincenzo Nibali.

Kwiatkowski and Wellens lead first pass through Como
Kwiatkowski and Wellens lead first pass through Como

 

Rosa leading the chase for Nibali
Rosa leading the chase for Nibali

It’s game over for these boys quite a few of whom didn’t bother with the final assault and headed directly for their team buses.

The rest, led by Peter Kennaugh
The rest, led by Peter Kennaugh

Tom Jelte Slagter catching his breath just past the finish line.

Slagter at the finish line
Slagter at the finish line

I know what you’re thinking. Where’s the photos of the winner crossing the finish line and the podium? You may well ask. Sadly my photographer was not well placed on the barricades and we were far too far from the podium to take any photos of the presentation of the prizes.

We’d seen (on the television) a great race, enjoyed the atmosphere and finally the sunshine before we drove back home. Of course, that’s the reality of watching live racing. You see the riders sign-on, set off, sometimes catch them en route and watch the rest of the race (and the podium) ceremony on the big screen.