Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of Il Lombardia!
It’s time for the fifth and final monument of the season. It might be October, and the off-season imminent, but there are multiple very big names all taking this race very seriously.
Chief among them is Tadej Pogačar. The Slovenian is gunning for his third successive victory at this race, a feat only previously achieved by Fausto Coppi and Alfredo Binda. In fact, having only made his debut in 2021, he is as yet unbeaten at Il Lombardia.
A third victory for Pogačar will be far from straightforward, however, as he is up against a quality roster. In particular, Remco Evenepoel poses a serious threat. We were denied the chance to see the two riders showdown earlier this year at Liège–Bastogne–Liège when Pogačar crashed out, and the way Evenepoel obliterated the rest of the field that day reinforced just how good he is at hilly classics like these.
Pogačar, Evenepoel and the rest of the field are in the neutralised zone and will begin racing soon.
The third of the three top favourites is Primož Roglič, who has dominated the news cycle for off the bike reasons lately. Yesterday it was finally confirmed that he’ll be joining Bora-Hansgrohe next year, meaning this will be his last ever race for Jumbo-Visma. He’s been almost unstoppable this year, winning the GC at four of the five stage races he’s competed at, plus the Giro dell’Emilia recently, so deserves to be considered alongside both Pogačar and Evenepoel as the race’s top favourite.
The riders are making their way through the neutralised zone against the beautiful backdrop of Como. The route of Il Lombardia alternates most years, and this year heads from Como to Bergamo.
The weather looks good, with warm temperatures and no threat of rain in the blue sky.
Here comes the flag - and we’re off!
There are attacks straight away, with Thomas De Gendt pressing at the front with about a dozen riders on his wheel
That group of about a dozen has a small gap from the peloton, with a few more riders chasing in between.
Along with De Gendt, the riders in the break are: Simon Geschke, Samuele Battistella, Mattia Bais, Asbjørn Hellemose, Nicolas Prodhomme, Paul Ourselin, Kamil Małecki, Nicolò Buratti and Jacob Eriksson.
Some riders in that lead group don’t seem happy with its make up, and four of them have gone ahead of the rest - De Gendt, Prodhomme, Battistella and Ourselin.
Behind these two front groups are another four riders: Ben Turner, Stefano Oldano, Julien Bernard and Filippo Magli. This race is far from settling down for now.
That chasing group of four has splintered, as Turner misjudged a corner. They were joined by Simon Pellaud, and he’s pressing on with Oldani ahead of the other two.
An interesting attack in the peloton - Filipp Ganna is off the front! The Italian is one of the most intriguing names on the startlist, considering how good he was at Milan-Sanremo and Paris-Roubaix in the spring. Will the peloton want to let such a potentially dangerous rider up the road?
Ganna has joined up with Magli, Oldani, Pellaud and Bernard - but not his teammate Turner, who is back in the peloton after misjudging that corner.
Yet more riders have broken clear of the peloton. A group of four have just joined the Ganna group.
And yet more attacks! This is all very chaotic, but it looks like the Ganna group is going to be brought back.
It has indeed been brought back, along with the riders who were trying to bridge up to it. That leaves just the original ten-man group up the road.
Their lead is up to a minute now, but that hasn't discouraged some more riders from attacking out of the peloton. Alex Tolio of Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè has sparked a new wave of attacks.
Ben Swift has joined Tolio. Ineos are clearly motivated to infiltrate the break today.
A crash in the peloton, and Evenepoel is down!
Evenepoel has gingerly stood up, and looks like he's going to continue.
He's off again, but looks wounded. Both his elbow and knee are bleeding.
Other riders who went down were Jai Hindley and Giovanni Aleotti. We haven't seen either remount yet.
Meanwhile back towards the front of the race, Swift and Tolio have been joined by Nils Burn, Nicola Conci, Martin Marcellusi and Tobias Beyer. They're chasing after the leading ten.
The peloton has sat up, giving the leaders an advantage of 2-56, with the other six riders in between.
Another rider who went down in the crash involving Evenepoel was UAE Team Emirates' Sjoerd Bax. That puts Pogačar down to just five domestiques.
It's better news for Aleotti though, who is back in the peloton, despite taking a long time to remount the bike.
Evenepoel is also back in the peloton. He's been receiving treatment, but seems not to have been too hurt. We'll know for sure later on when the racing really gets going, but it'd be a real shame if this highly-anticipated contest was compromised by a crash, just as it was at Liège–Bastogne–Liège when Pogačar crashed out.
The break is on the first of the day's seven climbs, and it's an iconic one - the Madonna del Ghisallo. It’s not the hardest in the race, and won’t have an impact so far from the finish, but is synonymous with Il Lombardia, and a sight of pilgrimage for cycling fans with its church and museum dedicated to cycling.
After a long chase, the six riders who were between the leaders and the peloton have joined the former, meaning we now have an expanded group of 16 at the front of the race.
The leaders have gone past the famous church, where the bells are ringing to see the race go by.
And now the peloton reach the top of Madonna del Ghisallo, almost four minutes later. The race has setted down now, and it'll be a while until the next climb - Roncola, in about 60 kilometres time.
Jumbo-Visma have been leading the peloton, and are now joined by EF Education-EasyPost. That's a big statement of intent from the team, who clearly fancy the chances of their leader Richard Carapaz to mix it up with the top favourites.
Here's Evenepoel on the floor following his crash earlier in the day. It certainly didn't look good, and had seemed like his continuation was in doubt, but he's still racing and comfortably in the peloton.
The race remains calm for now, although the peloton is not letting the break have too much of an advantage. The work of Jumbo-Visma and EF have kept them within 3-30.
The race is still in a holding pattern, with the gap remaining at 3-50. The riders are on the only prolonged flat section in the race, before the hills come thick and fast starting with the next climb in just over 30 kilometres.
The peloton is strung out in single file as Jumbo-Visma and EF continue to set the pace. This is a big commitment by both those teams, whose strategies seem to be for a hard race. Interestingly, there is no sight of any UAE Team Emirates or Soudal-QuickStep riders at the front, despite being the teams of respective favourites Pogacar and Evenepoel.
The gap's got a little bigger in the last few kilometres, rising to over four minutes for the first time today. And break with Thomas De Gendt in it is going to motor along and stands a chance of surviving for a while.
He might not be among the favourites this year, but today is a huge day for Thibaut Pinot, who is riding in his last ever professional race before he settles down with his goats and retires. France might be his homeland, and where he enjoyed an emotional send-off earlier this year at the Tour de France, but Italy is where he has enjoyed many of his greatest career achievements, including victory at this race in 2018. He’ll be cheered on the day’s final climb, Cole Aperto, where his supporters’ club have assembled.
There might not be much going on racing-wise at the moment, but the scenery here in Lombardy is stunning. This is surely one of the most beautiful races on the calendar.
Here we go, the riders are climbing again! Like most of the seven hills on the menu, the Roncola, lasting 7.5km, and climbs at a steep gradient too, averaging 7.3%.
EF’s Mikkel Honoré is the sole rider setting the pace on this climb. The peloton is stretched, and some riders towards the back are struggling to stay in contact.
Some other teams are appearing at the front of the peloton, with UAE Team Emirates and Bora-Hansgrohe riding alongside EF and Jumbo-Visma. This climb is hard, and there has been a steady stream of riders being dropped out of the peloton.
After that long effort, the escapees are descending again. They took the climb relatively easy and nobody was dropped from the group, meaning all sixteen riders are still together. That’s useful for group cohesion, but the slow pace has seen their lead cut to under three minutes.
The peloton aren’t hanging around. The gap has plummeted to under 2-30 as the likes of Jumbo-Visma, Bora-Hansgrohe and Israel-PremierTech all keep the pace up on the descent.
An attack from Nils Brun in the breakaway. He’s flying down the descent and has a gap.
Mechanical for Filippo Ganna. He was very active early in the day, when he tried to get into the break, and is arguably an outside bet for victory. The parcours is likely to be too hilly for him, but he’s surprise us before with his climbing, and has enjoyed a great run in the one-day classics this year, and was fourth at the recent Gran Piemonte classic.
Brun’s daredevil descent has seen him gain a lead of about 15 seconds over the rest of the break. He’s not really getting anywhere, but has the honour of leading one of the biggest races of the season.
Ganna’s teammate Pavel Sivakov is also out the back of the peloton, and the Italian is currency pacing him back to it. Sivakov is clearly higher up the pecking order in terms of Ineos’ leaders for this race.
More problems for Ineos now as Ben Swift drops out of the break for a wheel change. The pace still isn’t too high, though, so he should be able to rejoin.
An interesting development in the peloton, as Soudal-QuickStep take control of the peloton with their whole team as they start climbing the next hill, Berbenno. That would suggest that Remco Evenepoel is feeling good despite the crash.
Soudal-QuickStep have increased the pace significantly. The peloton is all strung out, and riders at the back are being dropped. The race is starting to come alive…
Enric Mas is one of the riders out the back. He’s talking to his team car, but it’s unclear whether he’s had a problem or mechanical, or simply doesn’t have the legs. Given how he went into the race as one of the favourites, that would be some surprise.
It doesn’t look like Mas is getting back into the peloton. He doesn’t look good and there’s clear daylight between himself and the peloton, and no teammates around him.
As for the break, this increase in pace is seeing their lead be eaten into. It’s now little over 2 minutes.
The climb has been crested by both the break and the peloton, and the latter isn’t easing up on the descent. It’s still Soudal-QuickStep leading, and they clearly mean business.
1-30 is the lead now for the break. If Soudal-QuickStep keep this up, they won’t be out there for too much longer.
Yet another problem fr Ganna. He's had to have a bike change and is back out of the peloton once more, having only recently fought to get back into it.
Another change in the peloton, as an EF rider is back at the front. The Soudal-QuickStep team aren’t finished yet, though, and have their riders still up close to the front.
Incidentally, the EF rider is Mikkel Honoré, who did much of the work earlier in the stage.
Most of the Soudal-QuickStep riders have now disappeared from the front, but for good reason - Evenepoel is out the back of the peloton, seemingly having just had a nature break.
Evenepoel has been back with the team car again receiving assistance, but it seems to fix something with his radio rather than more medical care. The tactics of his Soudal-QuickStep mean we can expect an attack at some point, but from how far out?
One of the riders in the break, Jacob Eriksson, was distanced a while back, and has just been reabsorbed into the peloton. That leaves us with 15 riders up ahead, with a gap that has gone back up to 2-30 since Soudal-QuickStep ceased their pace-setting.
We’re climbing again, as the leaders reach the foot of Passo della Crocetta. This one’s the longest of the race at 11.6km, but climbs readily steadily at an average of 5.8%.
Battistella has upped the pace in the break, and it’s splitting. De Gendt is among the riders dropped.
Ganna's bad luck continues, and he's had yet another mechanical. Considering that he wasn't even initially expecting to ride the race, he can't be enjoying his day out.
Attacks from two riders in the peloton, and Ben Healy is one of them! He's a very dangerous rider, and one the peloton can't afford to let have a gap.
His EF teammate Andrea Piccolo had been single-handedly leading the peloton, but not other teams will have to take over the responsibility.
DSM's Oscar Only is the rider with Healy. The pair already have a substantial lead and are out of sight on this twisty climb.
More attacks from the peloton, and there from the big teams - Jumbo-Visma, UAE Team Emirates and Soudal-QuickStep each have a representative in Valter, Ulissi and Van Wilder respectively.
Healy and Only are picking up and passing stragglers from the original break, and are now just one minute behind the leaders.
The Valter, Van Wilder and Ulissi move has been neutralised by the peloton, but Healy and Onley remain clear.
The peloton is thinning out amid all this action, and surprisingly Felix Gall is one of the riders dropped. He clearly isn’t in the kind of form that saw him play such a starring role during the Tour de France in July.
Jumbo-Visma are the team that’s taken the responsibility for chasing Healy and Onley. Their setting tempo, and their deficit to the pair is about 30 seconds.
Unsurprisingly, Enric Mas has withdrawn from the race. The Spaniard didn’t look right, and we haven’t seen him since he was dropped out of the peloton long ago.
There are now just seven riders left in what was formerly a 16-man lead group: Battistella, Geschke, Tolio, Ourselin, Marcellusi, Bais and Prodhomme.
Healy and Onley are closing in on them, now just 30 seconds behind.
The riders have reached the top of Passo della Crocetta, but will be climbing again soon with Zambla Alta coming up in a few kilometres.
Healy and Onley have made the catch on the descent and are now with the leading group. The peloton isn't far behind though, at just over 40 seconds.
The break have begun climbing Zambla Alta, and Healy is setting a fierce pace. In fact, his pace has split the group into pieces, with only Onley, Prodhomme and Marcellusi staying with him.
A first sight today of Thibaut Pinot, as he drops back to the peloton for a bidon. Can he do something special on his farewell race?
The leading quartet are now sharing turns rather than just sitting on Healy’s wheel, as Prodhomme comes to the front - although on the easier terrain of one of the downhill sections that interrupt this 10km climb.
A regrouping at the front as the five riders dropped earlier on the climb rejoin the leading quartet. How long will they be able to hang on though once the road tilts up again to the summit of the climb.
The lead group is indeed breaking up again as the road tilts up again. Healy’s the one laying the power down, and even Onley is among those dropped.
Onley is hanging in there and has just bridged his way back up. Only he, Prodhomme, Marcellusi and Tolio are still with Healy.
Jumbo-Visma continue to lead the peloton, and quality climbers are being dropped - Eddie Dunbar and Emanuel Buchmann are the latest.
A crash in the peloton on the climb, and it’s bad news for EF - both Carapaz and Chaves have gone down. Bahrain Victorious’ Mikel Landa is also involved.
Thibaut Pinot was also held up, but doesn’t seem to have gone down.
Carapaz and Chaves seem to have got back up and are chasing. As, eventually, has Landa, but he looks hurt and faces an implausibly long chase to rejoin the peloton.
Back at the front of the race, the leaders are now on the descent, and can enjoy about 30km of respite before the next, and hardest climb of the day, Passo di Ganda.
Healy and Marcellusi have distanced Onley, Prodhomme and Tolio, and are tearing down this descent. Their lead is reported as being about 30 seconds over that trio, and another 30 seconds ahead of the peloton. Healy is posing a serious threat.
50km to go, and we’re approaching the endgame of the race. Passo di Granda was always expected to be the decisive climb of the day, and with most of the favourites (bar Healy) approaching it still together in the peloton, it looks set to be the one where the selections are made.
Good news for Carapaz, as he's managed to make it back into the peloton. If he wasn't too hurt from that crash, he's still in contention for the win, and can hold back while other teams have to chase his EF teammate Ben Healy.
Prodhomme has given up the ghost and has dropped back into the peloton. Onley and Tolio are still pressing on, but are drifting further away from the leaders (who are now ahead by a minute), and closer to the peloton, now just a handful of seconds behind.
It’s still Jumbo-Visma leading the peloton, and Soudal-QuickStep never resumed their efforts after upping the pace earlier. With the climb approaching, we’ll soon find out how damaged Evenepoel is from his crash at the start of the day.
Onley and Tolio have been brought back, meaning just Healy and Marcellusi are the only riders left up the road. Their lead remains healthy, too, at about one minute.
The race for position going on to the Passo di Granda has begun in earnest in the peloton, but Jumbo-Visma are still holding their place at the front.
Healy and Marcellusi have begun the climb!
Now the peloton are on it, still led by Jumbo-Visma. Positioning is crucial here, as the road at the bottom is so narrow.
Now UAE Team Emirates and Soudal-QuickStep have domestiques at the front along with Jumbo-Visma. Soudal-QuickStep are leading with Julian Alaphilippe.
Out front, Healy has at last broken Marcellusi, and is on his own at the lead of the race. His lead over the peloton is declining quickly now, though, and is down to under 30 seconds.
UAE Team Emirates have taken control of the peloton. They’ve been quiet for most of the day, leaving it to Jumbo-Visma to do most of the chasing, and seem to have timed things well, with loads of domestiques surrounding Pogacar.
Riders being dropped from the peloton all the time: Fuglsang and Mollema are among those dropped.
Marcellusi has been caught by the peloton, meaning Helay is now the only rider ahead of the peloton.
Attack from Adam Yates!
Alaphilippe is on his wheel, and the pair have a few seconds on the peloton. Jumbo-Visma are leadig the chase with Valter.
Valter is dragging them back, but not many riders are able to follow his wheel.
The Valter-led group have caught Yates and Alaphilippe. Also in this group are Pogacar and Roglic - but not Evenepoel!
Alaphilippe has dropped back to try and pace Evenepoel, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be his day.
Adam Yates has attacked again, and this time there's no Valter to chase him, as he's been dropped after his effort to bring back the first attack.
Instead Pavel Sivakov has brought him back. Those 2 are joined by about 7 other riders
11 riders in this lead group: Pogacar, Adam Yates, Roglic, Sivakov, Woods, Carlos Rodriguez, Fausto Masnada, Richard Carapaz and Chris Harper are among them.
There's another Soudal-QuickStep rider with Masnada, and it's a surprising one: Andrea Bagioli
Aleksandr Vlasov is the eleventh rider in the group. He's a dangerous rider, one of the few with a finishing kick that can worry Roglic and Pogacar.
The group has split in haf, with Woods, Bagioli, Adam Yates, Harper, Simon Yates, Carapaz and Vlasov going clear, while Pogacar and Roglic cagily follow wheels behind.
Pogacar's made his move, and is closing down the gap on his own.
Pogacar's made the junction, while behind Roglic is riding more steadily. He does slowly seem to also be closing them down though.
Roglic is in trouble though, as now Pogacar has joined the leading group, his teammate Adam Yates has upped the pace.
It's not a vintage explosive Pogacar attack, but he has a small gap over the others.
Roglic has made contact with the group, but they are now a few seconds behind Pogacar.
Now Vlasov attacks out of the group, and bridges up to Pogacar in a matter of seconds. He's looking very strong.
Vlasov is now offering a turn. If he and Pogacar keep working like this together, they will be hard to bring back.
Roglic is leading a seven-man chase group behind the leading duo.
In the Roglic group is also Carapaz, Bagioli, Simon Yates and Carlos Rodriguez. Adam Yates has been distanced a little.
Carapaz now also being dropped from the group.
The summit of the climb is approaching, and Roglic is trying to bridge up to the others before it.
Roglic has attacke out of the group, and is now on the wheel of Pogacar an Vlasov.
And just as they crest the climb, they're also joined by Simon Yates and Rodriguez.
All this means we have a six-man lead group on the descent: Pogacar, Vlasov, Roglic, Rodriguez, Simon Yates and, revelation of the day, Bagioli.
That status quo hasn't lasted long, though, as Pogacar attacks on the descent and gets himself a gap.
Adam Yates has rejoined the chasers. That's a big advantage for UAE Team Emirates, as he won't have to work while Pogacar is out front.
There's not much cohesion among the chasers. Simon Yates and Rodriguez have attacked the others, and have established a small gap.
The pair have been closed down and the chase group is all back together. They need to get organised, as Pogacar is now 13 seconds up the road.
Pogacar is descending rapidly, and his lead continues to grow. There's 25km to go, including a flat stretch after the descent and the small climb of Colle Aperto.
Roglic is the rider leading the chase, but he's descending slower than Pogacar. The gap is now over 20 seconds.
This is looking better and better for Pogacar. His lead's approaching 30 seconds, and there's still quite a bit of descending before the flat section. If he can extend it more, the chasers will have to be very committed and very cohesive to stand a chance of bringing him back.
18km to go, and the gap goes out to 30 seconds for the first time.
It takes great presence of mind to descend fast on such a technical downhill as this after such a long, hard day of racing, so Pogacar's efforts here are especially impressive.
Carapaz has also ridden a good descent, and is set to catch the Roglic group.
15km to go, and Pogacar's lead is still gradually increasing. It's now up to 37 seconds.
Here's where it gets more complicated for Pogacar, though. He's reached the bottom of the descent, and now has a flat finale to the finish to negotiate, punctuated by the 1.3km Colle Aperto. If the chasers can get organised, victory for the Slovenian isn’t yet a done deal.
Further behind, we’re seeing another chase group led by Evenepoel They’re also going at a fair lick, but must be quite far back still.
Hold on, does Pogacar have a problem? He's touching his thigh and talking into the radio. Cramp, perhaps?
Whatever it was, it doesn't seem to have affected him. His lead remains about 40 seconds.
The Evenepoel chase group is 40 seconds behind the Roglic group. Soudal-QuickStep are pressing on in it, with Masnada with Evenepoel.
Now there's been a crash in the Evenepoel group - but only Hirschi has gone down. He seemed to lose concentration and touched Evenepoel's wheel.
It doesn't seem like Pogacar has a problem anymore. His lead has grown a little again to 45 seconds.
52 seconds now for Pogacar. Victory is starting to look like it's in the bad, providing he avoids incident.
The chase group are riding fast enough to keep the Evenepoel group at bay, which remains almost one minute adrift, but can't make any inroads into Pogacar. When the Slovenian's on one of these rides, he's virtually impossible to stop.
Pogacar's on the Colle Aperto, and doesn't look to be tiring.
Now the chasers are on the climb, and Rodriguez is upping the pace.
Pogacar is getting cheered on by huge crowds on the climb, that is several people deep both sides of the road.
Carapaz and Roglic have been dropped out of the chasing group on the climb. Clearly Roglic does not have his best legs today.
Pogacar has reached the top, and has extended his lead yet more to 1-10. Just 3km left for him to complete.
Simon Yates has attacked just before the summit.
Final kilometres now for Pogacar, who's already celebrating.
Six riders now on the finishing straight for the sprint for 2nd.
Roglic is back and is leading out the sprint...but is just edged by Bagioli at the line.
Now the next chase group arrives at the finish, and Evenepoel leads out the sprint for minor placings.
Evenepoel's lack of legs on the climb (perhaps because of his crash early in the day) meant this wasn't the ding dong battle between himself, Pogacar and Roglic that we'd hoped for but it was another seriously impressive and entertainingly attacking ride from Pogacar.
Interestingly, it was on a descent rather than ascent that Pogacar made his race-winning move. He wasn’t able to go clear alone on the climb, and established his decisive gap by flyinging down the first kilometres of the downhill. Uphills and downhills, mountains and hills, cobbles and tarmac, it seems Pogacar simply doesn’t have any weaknesses.
An emotional moment now as Thibaut Pinot crossess the line. He's flanked by a few of his teammates, and is being loudly applauded.
Pogacar confirms in the post-race interview that it was indeed cramp he suffered from in the finale.
He also says that he decreased his power output due to the cramp - not that you could tell from watching him continue to extend its lead.
This was the dramatic moment when Pogacar's team car drove up to him after he suffered from cramp. The anguished look on his face reveals the pain he was in, but luckily it didn't worsen and he still managed to hold on for a comfortable victory.
And here's a glimpse of some of the raucous scenes at so-called Pinot Corner on the last climb. We didn't seen the Frenchman climb it, given how far down the race he was, but we can only imagine how loudly he was cheered on.
Thanks for joining us today, as we bid farewell to the Men's World Tour for another season! You can read our full report on all the race's ebbs and flows here
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