Il Lombardia has always been a race that has held a certain fascination for us. It is the 5th and last “monument” of the year, with Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris Roubaix and Liège Bastogne Liège making up the other four monuments.
It has a very long history with the first edition being raced in 1905 and a literal ‘who’s who of cycling’ taking the honours over the years, with Fausto Coppi winning on five occasions.
Il Lombardia is noted for its very demanding and hilly course around Lake Como and Bergamo, with the route regularly ascending up and past the little church of Our Lady of Ghisallo, as well as the seriously steep and iconic Muro di Sormano – both amazing climbs that we ride on our Como, Stelvio & Dolomites Tour.
Traditional finishing locations of Il Lombardia include Milano, Monza, Como and Bergamo, however the last few editions have had the race start in Bergamo and finish in Como. This year it was the reverse.
When we mentioned to our friends at Stelbel a couple of weeks prior that we had returned to Italy, they encouraged us to travel north to watch the race finish in Bergamo.
What a great idea, we thought.
Over an aperitivo on our first night in town, we embraced the local knowledge from Andrea of where the best spot would be to watch the race. The race route was taking the peloton up and around Citta Alta, which is the beautiful old town of Bergamo, and so the suggestion of finding a spot on the ancient walls to see the Pro’s wind their way up and past us, was a great tip. Looking at the race map of the finish, there was also a 200m section of pave or cobbles as they entered the ancient Porta di San Lorenzo, so we decided we were definitely positioning ourselves right there.
After returning from a beautiful little ride in the Bergamo hills, it was time to walk up to the old town and secure our spot before the roads closed.
We managed to squeeze ourselves in behind a sponsor’s barricade that had been pushed up against the edge of an old ramp on the old city wall. Cobbles on one side and a nice 30m drop on the other side. It was all ok, provided you didn’t look down or as one guy did, drop his wallet. The views across the valley were spectacular.
After settling into position, it was a pleasant 90 minute wait in the Autumn sunshine with the other eager tifosi, for the race to arrive.
It’s impossible to not get caught up in the enthusiasm of the spectacle; the police bikes with sirens warning walkers and riders to get off the course, the VIP cars and Team cars loaded with bikes making their way up the hill, the helicopters hovering and finally, the racers who have already ridden 230+km and over 4000m, zipping by over the cobbles.
Il Lombardia had nearly all of the theatre of the Giro d’Italia bundled into a one day classic and much of the same emotion that we get to experience on our Giro d’Italia cycling tour – when we follow the race and enjoy a start, a finish and a couple of over mountain passes. It was a truly sensational experience and we’re now looking forward to the race in 2022 and hopefully seeing it on the Muro di Sormano.
If you would like to experience the same sensational riding experience around Como in 2022, click the link here to see details of our Cycling tour of Como, Stelvio and Dolomites in July 2022 or if you’re up for experiencing the incredible emotion that goes with Pro racing, join us for our Giro d’Italia Cycling Tour in May 2022.