Il Lombardia 2012
Il Lombardia. The race of the falling leaves. Last one day classic of the season. This was another not-really-planned event that it turned out we couldn't say no to.
After being re-scheduled to run the day we were due to arrive in Tuscany, a few calculations showed that so long as we catch the field early on the course there would be plenty of time for the drive South. Luck threw us a break when a hotel a few kilometres from the first and highest climb was found.
We spent a very nice couple of days pre-race here. Walking at the pass and also riding what is actually the very challenging climb up to Passo di Valcava (see elsewhere for details). Come race day though, the horrendous forecast proved correct and the heavens provided incredibly challenging conditions for the field. Only around a quarter of the almost 200 starters finished if the images here aren't proof enough.
On that note of abandonment, I'm sure we saw at least two of the field riding back to hotels/team buses down in the valley as we headed South. That, or it's usual in Lombardy to roll side by side, race numbers attached behind seat & in head to toe team kit. Sadly we passed too quickly to be sure, and one of the riders in question had a scarf covering their face. They looked pretty much like a pros trying to be inconspicuous to me!
I'm sure the weather also put a slight dampener on crowd numbers, but there were still numerous brave souls up on the top of Passo di Valcava with us.
It was great to see a 'classic' race and great to stand at the top of a HC climb as riders came by. Shame it wasn't a beautiful sunny day, but then... one may look back and say conditions added to this occasion. Time will tell.
The day before I rode up here in beautiful sunshine. Now look at it. The descent & climb side of Passo di Valcava.
Not easy when already over 7km into a HC climb. Nothing compared to what would come later on Muro di Sormano though!
Setting the scene. Cloudy. Wet. Cold. Dark. Just plain nasty conditions! Crowds still find a smile though. Nice
Salerno leads the break out of the mist. Rocchetti & Sörensen, 40s back, already look to be in the locker!
Only around 1m20 down Saxo drag the peloton into view, with Liquigas next in line. Serious faces all round!
Philippe Gilbert, newly crowned world champ was hard to spot. In fact, hard to ID most riders in these conditions!
Visibility was clearly an issue
Faces of pain almost in contact... then those with some hope... then with no hope... A long day for all these guys!
Traffic jam of team cars cresting the summit after the main peloton.
Clark's 15th place notwithstanding, not a good day for the Aussies. Or Cummings (the lone Brit). Lots of DNFs here
Janez Brajkovic retired top of the climb. Astana car parked up hours before race came by. No others did. Planned?
These 4 were last to summit. Clearly out of touch they all just turned round & rolled back down for an early shower!