I have to say, that was an incredible day of racing for both the Men’s and Women’s Elite World Championships. What’s more incredible is that I mentioned both the winners in last week’s speculation post. Valverde rode a perfect race, and found himself exactly where he needed to be in the finale. Special mention for Tom Dumoulin’s late effort to bridge up to the lead group. He may have ended up off the podium, but an amazing bridge non-the-less. One the women’s side, Anna van der Breggen simply dominated. Finishing solo nearly four minutes up on Amanda Spratt of Australia showed van der Breggen’s class. With newly minted World Champions, what remains of the season?
the race of the falling leaves
Yes, the Presidential Tour of Turkey begins next week. And yes, technically the UCI Pro Tour season ends with the Tour of Guangxi, but come on. Honestly, there is only one race worth mentioning: Il Lombardia. The final Monument of the season, is the only Monument outside of the Spring Classics. A fitting finale to a long year of racing, the beauty of the Tour of Lombardy is tough to beat.
The first edition of the race was held in 1905 and it has the distinction of having the fewest interruptions since it’s inception. Only the 1943 and 1944 editions were cancelled, obviously due to World War II. The course is demanding and holds similarities to Liège-Bastogne-Liège in that it favors climbers with a strong finishing kick.
Who will win?
I’m going to put myself out on a limb again and make a few guesses as to who may take the glory in a couple of weeks. Julian Alaphilippe is still on top form, finishing 8th at the World Championships. He has a strong team, and finished second last year. Roman Bardet may have finishing runner up to Valverde, but he showcased his late season fitness and ability to race aggressively in the finale. My dark horse is Mike Woods. He is a late comer to the sport who is still learning the craft of racing at the highest level. His bronze at Worlds shows he too in riding well.
Yes, my picks seem like an amalgamation of the Worlds podium and one of my top picks for the rainbow jersey. That is because the course in Innsbruck favored the kind of rider who will do well on a course like Il Lombardia. I will be shocked if any of these three riders win, but I’ve got a halfway decent record of picking winners lately. Stay safe out there, and as always, keep the rubber side down!