The 2022 cycling season is not over yet, with the final Monument of the year, Il Lombardia still to come on October 8. Also known as the ‘race of the falling leaves’, Il Lombardia serves as one of the final opportunities for riders to secure a landmark result this year. Since the first edition of the race in 1905, Il Lombardia has become known as one of the toughest one-day races of the season, described as a climber’s classic thanks to the demanding course and technical descents.
This year, we’ll see the likes of Tadej Pogačar and Jonas Vingegaard go head to head on the roads between Bergamo and Como, with plenty of climbing to contend with on the way – most notably the famous Madonna del Ghisallo climb in the race’s finale. The likes of Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde will also use this autumn Monument as the final race of their respective careers, and they will want to end things on a high.
Read on for all the details of the course, the main contenders, plus Rouleur’s prediction of the winner.
Route and map
This year’s edition of Il Lombardia is longer than in 2021, with a total distance of 253km and 4800 metres of elevation gain. The race starts in Bergamo and skirts inland before passing Lake Como and finishing in the town of Como. The first part of the route is incredibly mountainous, with the opening climb, the Forcella di Bianzano, coming after just 23 kilometres of racing (it is 6.4 kilometres long at 5% average gradient.) This climb is quickly followed by the Passo di Ganda, 9.2km at an average of 7.3%.
The riders then face another short climb to the town of Dossena, before a steep descent that takes them to a duo of climbs: the Forcella di Bur, and then the Colle di Berbenno. The first of these is the longest, with the Forcella di Bur spanning 18.2 kilometres, but the average gradient is mild at just 2.5% average. The Colle di Berbenno which follows is only 4.5km long but tougher than its predecessor at 6.2%.
After these climbs, the peloton dive down into Brambilla to face the Colle di Berbenno which spans for 4.5 kilometres at an average gradient of 6.2%. At the top of this climb, there is still 130 kilometres of racing remaining.
For the next 80 kilometres, the route begins to get flatter and we can expect to see a slight lull in the action at this point. The peloton will skirt along the stunning shores of Lago di Garlate and Lago di Como until they reach Bellagio which marks the start of the final climbs in Il Lombardia 2022. The Madonna del Ghisallo restarts proceedings: it is 8.6 kilometres long with an average gradient of 6.2% and maximum slopes of 14%. From there, the peloton descends to Asso, where they have then turned right in previous years, but in 2022 they will ride through the town to enter a finishing circuit with 30km remaining.
As soon as they enter the circuit, the riders face the San Fermo della Battaglia, a 2.7 kilometre climb with a 7.2% average gradient that tops out at 10%. The riders then plummet down into Como where they will pass the finish line for the first time.
The final lap includes the Civiglio, a 4.2 kilometre climb with a 9.8% average gradient and a maximum of 14%. The riders will then descend back to the entry of the finishing circuit and once again face the San Fermo della Battaglia again and the downhill into Como. At the top of the final climb, only 6.8 kilometres remain in the race, and it will be a fast descent to the finish line where the winner will be crowned.
Defending champion Tadej Pogačar starts as one of the key favourites for this year’s edition of Il Lombardia. His recent win at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Montréal proves that the UAE Team Emirates rider is in good form, and he’s publicly said that he wants to end his season on a high with a strong performance in the final monument of the year. Pogačar’s strength is that he can sprint from a breakaway to take victory, as he did last year, but he also has the ability to follow stinging attacks on the steep climbs.
Vingegaard and Pogačar go head to head in the 2022 Tour de France (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)
Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard has had a break from racing following winning the yellow jersey, but the Jumbo-Visma rider returned with a bang at the CRO Race, winning the third stage. At Il Lombardia, we could see a resurgence of the gripping battle between Vingegaard and Pogačar that shaped the narrative of this year’s Tour, and both will be vying to come out on top.
Ineos Grenadiers' Adam Yates is a rider who could upset the chances of Vingegaard and Pogačar, the British rider opted not to go to the World Championships in Australia in order to place full focus on Il Lombardia. He is well-suited to the tough parcours and finished third in this race last year. He will be supported by the likes of Ben Tulett and Pavel Sivakov who both are outside bets for victory in their own right.
Vincenzo Nibali (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)
Two legends of the sport will end their careers at Il Lombardia, and both of them have a chance of fighting for victory. The first is Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Qazaqstan) who will be racing on home turf and looking for a third victory here. Alejandro Valverde of Movistar will also want to end his illustrious career on a high, he has shown outstanding form this season with a second place in Strade Bianche and Flèche Wallonne. Movistar has another good option with Enric Mas who recently finished second in La Vuelta España.
Benoît Cosnefroy of AG2R Citroën Team also looks to be ending his season on good form with a victory in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Québec and could be another one to watch at Lombardia, as could both Aleksandr Vlasov and Sergio Higuita of BORA-Hansgrohe.Romain Bardet (Image: Zac Williams/SWpix)
David Gaudu of Groupama-FDJ secured a top-10 at Il Lombardia last year and is a rider who has a chance at victory in 2022, and you can never count out former World Champion Julian Alaphilippe (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl). Romain Bardet of Team DSM has performed well in Lombardia before and will be looking for more this year, while Vuelta a España sensation Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) could also be fighting for victory if he has recovered enough from his crash on stage 18.
We’re betting on Tadej Pogačar to take a second victory in Il Lombardia this year. Following his defeat at the Tour de France, the UAE Team Emirates rider will want to finish the season on a high, and we all know that Pogačar is often unstoppable when he sets his mind to something, especially in a punchy, one-day race.