Il Lombardia 2023
The final Monument of the year will pit Primož Roglič, Remco Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar against each other, as the latter goes in search of a third successive victory
Published: October 4, 2023
Il Lombardia 2023 overview
On October 7, the men’s peloton will take on the final Monument of the season: Il Lombardia. Il Lombardia is one of the oldest and most prestigious races in Italy and the final event in the esteemed Trittico di Autunno, or the ‘Autumn treble’, which includes its sister races Milano-Torino and Gran Piemonte. It’s also the fifth and final Monument of the cycling season and, arguably, the most evocative and visually arresting of the lot.
18 WorldTour teams and seven ProTeams will take to the start of this year’s race, with UAE Team Emirates heading to Como with the two-time defending champion, Tadej Pogačar. The Slovenian will be sure to face stiff competition, however, from the likes of Richard Carapaz (EF Education-EasyPost), Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step) and his compatriot, Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
Known as the ‘race of the falling leaves’ thanks to its autumn spot in the calendar, Il Lombardia takes in a challenging route around Lake Como in the north of Italy. The first edition took place in 1905, making the Tour of Lombardy the third oldest of the Monuments.
Since 2014, the race has taken place on a route between Bergamo and Como, with the direction and finish alternating yearly. This year’s edition is set to finish in Bergamo. More so than the other Monuments, this race is packed with long climbs, making it a proper climbers’ classic. Not just the punchy efforts we see in the spring, but long and dragging efforts.
The two most iconic climbs on the route are the Madonna del Ghisallo, near Como, and the Passo di Ganda, near Bergamo. Depending on the direction of the race, both of these tend to be decisive points for attacks to go.
Held over the picturesque hills that punctuate the region of Lombardy in northwest Italy, Il Lombardia is one of the most beautiful bike races on the entire racing calendar and, as the race falls at the end of the cycling season, a timely reminder that all good and beautiful things must eventually come to an end.
Il Lombardia 2023 key information
Date: October 7, 2023
Category: 1.UWT (WorldTour)
Editions: 116 (as of 2022)
First winner: Giovanni Gerbi
Most recent winner: Tadej Pogačar
Il Lombardia 2023 map
The route of Il Lombardia sees the peloton race between Lake Como and Bergamo.
Il Lombardia 2023 route map
Il Lombardia 2023 route
Il Lombardia 2023 route profile
The full route for this year’s Il Lombardia was announced in recent weeks and is 238.1km in length, with seven categorised climbs between Como and Bergamo. In recent years, the route has stayed largely the same, but there are subtle differences between each edition.
Starting in Como, the famous Madonna del Ghisallo climb will come early on in this year’s edition. At 8.8km in length but with a gradient of only 3.9%, it’s certainly not the hardest climb on the route, but it’s an early test and an opportunity for riders to attack. It’s the church at the top of the hill that makes this climb so iconic, as the Madonna del Ghisallo has been declared the patron saint of cyclists, and the church contains a small museum dedicated to cycling.
In the middle of the day, it’s the back-to-back combination of the Dossena climb and the Zambla Alta that will really begin the whittling-down process, and separate the strong climbers from the rest of the peloton. The first climb, the Dossena, comes in at 11.1km at a 6.1% gradient, and then there’s only a kilometre or two of descending before the road starts rising again to Zambla. This climb is more gentle, averaging 3.3% with a steeper ramp towards the top, but it’s 9.8km in length, making a total of almost 20km straight of climbing. With still more than 50km to go to the finish, this is why Lombardia is so hard.
The final big climb is the Passo di Ganda, a 9.3km effort at 7.1%. This should draw out the key move of the day: you need to be in front here if you’re going to win. From there, there is a long descent towards Bergamo, with one last climb before the finish line. The Colle Aperto is just a small kick at 1.3km in length with a 7% gradient, but it can be a big challenge after a long day - or the last chance to attack a small group.
Il Lombardia 2023 contenders
Unlike the other Monuments, Il Lombardia is a race made for the pure climbers, so it’s often won by the best climber or GC rider of the year. One of the strongest riders who’s yet to win here is Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quick Step). His first outing at Lombardia was memorable for all the wrong reasons, after a crash on a corner saw him go over the edge of a low bridge in dramatic fashion. Since then, though, the 23-year-old has won the Vuelta, two Liège-Bastogne-Lièges and the World Championships, so he’s definitely a big favourite despite his previous bad luck. One of the strongest climbers in the peloton with a proven pedigree in one-day races, Evenepoel will win Lombardia one day, it’s just a question of when.
What many fans will be hoping for in October is a head-to-head between Evenepoel and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). The pair have gone up against each other relatively few times in their careers so far, and Lombardia would be the perfect place to do it. Pogačar is the defending champion, having won in both 2021 and 2022, so he definitely has a good chance at making that a hat-trick, a feat so far only achieved by Fausto Coppi and Alfredo Binda. What’s more, only two riders have ever won Flanders and Lombardia in the same year - Rik van Looy (1959) and Hennie Kuiper (1981) - so Pogačar would join a very exclusive list of names. The Slovenian is almost unbeatable in one-day races when he puts his mind to it, so it will be hard to look past him if he lines up in Como this year.
Finally, it may be something of a dream, but a rider who could take a fairytale win here is Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ). The Frenchman is set to retire at the end of this season, and Il Lombardia is actually slated to be his final-ever race. Pinot won here in 2018, so he certainly has the ability, and he has been keen to prove that his last season is not a question of fading away, he is still very much in the frame of racing. Winning a Monument will be a big ask, but expect to see Pinot try to stay involved in the action for as long as possible.
For a full list of our contenders, keep an eye out for our preview, which will be released in the week leading up to the race.
Il Lombardia 2023 teams
All 18 WorldTour teams will line-up for this year's Il Lombardia, plus seven ProTeams.
- AG2R Citroën
- Arkéa Samsic
- Astana Qazaqstan
- Bahrain Victorious
- EF Education-EasyPost
- Ineos Grenadiers
- Jayco AlUla
- Soudal-Quick Step
- UAE Team Emirates
- Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizanè
- Israel-Premier Tech
- Lotto Dstny
- Tudor Pro Cycling
- Q36.5 Pro Cycling
How to watch Il Lombardia 2023
Live coverage and a replay of Il Lombardia 2023 will be available on GCN+ for subscribers in selected territories. Click here for more details.
Coverage will start at 10:00 CEST on Saturday 7 October.
Il Lombardia race history
The first edition of Il Lombardia was held in 1905 - when it was known as Milano-Milano, making it older than both the Giro d’Italia and Milano-Sanremo, two of Italy’s most historic bike races. It was an idea conceived by a journalist, to pit some of the best Italian cyclists against each other, and it quickly attracted a strong start list. The race also established itself as the last big race in Italy and Europe, and was renamed the Giro di Lombardia in 1907.
It’s also one of the few races on the calendar to experience very little interruption over the course of its lifetime. In fact, only two editions have ever been cancelled in the race’s history, in 1943 and 1944 due to World War II.
Now on its 116th edition, the race is well established as one of cycling’s Monument Classics. Despite the route changing countless times over the course of its history, the race has developed a reputation for sending riders up some of the most feared and fabled climbs in the sport of cycling - like the Madonna del Ghisallo, Muro di Sormano and Civiglio, climbs that are heavenly to watch riders struggle up from afar, but truly hellish to ride yourself.
© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images
The Muro di Sormano is one of the most feared climbs in all of cycling
Going into the thirties, forties and fifties, Lombardia became the showground for the golden era of Italian cycling, frequently hosting thrilling battles between Alfredo Binda, Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi. Coppi’s solo attacks from the Madonna del Ghisallo all the way to the finish helped cement the climb’s legendary status and the prestige of the race as a whole.
Coppi, in fact, holds the record in this race for the most wins, with five taken between 1946 and 1954. The Italian icon won all five of his Il Lombardia titles solo and in almost the same fashion each time, by attacking on the incredibly steep ramps of the Madonna del Ghisallo before time trialing his way to the finish line in Milan.
Several other legends of Italian cycling have won this race, helping the home nation build their colossal tally of 69 wins in the event. Riders like Paolo Bettini, Francesco Moser, Damiano Cunego, Costante Girardengo and Vincenzo Nibali have all taken multiple victories here, each one helping to stamp Italy’s dominance all over the race. In the second half of the 20th century, more huge names adorn the list of winners: Sean Kelly, Eddy Merckx, and Roger De Vlaeminck.
© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images
Nibali won his home Monument while wearing the Italian tricolore
Since the Coppi and Bartali years, the race has moved its finish from Milan to Como which has, in turn, changed the entire identity of the race. What was once considered a race for the all-rounders and classics specialists, is now a race for the purest of climbers. Many describe this race as one of the most arduous of the entire season; with countless leg-breaking climbs and a mammoth distance of 250km+ to conquer it’s no surprise why.
Due to the incredibly attritional nature of the route, and the many climbs from which riders can launch stinging attacks from, we typically see solo riders emerge victorious. Since Philippe Gilbert’s first victory in the race in 2009, we’ve seen nine riders arrive at the finish line solo. Jakob Fuglsang (2020), Bauke Mollema (2019), Thibaut Pinot (2018) and Vincenzo Nibali (2017 and 2015) are just several of the most recent riders to do this.
Several riders have won the race in a sprint finish from a small group in recent years however, most notably Tadej Pogačar who beat the home favourite Fausto Masnada in a two-up sprint to claim the 2021 title. The Slovenian superstar defended his title in 2022 to become the first rider since Joaquim Rodríguez in 2013 to win back-to-back editions.
Lombardia is also the only Monument which has ever been won by a Latin American rider, thanks to Esteban Chaves’ win here in 2017.
Explore the tabs above to find out more about the race, including our preview, the start list and the route.
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2Day-tripping Il Lombardia: Can we get to Bergamo and back in 24 hours?
3GCN Racing News Show: Collapsed merger reflects badly on Jumbo-Visma
4News Round-up: Giro d'Italia 2024 confirmed to start in Piemonte
5Watch: Il Lombardia 2023 highlights
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