Il Lombardia, may be known as the race that signals the end of the season, but the final stragglers are still unfolding with Julian Alaphilippe (Soudal-QuickStep), Chris Froome (Israel-Premier Tech), Rui Costa (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) and Giulio Ciccone (Lidl-Trek) among those choosing to end their season at the Japan Cup.
The Japan Cup and Veneto Classic in Italy will close out the men’s ProSeries racing for the year on Sunday as the final WorldTour race, the Tour of Guangxi continues to unfold in China. The 164.8 km road race which starts and finishes in Utsunomiya, rus over 16 laps of a 10.3km course with the repeated climb to the Kogashirindo mountaintop a big contributor to the approximately 3,000m of elevation gain.
Last year the event was won by Neilson Powless, who escaped solo while EF Education-EasyPost teammate Andrea Piccolo came over the line in second. Powless, who wrapped up his season in Canada last month, will not be defending the title but Piccolo will be on deck for the US-based team along with James Shaw, another strong performer at the race last year.
2019 winner Bauke Mollema will also be on the start line alongside his Lidl-Trek teammate Ciccone, while Maxim van Gils – who came fifth last year – will be lining up for Lotto-Soudal after coming 14th at Il Lombardia. That was one spot ahead of Costa, with 13th being the Intermarché-Circus-Wanty rider’s best result so far at the Monument and delivering a continuation of the strong late season form that took him to victory on stage 15 of the Vuelta a España and which he hopes will continue through to his final race in Japan.
Alaphilippe is also making the trip after having raced Il Lombardia last weekend, with his first appearance at the Japanese race closing off a challenging season. Fausto Masnada, who came 20th at Il Lombardia after taking fifth at Coppa Bernocchi is also a part of the team’s lineup. Then there is Ilan Van Wilder who is bound to be among the watched riders in the field after his canny race-winning attack at Tre Valli Varesine earlier this month. The team hopes that momentum from Italy will hold it in good stead in Japan.
“For sure, the motivation is there and we will try to do our best,” said Soudal-QuickStep sports director Davide Bramati in a statement. “Some of the guys come here after a solid outing in the Italian one-day races, and are motivated to bring the season to a conclusion with a strong ride and a nice result.”
Other riders among the…