Tadej Pogačar joined Italian legends Alfredo Binda and Fausto Coppi as the only riders to win Il Lombardia three times in a row in Saturday’s final Monument of 2023. The Slovenian ace descended away from his competition on the last big climb of the race and survived a cramp scare. UAE-Emirates’ mightiest rider took another Monument, the Tour of Flanders, this season and has five in total on his impressive palmares.
The 238-km Race of the Falling Leaves started in Como alongside the lake and headed up the famed Madonna del Ghisallo early. The last major climb was the Passo di Ganda cresting 32 km from the finish line in Bergamo. Just before the line came short, steep Colle Aperto.
4400 vertical meters
It’s #ILombardia day, wolves 🤘
Good luck to our riders:
— Soudal Quick-Step Pro Cycling Team (@soudalquickstep) October 7, 2023
Attacks started on the Ghisallo, with a 10-strong breakaway forming. Remco Evenepoel was caught up in an early crash. The fugitive group grew to 15 on the way to the Roncola climb. Last year’s runner-up Enric Mas abandoned the race. In the peloton Jumbo-Visma’s Jan Tratnik pulled the field.
On Passo della Crocetta the breakaway received a few reinforcements, but the next peak of Zambla Alta fragmented the escape group. The Zambla Alta descent saw another crash, this one involving Jakob Fuglsang, Mikel Landa and Richard Carapaz. There were only five escapees left with the peloton less than a minute behind.
Passo di Ganda
The final big climb was 9.3 km of 7.1 percent. When it kicked up fugitives Ben Healy and Martin Marcellusi were 35 seconds up the road, Jumbo-Visma still pulling in the favorites group. Evenepoel and Pogačar’s teammates then took up the front. UAE-Emirates’ Adam Yates, third in the Tour de France, was the first to attack, Julian Alaphilippe following. Jumbo’s Attila Valter sewed it up but the action chopped the field into little pieces. Evenepoel missed out and Alaphilippe went back to help him. Healy finally came to heel with 37 km to ride.
Michael Woods made the 11-man selection with the favoured Slovenians, Carapaz, Alexandr Vlasov, Carlos Rodriguez and the Yates brothers. Primož Roglič lagged a bit off the back. Just as Roglič was about to latch back…