Thu 13 Aug 2020
Mitchelton-SCOTT continue racing in Italy this week with the second monument of the modified 2020 season, II Lombardia, led by talented climber Mikel Nieve.
The ever consistent 36-year-old will be the Australian outfit’s main hope for a result in the one-day race, following on from his recent top-ten overall finishes in both the Vuelta Burgos and the Tour of Poland, along with a string of high placings in II Lombardia in the past.
The lengthy Italian monument features five tough climbs; the Colle Gallo, the Colle Brianza, the Madonna del Ghisallo, with gradients up to 14%, closely followed by the Muro di Sormano.
The Sormano contains a section of road reaching a 25% gradient; a real test after almost 200km of racing and often where the crucial splits are made. The riders then head to the Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia, topping out just seven kilometres from the finish.
Il Lombardia is usually the final of the five classic cycling monuments during the season, coming in October with cool temperatures however, for 2020 the race has moved to August which has the potential to make a big difference to the racing conditions.
The race is one of the oldest and most prestigious events on the WorldTour calendar; reaching back to 1905 and a race that most only dream of winning. For Mitchelton-SCOTT that dream came true, as they ticked it of their list of monument victories in 2016, thanks to a spectacular victory from Esteban Chaves.
Nieve has enjoyed some consistent performances in the event with three top-10 finishes over the years with 6th place in 2015, 7th place in 2010 and 8th place in 2017.
“This year every race we do is special and it’s really good to be back in the peloton. I really like Lombardia, I’ve done it a lot of times and I’m looking forward to racing Lombardia at this unusual time of the year. The temperatures now are higher and the approach to the race is different for everyone.
“I think that the race will be decided as always, on the Civiglio after a selection is made on the Sormano.
“I felt pretty good in the races I have done recently, and I would like to be in the front in the final to try to get a good result. Also we have an experinced team there and we will try to be protagonists.”
Gene Bates – Sport Director
“We will go in with a team pointed around Mikel, he has shown great shape coming out of Burgos and Poland and he comes in fresh for Lombardia, so will look to support him as best we can.
“I think we will see a particularly aggressive race; we’ve seen riders like Evenepoel (Deceuninck-Quickstep) have been racing very aggressively and it is not unusual to seem him attack early on which could happen on Saturday.
“The race is now in August and it is hot here in Italy but I think in general the racing will be the same. The major players in the races are in very good shape, maybe there’s a little bit of discrepancy across the board if you’re talking the broad spectrum of the peloton but certainly the top level is there.
“We’ll go in with nothing to lose but everything to gain, we’ve had a good run in these recent Italian races, and we hope to continue it on Saturday.”
2020 Il Lombardia Race Details
Saturday, 15th August: II Lombardia – Bergamo to Como, 231km
Photo courtesy of Getty Images