As single-day races go, the Giro di Lombardia comes at a peculiar time of the year. It hints to a finale of a very long season of cycling: what with 3 scorching summer classics back-to-back, followed by this year’s unprecedented Olympic’s, followed hot on its heels by the world championships, you could ask yourself, is there simply anything left in the tank?
One man who can answer this with a resounding ‘Yes!’ happens to also have won its latest and prestigious 106th instalment. Despite a heavy downpour, Joaquim Rodriguez broke-away to victory on the Salite di Ello, the final climb in northern Italy, after 251KM of hard racing. So what does it take to win at Lombardy? For starters it doesn’t accept anything less than the very best. Enter the real JR: Joaquim Rodriguez (a.k.a. ‘Purito’ – small cigar), who triumphed this year with a win at the Fleche-Wallone, a formidable podium second at the Giro di Italia, and a breath-taking 13 day lead in possibly the most exciting of this year’s summer classics, La Vuelta d’Espana. Oh, and he happens to be the first Spaniard to have won the Giro di Lombardia, or what is fondly known as the’ Race of the Falling Leaves’.
Equally spectacular as its racers, is the event’s backdrop. Lavish Italian fields, lakes and mountains all connected by undulating picturesque countryside. The Race of the Falling Leaves is accredited to providing the sport an almost majestic, somewhat romantic exit to the off-season. For spectators, both cycling and chance-witnesses alike, it is an opportunity to marvel at part of the world that is rarely featured at this time of year, beaming in reds, browns and yellows.
For a Barorudeur, it signals the coming of the Spring Classsics just over the horizon. Enough time to assess the year-end, and to make goals for the future. The one day classics are coming, but before then, Autumn allows us time to breathe and let the leaves fall.