Pogacar Wins Il Lombardia
Il Lombardia, the final monument of the 2022 season, has been won by UAE Team Emirates’ Tadej Pogacar following a fierce two-man sprint duel against Enric Mas (Movistar Team) across the finish line in Como, Italy.
Under beautiful Autumn skies in northern Italy, with leaves falling from the trees in a multitude of brown and golden colors, the professional cycling peloton began the final monument race of the season in Bergamo. The riders were to compete on a mountainous 253-kilometer route that would conclude on the lakeshore in Como after the riders had contested a route that had been changed for this year’s race with the final sixty kilometersfeaturing a sequence of challenging climbs including the Ghisallo, the San Fermo della Battaglia and theCiviglio.
The beginning of the race was characterized by numerous attacks until a group of ten breakaway hopefuls established a lead on the peloton. With 80 kilometers to go the Ineos-Grenadiers, EF Education-EasyPost and Alpecin teams took to the front and set a high pace that reeled in the breakaway before the UAE Emirates and Jumbo-Visma team took to the front to set a devastating pace on the Ghisallo climb.
A front trio of Enric Mas (Movistar Team), Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) reached the final kilometers together after having dropped a very active Sergio Higuita (Bora-Hansgrohe) and the scene was set for a group sprint across the finish line in Como. Pogacar attacked and was closely followed by Mas, but the Spanish rider was unable to get past Pogacar who crossed the finish line first, while a disillusioned Mas’ hopes of victory were swept away like leaves along a roadside. Landa followed ten seconds later to take third and be celebrated on the podium of a monument classic for the first time in his career.
Pogacar was very happy with the race victory that brings some consolation for his defeat in this year’s Tour de France that was won by Jonas Vingegaard (Team Jumbo-Visma) who was a favorite for today’s race, but only managed to finish more than two minutes behind Pogacar in 16th place.
"It’s an important win for me and for all the riders of my team who work so hard all year. I found today’s course to have a different effect on me than last year because Civiglio is steeper,” race winner Pogacar explained after being celebrated on the podium.
“I was confident in my sprint but you never know after such a long and hard race. I was really tired but seeing the finishing line, I forgot the pain. I knew what I had to do, so I just went for it. With fifty metres to go, I had no more doubts about my victory. I was very happy when I crossed the line.”
“I was already in a great shape for the beginning of the season at the UAE Tour. It’s hard to compare the races but today or at Strade Bianche, I had my best day. I hope to continue my career this way, being competitive all year with good periods of rest in between the races. Nibali and Valverde were looking very good for their last race (of their careers). I can consider myself lucky to have shared the road with them,” Pogacar said.
The 2022 Il Lombardia was also the final race for Spain’s Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) and Italy’s Vincenzo Nibali (Team Astana) who had chosen the race of the falling leaves as the conclusion of their impressive careers. Valverde leaves professional cycling on a high note with an impressive 6th place finish, 01:24 behind Pogacar. Nibali finished 24th, 02:17 behind this year’s Il Lombardia winner.