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  • Gallery: Vintage Lombardy – the race of the falling leaves

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    From the 1950s to the present, the Tour of Lombardy has showcased some of the most spectacular scenery Italy has to offer. The racing’s not been bad either

    Photographs: Offside / L'Equipe / FARABOLAFOTO / Presse Sports / ANSA / Luca Bettini

    Last Saturday saw the 111th running of the Tour of Lombardy. From the vintage to the present day rebranded Il Lombardia, we look back at the most beautiful of the Monuments

    Tour of Lombardy

    Frenchman Andre Darrigade pipping Fausto Coppi to the line at Milan’s historic Vigorelli Velodrome, in the 1956 edition of the race. A bike length back, Fiorenzo Magni finishes third.

    Jacques Anquetil grapples with a climb in an element-affected 1957 Tour of Lombardy. Anquetil never managed better than 4th in the late season race.

    1961. There’s a good reason many think of Il Lombardia as the most beautiful of the Monuments. There’s never a bad time of year to see the Italian lakes, but as the dark greens of late summer give way to the reds, oranges and browns of early autumn, the race perhaps presents them at their best. But even before the proliferation of colour photography, the vistas were worth capturing.

    And the Mura di Sormano is why Il Lombardia is a true climber’s classic. If it’s hard enough for today’s riders, with their lightweight frames and wheels, it was an order of magnitude more difficult for the likes of Anatole Novak, shown here in 1961.

    The toughest Monument for Merckx. After being edged out by Felice Gimondi in 1966, it would take Eddy Merckx until 1971 to finally win Il Lombardia. In the intervening period he would claim eight titles at the four other Monuments.

    Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni, at the dawn of a great rivalry, in 1977. At that year’s Tour of Lombardy both would be eclipsed by a fine solo victory from Gianbattista Baronchelli.

    If you thought the Tour of Lombardy was a gentle little ride around the lakes, this photo of a shell-shocked Greg LeMond from 1983 should disavow you of that notion.

    A determined Bernard Hinault leads Ludo Peters on his way to his final Monument win in the 1984 Tour of Lombardy.

    Moreno Argentin gives a knowing glance to the camera at the 1990 race. Gilles Dillon emerged from a select group that included Charly Mottet and Robert Millar to take that year’s title.

    Sean Kelly grits his teeth on his way to winning the 1991 edition. With 20km to go, Kelly broke clear along with Martial Gayant at the top of the Lissolo climb, before clinching victory in the sprint.

    Spectators watch as the peloton winds its way through Italian village at the 2007 Tour of Lombardy.

    Philippe Gilbert heading to his first of two wins in the Tour of Lombardy, in 2009.

    Never really one for one-day races, Alberto Contador achieved his best ever result with fourth in 2012.

    Not for the first or last time alone, Thomas Voeckler climbs past the Madonna del Ghisallo chapel in 2013.

    Not just stunning natural wonders, but impressive architecture, too. The cyclists travel along grand Italian streets in 2014.

    Esteban Chaves makes his move on the Bergamo Alta climb in the 2016 edition of the race, going on to become the first Colombian to win Il Lombardia.

    Although Vincenzo Nibali left it late at the 2017 race, his attack on the penultimate climb always looked like a winning move. It was his second victory in Il Lombardia and came on the same course as his first, in 2015.

     

    Legends Mugs – Sean Kelly