Il Lombardia, or the race of the falling leaves, is the fifth and final monument classic of the season.  Unlike the other four, Il Lombardia has a smattering or a Grand Tour stage more than a unique historic route, although that is unique in itself.  So who’s going to win?

In most sports, after a full season’s racing behind us, we would be pretty clear with regards to who will be the likely podium contenders but as is the way with professional cycling, favourites don’t line up for the final start list, injuries happen and sometimes the parcourse just doesn’t suit the rider on form.

Il Lombardia takes us from Como to Bergamo, some 240km, across some significant lumps and bumps on the way:

  • Madonna del Ghisallo (754m);
  • Colle Brianza (536m);
  • Valcava (1336m);
  • Berbenno (695m);
  • Sant’Antonio Abbandonato (982m);
  • Miragolo San Salvatore (931m); and
  • Selvino (960m).

Stick in the final 371m struggle up the Bergamo Alta and you have the makings of an epic one day classic.

So what is the bookies podium?

Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) Can’t argue with Chaves being the bookies favourite at all and 9/2 should be snapped at.  There’s nothing more to say other than 2nd overall at the Giro D’Italia and 3rd overall at last month’s Vuelta a Espana.  A strong and motivated team will do all it can to get him into the right position.

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-Quickstep) No-one can doubt Alaphilippe’s ability and terrier like attributes, in fact I have backed him on a number of occasions this season.  But the statistics don’t really back up an Il Lomardia win.  He has been there or thereabouts on a few occasions but hasn’t had that final ingredient which turns an aggressive attack into a victory.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see him do it but I can’t although odds of 7/1 look pretty good value.

Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale Drapac) The bookies have Uran at 9/1 third favourite.  Now either they don’t know what they’re talking about or are believing the Vaughters/Uran/Cannondale hype.  Uran isn’t going to podium.  No form.  Nothing has backed up what was promised this year.  No chance.

So it’s hard to look past Chaves and Alaphilippe could be in with a shout but would you mind indulging me for a few more minutes as I give you my final fantasy top 3 for the season?

Chaves – for the reasons above.

Darwin Atapuma (BMC) Yes another Columbian, but he has shown his pedigree this year and I have a feeling that BMC are on a high after Greg Van Avermaet’s Olympic road race win.  Odds of 150/1 have to be worth a flutter!

Dan Martin (Etixx-Quickstep) OK, I’ve been backing him as an outsider all year but I just think that this course suits him and I can visualise him attacking on the final climb to Bergamo Alta.  Not bad odds of 14/1 either.

So there we go, another season of classics draws to an end and if today is anything like the previous four we’re going to have a most enjoyable Saturday afternoon.

The Giant