Il Lombardia and Paris-Tours bring down the curtain on the European Classics season

The 2016 Il Lombardia climbs out of Bellagio

While the 2017 UCI WorldTour will officially end with the Tour of Guangxi (Oct 19-24) in China, Saturday’s Il Lombardia and Sunday’s Paris-Tours symbolically mark the end of the European season. Some minor races continue deeper into October, with the new Tacx Pro Classic in the Netherlands (Oct 14) and the Chrono des Nations (Oct 15) but after eight and a half months of action, all the racing will be done by the time the route of the 2018 Tour de France is presented in Paris on Tuesday October 17.

World champion Peter Sagan, Tour de France winner Chris Froome and WorldTour ranking leader Greg Van Avermaet have already ended their seasons but many others will be in action this week in the final races in Italy, Belgium, Germany and France.

The Grand Tour riders and climbers will enjoy the warm Italian autumn and have headed north to the Lombardy region after riding the Giro dell’Emilia and the Gran Premio Beghelli at the weekend. They will ride the Tre Valli Varesine on Tuesday, Milano-Torino on Thursday and then the big one, Il Lombardia – the final monumental Classic of the season – on Saturday.

The sprinters opt for flatter roads and cooler weather as they chase a final victory of the season. On Tuesday they can choose between the Binche-Chimay-Binche/Mémorial Frank Vandenbroucke in Belgium and the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro in northwest Germany. There is also Paris-Bourges on Thursday before Paris-Tours and the expected sprint finish on the famous Avenue de Grammont on Sunday.

Cyclingnews will have live coverage of the Italian races, plus full race reports, photo galleries and exclusive news and interviews.

Tre Valli Varesine

The Tre Valli Varesine was traditionally the third and final race of the Trittico Lombardo in August but the Varese race has found a new later niche in the calendar after being refused a place in the revamped WorldTour.

This year’s race marks the 97th edition and the 192km route again ends with nine laps of 12.8-kilometre circuit in the city similar to the one that hosted the 2008 World Championships. Alessandro Ballan won that day and the rolling course and the steep climb up from Lake Varese should again prove decisive in deciding if an attacker can stay away or if a faster finisher takes the glory.

Vincenzo Nibali dominated in 2015 before going on to win Il Lombardia and the Sicilian is back this year and appears to be on equally good form after his second place to Froome at the Vuelta a España. Teammate Sonny Colbrelli gives Bahrain-Merida plenty of options, with Giro dell’Emilia winner Giovanni Visconti also among the strong squad.

Also on the start list are Giro d’Italia winner Tom Dumoulin and his Sunweb teammates Michael Matthews and Warren Barguil. Nairo Quintana leads Movistar, while Michal Kwiatkowski, Wout Poels and Gianni Moscon are part of a strong Sky squad. Fabio Aru will race in his Italian champion’s jersey in one of his last races for Astana, while Rigoberto Uran leads Cannondale-Drapac and Steve Cummings headlines the Dimension Data line-up.

13 WorldTour teams will be in action, with the Italian Professional Continental teams adding an extra dimension as they fight for points in the season-long Coppa Italia to help their chances of a wild card invitation to the 2018 Giro d’Italia.

[“Source-timesofindia”]