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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion,
Sunday, October 10, 2021

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2020 Tour de France | 2021 Giro d'Italia

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Il Lombardia reports

We posted the report from second-place Fausto Masnada's Deceuninck-Quick Step team with the results.

Here's the report from winner Tadej Pogacar's UAE Team Emirates:

On his debut at the famous ‘Il Lombardia’, 23 year-old Tadej Pogačar added another chapter to his ever-expanding palmares taking a memorable victory in a two-man sprint with Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-Quickstep) on the trip from Como to Bergamo, 239 km).

Tadej Pogacar

Tadej Pogacar takes another big win. Sirotti photo

For the second time this season UAE Team Emirates once again dominated a Classic Monument, thus closing a dazzling 2021 which is marked by Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring, the Tour de France in the summer and the success at Il Lombardia in the autumn.

Pogačar set out his intent in trademark fashion, attacking 36.6 km from the finish while the select group of big names was facing the Ganda Pass. No opponent was able to hold the wheel of the Slovenian, who was joined by Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck-Quickstep) on the descent.

The duo, led by Pogačar built up an advantage of more than 1 minute ahead of the harsh ascent of Colle Aperto. A couple of digs from the UAE Team Emirates rider failed to drop Masnada, who, however, could do nothing in the two-man sprint against Pogačar’s quick turn of pace.

Today’s is the 13th success of the season for the Slovenian, and the 32nd win for the Emirati team in 2021.

Pogačar: “I’m speechless, it’s crazy to be here to celebrate this success at the end of a season like this.

"The race was very tough, even before I made my move. When I attacked, I was sure someone would come with me. Downhill Masnada joined me, I knew he would gain on me in the technical part of the descent from Passo Ganda, since he knows these roads very well, and I knew that he would not collaborate with me when he reached me, but I still had the legs and the drive to beat him in the sprint.

"In this second part of the season, my form was fluctuating, with some good days and others less brilliant days : but luckily my condition was very good today.

"Every victory is important to me, I particularly like today’s win because being at the start of Lombardia alongside the best cyclists in the world was a dream, and now winning on my debut was incredible”.

Here's the report from third-place Adam Yates' INEOS Grenadiers:

Adam Yates put in a superb late acceleration to secure third place and a prestigious podium at Il Lombardia.

Final podium

2021 Il Lombardia podium, from left: Fausto Masnada (2nd), Tadej Pogacar (1st) & Adam Yates (3rd). Sirotti photo

The Brit had found himself part of an elite chasing group during the final Monument of the year, but became distanced on the final ramp on the way into Bergamo.

However the seven-man group came back together on the finishing straight, with Yates able to take a slingshot lead-out from rival Primoz Roglic, holding his speed to the line to equal the team’s best result in the race.

The Grenadiers raced the final WorldTour event of the year aggressively, with Pavel Sivakov and Tao Geoghegan Hart both pushing clear off the front in a bid to make the racing tougher.

Geoghegan Hart looked to go clear on the Dossena climb, with Sivakov also following a pair of moves. The Russian was also on the front when Tadej Pogacar launched his audacious solo acceleration with 36km to go.

The Slovenian went away on the Passo di Ganda, and despite being joined by Fausto Masnada on the subsequent long descent, he was able to out-sprint him at the line.

Yates’ group suffered from a lack of cohesion and ultimately finished 51 seconds back, with a late podium proving a strong result at the end of 239km. Sivakov was the next Grenadier home in 17th place.

Fourth-place Primoz Roglic's Jumbo-Visma team posted this report:

Primoz Roglic has finished his season with fourth place in Il Lombardia. Earlier this week, the Slovenian won the Giro dell’Emilia and Milano-Torino, but today he no longer had the legs to compete with the best in the final.

Adam Yates

Adam Yates beats Primoz Roglic for third place. Sirotti photo

After an early breakaway was reeled in in the final, a new leading group got established with all the big names involved. In addition to Roglic, Jonas Vingegaard was also present for Team Jumbo-Visma. On the final climb, Roglic struggled to keep up with the pace. He returned to the chasing group in the final kilometre and was beaten for third place in the sprint by Adam Yates.

Roglic was, therefore, realistic. “I have to be happy with this fourth place. I really gave it my all. I just didn’t have the legs today. If I could, I would certainly have gone with Pogacar when he attacked. It was very hard all day. Of course I would have loved to put this monument on my palmares, but it was not meant to be today.”

Sports director Grischa Niermann concurred. “We really have done everything we could do today. It wasn’t a bad race, but it wasn’t excellent either. Primoz indicated in the final that he didn’t have the best legs anymore. And Jonas had already been dropped before. We always want to win. This often works with a rider like Primoz. But it doesn’t always turn out like that. Bad days are also part of cycling and life. It was a goal for us to win a monument. That did not work out. We will analyse it thoroughly this winter to be able to achieve this in the future.”

And here's the report from the evergreen Alejandro Valverde's Movistar team:

Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) offered again his best performance at Il Lombardia, against a world-class field with the best contenders on the attack, to come tantalizingly close to a podium finish. Only Pogacar (UAD), Masnada (DQT), Adam Yates (IGD) and Roglic (TJV) could best Bala, who took 5th place to add to his previous, brilliant appearances in the big classics of 2021, with 4th in Liège, 3rd in Flèche Wallonne and 5th in Amstel Gold Race.

Alejandro Valverde just after the race. Sirotti photo

The Spanish ‘campionissimo’ had nice support today. Five of his team-mates -Pedrero, Villella and a strong Rojas, Cataldo and Oliveira (16th)- supported and guided him in the approach to the decisive climbs, staying together into a 50-rider group until the foot of the Passo di Ganda. At that ascent, the hard pace from Deceuninck and the irresistible attack from Pogacar left only nine riders behind the Slovenian, with ‘Bala’ always keeping the front and animating a group which Masnada also left behind in the descent.

Alejandro would end up fighting for a third spot in the sprint, which Yates and Roglic neglected him as they bridged back, at double speed, to the pursuit group despite bring dropped over the cobbled slopes of Bergamo Alta. It was still a great result for ‘Bala’, in a season that will end for him with Monday’s Coppa Agostoni.

REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“I’ve enjoyed today’s effort on the bike. Maybe not so much early on (laughs), I struggled a lot in the beginning of the season, but then, near the end, seeing myself there, with the strongest guys in this era – I’m still there, and I can only feel happy about it. Thanks to the team, because their work was crucial. I felt well surrounded all day, and when only 50 riders were left in the peloton before the Passo di Ganda, six of us were still there. At that climb, Alaphilippe’s team-mates started pushing hard and kept the group under control, but then again, Pogacar’s attack was incredible. He knew how to keep the pace high after such an explosive move, and even if we started taking some turns to chase him and Masnada down after the downhill, it was going to be really difficult to bring them back. At the Bergamo climb, the group split and Roglic and Yates dropped – but they ended up beating us, because we looked at each other and they came from behing with no chance for us to react. Since I’m always the one who launches the sprint, I tried to not go first into that one. In the end, two of them caught us, fifth for me – as I said, I must remain happy because the level was so high today.”

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