Giro di Lombardia

Giro di Lombardia
Cycling in Lombardy is defined by the Tour of Lombardy, Giro di Lombardia, a o­ne-day bicycling race held in October. It is also known as the "Race of the Falling Leaves," la classica delle foglie morte. The race has been staged annually since 1905. Giro di Lombardia is the final race of each year in the European Monuments tour, the five most famous pro cycling races in western Europe. As the final race of the circuit it gains extra importance, often determining the winner of the Union Cycliste Internationale World Ranking.

The first Tour of Lombardy was held in 1905, but was then known as the Milan-Milan. The name was changed in 1907. o­ne man, Fausto Coppi, has been a five time winner (1946-1949, 1954). Coppi dominated in his four consecutive wins, finishing far ahead of the field. o­nly two non-Italians have won three times: Henri Pelissier for France, and Sean Kelly of Ireland. The 2009 winner was Philippe Gilbert of Belgium.

An 8.6 km ascent of the hill of Madonna del Ghisallo near the end of the course has become famous with a shrine, blessed by Pope Pius XII in 1949, and museum of cycling. With a grade of 14% in sections, the hill is a challenge for even the best riders. The overall race is about 240 kilometers, but the exact course has changed over the years with various starting or ending locations including Bergamo, Cuneo, Milan, Monza, Sesto San Giovanni, and Varese.

The current route begins in Varese and extends east to Como. From there it proceeds north around Como Lake to Sorico, then south and northwest around an arm of the lake to o­nno. From there the climb begins over Ghisallo, with the course descending into Como for the finish.