2022 Il Lombardia Preview

Bergamo > Como 252.5km

Well then, the season is just about done, but we’ve still got a monument to fight for. I love this point in the year, most of the bunch have no idea how their legs will react after a long and demanding season. This year we’ve got a change of route with Muro di Sormano being excluded from the race after the organisers eventually decided the descent was too dangerous after several horrible crashes over the years. Instead, San Fermo della Battaglia is climbed on two occasions with the Civiglo stuck in-between. Without a shadow of doubt, it makes it easier, but the Civiglo is still hard enough to blow the race apart and get us on the edge of our seats.


A beautiful day with no wind and temperatures above 20 degrees.

Key Points

The Civiglo is the hardest climb in the race, it’s where the damage will be done. From the top there is just over 16km to go, and it starts with a fast descent, remember Roglič crashing here back in the 2019 Giro. The climb is basically 4km at 10%, Hugh Carthy climbed it in 13:16 back in the 2019 Giro stage, and that was basically a solo effort all the way after he attacked at the foot of the climb. If you want to know what’s required, he did an average of 434 watts.

San Fermo della Battaglia isn’t the hardest climb in the world, but Fuglsang did manage to drop Bennett here back in 2020. Coming after a long and hard race, 2.6km at 7.2% will seem a lot harder than the numbers suggest. From the top there’s just 5km to go and most of that is downhill.


How will the absence of the Sormano affect the race? For a start the peloton will be larger than normal at the foot of the Civiglo climb, that means more domestiques to set pace and chase down attacks. I don’t think we’ll see the main hitters start to move until the final half of the climb, but the success of any attack depends on the size of the group after the climb. If a team has a domestique to chase, it means the gap should still be relatively small at the start of the Battaglia climb, making it possible for riders to bridge across to the front.

Make no mistake, Mas and Pogačar will go on the Civiglo, will anyone be able to follow? If they remain together after the climb, when will Mas refuse to work due to Pogačar’s superior sprint? Will he continue to ride and hope to drop him on the Battaglia climb and refuse to work if he can’t?

Will the big names mark each other out and allow someone to slip away just like Mollema did in 2019? That year Roglič was the huge favourite, but he ran out of teammates very early on the Civiglo climb, that’s what opened the door to Mollema. I don’t see this happening this time round thanks to the lack of the Sormano.

Another thing that interests me is the opening 70km of the race, it features three tough climbs, the hardest is Passo di Ganda, which is 9.3km at 7.1%. We could see some of the big teams looking to get riders in the break, which will ensure the start will be chaotic and exciting, but in the end the break still doesn’t stand a chance.

I’m going to say that the race will basically be altogether for the Civiglo climb and that is when Movistar and UAE will look to raise the pace and put the pressure on. I would expect Pogačar to be the first to fire a shot, then we’ll see who’s got the legs to follow and how the rest of the race will unfold. I sense a cracker of an edition.


Tadej Pogačar – he’s the defending champion, even though he wasn’t at his very best in last year’s race he still managed to win it. This year he approaches the race in a similar fashion, but his results are better. He was 2nd in Emilia and won Tre Valli Varesine, which is a solid build up. He’s shown throughout the last couple of years he’s unbeatable in a sprint involving climbers, so the flat finish plays into his hands. One thing that will worry him is the presence of Mas and Valverde, the onus is on Pogačar to make the race hard, he cannot allow himself to be outnumbered by the Movistar duo. If he takes either to line he wins, but if both are in the group, he knows they’ll force him to work and take the win.

Enric Mas – he’s a joy to watch just now, he’s purring! After a brilliant Vuelta, where he got close to Evenepoel, he’s hit one of those periods of form most can only dream about. He was incredible in Emilia, dropping Pogačar on the San Luca climb, and he also rode a strong race in Tre Valli in the hope of setting up a Valverde win. Okay, his sprint isn’t great, so he needs to arrive solo to take the win. When in a period of form like this, riders find ways of winning races, almost making the route irrelevant. He’ll go on the Civiglo and see if Pogačar can follow, then he’ll go again on the Battaglia climb, but will he win?

Alejandro Valverde – doesn’t need to attack, just try to follow. It’s the great man’s last race, I’m going to be sad to see him go. Winning a monument in his final race as a professional would be insane, but his current form suggests it is possible, especially with the omission of the Sormano climb. To win he needs to get away with Mas and Pogačar, then let the Slovenian use up his energy chasing down Mas and Valverde can sprint to glory. It sounds easy, but it isn’t.

Jonas Vingegaard – seemingly went into hibernation after winning the Tour de France but returned with two stage wins in the CRO race. What I’m about to say is in no way meant to be disrespectful, but in that race, he struggled to beat Oscar Onley, a 19-year-old from Scotland who still rides for the DSM Development Team. Most of you know that I love Oscar, he’s a massive star in the making, but it indicates that Vingegaard is far from his best, winning Lombardia given his path into the race would be a new one for me.

Julian Alaphilippe – he’s still not at his best, which is understandable considering all his setbacks this year. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t’ see him challenging. 

Adam Yates – too inconsistent to definitively say how he’ll perform. He was a DNF in Emilia but looked better in Tre Valli, but I get the feeling this race won’t be for him.

Domenico Pozzovivo – ending the year in great form, but he rarely wins. He’ll finish in the top 10, maybe the top 5 if he’s on one of those days.

Matej Mohorič – Civiglo is too hard for him, so he needs to get ahead of the race, but that will be incredibly difficult as the big teams will be marking him.

Rigoberto Urán – another solid top 5 contender.

Prediction Time

The man on form will take the win, it’s going to be a day for Enric Mas.