Majestic Mollema takes maiden monument at Il Lombardia
Bauke Mollema timed his attack to perfection as he took a brilliant victory in the 2019 edition of Il Lombardia.
The Trek-Segafredo rider saw an opportunity on the slopes of the Civiglio and he grabbed it in quite breathtaking fashion to win the final monument of the season in Como.
Alejandro Valverde took second for Movistar with Tour de France champion Egan Bernal (Team Ineos) in third. The Spanish rider, now 39 years old, will rue missing what was a gilt-edged opportunity to add Il Lombardia to his palmares. He must instead settle for a third second-place. Pre-race favourite, Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma), came home in seventh.
In clinching his inspired victory, Mollema has become the first Dutchman to win the famous Italian race in 40 years, following in the footsteps of the great Hennie Kuiper.
After the race, he explained how he took his moment.
"I knew I had to go because, when the guys were attacking on the Civiglio, they were more explosive than me when they slowed down I knew it was my moment to go. I knew the downhill really well, and I knew they wouldn't go faster than me. The last 10km it was just full gas all the way."
Chaos among the favourites
In the crucial moments after Mollema attacked, the other riders in the leading group hesitated before giving chase. Movistar and EF Education First looked to Jumbo-Visma to do the lion's share of the chasing, understandable given the ferocious form that Roglic has been in this year.
Some familiar 'looking at each other' from the chasers followed, granting Mollema enough of an advantage that by the time a serious effort to bring him back did get underway, it was too late. It's a story we're getting quite familiar with in the one-dayers, as fewer and fewer riders seem willing to risk a podium place in favour of a victory. Mollema capitalised masterfully.
Nibali bows out of Bahrain
Two-time winner of Il Lombardia, Vicenzo Nibali, will become a team mate of Mollema's next season when he transfers to Trek-Segafredo. As such, today was his last outing in a Bahrain–Merida jersey, but the day did not go exactly as he might have hoped. After a seemingly-innocuous spill with 20km to go, the Italian lost all momentum and never regained contact with the front of the race. The tifosi may have hoped for more from their great champion today, but it was not to be.
Speaking afterwards, Tour de France champion, Egan Bernal, said.
"To be honest, I didn't think I would [be on the podium] this morning. To be on the podium in Il Lombardia, in my first monument, is something really big for me. I think I should be really happy with my performance."
It will surely not be the Colombian's final trip to a Lombardia podium.
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