Il Lombardia: The Race of the Falling Leaves

Oct 8, 2021

Il Lombardia returns for the 115th edition this Saturday, October 9th. The prestigious Autumn Classic, also known as ‘the race of the falling leaves’ has been a credulous part of cycling history since its establishment as early as 1905. As the final of the five Monuments, Il Lombardia offers one last opportunity for the climbers to claim Monument honours at one of the most demanding one-day races across the calendar, well regarded for its difficult route through Northern Italy’s mountainous region of Lombardy.

Photography by Bettini and Noa Arnon


Lombardy is renowned for its stunning landscapes, scenery and majestic lakes. Covered in lush green nature, natural parks and dotted with rolling Alpine Valleys; many of which are featured along the race route, deeming it one of professional cycling’s most beautiful major races. Rich in art and history, Lombardy is the Italian region with the highest number of UNESCO sites. The region is also home to many of cycling’s most iconic climbs, including; the Mortirolo, the Stelvio, the Muro di Sormano and the Madonna del Ghisallo. The latter two are both traditionally included along the Il Lombardia route at the start and the finish, with the exception of this year’s race where the ‘Wall of Sormano’ has been excluded.

Since early 2014, the route has been based around the beautiful cities of Como and Bergamo as start and finish locations, interchanging regularly. In 2021, the race will commence from the iconic Como, skirting along its incredible lake shores in the early stages, before hitting the first climb of the day, the Madonna del Ghisallo. The Ghisallo is lesser known for its difficulty, climbing 10.2km with an average of just over 5%. Better renowned for its spectacular views and the ‘Madonna del Ghisallo’ church (the patron Saint of cycling) that sits at its summit beholding a shrine dedicated to cycling. Neighbouring the church is the Museum of Cycling, home to the sports greatest memorabilia and prominently visited by enthusiasts year-round.

The race then continues to persistently head for the hills, with a total of six demanding ascents featured along the 239km route, closely countering one another, leaving seldom room for respite. The 9.4km Roncola climb begins 100km in, including demanding gradients of 17%. The Berbenno follows, backed by the Dossena at the 160km mark that rolls right into the Zamla Alta. A swift descent comes after, before approaching the last climb up the Passo di Ganda. By the summit, it will be all eyes on the prize as it’s mostly downhill to the finish in Bergamo, broken up by one last hurdle over the short Colle Aperto, leaving a timely opportunity to lay down a late race attack leading into the final downhill dash to the line. Throughout the highly demanding route, over 4,500m of elevation is included, ensuring only the very best men will be left to battle it out in Bergamo. Typically, the race favours the climbers that are also able to finish it off nicely with a punchy sprint.


Israel Start-Up Nation are lining up all guns blazing to contest the final major race of the season with an exceptionally strong team of climbing specialists. Mike Woods and Dan Martin will be leading the promising squad, that also includes the likes of Chris Froome and Ben Hermans.

Canadian, Woods has also proven to be in great end of season form, earlier week making the podium at the Giro dell’Emilia Granarolo. Woods will be in good company when it gets to the pointy end up in the mountains with former winner of the race, Dan Martin. Rounding out his thirteenth year as a professional, the 5 x Grand Tour stage winner will be racing as a professional for the very last time in Lombardia, so will no doubt be highly motivated to perform at best and round out what has been a remarkable career.

We are very excited to see what the team can achieve at Il Lombardia and look forward to watching them float up the mesmeric, yet challenging climbs of Lombardy aboard their FACTOR’s this weekend.


Chris Froome 🇬🇧
Omer Goldstein 🇮🇱
Ben Hermans 🇧🇪
Reto Hollenstein 🇨🇭

Dan Martin 🇮🇪
James Piccoli 🇨🇦
Michael Woods 🇨🇦

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