ORICA-BikeExchange prepared for a II Lombardia showdownWed 28 Sep 2016
ORICA-BikeExchange remain in Italy this weekend ready for the final one-day race of the season, the 110th edition of Il Lombardia.
The fifth and final monument of 2016, a lengthy 241kilometre race from Como to Bergamo is set to be a tough one and the Australian outfit return full of confidence after recent consistent and successful performances.
Last weekend’s Giro dell’Emilia winner and Vuelta a España podium finisher, Esteban Chaves, is one of the favourites for the race having maintained his top form since the three-week Tour of Spain.
“In my opinion if you can come off the three week races, recover and re-set your goals then your can profit from the work you have done in those grand tours,” explained sport director Neil Stephens.
“Esteban showed that last year, when he came from the Vuelta. Last year we were actually a lot closer than the result showed, he finished in eighth place and was up there fighting for the win but he just hunger flatted in the final few kilometres.
“He has shown he can do it and his current form shows that he can do it and he will be well supported from the other guys that were in the Vuelta a España with him.”
Chaves will be joined by talented climber and Vuelta a España stage winner Simon Yates, the in-form Vuelta a España stage winner Jens Keukeleire along with Australians Jack Haig and Damien Howson who will provide vital support throughout the challenging hilly race.
“The trick is to finish Tour of Spain with good form,” continued Stephens. “Then to try and get your head around racing again with a few intensive training sessions.”
“I think Chaves has done that very well and Keukeleiere has certainly done that well this year. Hopefully Howson, Haig and Yates can all flick the switch as well on Sunday, we have a very good team.”
The formidable line-up will also include the strong trio of Spaniards, Ruben Plaza, Amets Txurruka and Carlos Verona all suited to the hilly nature of the race.
The famous monument features five main climbs including two new ones for the 2016 edition, Sant’Antonio Abbandonato and Miragolo San Salvatore. Along with many of the other climbs the steep gradients are on narrow, technical roads adding to the difficultly of the parcours.
With these numerous climbs to contend with and all the big named riders on the startlist, it will certainly be a battle all the way to the finish line and a race where a little local knowledge of the roads can help.
“Esteban used to live in the area where the race is,” Stephens said. “So he is really motivated to do well here on Sunday and especially after the result he had last weekend. It is a really beautiful race that will certainly be a real battle.”
ORICA-BikeExchange at Il Lombardia (1st October):