I look outside and there’s a song in my head.
“The falling leaves drift by my window,
the falling leaves of red and gold.”
It’s a classic song, covered by many artists.
I’m also thinking of the final cycling classic.
In Italy, the leaves also start to fall again.
The cycling season is almost over, but there is still
the 5th and final Cycling Monument to look forward to.
The classic used to be called Milano-Milano at first,
then it quickly changed to Giro di Lombardia in 1907.
Since 2012, the name of the race is Il Lombardia.
This cycling classic is special; it does not only mark the end
of the season, but is also a race for riders who still
have the power to give it all at the very end of the season.
For most riders, it will be the last race of 2014.
One could argue that with their vacation in mind, they can
fully focus on Il Lombardia and excel one last time.
However, it is hard to pick a favourite rider for the win.
Which rider will still be fit enough, one week after the
World Championships and many efforts during the season?
Aren’t some already relaxing on a faraway beach in their mind?
Michal Kwiatkowski will be riding in the rainbow jersey for the
first time after he won the road race in Ponferrada last Sunday.
Many people think it will give him extra motivation and
see him as one of the biggest candidates for the victory.
The past two years, Joaquim Rodriguez won the race.
In fact, the last five editions weren’t won by Italians.
Philippe Gilbert won in 2009 and 2010 and Oliver Zaugg in 2011.
Before that, there’s a long list of Italian winners.
In total, the Italians won 67 of the 107 editions.
Fausto Coppi holds the record; he won the race five times.
When you look at the sixties and seventies,
there’s one victory that particularly stands out.
There was Dutchman Jo de Roo who won the race twice
and there were many Italian and Belgian victories,
but in 1965, the race was won by a man from Great Britain.
Tom “Tommy” Simpson was his name.
The man who died two years afterwards on the Mont Ventoux.
He was wearing the rainbow jersey when he won the race.
It is the only victory for Great Britain up until now.
On Sunday, we see the famous Madonna del Ghisallo,
we see an altered course with new climbs, and
we see Cadel Evans race for the last time in Europe.
The leaves will fall down, just like in 1965.
But will another man win in the rainbow jersey?