Crowds limited at Il Lombardia due to COVID-19 risks

Cyclingnews
·3 min read
 Bauke Mollema
Bauke Mollema

Saturday's Il Lombardia will be raced with limited crowds along the roadside, with the local authorities banning spectators from gathering at the finish in Como and on the key climbs of the Colle del Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano.

According to a report in the local Corriere di Como newspaper, the local Prefecture has declared the finish area 'off limits', so that crowds do not gather to see the finish and the podium ceremony. There will also be no big screen to show the race.

The key climbs of the Colle del Ghisallo and the Muro di Sormano in the final 60km of the race will also be sealed off, with police stopping large crowds from gathering on the climb.

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The limitation on crowds are due to the COVID-19 pandemic which hit the Lombardy region of Italy especially hard. There have been close to 100,000 confirmed cases and 16,000 deaths after Lombardia was one of the first areas to be hit by the COVID1-9 virus. Il Lombardia is expected to remember the victims of the pandemic with a minutes silence before the start in Bergamo on Saturday. 

For similar reasons, next week's VOO-Tour de Wallonie will not reveal the stages of the race to deter crowds and organisers have pleaded with the public to watch the race on television.

Il Lombardia, which originally was positioned in the first week of October and traditionally ends the major European race calendar, was moved to August 15 this year as part of the mass rescheduling of events due to the coronavirus pandemic. The date is a national holiday in Italy, Ferragosto, with Como expected to be busy with tourists.

Organisers RCS Sport announced a late change to the course earlier this week, cutting 12km from the route to bring it down from 243km to 231km and making it the shortest edition of the race since 1960.

The change has no impact on the selective features of the course: the iconic climb to the Madonna del Ghisallo, the steep Muro di Sormano, and the ascents of the Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia in the final 20km. The race finishes on the waterfront in Como with a fast 5km run-in from the last climb.

Remco Evenepoel (Deceuninck-QuickStep) will make his debut in Il Lombardia as a major favourite after taking the overall victory in Tour de Pologne, his fourth stage race win of the season.

 Also on the start line for the first time will be Mathieu van der Poel, whose Alpecin-Fenix team were invited to all of RCS Sport's one-day races. Last year's winner Bauke Mollema and his Trek-Segafredo teammate and two-time Il Lombardia champion Vincenzo Nibali will return.

Cyclingnews will have full live coverage of the race.