The last Monument of the 2018 season is the Race of the Falling Leaves. Il Lombardia offers up some beautiful climbs around Lake Como over 241 km. It’s a tough day in the saddle especially this late into the season. Last year, Vincenzo Nibali took the win solo but the defending champion is still looking to find his full form after his Tour de France crash.
Rob Sturney – Web contributor
Andre and I both got our worlds picks right, so there’s pressure for one of us to pick Michael Woods in order to work our magic. However, I’m going to stick with the new world champ, Alejandro Valverde. He’s been runner-up twice, and I think he’s not only on form, but also the stars are aligned just right for him to take his first Race of the Falling Leaves title. Woods on the podium? You betcha. Valverde, Woods, Pinot and Mas will make the selection on the Civiglio and the second sifting on Mount Olimpino to sprint it out in Como.
Andre Cheuk – Associate editor
For once, the heart and head pick align. Michael Woods is my pick for the Race of the Falling Leaves. Woods has always shown he has the physical capability to be with the best, but this year, he’s shown that his race craft is catching up to his engine. His second at Liege-Bastogne-Liege was the first sign of this, but his results this fall have been remarkable. Breaking his duck with an emotional win at the Vuelta a España, Woods followed up with an oh-so-close bronze at the world championships. The two results are proof the Ottawa-native has completed his transformation from world-class runner to cyclists. Just this past weekend, Woods finished a strong fourth while playing off his teammate Rigoberto Uran at the Giro dell’Emilia, showing his remarkable late-season form is intact. I will be rooting for Woodsy on Saturday.
Matthew Pioro – Editor
I’m picking Thibaut Pinot. He’s going pretty good right now. He was fifth at Giro dell’Emilia and second at Tre Valli Varesine. (Yes, I’m ignoring his 54th place at Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli on Sunday.) And, the Groupama-FDJ rider recently won Milano-Torino. I believe his kamikaze domestique, David Gaudu, will also be at Il Lombardia to help the team leader and “manage” any rivals. But jokes aside, Gaudu was impressive at Milano-Torino apart from his tangle with Miguel Angel Lopez. “Superman” Lopez won’t have to worry about “Kryptonite” Gaudu as the Colombian rider has now started his off-season.
Philippe Tremblay – Web editor
As controversial as Gianni Moscon is, there is a reason Team Sky continue to employ him. He’s won three races since his return to racing following his expulsion from the Tour de France including the Italian national championships individual time trial. He mounted a furious chase of the leaders at the world championships but didn’t quite have it on the day. Moscon will be there at the end of Il Lombardia and while everyone will be fearful of Valverde’s strong finishing kick, he will reward Sky for standing by him with the second Italian win in two years.