After Milan-San Remo last weekend, another cycling Monument was on the menu this Saturday, namely Il Lombardia. Eager to repeat his fine performance from last season (10th), Rudy Molard struggled a bit more in this 2020 edition and had to settle for 21st at the finish. Jakob Fuglsang won the race while Remco Evenepoel suffered a spectacular crash.
It was only after a minute of silence in memory of those who tragically died from the Covid-19 in Bergamo, a city extremely affected by the virus, that the Tour of Lombardy kicked off at 12:30 on Saturday. The fight for the breakaway could then take place, but it took almost an hour before a group of eleven riders got away. Not represented up front, the Groupama-FDJ team remained gathered around its leader Rudy Molard as Deceuninck-Quick Step kept the leaders quite close. The gap never exceeded 4’30 and started to decrease at halfway-point, and even more with 80 kilometers to go when the fight for positions began. “The strategic point has been the same for several years”, explained Sébastien Joly. “At km 144, there is a false flat then a technical descent that leads to the lakeside. If you’re not in a good position then, it’s hard to get a good result. Our first goal was there, and the guys did well. They put Rudy in the first places at the foot of the Madonna del Ghisallo, which was very good”.
“A slight disappointment”, Sébastien Joly
In the first major climb of the course, Deceuninck-Quick Step set a very high pace that reduced the peloton to barely forty riders. Still there at the summit, Rudy Molard was then able to hold on in the first slopes of the Muro di Sormano before being dropped when barely fifteen riders went clear in the lead. “He then found himself in a big group of chasers behind the favourites,” added Sébastien Joly. “At first, they didn’t collaborate too much so they lost a lot of time. Knowing that all the big teams were represented in front, it made sense, there was no real reason to pull. He finished with this big group, but similarly to what happened in the Strade Bianche, there were attacks in the final to get places. It’s a Monument, so making it to the top 20 is still more than decent”. Rudy just missed it out. He got on the home straight sprinting for 17th but finally got 21st on the line. “In the final and especially in the Civiglio, Rudy was struggling a bit because of the heat,” Sébastien said. “The guys worked well but there is a slight disappointment at the finish because looking at what Rudy had done in the past, I think he had the abilities to go for a top 10. His result is still decent, but he seemed a little disappointed at the finish as well. He made no mistake though. They were just stronger in front today”.
Up front, Jakob Fuglsang went to conquer his second Monument, after Liège-Bastogne-Liège, a few seconds ahead of George Bennett and Aleksandr Vlasov. Among the races favourites, Remco Evenepoel fell into a ravine on the descent of the Muro di Sormano before being transferred, conscious, to the hospital.