Photo gallery: Il Lombardia, The Race of the Falling Leaves

by Matt de Neef

Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) was the favourite going into Saturday’s Il Lombardia and he lived up to that expectation with a commanding solo victory. It was a win that nearly replicated the Sicilian’s victory from two years earlier — on the same course as the 2015 edition Nibali made his move in nearly the same place on the penultimate climb. As in 2015 he bombed down the following descent on his own, then rode over the final climb to reach the finish line with enough time to celebrate.

While Nibali and his team had plenty to celebrate, several other riders will look back on the race far less fondly. On the descent off the infamous Muro di Sormano, one particularly tight right-hand bend forced several riders off the road, over the guardrail and into the ravine below.

Laurens De Plus (QuickStep Floors) was one such rider, and his crash was caught by TV cameras:

De Plus suffered a small fracture to his right knee, but it was Jan Bakelants (Ag2r La Mondiale) who suffered the worst injuries. The Belgian fell further into the ravine than De Plus, breaking seven ribs and two vertebrae. His bike was left hanging from a tree — a truly striking image and one that you can see in the gallery below from photographer extraordinaire Kristof Ramon.

Follow the link for our race report from the 2017 Il Lombardia.

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