Giro di Lombardia, the last of the Five Monuments

16 September 2022 By shamim kordbache History

The Giro di Lombardia (Tour of Lombardy), is traditionally the last of the five 'Monuments' of the season. Tour of Lombardy concludes the famous "Five Monuments" (Milan-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and Giro di Lombardia), the oldest, toughest, and most renowned one-day races in men's road cycling. The Giro di Lombardia, also known as the Autumn Classic or the Race of the Falling Dead Leaves, takes place every year in late September or early October.

A famous race, and the footprints of a journalist again

Similar to the Tour de France and Giro d'Italia journalists and newspapers played an important role in creation of Giro di lombardia.The race was founded in 1905, on the initiative of journalist Tullo Morgagni. According to sources, the goal was to offer Pierino Albini the opportunity to face Giovanni Cuniolo and exact instant vengeance after being vanquished in the Coppa del Re. Giovanni Gerbi won the inaugural and most illustrious race, finishing 40 minutes ahead of Giovanni Rossignoli and Luigi Ganna. The tournament has been organised by La Gazzetta dello Sport since 1907.The race quickly established itself as the final race of the Italian and European cycling seasons and one of the last events on the UCI World Tour calendar.

Giovanni Gerbi, Giro di Lombardia 1905Giovanni Gerbi, Giro di Lombardia 1905

Decisive autumnal weather

Weather often plays a decisive factor in the only major classic of the autumn. Some years, the rain was so heavy that parts of the corsa were submerged, forcing riders onto temporary walkways. In bad weather - common to mountainous Lombardy - the race is often a gruelling contest where the strongest riders attack well ahead of the finish. To avoid these inconveniences, the 2012 Giro di Lombardia was moved earlier in October to lessen the likelihood of rain.


Giro di Lombardia, 1952
Giro di Lombardia, 1952

When the weather is favourable, teams may more easily control the race, and crucial assaults occur later in the race.The golden autumn dead leaves combined with the undeniable beauty of Como lake create a stunning picture of this cycling race. The Italian press, never one to shy away from a poetic term, has also developed romantic expressions to describe the race.

The race route

The route has changed several times throughout the years, but the legendary climb from Bellagio to the modest sanctuary of Our Lady of Ghisallo - cycling's patron saint - has been the race's symbol since forever. The climb of Muro di Sormano with an average gradient of 17%, which was on the course from 1960 to 1962 and later reinstated in 2012, is also renowned. Milano, Como (for the first time in 1961), Monza, and Bergamo are among the traditional finish spots (in the late 1990s).


Het kerkje Madonna del Ghisallo

The church of Madonna del Ghisallo


From 2011 to 2013, the race finished, quite uncommonly, in Lecco. Bergamo and Como took turns in hosting the finish from 2014 to 2018, and Como was then confirmed for 2019 and 2020. The Tour of Lombardy 2021 began in Como and ended in Bergamo, avoiding the famed Muro di Sormano climb but still including 4,500 metres of climbing. In 2022, the race will start on October 8th and the route runs from Como to Onno on Lake Como's eastern branch. The Ghisallo and the Sormano will be the two most difficult climbs. The road turns and returns to Como. There will be a climb in the Civiglio on the way back. Website:

Giro di Lombardia record holders

Former Italian professional cyclist Fausto Coppi holds the record for the most Tour of Lombardy victories with five. Four of his five triumphs came in the same year (1946-1949). Italian cyclists dominate the Tour of Lombardy, having won 69 of the 112 rounds. Eddy Merckx, the legendary Belgian cyclist, also won the Tour of Lombardy three years in a row (1971, 1972 and 1973). He rode for the Italian cycling team Molteni throughout these successful years. The 1973 title was later removed due to a positive doping test.

Johan de Roo, also known as Jo de Roo, was one of the Dutch cyclists who outperformed in the Five Monuments race. Jo de Roo won the Tour of Lombardy in the Saint Raphael jersey two years in a row, in 1962 and 1963. He also won the bicycle races Bordeaux-Paris and Paris-Tour in 1962. As a result of his achievements, he finished first in the world rankings.


Eddy Merckx, Giro di Lombardia 1971 (plaatje)

Eddy Merckx, Giro di Lombardia 1971

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