“Ride like a hero”: this newly presented slogan of the Gran Fondo Il Lombardia is so apt, because reading down the honor roll of Il Lombardia (previously known as the Tour of Lombardy) means examining the history of cycling through its greatest names.
The vast majority of the true champions who claimed their place in the history of our sport have won the “Race of the dead leaves”, starting from Giovanni Gerbi, winner of the first edition in 1905. The edition 14 years later witnessed the first of the three victories by Costante Girardengo, followed by the glorious achievements of Alfredo Binda, who scored four victories between 1925 and 1931.
Other unmissable names in the same era include Learco Guerra and of Gino Bartali, a three-time winner between 1936 and 1940.
The years after WWII belonged to Fausto Coppi, the only rider able to win Il Lombardia five times, then fast forward to the victories of Rik Van Looy, Gianni Motta, Franco Bitossi and the eternal rivals Felice Gimondi and Eddy Merckx, both double winners of the Monument Classic.
Great champions who won the race in the final years of the last century include Francesco Moser and Giuseppe Saronni, Bernard Hinault and Sean Kelly, without forgetting Moreno Argentin and Laurent Jalabert. Strangely enough during those years Il Lombardia was never won by two very strong local riders Claudio Chiappucci and Gianni Bugno… which puts into perspective how tough this race is!
In the last few years the prestige surrounding the race has increased further, thanks to winners such as Damiano Cunego (the last rider to win three times), Paolo Bettini, Philippe Gilbert and Vincenzo Nibali, winner of both the 2015 and 2017 editions.