MILAN: France’s Thibaut Pinot won the Tour of Lombardy, the fifth and final ‘Monument’ of the one-day classics season on Saturday.
Pinot, of the Groupama-FDJ team, soloed over the finish line at Lake Como to win the 241 km-long ‘Race of the Falling Leaves’, which began in Bergamo.
Italy’s defending champion Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain) finished second at 30secs behind, with Belgian Dylan Teuns (BMC) third at 43sec.
“It’s my most beautiful victory,” said the 28-year-old climbing specialist, who also won the Milan-Turin semi-classc in midweek.
“To win here in front of Vincenzo, I couldn’t have dreamed of better!”
He becomes the first French winner of the race since Laurent Jalabert 21 years ago.
The race sprung to life after 50km at the Muro di Sormano, where Nibali and Pinot overtook Lotto’s Primoz Roglic who had lead going into the very steep climb.
The pair, joined by Roglic, powered ahead in the descent.
A group including newly-crowned world champion Alejandro Valverde trailed at 40 seconds without being able to close the gap.
Pinot and Nibali shook off their rivals at the Civiglio, the penultime climb, 15km from the line.
The French rider broke away from the Italian at the summit to pull 20 seconds ahead, extending his lead over the three kilometre drop to the finish line at Como.
Teuns was third among a troup of riders including Colombian Rigoberto Uran.
Pinot finished the season on a high after the low of being hospitalised the night before the Giro d’Italia finish, when he had been in third place, before being diagnosed with pneumonia.
He missed the Tour de France, but won two stages of the Tour of Spain. —AFP