Cycling: 5 Reasons to Watch the 2011 Giro Di Lombardia

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Cycling: 5 Reasons to Watch the 2011 Giro Di Lombardia
Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Gilbert has celebrated victory twice at the Giro di Lombardia

The Giro di Lombardia—also called the Race of the Falling Leaves—may be the most scenic race on the pro-cycling calendar.

The ride begins in Milan and makes its way around the north-central region of Italy, and the picturesque Lake Como.

The Giro di Lombardia famously features the Madonna del Ghisallo hill and church, which is named after the patron saint of cycling, and the church rings its bells as riders crest the climb during the race. 

The final Villa Vergano climb will most likely create the final selection of riders, and the ensuing 6.8 kilometer descent ends 2.8 kilometers from the finish line. 

This lumpy classic favors one-day specialists who can climb. However, the winner usually is decided after the final climb, and therefore, any contender must be both a skilled descender and possess some sprinting ability. 

Philippe Gilbert has won the past two editions of the race, and will enter the race as the prohibitive favorite. However, there are other riders, such as three-time winner Damiano Cunego, who will make dropping Gilbert on the climbs a priority.

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