When the heavy scent of autumn starts filling the air, the falling leaves and inevitable showers announce one the toughest cycling classics. With its winding roads and steep slopes of 14% maximum, the Giro di Lombardia also known as the 'Classic of the falling leaves' is pro cycling season's grand finale.
The century-old race in the Italian hills surrounding Lake Como has been won by Italian cycling heroes Coppi, Bartali and Moser. And also legends like Merckx, Hinault and Kelly made it to the podium. The 1962 edition is by far the toughest in the history of the race and was won by Dutchman Jo de Roo. Still every year Dutch pro cyclists participate to be a part of this great cycling tradition and in the end to gain victory.
Just with one simple camera Dutch director Johannes Sigmond and producer Robert Jan van Noort visited the race from 2006 to 2010 in an effort to capture the soul of this legendary Italian bike race. They filmed and talked to Dutch participants, visited the famous climbs and tasted the atmosphere among Italian cycling fans enjoying their monumental meals and espresso while waiting for hours on the side to catch a glimpse of the riders.
Apart from being a favorite for the general classification, Gesink is also an excellent climber. As well in short, steep climbs in the classics as in the high mountain stages. In 2010 Gesink was favorite to win the Giro di Lombardia, but due to a family tragedy he did not start.
Remarkable: Robert Gesink did several recons of the Muro di Sormano in 2009, more than a year before the climb returned in the course of Lombardia after 50 years (2011).
About Lombardia: “It comes at the end of the season, so many riders are tired and have done so much racing that they're at the end of their tether. The men who still have morale can do well in the Tour of Lombardy.”
Classifications in the Giro di Lombardia: 2007 – 15th, 2008 – 59th, 2009 – 6th.
One of the most successful Dutch professional cyclists for general classifications. From 1994 till 2007 he put many major victories on his account like the Amstel Gold Race and two stages in the Tour the France, including the memorable stage to La Plagne.
Remarkable: Boogerd decided to end his career in 2007 with the Giro di Lombardia to be his last race. But due to a crash in the week before he was unable to participate the tour.
About Lombardia: “The atmosphere of Italian races is unique. Cycling is a national passion. Climbing the Ghisallo and hearing the bells chime is a special feeling. As a cyclist I want to be part of that.”
When he was 17 years old, Kroon was mentioned ‘an all-rounder’ and ‘a big promise’. He has been a professional cyclist since 1999 who loves hard, technical courses like single day races and classics. His specialties are hills and cobblestones.
Remarkable: Besides a cyclist Kroon also is a writer and columnist for magazines like Sportweek and ProCycling. In 2009 his book ‘Kronieken’ (Chronicles, a bundle of columns) was released.
About Lombardia: “This race is very dear to me. It's a ruthless finale, in which the toughest survive.”
Dutchman Hoogerland is a full-blooded attacker who won the Tour of Flanders in 2001 in the youth squad. After some misfortunes Hoogerland unexpectedly won the National Championship of the Netherlands in 2013.
Remarkable: in 2011 Johnny Hoogerland was a world wide news topic when he got involved in a crash during a Tour de France stage. He was sideswiped by a car from France Télévisions and hit a barbed wire fence.
About Lombardia: “Usually it explodes on the Ghisallo.”
He had some kind of a love-hate relationship with the Giro di Lombardia. But he still managed to win this tour, just like Paris-Tours, two times in a row (in 1962 and 1963). Remarkable: Though Jo de Roo is over 75 years old, he still hits the road on his bicycle almost every day.
About Lombardia: “But this was the toughest edition of the Tour of Lombardy after the war. I won that one…”
Classifications in the Giro di Lombardia: 1960 – 69th, 1962 – 1st, 1963 – 1st, 1964 – 9th.
As a journalist for the Italian sports newspaper La Gazetta dello Sport Zomegnan reported events like the Giro di Italia, the Tour de France and the Olympics for years since 1979. In 2004 he became the managing director at the Giro, and as an events manager at RCS Sport he was also responsible for Milan-San Remo and the Giro di Lombardia. In 2011 he quit his job as managing director at the Giro.
“The magic of the Tour of Lombardy is the Ghisallo.”
Robert Gesink, Paolo Bettini, Karsten Kroon,
Michael Boogerd, Johnny Hoogerland and Jo de Roo.
Executive Producer Robert Jan van Noort Director of Photography Alexander Gorsen
Addititional Editing and Grading By David Douglas Original Music by Blaudzun Produced by Pankra and Polka Dot Jersey
Written and directed by Johannes Sigmond