Johan Esteban Chaves claims historic Giro di Lombardia 2016 win

Orica-BikeExchange man caps great year by becoming first Colombian Monument winner, and first non-European to win in Lombardy

Johan Esteban Chaves completed a fine season with victory at Il Lombardia – becoming the first Colombian to win any of cycling’s five Monument races – and admitted it was a ‘dream come true’.

The Orica-BikeExchange man escaped with compatriot Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) on the Bergamo Alta ascent with five kilometres left, and while Astana’s Diego Rosa came back strong, Chaves outsprinted the Italian to claim victory.

Having already finished on the podiums of the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana, it caps a great year for the 26-year-old, who started his professional career in Lombardy.

Johan Esteban Chaves outsprinted Diego Rosa and Rigoberto Uran to win the 2016 Giro di Lombardia (pic: Sirotti)

He said: “Today is a dream come true. Claudio Corti, who was the manager of Team Colombia, gave me the love for Italian cycling.

“It’s a big thing for me to become the first non-European to win Il Lombardia and the first Colombian to win a monument.

“In the last kilometre I was scared to not win, but had I come second or third I knew I had done my best anyway.

“I’m a Grand Tour specialist and I’ve had a 2016 season in which I reached the goals I had at the beginning of the year, but if there’s a one-day race that has a special place in my heart and it’s this one.”

The race stayed compact for much of the first hour of racing, with a break only sticking on the Madonna di Ghisallo climb – Stefan Denifl (IAM Cycling) leading the way over the top, with Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing), Mickael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) and Rudy Molard (Cofidis) for company.

Only Molard and Caruso, who briefly had to chase back on after a mechanical, remained at the front as they approached the new, steep Sant-Antonuo Abbandonato climb however.

In the peloton the action was also heating up, with Chaves, Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and Romain Bardet (Ag2r-La Mondiale) counter-attacking and several others bridging across as they crested the summit.

Uran, Rosa, Fabio Aru (Astana), Robert Gesink (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Warren Barguil (Giant-Alpecin) were also among the big name riders to make the split, with Tinkoff and Team Sky among the bigger teams to have been caught out.

Molard was caught as the group formed, but Caruso held out until the Miragolo San Salvatore climb before he too was swept up.

Chaves is the first Colombian to win a Monument, and first non-European to win Il Lombardia (pic: Sirotti)

The riders in the front group appeared reluctant to work for each other, almost awaiting an attack, but when Chaves forced the pace on the Selvino, only Uran and Bardet could go with him.

Rosa bridged across, first trying to help Aru to bridge before taking on the mantle for Astana himself, and the quartet’s lead was more than a minute as they hit the final, shorter climb.

Chaves attacked again, with only Uran able to follow, but a lack of co-operation between the two Colombians nearly cost them both the shot at victory as Rosa surged back.

His effort came up just short, however, as Chaves stole a march in the sprint to the line to seal a famous victory.

Giro di Lombardia 2016: result

1) Johan Esteban Chaves (COL) – Orica-BikeExchange – 6.26.36hrs
2) Diego Rosa (ITA) – Astana – ST
3) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale-Drapac
4) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r- La Mondiale +6”
5) Davide Villella (ITA) – Cannondale-Drapac +1.19
6) Alejandro Valverde (ESP) – Movistar +1.24
7) Robert Gesink (NED) – LottoNL-Jumbo – ST
8) Warren Barguil (FRA) – Giant-Alpecin
9) Alessandro de Marchi (ITA) – BMC Racing
10) Pierre Latour (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale

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