Quick-Step Floors Team to Il Lombardia
We are fielding a strong eight-man squad for Saturday's race, which includes two former winners of the Italian Monument, Philippe Gilbert and Dan Martin.
After two fantastic years, which saw him podium at Paris-Nice, Critérium du Dauphiné, Volta a Catalunya, Flèche Wallonne, Liège–Bastogne–Liège as well as taking a career-best overall result at the Tour de France, Dan Martin's tenure in the Quick-Step Floors jersey will come to an end this Saturday, at the season's final Monument, Il Lombardia, the race which "Disco Dan" won three years ago following a cunning attack in the closing kilometers.
Unlike 2014, this edition puts on the table a different course, which starts from Bergamo, finishes in Como, and includes several leg-sapping climbs. Colle Gallo, Colle Brianza, Madonna del Ghisallo (8.6km, 6.2%), Muro di Sormano (1.9km, 15.8%), Civiglio and San Fermo della Battaglia will all be fixtures on the route, making sure the 247km-long race, featuring over 4000 meters of climbing, will turn into a war of attrition.
Dan Martin comes at the start less than 48 hours after concluding Milano-Torino, the oldest race in the world, in 11th place. Despite not being in the select group from which the winner emerged, the Irishman impressed with his huge power output, which saw the Quick-Step Floors rider hit a one-minute peak power of 555W, a good omen ahead of the "Race of the Falling Leaves."
"I think my condition is a lot better than I expected, you could see that on Thursday. I tried to stay focused since the Tour, although I have had a long time off because of my back. I feel good and I ride without big pressure. I have had a fantastic season, but I am motivated to finish on a high note with the team because it has been two fantastic years for me here. I really loved my time here and it has been fun riding with these great guys. It has really motivated me the last 3-4 weeks to come to Il Lombardia in good shape to end my time at Quick-Step Floors in a good way", said Dan Martin ahead of his 18th Monument start.
"Lombardia is always a long, hard race, but I am looking forward to it every year. Last year, I think the course was a bit too hard, which took away the essence of the race, but this season it's really a typical Lombardia", said Dan when asked about the parcours of the 111th edition. "There's the Madonna del Ghisallo, the Muro di Sormano and the two hard climbs in the end. Muro di Sormano is the hardest part of the race, really a brutal, brutal climb peaking with about 50 kilometers to go, and it will be very important to survive this climb to make a good result in the final, which I am hoping for and believing I can do."
In 2017, the Irishman was one of the most consistent riders out there, the remarkable run of results he has enjoyed since February being underlined by his eighth place in the World Tour rankings, where Dan is the best-placed Quick-Step Floors rider. Now, as his season is nearing conclusion, Martin is ready to put on another trademark aggressive display in Il Lombardia, one of his favourite races of the year.
"It is a really special race for me this one, I have been twice on the podium and now it's my last appearance for Quick-Step Floors. We will see how it goes, but I will surely enjoy it and do my very best to get a good last result with this amazing team! We might not have the strongest guy of the race in the squad, but we have strength in numbers and we are all confident and motivated to do a strong race", said the 31-year-old, one of the only two Irishmen to come out at the top of the "Race of the Falling Leaves" since it was created, back in 1905.
For his final event with Quick-Step Floors, Dan Martin will be accompanied by Julian Alaphilippe – one of the protagonists in this week's Milano-Torino, where he launched a daring solo attack with 20 kilometers to go – Gianluca Brambilla (another rider to make his final outing in the Quick-Step Floors jersey, after five successful years), Laurens De Plus, Dries Devenyns, two-time Il Lombardia winner Philippe Gilbert, best young rider of Tirreno-Adriatico and Giro d'Italia Bob Jungels and Pieter Serry.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele