Tour of Lombardy 2003

26 Oct 2003

It’s never easy to win a big race with the number “1” on your back. Only the ‘classiest’ riders seem to be able to pull it off.

And Michele Bartoli is definitely a “class” rider, as is confirmed by his remarkable trophy case: a Tour of Flanders win, two Liège-Bastogne-Liège classics, an Amstel Gold Race and two Tour of Lombary titles.

“Class” isn’t a question of victory to the strongest. A “class” rider has to have a sense of timing and tactical acumen to win despite contrary predictions, physical problems or rivals who are in better shape on the day.

In last Saturday’s Tour of Lombardy, Bartoli knew how to wait patiently for the right moment. He made just one move, 18 km from the finish line, and that move made all the difference.

He may be less physically gifted than the extraordinary Venetian Moreno Argentin, but this Tuscan champion has the same capacity to read race tactics and instantly recognize and seize the crucial opportunity for victory.