The final monument of the season is a race that every rider wants to add to their palmares – the mythical Il Lombardia, also known as the Tour of Lombardy.
A date change ahead of the latest edition caused some controversy, the event moving to a position one week after the World Championships and out of its traditional season-closing role.
With more contenders looking to target the monument the action on the roads from Bergamo to Lecco should be hotter than ever, the race taking in some of the most beautiful roads on the calendar including a run alongside Lake Como.
The weather is not always on the same page, with frequently wet races turning the late-season Classic into a battle of attrition over 251 kilometres.
All the talk heading into the race centres on the reintroduction of the infamous Muro di Sormano, the brutal climb making an appearance in 2012 following a 50-year absence to shake things up.
The riders roll out of Bergamo and begin the largely flat run towards the first climb of the day, the Valico di Valcava (90.5km). The 1336-metre peak comes relatively early in the race but will weaken the legs ahead of tougher tests to come.
Those tests don’t come much more difficult than the Sormano, with an upper 2km which averages an eye-watering 15.8%, with one section topping out at over 25%. With the peloton likely blown apart there will be an intense fight among those riders tailed off to chase back on. Despite almost 90km remaining the climb could spark the end of the race for many.
From there a technical descent must be negotiated before a finale featuring firstly an ascent of the famous Madonna del Ghisallo. The 8.5km ramp features a misleading average gradient due to a flatter section and subsequent descent at the half-way point. Sustained sections of 9% before and after that respite will prove tough with so many kilometres already in the legs.
The final test comes on the form of the Villa Vergano, the late ramp crested just 10km from the finish. A select group could fight it out here but the damage may already have been done. All that remains is for another rider to enter their name into the history books.