A calendar switch should create a different dynamic as the riders fight it out for the 60th edition of the Coppa Sabatini.
Traditionally positioned as the opening test in a sequence of Italian one-day races, the relocation of Il Lombardia to an earlier slot now sees the Coppa Sabatini arrive after the final monument of the season.
Only 10 non-Italian riders have ever tasted victory in the event, which was bumped up to UCI 1.1 status in 2005, with local knowledge clearly key ahead of an uphill drag to the line in Peccioli.
The race maintains the same format as 2011 but with slight alterations in the number of laps around the race’s central hub. Things kick off with a 21km opening loop, taking the riders out via Montelopio and Montecchio.
The race then arrives back at the start/finish area for six laps of a 21.5km circuit. After a descent out of Peccioli the circuit is largely flat, although the sole climb which comes around the back of the course should begin to have a cumulative effect as the race wears on.
The action intensifies in the closing stages as the race moves on to a smaller finishing circuit for four concluding laps of 12.2km. On each occasion the riders will get a good look at the decisive finishing climb. During the final kilometres a long, straight road leads into a switchback uphill drag which should string out the contenders before a deceptively-tough final 200-metres to the finish.
Team Sky history
Simon Gerrans and Lars-Petter Nordhaug finished fifth and sixth out a select lead group in 2011 in the best result for the team thus far in the race. Davide Appollonio can also count himself among the top 10 finishers back in 2010.