The Sprint Finish!
Every year the Giro di Lombardia marks the final major classic of the season. The prestige of winning one of cycling's '5 Monuments' is enormous, but occasionally Lombardia takes on added importance. In 1983 Lombardia would be the deciding race of the year long Super Prestige Pernod Trophy (the predecessor of the World Cup and Pro Tour).
Giro di Lombardia Profile (Courtesy Gazzetta dello Sport)
American Greg LeMond, the newly crowned World Road Race Champion, held a slim 30 point advantage over Italian Guiseppe Saronni and Dutchman Jan Raas with Sean Kelly a close 4th in the standings. LeMond didn't need a win to claim the Trophy, but if one of these three won the race he must finish no worse than second.
Greg LeMond (USA), 205 points
Guiseppe Saronni (Ita) and Jan Raas (Ned), 175
Sean Kelly (IrI), 160
Super Prestige scoring: 1st 60, 2nd 40, 3rd 30, 4th 20, (5th to 10th : 15, 10, 8, 6, 5, 4)
The race became very aggressive in the mountain section. Climbers Pedro Munoz and Claudio Criquielion made the first major breakaway on the very difficult Val d’Intelvi climb. The move put contender Guiseppe Saronni in trouble as the elite group of 20 dropped the Italian. As the chase group joined the breakaway on the climb, Greg LeMond began to struggle and lost contact with the leaders. He used his superior descending skills to catch the leaders and save his Trophy hopes.
An aggressive Munoz attacked again on the final 3km climb of the San Fermo della Battaglia and escaped the pack. Irishman Stephen Roche, Kelly's friend and countryman, started to drive the pace in pursuit of Munoz. LeMond “yo-yo'd” off the back again but held onto the group on the descent. Three kilometers from the finish in Como, Munoz was caught by the hard chasing Roche. The leading contenders now started to setup for the sprint. The season long Super Prestige Pernod Trophy had come down to a 3 km battle.
The leading group now comprised 18 riders but only two were in the hunt for the Trophy. As expected Francesco Moser led the sprint from 500 meters with his trademark ‘long sprint', but couldn't escape. As the group flew into the final corner Hennie Kuiper bolted into the lead at the 300 meter mark. Moser was first to connect with Kuiper and then Kelly closed the gap. Kelly gained Moser's wheel and jumped past at 100 meters. Kuiper and Moser began to fade as Kelly pulled away. LeMond, riding for the Trophy and a big payday, managed to squeeze through a small gap and execute a desperate late charge. Kelly, LeMond and Van der Poel locked into a mad dash for the line. As they hit the finish line, no one raised an arm in victory. To the naked eye, it was too close to call. But the photo of the finish showed Kelly had completed a brilliant sprint with LeMond second and Van der Poel for third.
The Great sprint finish at the Giro di Lombardia 1983 (photo: Sergio Panazzo)
The Irishman collected the first classics win of his blossoming career. Sean Kelly's reign as “King of the Classics” had begun in grand fashion!
Greg LeMond's second place at Lombardia was enough to gain the Super Prestige Pernod Trophy as the “Best Rider of the Year”.
|GdL October 15, 1983
|253 Km, Milan-Como
1. Sean KELLY (IrI) 6h58'58"
2. Greg LeMond (USA)
Van der Poel
|Average Speed: 39.164 km/h
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