Gilbert crowns himself king of Lombardy

The Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert has won the Tour of Lombardy, the final classical race of the road cycling season, after an impressive solo effort in cold and wet weather conditions. It was his second victory in the prestigious cycling race in two years' time.

This heroic 104th edition of the Tour of Lombardy, in the northern part of Italy, took the riders from Milan to Como covering 260 kilometres and many tough climbs on winding roads.

Philippe Gilbert, who had also won the Giro di Piemonte last week, had started as the big favourite and first tried a solo effort. Italy's Michele Scarponi was the only one who could return.

However, on the final climb, Gilbert accelerated again, this time leaving Scarponi behind for good. The only thing that Gilbert had to do, was make sure he avoided a fall on the wet, slippery roads in the final descent into Como.

Gilbert had an advantage of 12 seconds on Scarponi. Spain's Pablo Lastras came third, 55 seconds behind Gilbert.

28-year-old Gilbert rides for the Belgian Omega Pharma/Lotto team. The last Belgian to post back-to-back victories in Lombardy, was... Eddy Merckx in 1971 and 1972.

Gilbert: a victory built on confidence

"I am very proud of my race. It was a very heavy race, with a lot of rain, and it was very cold", Philippe Gilbert told reporters. "I had a lot of self-confidence, I was in excellent shape and I could count on a strong team. Three important factors that helped me."

Gilbert chose a solo effort to avoid any risks. "You never know what may happen in a sprint, so I accelerated in the final 500 metres of the final climb. My legs were hurting, but it was worth it."