Prince Albert II of Monaco (L) shares a laugh with five-time Tour de France winner Belgian Eddie Merckx (R) and 1965 Tour de France winner, Italian rider Felice Gimondi, after receiving a limited edition of “Look 586 Monte Carlo” bicycle on July 3, 2009 in the principalty of Monaco, on the eve of the start of the 96th edition of the Tour de France cycling race. (PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP/Getty Images)

Bergamo, September 11 – The three days of events centered around this year’s edition of Il Lombardia have been official presented in Bergamo. The northern Italian city will host the start of this year’s Il Lombardia on Saturday September 29 and also celebrate the 70th birthday of Bergamo’s greatest professional rider Felice Gimondi.

Gimondi said: “I’m honored and slightly emotional about so much being organized to celebrate my birthday. Il Lombardia is a great race, its one of the five ‘monumental’ classics and whoever wins is a real champion rider. I managed to win it twice, in 1966 and 1973. They’re two special victories and two great memories that I’ll never forget.”

Stefano Allocchio, responsible for the sport aspects of cycling at RCS Sport said: “There were several reasons why we moved Il Lombardia forward in the calendar by two weeks and Felice Gimondi’s birthday falling on the same day as the race was a further reason for our choice. Bergamo is an important city for cycling, for Il Lombardia and for the Giro d’Italia. The most important point in the race will be the very steep Muro di Sormano, which returns to the race route after a 50-year absence. Il Lombardia will also be the world championship revenge match and so we’ll have a start list packed with big-name riders, including: Alberto Contador, Joaquin Rodriguez, Ivan Basso, Vincenzo Nibali, Moreno Moser, the 2011 winner Oliver Zaugg, Giovanni Visconti and Italian national champion Franco Pellizotti.”

The three days of celebrations for Gimondi’s 70th birthday begins on Friday September 28th with a special gala dinner attended by some of the great riders of cycling, and many of Gimondi’s former teammates and rivals. The celebrations will end on Sunday September 30th with the GimondiBike Internazionale mass participation mountain bike ride.