Joaquim Rodriguez of Katusha storms to victory in the Giro di Lombardia
Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez counterattacked on the day's final climb, got a gap over the Salita di Ella, and stormed to history's first Spanishvictory in the Giro di Lombardia, cycling's final Monument of the season.
Rodriguez used teammate Alexandr Kolobnev's move -- chased by several others, as television pictures disappeared -- as a springboard to a solo move, coming over the final climb in a torrential thunderstorm alone. Purito descended to the line with some ten seconds in hand over a chase group containing Mauro Santambrogio, Rigoberto Uran, Sergio Henao, Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Oliver Zaugg, plus others joining in as the line drew closer. The chase was truly on in the last 3km, the flat approach to the line, but no serious cooperation happened in the chase group, and Rodriguez soloed to the win. Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez outsprinted Uran of Sky to round out the podium.
Conditions were often treacherous throughout the day and crashes ruled. Kevin De Weert, out on a solo breakaway, saw his gap disappear when he went down in a corner descending from the Madonna del Ghisallo. Shortly before that Vincenzo Nibali and Paolo Tiralongo slipped in a corner, losing the bit. Earlier on the descent of the Muro di Sormano newly minted World Champion Philippe Gilbert bloodied his new kit in a nasty crash, his second of the day, that left him groggy and climbing into the team car. The crashes on the Sormano descent split the peloton and left a group of about thirty riders on the loose, chasing De Weert, and everyone else, including BMC's other captain Alessandro Ballan, heading home. But the Gods of Cycling saved their worst for last, unleashing a torrential downpour on the race's finale.
Rodriguez' historical performance ends a century of Spanish futility, personified no better than by Sanchez, the 2008 Olympic champion, who came second for the third time in his career. The achievement also capped off a season in which Rodriguez established himself as the World's #1 rider, by Podium Cafe rankings, CQ Ranking, and even the somewhat arbitrary UCI World Tour rankings. While he may never win a grand tour -- a point underlined rather harshly at this year's Giro and Vuelta -- Rodriguez is consistently the best one-day racer from the climbing set, and a pretty stiff challenger for stage race glory too. Results:
- Joaquim Rodriguez, Katusha
- Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel, at 0.09
- Rigoberto Uran, Sky, s.t.
- Mauro Santambrogio, BMC, s.t.
- Sergio Henao, Sky, s.t.
- Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin, s.t.
- Bauke Mollema, Rabobank, s.t.
- Oliver Zaugg, Radio Shack, s.t.
- Alberto Contador, Saxo-Tinkoff, s.t.