Bettini finishes on a high note
Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) has capped off a great end of season with victory in the 99th Giro di Lombardia, the final race of the inaugural ProTour series. Although Bettini wasn't at his punishing best form of two weeks ago, he was still the driving force behind the final breakaway that escaped on the Madonna del Ghisallo with around 50 km to go. Gilberto Simoni (Lampre), Frank Schleck and Carlos Sastre (CSC) and Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros) were the others in the break, and Simoni and Schleck mopped up the minor placings.
Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) showed his hand in a few early breaks, but abandoned at the feed zone after 184 km, with the ProTour securely in his grasp. The other main break of the day saw Giovanni Visconti (Domina Vacanze), Marcus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Jose Vicente Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), Carlos Barredo and Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Devis Miorin (Liquigas-Bianchi), Valerio Agnoli (Naturino), Davide Bramati (Quick.Step), Bram De Groot (Rabobank), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), Ivan De Gasperi (LPR) and Sascha Urweider (Phonak) escape after 41 km. They built up a maximum lead of over five minutes, but some hard riding by Lampre, Panaria and Francaise des Jeux saw them recaptured on the Madonna del Ghisallo climb, when the fireworks were started by Bettini.
On the final two climbs, Civiglio and San Fermo di Battaglia, Bettini and Simoni looked to be the strongest, but couldn't quite shake Schleck and Caruso. Sastre dropped off on the Civiglio and went back to the peloton, while Caruso had to chase after the final climb and only rejoined the leaders with 1 km to go. All he could do was lead the others out, and Bettini powered home from 300m to go to beat Simoni and Schleck.