Martin extends Italy's monumental suffering
Dan Martin lifted Ireland's total number of victories at Il Lombardia to four, following in the wheel tracks of Sean Kelly, winner in 1983, 1985 and 1991. Martin’s win also ensured that Italy has now gone six successive seasons without victory in a Monument Classic. The last Italian to win a Monument was Damiano Cunego, when he won his third Tour of Lombardy in 2008.
Gazzetta dello Sport reckoned that Sunday marked Italy’s second-worst showing in the history of the Tour of Lombardy. The best-placed Italian finisher in Bergamo was Fabio Aru (Astana), who came home in 9th place, at the back of the leading group. The only year when the highest Italian finisher was lower was in 1990, when the late Franco Ballerini came 11th.
Originally from Sardinia, Aru lives near the new Bergamo finale of Il Lombardia. He declared himself unhappy with his final position but pleased with his performance. “You know how much I care about this race, seeing as I don’t live too far from here,” Aru told Gazzetta. “I attacked precisely where I’d thought I would, so I can’t reproach myself at all because they were all champions in front.”
Doubts about the new Il Lombardia route
Philippe Gilbert predicted that the new route for the 2014 Il Lombardia meant that it was like riding a brand new race rather than a Monument that has been around for 108 years. The 3,000m of climbing and the six tough climbs in the final 120km made for a hard race but perhaps stifled the attacks and blunted the action before the final ramp up to Bergamo Alto.
Il Lombardia deserves a better, more aggressive final hour of racing and RCS Sport should consider including shorter climbs before Bergamo to entice attacks off the front of the race, rather than long drags, which only cause a selection out of the back.
Cramp costly for Kwiatkowski
Michal Kwiatkowski’s whirlwind first week as world champion seemed to catch up with him in the finale of the Il Lombardia, as he fell out of the group of favourites after suffering from cramp. The Omega Pharma-QuickStep man was bidding to become the first world champion since Paolo Bettini in 2006 to go on to win the Tour of Lombardy but he slipped out of contention with 12 kilometres remaining.
"Today I felt great. I said to the guys that they could support me, and I got that from them. I was relaxed the whole race,” Kwiatkowski said. “But 12 kilometres before the finish I got a cramp in my right leg and I couldn't pedal anymore. I am not sure what the reason is, but after six and a half hours on the bike those things can happen. I am disappointed in not finishing with a good result at this race, but at the end of the day what can you say? At that point I only tried to get to the finish with honour.”
Kwiatkowski confirmed that the Tour of Lombardy marked the final race of his hugely successful 2014 campaign. “I am looking forward to next season already, riding for Omega Pharma - Quick-Step in the rainbow jersey once again. Now I need rest, and I will see everyone on the road again soon," he said.
Rui Costa takes third in first race without rainbow jersey
Rui Costa may only have scored two victories this year – a stage and the overall at the Tour de Suisse – but illness at the Tour de France notwithstanding, the Portuguese largely avoided the curse of the rainbow jersey during his season as world champion.
On Sunday, in his first race for Lampre-Merida without the rainbow bands, the Portuguese claimed 3rd place at Il Lombardia, which was enough to move him up to 4th in the WorldTour rankings, testimony to his year-long consistency. On his 28th birthday, Costa took was beaten into third by Dan Martin and Alejandro Valverde.
“[Dan] Martin was good, he picked the right moment to attack, just when the speed in the front of the group had dropped,” Rui Costa said. “My third place is a very good result, I’m pleased to have honoured my first race without the rainbow jersey as best as I could, especially as it’s such an important race for my team.”