By Gregor Brown in Varese
Russia's Alexandr Kolobnev was unable to repeat his medal performance of last year at the 2008 World Championships Sunday in Varese. The 27 year-old finished 44th and baffled by the big teams' tactics.
"Happy with the race? No. Today, an outsider won," said Kolobnev to Cyclingnews. Italy's Alessandro Ballan won after a solo attack at 3000 metres out. His teammate, Damiano Cunego, won the sprint over Denmark's Matti Breschel.
Kolobnev, second at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart, made his move in the 12th round of the 15-lap parcours - totalling 260.2 kilometres. The peloton caught day's three-man escape and it cleared the way for counter-attacks. On the Ronchi climb, he formed part of a group of around 10 that had 11 seconds at the start of the 13th circuit.
The move failed despite the presence of Italy's Paolo Bettini, Ballan and Cunego and Spain's Joaquím Rodríguez, Juan Manuel Gárate and Alejandro Valverde. Kolobnev's chance ended following the Montello climb, shortly into the 13th circuit. It cleared the way for Ballan's group on the next lap.
"Ballan is not a bad rider, but he was very good today and all the leaders were in the group behind. No one expected that the break away had gone - people there were just looking at each other.
"I think the Spanish team was riding really bad. Sometimes it was three Italians and four Spanish, but they [Spain] did not pull and they did not work. The race became strange. The Spanish were riding wrong and in the results you see it. Such a top team like Spain and they were not even in the top three."