Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo) saw his dreams of Tour of Lombardy victory slide away on the rain-soaked descent of the Colma di Sormano on Saturday. After the race, the Italian was bitterly disappointed to have crashed out of contention on the type of terrain that normally plays to his advantage, a technical downhill stretch.
“I slipped like a fool; right when I wasn’t taking risks on a descent for once,” Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “My front wheel went away from under me.”
Nibali tumbled on a sharp left hand bend on the treacherous descent, but he refused to blame the falling leaves that help to make the Tour of Lombardy the season’s most scenic classic. The Vuelta a España winner was also adamant that he had chosen the correct equipment for the conditions.
“It was nothing to do with the leaves,” Nibali explained. “It was just one of those days. Halfway through the race, my gear lever broke and I had to change bike. But I had slick tyres on that, so I had to stop again to change to tyres suited for the wet. But when I crashed, everything was ok. All told, there were no technical problems.”
Nibali did admit that he was intent on following eventual race winner Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) on the descent but rejected the hypothesis that he may have been better served by riding his own race at the front of the group on the way down the Colma di Sormano.
“It was my choice not to take risks. Where would I have been able to go alone?” he said. “After the fall, Gilbert, who I was man-marking, started to pull on the front and at that point getting back on was very difficult. It’s a pity, perhaps I could have formed an alliance with Scarponi, but it didn’t pan out like that.”
While recognising that Gilbert was the man in form on the day, Nibali felt that he would at least have been able to stay with the Belgian all the way to Como had it not been for the crash. “Gilbert was on form but I had the legs to hold on to him. In a sprint, 90 times out of 100 he’d beat me, but if I’d got there with him, you’d never know.”
Nibali’s fine season, which saw him finish third at the Giro d’Italia and win the Vuelta a España, is now almost at a close. The Sicilian emerged relatively unscathed from Saturday’s fall, escaping with just bruising to his hip, and so he is fit to travel to Spain on Sunday for his final appointment of the year, the Criterium de Alcobendas.