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Spanish world championship armada sunk by Rui Costa

Laura Weislo
September 29, 2013, 19:00,
September 29, 2013, 22:27
First Edition Cycling News, Monday, September 30, 2013
UCI Road World Championships
An emotional Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) on the podium after coming agonisingly close to winning a world championship

An emotional Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) on the podium after coming agonisingly close to winning a world championship

  • An emotional Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) on the podium after coming agonisingly close to winning a world championship
  • Heartbreak for Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) after finishing a close second to Rui Costa for the road race world championship
  • Three-time world champion Oscar Freire, the last Spaniard to win the rainbow jersey, speaks to Joaquim Rodriguez after his tough loss to Rui Costa in the 2-man sprint finish for a world title.

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Rodriguez, Valverde out-witted in Florence

Now with seven world championship podium finishes between them, Spaniards Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde were their country's biggest hope for the rainbow jersey, but despite executing their pre-race plan perfectly, the pair still fell short in Florence on Sunday, taking second and third to Portugal's Rui Costa.

It was a devastating result for the 34-year-old Rodriguez, who is watching his opportunities to wear the rainbow bands slip away year by year. This edition's circuit with its punchy climb at 5km to go was tailor-made for his physical abilities, and he was reduced to tears as the Portuguese anthem played for Costa.

"We can run through a million scenarios, but the only thing that counts is if you win, and I didn't win today," a dejected Rodriguez said.

"Alejandro and I both wanted to win. We already have big wins in our palmares but are missing the world championships. We are missing something, maybe luck, but it's been impossible to win.”

When Rodriguez put in his bid in the finale, he had a strong tactical advantage: behind, Valverde sitting on the wheel of Vincenzo Nibali, and both Valverde and his trade teammate Costa were happy to leave the Italian chase alone.

“I knew I had to take some risks in the finale. Vincenzo is very good on the descents, but he already crashed, so maybe he was nervous,” Rodriguez said. “I could see that he was not the same Nibali we typically see on the descents. I don't like to take advantage on the descents, but the race was unfolding like this, and with the wet roads, I could open a gap.”

However, when Costa came across in the final 2km, Rodriguez had spent too much and could not outwit or out-power the young Portuguese rider. "I was trying to make him nervous, but it was impossible. He has too much self confidence. I tried to get him in front of me, but he was very sure of himself and he knows me too well, so it was impossible to win."

Valverde also claimed he could do no more in the finale: when grilled about letting go of the wheel of his trade teammate, Valverde stated that Costa attacked in a dangerous curve, and he couldn't catch him back when the road straightened out.

"Nibali tried to follow him, but he stopped, and I couldn't catch Costa in the final kilometer. After 270km the legs weren't very well, and I could do no more," Valverde said. "I knew Rui Costa was a very dangerous rider."

The Spaniards have not won a world championship since Oscar Freire's third in 2004, but Rodriguez thinks that next year's race in Pontferrada, Spain could turn around that record.

“We were so close to the win in the past years. The real thing is if we can win our world championship next year in Spain. It was a good opportunity this year, but we will enjoy a very good moment for cycling in Spain."

kevinzamora More than 1 year ago
Great ride by Purito and Nibali, they where the strongest riders.
Paulo Campos More than 1 year ago
The greater ride surely came from the winner!?! Nobody's ever remembered as great for coming second!?!
kevinzamora More than 1 year ago
Costa had the smartest race and that's worth the win, but the strongest today were Nibali and Rodriguez, can't be unseen...
runninboy More than 1 year ago
strongest? Hardly. If they had done over 200K at the front in the rain like the Polish rider and then going solo. Nibali and Rodriguez did just a few minutes work in comparison.
wrinklyvet More than 1 year ago
Failing to congratulate the winner without reservation and instead praising the others seems churlish.
sbroaddus More than 1 year ago
it takes strength in the head and strength in the legs, the stongest rider won the race for sure!
vassosa More than 1 year ago
It takes some luck as well... so it's not so easy to say who was the strongest. Just look for results of one day classics, and you'll see that lots of times the winner was, even if very strong, the luckiest rider .
sbroaddus More than 1 year ago
Understood, but i still say that yes, bad luck can certainly ruin your chances..., but good luck?... Luck didn't help Costa leave all the chasers behind to go after Purito, catch him in the last kilometer, and then dispatch him with relative ease in a two up sprint!
Sarcastic Wet Trout More than 1 year ago
Relative ease? Purito mistakenly sprinted to the first advertising sign across the road, not the finish line. Watch the video. He threw his bike early and stopped pedaling before the finish.
ceramiccyclist More than 1 year ago
Someone in the Spanish team is going to be asking Valverde why he didn't mark Costa.
kimiopn More than 1 year ago
If you read this article you'll see his answer: "Nibali tried to follow him, but he stopped, and I couldn't catch Costa in the final kilometer. After 270km the legs weren't very well, and I could do no more"
jnabarro More than 1 year ago
that's nonsense, as anyone will tell you. Costa is (currently) a trade team mate - you don't bite the hand that feeds you
Wheelsucker11 More than 1 year ago
Costa is taking his rainbow stripes to Lampre next year, so Valverde should have marked him. Valverde was stupid for not sitting behind both Nibali and Costa, then he could have marked them both. A rookie mistake.
timcupery More than 1 year ago
he could have marked them IF he had the legs. and maybe he didn't. I agree the teammate explanation probably doesn't apply here because it's already known that Costa is going to Lampre.
philjthommo More than 1 year ago
Lampre is not the hand that feeds Valverde. Movistar will get 1 race with Costa. . . hardly worth losing the chance for either spain or himself to be wearing the rainbow stripes.
deemfingtee More than 1 year ago
You're going to believe that Valverde didn't have the legs after sitting on Nibali's wheel for the last few kilometres? He made a mistake (or didn't want to catch his trade team mate) and he's trying to make an excuse for it. You didn't see Purito complain about his legs being tired from attack after attack.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ceramiccyclist: Because PURITO did not gave Valverde a fair chance to win. He just did not want to sprint, if that was the case, then rainbow Valverde, silver costa, bronze JRod. Valverde also knew that was the case, even your rivals give you a fair chance to win.
wigvelo More than 1 year ago
I agree, Valverde will be privately kicking himself, if he had the legs to outsprint Nibali he should have been able to follow Costa just before then. That would have guaranteed Spain gold. Ie Costa would have given up with Valverde on his wheel or Valverde himself would have made it. It was his job to follow and he didnt. Still its easy to find fault in others after the fact. A great race.
arlobike More than 1 year ago
Purito attacked, what, 3 or 4 times? I was waiting for Valverde to take his turn but it never came. I take Valverde at his word that he was cooked, but even a hopeless, suicide attack would have helped weaken the others. That might not have changed the final result, but it would at least have made Costa's victory more emphatic ... Costa's win versus Spain's loss.
arlobike More than 1 year ago
I should add that the tactical possibilities in the last few kilometers were giving me a headache, and I was sitting warm and dry in my living room, not having raced for 7 hours. It's definitely easier to analyze it leisurely the next day, than in the moment with the kilometers counting down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Arlobike: you are right about the possibilities, I was actually smiling, by strange coincidence, I was thinking Costa might win, and also taught, this can only be possible if Nibali managed to bridge the gap to JRod before the downhill and JRod tried something bad or greedy, that he did, because the only good possibility the Spanish can win was if the 4 of them went to the line, in this case, costa will try to attack JRod follows and Valverde out sprints, of course Nibali might have if only Scarponi did not drop
dhbemis More than 1 year ago
That's the beauty of cycling... it takes more than the strongest legs to win. Those three totally ignored Costa in the last 10kms... this is a guy who won two stages in the tour this year. An absolutely brilliant ride by Costa!!
vassosa More than 1 year ago
Well, it's too strong to say they ignored Costa. They just react to players playing the race. Costa was hidden and very passive, it's not like they could have done anything before he made his move.
reubenr More than 1 year ago
Agree totally. Costa road a brilliant race and was the strongest in the end. Once I saw him appear, almost from nowhere, I remembered back to the TDF and thought this guy was going to go all the way. You've got to feel sorry for Rodriquez. He made a valiant attempt but seems to always fall short. I wonder what their conversation was all about in the straight away? If it was what it seemed to be, Rodriquez trying to intimidate Costa, I feel less sorry for him.
LRI44 More than 1 year ago
Rodriguez must be getting pretty sick of standing on the two lower steps of the podium in big race.
LRI44 More than 1 year ago
vassosa More than 1 year ago
He talked about that in the post-race interview... crying.
mrsix1 More than 1 year ago
I saw this race live and I'm sure that people in Spain must be going absolutely nuts. Purito rode an honest race but Valverde ... that's a different story. Costa only bridged to Purito after the red kite in the last kilometer. As regards Valverde he could have easily marked Costa and nullified his attack; Nibali was on the front, a spent force and he pulled over, Cost jumped - a weak jump, and Valverde just sat there on Nibali's wheel. But I suppose if Valverde had rode after Costa then he would be marking his "real" teammate
BackSeatRider More than 1 year ago
Costa is leaving Movistar at the end of the year. I highly doubt that Valverde would let Costa win a rainbow jersey on the way out. Valverde wanted this win as much as anyone. It sounds like he simply didn't have the legs to mark him in the end.
maplethedog More than 1 year ago
A "weak jump"? It looked pretty good to me...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You see, it is cycling, train hard.. Try to win .. Never make an enemy and have as much as you can many many friends. The problem with PURITO is, he is a good but dumb rider and he is too friendly with the media than with the peloton. I remember when Valverde and him were teammates in Vuelta 2008, he dropped Valverde to chase contador and Valverde was really angry with him, and the first time I noticed he is a good rider but stupid, he could not catch contador but why humiliate his teammate and leader. The story goes on...and today he acted really cowardly after he attacked and Nibali managed to catch him, and he attacked again, because deep down he knew if the four of them sprinted it will be between costa and valverde for the win, Nibali and him for the bronze. Valverde is a good teammate to always have for him and costa, if the case was contador attacking, Valverde might have vomited blood to chase anyone even costa.
philjthommo More than 1 year ago
My analysis of the final kilometers was that Valverde was the best sprinter out of the 4 closely followed by Costa, Purito and than Nibali. So tactically it was wise for Purito to consistently wear out Nibali which he successfully did and Costa in the hope that the chasers will nullify the chase letting Purito solo to the finish will or work together and toe Valverde to the finish. The issue was that Costa was willing to lose the race to give himself the best chance at winning the race by not helping Nibali. I feel Valverde made a error, either through not having the legs (as he states) or making a mistake after almost 7 and a half hours (which is understandable) by not getting around Nibali in the final two corners and nullifying Costa's attack. I do feel for Purito as he slogged his guts out on that road. Amazing race and an amazing sport.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You explained my point in your first two lines. The first attack was good and acceptable, but he did not manage to stay away, the last one was not. He should have discussed with Valverde and am sure he did not; he just went away. This time Valverde knew what to do, that is mark costa (becuase Nibali will try to chase that is what he did and costa will counter)and he did not and the reason is, he did not want. Forget what Valverde said to the media, he is not a fool to say I Did it on purpose.
ValPiti18. More than 1 year ago
So what was Purito supposed to do then? Attacking again was the best option by far. Sitting in the group would've been even worse, because he was so tired that he wouldn't be able to do anything against Nibali's and Costa's attacks. In that scenario, Valverde would've had to jump at each attack, losing power for the sprint. For me it's quite clear: 4 with 2 teammates, the fastest sits in the group, the slowest attacks. That's basics of this sport. Valverde, again, showed he doesn't really understand how this sport works.
ValPiti18. More than 1 year ago
Indeed, Valverde let Purito go, opening a gap between Purito and Nibali. So even Valverde saw that the last attack was the best option.
runninboy More than 1 year ago
"So what was Purito supposed to do then?" Well you have 2 of the 4 riders. The fastest sprinter. You do not attack the group, you play to your strength. You ride and let Nibali or Costa attack if they can. You play to your strength, numbers and speed. Not negate it.
arlobike More than 1 year ago
"The first attack was good and acceptable, but he did not manage to stay away, the last one was not. He should have discussed with Valverde and am sure he did not; he just went away." Actually Rodriguez said that he did discuss it with Valverde, and Valverde told Rodriguez to attack again.
Mrjones More than 1 year ago
Rodriguez is such a gutsy and aggressive rider he really looked devastated on the podium.. It's a shame he didn't win but he really deserves a pat on the back for his never say die attitude and consistency throughout the year! I bet he's got a hell of a lot more fans and admirers than that PONCE Bradley wiggins !!! Wiggins could learn a lot from riders like Rodriguez and froome..GRACIOUS in DEFEAT..
brainmathew More than 1 year ago
I can't say anything about the Brits, but well said about J Rod. Always where the action is.
JackSpoke More than 1 year ago
Where were the Brits today? The great Froome, Wiggo, all the others? Nowhere? Why?
vassosa More than 1 year ago
Where were the Spanish before the two final laps? The Swiss? The French? The German? The US? The Netherlander? The race I saw was all about Italy and Belgium up to the two final laps, then it became Italy vs Spain... vs Rui Costa. One Colombian, one Portuguese... few countrys played their cards.
wrinklyvet More than 1 year ago
Totally offensive Mr Jones, as you know. Those who resort to upper case letters usually have a screw loose. I hope you don't.
mspgrandi More than 1 year ago
watched cycling for 20 years... when the fastest guy is in your group make sure you take him to the sprint... Rodriguez was great yesterday but not a good team mate
arlobike More than 1 year ago
Valverde told Rodriguez to make the final attack (according to Rodriguez anyway).
sbroaddus More than 1 year ago
for a convicted doper that never ever admitted to anything, valverde is still pretty good on his bike.
mspgrandi More than 1 year ago
not sure what you are trying to say with this.. 1) valverde is still a doper (which i doubt) 2 Valverde wasnt doping / doping massively given that his performances havent changed since his doping years. he is still one of the top 5 riders in the World out there. Look contador for comparison,
wirral More than 1 year ago
I like the way the Italian crowd booed everybody on the podium. That shows real even-handedness and no bias.
arlobike More than 1 year ago
LOL ... the BBC commentators mentioned -twice- that the commissaires had better not enforce this or that rule against Italian riders because if they did, "they'll never get out of here alive."
Stuey Duvel More than 1 year ago
The Spaniards rode a perfect race in the finale with the non sprinter (Rodrigeuz) atteacking repeatedly and the better sprinter (Valverde) marking Nibali & Costa. The plan was working until Valverde chose to stay on Nibalis wheel even though he was a spent force. He should have jumped with Rui costa but once he'd missed it he had no way back. I can only imagine how shocked Rodriguez was when he saw Rui Costa arrive WITHOUT Valverde sitting on !!
MarieDPierce More than 1 year ago
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FabiquesAnquetillara More than 1 year ago
Rodriguez caught Poulidor syndrome (being fantastic rider but being second almost all the time).