Alejandro Valverde might have missed out on a podium at Sunday’s Il Lombardia, but his fourth place was enough to ensure that his Movistar team secured the WorldTour team ranking for the third year running.
Valverde had already cemented his place at the top of the individual rankings ahead of the race, giving the Spanish outfit their second WorldTour double. Valverde had gone into the race as the favourite but was unable to match late attacks. He was forced to battle it out for the minor placings but it proved enough for Movistar to edge out Katusha by a narrow 13-point margin, despite a second place for Daniel Moreno.
"It has been a long and intense year and we had to give it our all in everything, one last effort to crown this great season," said Movistar team manager Eusebio Unzué. “We were looking to be attentive in all the phases so that no attacks caught us by surprise.
"After the Ghisallo, the race was done at the rhythm of Astana; they were doing a lot of work for the victory and then near the final Dani (Moreno) seemed like the stronger man, who could have put us in difficulty in the WorldTour (rankings). Alejandro, who was already about to suffer from cramps, endured and knew how to measure himself without forcing more than necessary and didn’t pull, if he’d been able to go with Nibali then he knew he could have stayed with his rival as he has done before."
Second place for Katusha team is their best ever finish in the competition. Katusha had been leading the competition just a few weeks ago but Movistar’s bronze medal winning performance in the World Championship team time trial – matched with Katusha’s poor showing – saw them move back up to the top of the table. They went into Il Lombardia, the final WorldTour race on the calendar, with a small lead over Katusha.
The latter suffered a serious blow to their chances after Joaquim Rodríguez was forced to pull out of the race on Saturday morning following a collision with a signpost during training. Daniel Moreno, who is set to leave Katusha at the end of the season, was in strong form though and looked like he could deliver Katusha the race and WorldTour win. However, Valverde didn’t give up and beat Astana’s Diego Rosa in the sprint for fourth place.
Movistar have had a bumper season, with both Valverde and Nairo Quintana making it onto the podium at the Tour de France, while Valverde also took victories at Fleche Wallonne and Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Valverde extended his lead over Rodriguez in the individual rankings at Il Lombardia, to bring his winning margin to 201 points. He and Rodriguez’s performances throughout the season have helped to seal Spain their sixth overall win in a dominating fashion.
|4||Etixx - Quick-Step||1158|
|5||Astana Pro Team||1106|
|6||BMC Racing Team||1010|
|11||AG2R La Mondiale||587|
|13||Trek Factory Racing||529|
|16||Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team||340|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Points|
|1||Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team||675||pts|
|2||Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha||474|
|3||Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar Team||457|
|4||Alexander Kristoff (Nor) Team Katusha||453|
|5||Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team||448|
|6||Christopher Froome (GBr) Team Sky||430|
|7||Alberto Contador (Spa) Tinkoff-Saxo||407|
|8||Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team||324|
|9||Rui Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida||324|
|10||Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr||319|
|11||Richie Porte (Aus) Team Sky||314|
|12||John Degenkolb (Ger) Team Giant-Alpecin||302|
|13||Rigoberto Uran (Col) Etixx - Quick-Step||301|
|14||Geraint Thomas (GBr) Team Sky||283|
|15||Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-Alpecin||271|
|16||Simon Spilak (Slo) Team Katusha||269|
|17||Peter Sagan (Svk) Tinkoff-Saxo||257|
|18||Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale||242|
|19||Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team||238|
|20||Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica GreenEdge||221|