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Rodriguez wins Giro di Lombardia

By:
Daniel Benson & Laura Weislo

Valverde, Majka complete podium at Italian Monument

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) soloed to victory at Il Lombardia, the Spaniard's second straight win at the Italian Monument

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) soloed to victory at Il Lombardia, the Spaniard's second straight win at the Italian Monument

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Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) defended his Giro di Lombardia title after attacking on the final climb of the Villa Vergano and soloing to victory in the 242km race on Sunday. The Spaniard finished 17 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and 23 seconds up on Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff). Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) placed fourth at 45 seconds.

Rodriguez came into the race as the red hot favourite after finishing second in last week’s World Championships and just as in 2012 the defending champion used the Villa Vergano as his launch pad, skipping clear on the 15 percent slopes and establishing a small but crucial buffer on the chasers.

"If I wanted to win, I knew I had to attack then," Rodriguez said. "Lombardia is never easy, especially in weather like this. It was a very hard race - I think we raced faster than last year."

The win was nearly identical to that of Rodriguez's 2012 Lombardia success, although this year's rain was not nearly as torrential as last year's. The Spaniard not only gained important points toward the overall WorldTour, he also turned around a season riddled with disappointments, the last of which came last Sunday with his devastating second place at the world championships.

In Florence last weekend, Rodriguez's 10-second advantage wilted under the power of Rui Costa's chase, but the same advantage in Lombardia was enough to net him another Monument for his palmares. Rodriguez said he thought about the similarity of the race situation to that of the Worlds, and was never quite sure until the end if he would win.

"My radio fell out and it was only in the last kilometer that I could hear from my directeur sportif that it was done."

The group behind Rodriguez contained Valverde - the rider who many criticised for costing Spain gold at the Worlds - plus Martin and Majka but on the slippery descent to the line the trio’s chase broke down, first with Valverde dropping his two companions and then with Martin crashing on the final turn.

Rodriguez, though, had no such problems, creating clear air between himself and Valverde, while world champion Rui Costa sacrificed his chances of victory by working for Valverde earlier in the race.

The win provided Rodriguez some amount of solace after his tearful display at the end of the Worlds, and with Chris Froome (Sky) a non-starter the Katusha rider claimed the WorldTour’s top spot for a second consecutive season.

Rodriguez admitted that the world championship loss was hard to handle, but said he preferred to focus on the future, and the victory today will help him look toward 2014.

"Of course I wish I could win the WorldTour while wearing the world champion's jersey," he said. "You can't forget about the world championships because of its importance, but it's important that I could recover so well and be able to focus on today."

Bergamo beginnings

While the riders enjoyed some tentative sunshine at the start of the 242km race in Bergamo, the clouds were touching the tips of the climbs, soaking the riders as they headed toward Lake Como. The first moves went on the slopes of the Valico di Valcava with six riders emerging together: Fabio Felline (Androni-Giacatolli), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling), Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and Willem Wauters (Vacansoleil-DCM).

Albasini and Felline were the first to get dropped, while further back Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and later Andy Schleck (RadioShack) called it a day. The four men left up front never gained much of an advantage, and what was a two-minute lead was whittled down to mere seconds on the Colle Brianza at the mid-point of the race, and then the race was all back together.

A large group of 21 riders separated themselves from the peloton over the crest, but the lower slopes of the daunting Colma di Sormano called an end to their lead. A crash leading into the climb spelled the end of Vincenzo Nibali's race - he limped to the ambulance, favoring his left knee.

Saxo-Tinkoff led what was left of the peloton up the wall of the Sormano, but lost Alberto Contador before the upper reaches of the climb. It was instead Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who gained separation at the top. The pair were joined by Astana's Enrico Gasparotto, Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) and Italian champion Ivan Santaromita (BMC) on the tricky descent.

On the way to Bellagio the main chasing group came within striking distance of the five leaders, and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) took the chance to attack, bridge to the leaders and then leave them all behind. With the Madonna del Ghisallo looming, the group behind seemed content to let him burn his matches. Only Marcel Wyss (IAM) could be lured into chasing solo, but a crash took the impetus out of his effort.

A steady tempo set by Katusha for defending champion Rodriguez allowed the chasing peloton to swell to 30 riders as they made their way up the Madonna del Ghisallo, 2:35 behind Voeckler.

However, with a long stretch of flat roads and Michael Rogers marshalling the chase for Saxo-Tinkoff, the Frenchman looked to be riding on borrowed time. Strung out, and with the conditions worsening, the peloton began to slowly close with Voeckler ticking through his show reel of facial expressions in time with every desperate second lost.

With the waters of Como as the backdrop, and the Villa Vergano quickly approaching, Voeckler’s defences were futile. His earpiece theatrically discarded with the bunch on his heels, it was Mickaël Chérel (Ag2R) who led the reduced peloton up to Voeckler on the lower slopes of the climb.

Quintana and Valverde were still in menacing mood but Rodriguez lurked in the shadows watching every move. Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and Daniel Martin also looked comfortable but it was another Frenchman, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who scampered clear first. He drew Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R) with him and when the remnants of the peloton regrouped only a dozen riders remained in contention.

Pozzovivo decided to remain at the front of the action, setting the pace as the bunch held tight as they approached the final tough ramps of the climb. Rodriguez had played his first card in hunting down Pozzovivo and Pinot moments before, but his second turn of speed inflicted the significant damage.

It was a textbook move from the Spaniard. On the front, out of the saddle, Majka, Valverde and Martin could only watch as the rider everyone calls Purito left only a trail of smoke.

Full Results
1 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha 6:10:18  
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:17  
3 Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:00:23  
4 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp 0:00:45  
5 Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
6 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha 0:00:55  
7 Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
8 Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
9 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
10 Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
11 Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
12 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr    
13 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
14 Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack Leopard    
15 Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
16 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team    
17 Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar 0:01:07  
18 Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano    
19 Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
20 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team    
21 Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
22 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky Procycling 0:01:33  
23 Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia    
24 Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura    
25 Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida    
26 Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling    
27 Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale 0:01:59  
28 Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:02:46  
29 Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli 0:03:02  
30 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
31 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale 0:03:38  
32 Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team 0:03:44  
33 Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling 0:04:05  
34 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar 0:04:08  
35 Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:05:31  
36 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida 0:07:27  
37 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha    
38 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team 0:08:35  
39 Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha    
40 Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff 0:10:37  
41 Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
42 Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano 0:10:49  
43 Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni Giocattoli 0:10:56  
44 Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team    
45 Marc Goos (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:11:11  
46 Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team 0:11:50  
47 Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano 0:11:52  
48 Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol 0:11:53  
49 Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
50 Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
51 Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
52 Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
53 Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Lotto Belisol 0:20:46  
HD Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka 0:37:35  
DNF Sergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha    
DNF Vladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha    
DNF Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha    
DNF Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha    
DNF Ben Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Matteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale    
DNF Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Patrick Facchini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Fabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Marco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli    
DNF Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Simone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Paolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Alessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team    
DNF Bram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Stef Clement (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
DNF David Tanner (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Laurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Mathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Marco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Manuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Tejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team    
DNF Peter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Damiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Paolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Maciej Paterski (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Daniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Cameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale Pro Cycling    
DNF Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia    
DNF Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia    
DNF Leonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia    
DNF Jarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia    
DNF Carlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia    
DNF Jeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Col) Colombia    
DNF Juan Pablo Valencia (Col) Colombia    
DNF Mikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Garikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Gorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Juan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Gorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi    
DNF Arnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Alexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Anthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Jérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Jussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ.fr    
DNF Arthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr    
DNF Caleb Fairly (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Alex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Lachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Fabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Sharp    
DNF Matthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling    
DNF Jonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Reto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Thomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling    
DNF Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Marcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling    
DNF Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Winner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Matteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida    
DNF Gaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Brian Bulgac (Ned) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Francis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Gert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Jurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Lotto Belisol    
DNF Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team    
DNF Eros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar Team    
DNF Jesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team    
DNF Songezo Jim (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Tsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Sergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Meron Russom (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Jay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka    
DNF Michal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
DNF Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
DNF Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
DNF Dries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
DNF Serge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
DNF Peter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step    
DNF Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Luke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Michael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Christian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Cameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Daniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge    
DNF Andy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Jan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF George Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Matthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Maxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Nelson Filipe Santos Simoes Oliveira (Por) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Haimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard    
DNF Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling    
DNF Christian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling    
DNF Salvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling    
DNF Rigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling    
DNF Xabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling    
DNF Johannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Francois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Thomas Peterson (USA) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Georg Preidler (Aut) Team Argos-Shimano    
DNF Natnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar    
DNF Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Vincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Davide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar    
DNF Bjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar    
DNF Angelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar    
DNF Cesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-Endura    
DNF Iker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura    
DNF José Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp-Endura    
DNF Erick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp-Endura    
DNF Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura    
DNF Paul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura    
DNF Alexander Wetterhall (Swe) Team NetApp-Endura    
DNF Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Sergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Nicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Rory Sutherland (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff    
DNF Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Maurits Lammertink (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Rob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Mirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team    
DNF Willem Wauters (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team