Rodriguez wins Giro di Lombardia

Valverde, Majka complete podium at Italian Monument

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
1Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha6:10:18 
2Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:17 
3Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:00:23 
4Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp0:00:45 
5Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
6Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha0:00:55 
7Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
8Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
9Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
10Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
11Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
12Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr  
13Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
14Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
15Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
16Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team  
17Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar0:01:07 
18Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano  
19Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
20Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team  
21Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
22Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky Procycling0:01:33 
23Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia  
24Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura  
25Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida  
26Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling  
27Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:59 
28Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:02:46 
29Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:03:02 
30Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
31Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:38 
32Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:03:44 
33Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling0:04:05 
34Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar0:04:08 
35Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:05:31 
36Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:07:27 
37Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha  
38Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team0:08:35 
39Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha  
40Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:10:37 
41Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
42Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano0:10:49 
43Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni Giocattoli0:10:56 
44Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team  
45Marc Goos (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:11:11 
46Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:11:50 
47Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano0:11:52 
48Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:11:53 
49Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
50Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
51Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
52Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
53Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Lotto Belisol0:20:46 
HDJacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka0:37:35 
DNFSergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha  
DNFVladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha  
DNFAlexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha  
DNFAngel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha  
DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFMatteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFJean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale  
DNFRiccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFPatrick Facchini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFFabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFMarco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli  
DNFVincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFFabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFFrancesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFPaolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFAlessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team  
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFStef Clement (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFLars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFLaurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team  
DNFMarco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFManuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team  
DNFTejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team  
DNFPeter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFDamiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFAlessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFPaolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFMaciej Paterski (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFDaniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFCameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale Pro Cycling  
DNFRobinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia  
DNFFabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia  
DNFLeonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia  
DNFJarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia  
DNFCarlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia  
DNFJeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Col) Colombia  
DNFJuan Pablo Valencia (Col) Colombia  
DNFMikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFGarikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFGorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFEgoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFJuan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFGorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi  
DNFArnaud Courteille (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra) FDJ.fr  
DNFAlexandre Geniez (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFAnthony Roux (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFJérémy Roy (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFJussi Veikkanen (Fin) FDJ.fr  
DNFArthur Vichot (Fra) FDJ.fr  
DNFCaleb Fairly (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFNathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFAlex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFMichel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFLachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFFabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFDavid Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Sharp  
DNFMatthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling  
DNFJonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFThomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling  
DNFSébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFMarcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling  
DNFDamiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFWinner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida  
DNFMatteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFDaniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFMichele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida  
DNFGaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFBrian Bulgac (Ned) Lotto Belisol  
DNFFrancis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFGert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFJurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Lotto Belisol  
DNFAndrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team  
DNFEros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar Team  
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFBenat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team  
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFTsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFSergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFMeron Russom (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka  
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFGianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFSylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFDries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFSerge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFPeter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step  
DNFMichael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFSimon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFMichael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFChristian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFCameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFDaniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFPieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge  
DNFAndy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFJan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFGeorge Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFMatthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFMaxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFNelson Filipe Santos Simoes Oliveira (Por) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFHaimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard  
DNFSergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling  
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling  
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling  
DNFRigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling  
DNFXabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling  
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFFrancois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFThomas Peterson (USA) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFGeorg Preidler (Aut) Team Argos-Shimano  
DNFNatnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar  
DNFGiovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFVincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFDavide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar  
DNFBjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar  
DNFAngelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar  
DNFCesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-Endura  
DNFIker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura  
DNFJosé Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp-Endura  
DNFErick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp-Endura  
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura  
DNFPaul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura  
DNFAlexander Wetterhall (Swe) Team NetApp-Endura  
DNFAlberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFSergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFNicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff  
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFSergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMaurits Lammertink (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFRob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  
DNFWillem Wauters (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team  

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