ProTour: Di Luca closer to the prize

After finishing fifth in the Tour of Poland yesterday, Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) is closer to winning the inaugural ProTour classification at the end of this season. With four races left in the series and a maximum of 180 points to be earned, Di Luca's lead over his still competing rivals is sizeable. The Italian has 209 points, 69 more than Jan Ullrich and 70 more than Lance Armstrong, neither of whom will race any more this season. And a glance at the names in the top 10 reveals a similar story: Vinokourov, Leipheimer, Julich, Hincapie, Petacchi, Rebellin, Boonen will mostly not be racing the final three ProTour races after the World Championships.

One possible scenario is that either Petacchi or Boonen wins the World's, then goes onto win Paris-Tours, while Di Luca scores zero points in either the World's, Zurich, Paris-Tours, and Lombardia - an unlikely prognostic.

Di Luca's advantage over the rest of the ProTour peloton was garnered in the first half of the season, with wins in Flèche Wallonne, Amstel Gold Race, Vuelta al Pais Vasco, two stages and fourth overall in the Giro d'Italia. His late season results include a 12th in the GP Ouest France and fifth overall in the Tour of Poland, more than enough to cement his spot at the top of the rankings.

In the teams rankings, Team CSC has moved ahead of Rabobank with a clear 24 point advantage. Davitamon-Lotto is in third place, just ahead of Phonak. Italy is still on top of the nations rankings, but the USA is a strong second, courtesy of having four riders in the top seven of the individual ProTour rankings. Spain is back in third place, ahead of Germany and The Netherlands.

Rankings as of September 18

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