Every rider dreams of winning the world championships, and Portugal's Rui Costa was no different, but few have the kind of tactical sense, self-confidence and power necessary to pull off a rainbow jersey performance. Costa showed that he has all these qualities as he dashed the hopes of Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez to claim the 2013 world title.
"I feel like I won the lottery in a sense," Rui Costa said. "It means a great deal to me. I've wanted this more than anything in my career. I can't believe I'm the world champion, and I will do everything I can to honour this jersey."
Costa made the final selection of the 16km last lap with a pair of Spaniards, Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde, and Vincenzo Nibali - all of whom have palmares stacked deep with victories. Yet he timed his bridge across to the solo attack of Rodriguez perfectly.
"In the last two kilometres, as I was closing the gap, all I could think of was to close it as efficiently as possible. When I got to him, he told me to pass him and I didn't want to. I looked back and saw we had a gap, and then it was just playing tactics, hoping my legs didn't fail me, and then I was able to realize my dream."
To have good legs at the end of a 272km race that began in pounding rain, with 10 demanding closing circuits, with only two teammates, and on a day marked with numerous crashes was remarkable.
"It was a very complicated race with the rain in the first three hours, it made it very hard. We were thinking mainly about how to get to the end of the race in one piece. I had good and bad moments as you do in any race, but luckily I was able to overcome them.
"When there were five of us in the last lap, I started to believe. Luckily I was feeling very good."
In Florence, Costa showed that his pair of Tour de France stages this season and Tour de Suisse victories were no fluke, and he will carry the jersey to the Lampre-Merida team next season. It will be a small consolation for the Italian fans who were left winless over the week of racing.
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