Rigoberto Uran (Cannondale-Drapac) has collected a lot of podium places during his career and he again accepted defeat at Il Lombardia, proud to at least share a spot on the podium with fellow Colombian Esteban Chaves.
The two were arguably the best riders in the race at this year's Il Lombardia, emerging from what remained of the peloton to fight for victory on the last climb to Bergamo Alta, and on the high-speed descent before the sprint to the line.
Chaves launched the attack that shook up the race and Uran had the courage and strength to go with him despite struggling a little earlier during the eight climbs and 4400 metres of climbing. The two were also the strongest on the cobbled climb up to Bergamo Alta, managing to drop Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale) and making Diego Rosa (Astana) hurt.
Uran was ready to place his chances in the sprint but couldn't match Rosa when he kicked early in the sprint and then Chaves came past both of them to win.
"I tried on the last climb with Esteban but it came back together and after that it's the fastest man who wins the sprint and today that was Chaves," Uran said in defeat.
"To lose a sprint like this hurts. I was on form, I knew it, too, so I'm upset. But I also know that races go like this sometimes and to be on the podium is important."
Uran listened to the Colombian national anthem quietly and then chinked bottles of spumante with Chaves and Rosa on the podium. Uran was perhaps not aware of the full significance of Chaves' victory, that it was the first Monument victory ever by a Colombian, but he knew it was a special moment for his country.
"It's a big day for Colombia for sure," he said. "I'm very happy to hear our national anthem now in cycling because it means we're making history and that Colombian cycling is improving. I would have preferred that it was me who won today and not someone else, but that's not important, Colombia won today."
Uran was full of praise of Chaves and there is clearly respect between them, despite their rivalry when in the saddle.
"He's had a great season, even before today. Now he's won Lombardia, it's a Monument and that's very special," Uran acknowledged. "You've seen how he's been going this year, he's been going well everywhere. He closed the race the way he's been going all year, with the win."
While most other riders ended their season at il Lombardia, Uran revealed he still has at least one more race on his programme, even if it may not suit his skills as a Grand Tour climber and hilly Classics rider.
"I'm not done yet, I'm riding the world championship," he said a smile, knowing that his chance was today and not on October 16 in Qatar when he will go up against the best sprinters and Classics riders in the world.
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