All eyes were on Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) at the start of the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday morning, but the Belgian was left trailing when Oliver Zaugg (Leopard Trek) attacked on the final climb of the race and distanced all his rivals. It was another win for the underdogs who, Gilbert aside, have dominated the Classics in 2011.
Zaugg followed in the footsteps of Matthew Goss (San Remo), Johan Van Summeren (Paris-Roubaix), Nick Nuyens (Flanders) and Greg Van Avermaet (Paris-Tours), wining Lombardia with a solo move almost as clinical and decisive as anything Gilbert has produced during his magical season of dominance.
And at the start in Milan, it was only his own team who were willing to talk up the former chimneysweep's chances. As the riders huddled for warmth on the bus for the final time in the team's short but eventual history, their press officer waxed lyrical about Leopard's two pronged attack containing Zaugg and Jakob Fuglsang.
Six hours later in Lecco and the same press officer was on hand to remind Cyclingnews of his prediction - only this time his smile was much broader.
Fuglsang had also played his part, escaping earlier with a group of favourites before being caught ahead of the final climb.
"I found myself in a group with some of the favourites," Fuglsang said at the finish.
"We tried to make the race and it didn't work out, but in the end it was perfect for the team and I'm really happy for Oliver. He dropped everyone and took the victory."
The Dane praised Zaugg's commitment to the Leopard cause, pointing to this year's Vuelta a Espana where Swiss rider worked tirelessly for Fuglsang's overall bid.
"He's a really calm guy and a hard worker who spends a lot of time doing the work for other guys. At the Vuelta, he had stomach problems but was still doing turns for me and that meant so much to me and the rest of the team."
"I knew that he was strong and in good form. We talked about it this morning and he was motivated. He was ready and wanted the victory."
Both Fuglsang and Zaugg have ended their time at Leopard Trek on a high. The pair will move across to the newly formed RadioShack Nissan Trek for 2012 where Zaugg will undoubtedly have more opportunities to ride for himself and Fuglsang will target the Giro d'Italia.
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.