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Emotional win for new World Champion

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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step)and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) together before start of Lombardia

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step)and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) together before start of Lombardia (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Jonathan Hivert (Crédit Agricole) crashes early on in race

Jonathan Hivert (Crédit Agricole) crashes early on in race (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton snakes its way up early climb

The peloton snakes its way up early climb (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Rare photo of Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) at the back of the peloton

Rare photo of Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) at the back of the peloton (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) looks cool at the start of the race

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) looks cool at the start of the race (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step)and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) ride along at the start

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step)and Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) ride along at the start (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Peloton along the shores of Lake Como, before the start of Ghisallo

Peloton along the shores of Lake Como, before the start of Ghisallo (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Ghisallo sees Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) another great champion pass

Ghisallo sees Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) another great champion pass (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) started the attack that led to Bettini's counter

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) started the attack that led to Bettini's counter (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) shows force but was not there in the finale

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) shows force but was not there in the finale (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) and Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) swap pulls

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) and Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) swap pulls (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) looking so cool

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) looking so cool (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) shows the grit that he is famous for

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) shows the grit that he is famous for (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) focuses on the job at hand

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) focuses on the job at hand (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) rides on typical Italian roads

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) rides on typical Italian roads (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) looks like he means business

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) looks like he means business (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) hammers on the front of an elite group

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) hammers on the front of an elite group (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) leads Schleck

Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) leads Schleck (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) digs deep before going free

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) digs deep before going free (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) on front of group

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) on front of group (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) finished 8th and missed out on a podium spot

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) finished 8th and missed out on a podium spot (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Fränk Schleck (Team CSC) looked good in Lombardia, finishing 7th

Fränk Schleck (Team CSC) looked good in Lombardia, finishing 7th (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) leads German Wegmann

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) leads German Wegmann (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) wins second Lombardia for brother Sauro

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) wins second Lombardia for brother Sauro (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) throws kisses to the tifosi

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) throws kisses to the tifosi (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) emotional with win

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) emotional with win (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini and Lefevere (Quick-Step) emotional after win

Paolo Bettini and Lefevere (Quick-Step) emotional after win (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) with wife and parents in background

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) with wife and parents in background (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) with Dad after emotional win

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) with Dad after emotional win (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini and Filippo Pozzato (Quick-Step) emotional after grand win

Paolo Bettini and Filippo Pozzato (Quick-Step) emotional after grand win (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini and Filippo Pozzato (Quick-Step) hug after a thrilling race

Paolo Bettini and Filippo Pozzato (Quick-Step) hug after a thrilling race (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Madonna del Ghisallo as riders go by

Madonna del Ghisallo as riders go by (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) rides with style on his way to win

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) rides with style on his way to win (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) wins wins blows kisses

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) wins wins blows kisses (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Bettini in UCI world championships stripes

Bettini in UCI world championships stripes (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The early break

The early break (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The peloton

The peloton (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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National pride and a race-side lunch

National pride and a race-side lunch (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The ProTour season ended Saturday.

The ProTour season ended Saturday. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears)

ProTour leader Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears) (Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Gabriele Missaglia (Selle Italia) needs a new wheel.

Gabriele Missaglia (Selle Italia) needs a new wheel. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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Madonna del Ghisallo's new cycling museum.

Madonna del Ghisallo's new cycling museum. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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A statue on the Ghisallo.

A statue on the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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Now you know why it's called 'the race of the falling leaves.'

Now you know why it's called 'the race of the falling leaves.' (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) and Andrea Pagoto (Panaria ) breakaway on the Ghisallo.

Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) and Andrea Pagoto (Panaria ) breakaway on the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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Diego Caccia (Barloworld) in action on Ghisallo.

Diego Caccia (Barloworld) in action on Ghisallo. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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'The Shark' Mirko Celestino (Milram) trying to catch the Bettini group.

'The Shark' Mirko Celestino (Milram) trying to catch the Bettini group. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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An empty podium: a protest against the U.C.I.

An empty podium: a protest against the U.C.I. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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Paolo Bettini's nephew.

Paolo Bettini's nephew. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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A podium girl with no winner to kiss.

A podium girl with no winner to kiss. (Image credit: Davide Tricarico)
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The iconic streets of Mendrisio.

The iconic streets of Mendrisio. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears) soon after the start in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne - Illes Balears) soon after the start in Mendrisio, Switzerland. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton arrives at the Italian border after 17km.

The peloton arrives at the Italian border after 17km. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The gruppo owned the streets in Azione.

The gruppo owned the streets in Azione. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Janez Brajkovic (Discovery) in Azione.

Janez Brajkovic (Discovery) in Azione. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The 'Fuggitivi' or breakaway work together on the way to Como.

The 'Fuggitivi' or breakaway work together on the way to Como. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The peloton climbs into Azione.

The peloton climbs into Azione. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Filippo Pozzato leads the Quick-Step train for World Champion Paolo Bettini.

Filippo Pozzato leads the Quick-Step train for World Champion Paolo Bettini. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Michael Boogerd (Rabobank)

Michael Boogerd (Rabobank) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Philippe Gilbert (FDJ)

Philippe Gilbert (FDJ) (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) breaking away on the Ghisallo.

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) breaking away on the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) making his way through the convoy on the Ghisallo.

Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) making his way through the convoy on the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Discovery's Vladimir Gusev will never die wondering if he could have won the Giro de Lombardia.

Discovery's Vladimir Gusev will never die wondering if he could have won the Giro de Lombardia. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) swings off a group in pursuit of Paolo Bettini.

Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) swings off a group in pursuit of Paolo Bettini. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Luxembourg's Frank Schleck (CSC) leads a gruppo including the champion of Holland, Michael Boogerd (Rabobank).

Luxembourg's Frank Schleck (CSC) leads a gruppo including the champion of Holland, Michael Boogerd (Rabobank). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A select group of champions Frank Schleck (CSC) leads Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) over the summit of the Ghisallo.

A select group of champions Frank Schleck (CSC) leads Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) and Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) over the summit of the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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A Saunier-Duval rider checks over his shoulder.

A Saunier-Duval rider checks over his shoulder. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) crests the Ghisallo.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) crests the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) leads Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) over the summit of the Ghisallo.

Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) leads Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) over the summit of the Ghisallo. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) edges Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann for second.

Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) edges Gerolsteiner's Fabian Wegmann for second. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) comes home fourth.

Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) comes home fourth. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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The two number ones: Bettini and McQuaid.

The two number ones: Bettini and McQuaid. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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World Champion Paolo Bettini in a moment of solidarity with the retiring Andrea Peron (CSC).

World Champion Paolo Bettini in a moment of solidarity with the retiring Andrea Peron (CSC). (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) shoots a look that could kill.

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) shoots a look that could kill. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)
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You could say he's happy with it.

You could say he's happy with it. (Image credit: Fotoreporter Sirotti)

100th Giro di Lombardia - ProT

Italy, October 14, 2006

ProTour standings

Bettini takes Lombardia for brother

Italian Paolo Bettini (Quick-Step) took absolute control of the Giro di Lombardia to power away to his first victory since becoming World Champion in Salzburg three weeks ago. The Italian pushed the pace on Madonna del Ghisallo, dropped everyone on Civiglio and confirmed his win on San Fermo. Arriving in Como solo, Bettini is the first World Champion to win the 'race of the falling leaves' since Oscar Camenzind in 1998.

Bettini crossed the line to take the 100th edition of Lombardia in tears of pain and joy. It was a joyous occasion for Il Grillo to win Lombardia for a second year running, this year in the world championship colours, but the pain of losing his brother was very evident.

"Today I did not pedal alone," said Bettini after arriving to La Gazzetta dello Sport, referring to his late brother. "I will never forget this day."

Three weeks ago Bettini won the worlds in Salzburg but a little over a week later his rainbow was clouded by the death of his older bother Sauro. His brother died in an auto accident but Bettini, after a few days off, came back with a fighting spirit.

That spirit was on display today in one of cycling's five monuments, Lombardia. Crossing the line, Bettini fell into the arms of his grieving family. Dad, Mom, wife and daughter where on the shores of Lake Como to witness Bettini stomp the competition while taking an emotional win for Sauro. A suffering Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner) could not hold on to Bettini's wheel over the final climb of San Fermo and finished third after being caught by Zurich winner Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi).

How it unfolded

196 riders assembled in the Swiss town of Mendrisio for the start of Italy's oldest grand classic, which traditionally closes the season for most professional riders. ProTour leader and final winner Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) was at the start in the end, even though his team threatened to pull him out of the race as a consequence of the ongoing battle between the UCI and organisers RCS Sport over the ProTour. World champion Paolo Bettini was also on the start line, looking motivated to win his second Lombardia in a row.

Thierry Marichal (Cofidis) opened the attacking, but the first move of note came after 28 km when Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) escaped with Diego Caccia (Barloworld). The pair had 2'20 after 34 km, when a group of four riders started chasing: Andrea Pagoto (Panaria), James Perry (Barloworld), Yuri Metlushenko (Team L.P.R.), and Diego Nosotti (Selle Italia). After 40 km, the two in front had 2'06 on the chase group, and 4'55 on the peloton after averaging 45.6 km/h in the first hour.

The main group gradually fell back, allowing the leaders a chance to sit up and wait for the chasers. On the climb of S. Fedele d’Intelvi, Perry and Pagoto were the strongest and crossed the summit 2'18 behind the front pair, with Metlushenko and Nosotti both distanced, and the bunch at 12'10. At the bottom of the descent, the gap reached 13'05 and eventually Perry and Pagoto bridged up to Totschnig and Caccia after 82 km. Aside from Tour de France stage winner Totschnig, the breakaway contained relatively unheralded riders, but there's always a first time for some talent to show.

The break reached a maximum lead of 13'15 at km 106 as Rabobank, Milram, Cofidis and CSC took the responsibility to chase. The break was able to stay clear for most of the big circuit around lake Como, but once the crucial climb of Madonna del Ghisallo started at 52 km to go, they were within shooting range of the peloton at 3'44. Perry was the first to let go, followed by his teammate Caccia. Totschnig persisted, with Pagoto riding well to stay on the Austrian's wheel.

As expected, the action began in the peloton once the climb started to get nasty. Paolo Bettini, resplendent in his rainbow jersey, wasn't afraid to step up the tempo, and after a few kilometres of climbing had reduced the group to just himself, Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Frank Schleck (CSC), Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas) and Ricardo Ricco (Saunier Duval). The group caught Totschnig and Pagoto just before the summit with 43 km to go, when Bettini put the hammer down again to cut it down to just five: Bettini, Rebellin, Schleck, Boogerd and Di Luca.

The five opened up a 20 second lead on the descent as a chasing group gradually formed behind with Sanchez, Pagoto, Ricco, Totschnig, Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Cristian Moreni (Cofidis) and Matteo Carrara (Lampre). The two groups came together at 28 km to go and now there were a dozen leaders, with Gerolsteiner the best represented with three riders. The next chasers consisted of Noè, Devolder, Sella and Gustov, but they were never able to close the gap.

The penultimate climb of Civiglio, with its summit at 15 km to go and its incredibly technical descent back into Como, proved to be the decisive point in the race. Bettini rode a hard enough tempo at the bottom to get rid of Totschnig, Ricco and Pagoto, then simply blasted off the front in response to a Di Luca attack with 17 km to go. At the top, Bettini had five seconds on Fabian Wegmann, who was dying a thousand deaths to close the gap to the world champ. Bettini flew down the narrow, twisty descent, but Wegmann was close behind and picked up the Quick.Step man just after the bottom. It had cost the German a lot of energy, but he was able to roll through for a few turns before the last climb of San Fermo di Battaglia.

The chasers now numbered six, with Sanchez, Boogerd, Rebellin, Schleck, Moreni and Carrara trailing Bettini and Wegmann by 28 seconds when they hit the last climb. Bettini slowly rode a pained Wegmann off his wheel on the steep climb, and crossed the summit with 15 seconds on the Gerolsteiner man, then another 12 seconds to the Sanchez-led chase group.

The final five kilometres were not easy for Bettini, but he was able to maintain his advantage to the finish in Como. Sanchez bridged up to Wegmann with 2 km to go and eventually beat the gritty German in the sprint for second, but up front it was all Bettini, the world champion crying for his lost brother Sauro as he crossed the finish line for a beautiful, emotional win.

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