Rodriguez wins Giro di Lombardia

Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) defended his Giro di Lombardia title after attacking on the final climb of the Villa Vergano and soloing to victory in the 242km race on Sunday. The Spaniard finished 17 seconds ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and 23 seconds up on Rafal Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff). Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp) placed fourth at 45 seconds.

Rodriguez came into the race as the red hot favourite after finishing second in last week’s World Championships and just as in 2012 the defending champion used the Villa Vergano as his launch pad, skipping clear on the 15 percent slopes and establishing a small but crucial buffer on the chasers.

"If I wanted to win, I knew I had to attack then," Rodriguez said. "Lombardia is never easy, especially in weather like this. It was a very hard race - I think we raced faster than last year."

The win was nearly identical to that of Rodriguez's 2012 Lombardia success, although this year's rain was not nearly as torrential as last year's. The Spaniard not only gained important points toward the overall WorldTour, he also turned around a season riddled with disappointments, the last of which came last Sunday with his devastating second place at the world championships.

In Florence last weekend, Rodriguez's 10-second advantage wilted under the power of Rui Costa's chase, but the same advantage in Lombardia was enough to net him another Monument for his palmares. Rodriguez said he thought about the similarity of the race situation to that of the Worlds, and was never quite sure until the end if he would win.

"My radio fell out and it was only in the last kilometer that I could hear from my directeur sportif that it was done."

The group behind Rodriguez contained Valverde - the rider who many criticised for costing Spain gold at the Worlds - plus Martin and Majka but on the slippery descent to the line the trio’s chase broke down, first with Valverde dropping his two companions and then with Martin crashing on the final turn.

Rodriguez, though, had no such problems, creating clear air between himself and Valverde, while world champion Rui Costa sacrificed his chances of victory by working for Valverde earlier in the race.

The win provided Rodriguez some amount of solace after his tearful display at the end of the Worlds, and with Chris Froome (Sky) a non-starter the Katusha rider claimed the WorldTour’s top spot for a second consecutive season.

Rodriguez admitted that the world championship loss was hard to handle, but said he preferred to focus on the future, and the victory today will help him look toward 2014.

"Of course I wish I could win the WorldTour while wearing the world champion's jersey," he said. "You can't forget about the world championships because of its importance, but it's important that I could recover so well and be able to focus on today."

Bergamo beginnings

While the riders enjoyed some tentative sunshine at the start of the 242km race in Bergamo, the clouds were touching the tips of the climbs, soaking the riders as they headed toward Lake Como. The first moves went on the slopes of the Valico di Valcava with six riders emerging together: Fabio Felline (Androni-Giacatolli), Alessandro De Marchi (Cannondale), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), Reto Hollenstein (IAM Cycling), Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and Willem Wauters (Vacansoleil-DCM).

Albasini and Felline were the first to get dropped, while further back Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and later Andy Schleck (RadioShack) called it a day. The four men left up front never gained much of an advantage, and what was a two-minute lead was whittled down to mere seconds on the Colle Brianza at the mid-point of the race, and then the race was all back together.

A large group of 21 riders separated themselves from the peloton over the crest, but the lower slopes of the daunting Colma di Sormano called an end to their lead. A crash leading into the climb spelled the end of Vincenzo Nibali's race - he limped to the ambulance, favoring his left knee.

Saxo-Tinkoff led what was left of the peloton up the wall of the Sormano, but lost Alberto Contador before the upper reaches of the climb. It was instead Nairo Quintana and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) who gained separation at the top. The pair were joined by Astana's Enrico Gasparotto, Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) and Italian champion Ivan Santaromita (BMC) on the tricky descent.

On the way to Bellagio the main chasing group came within striking distance of the five leaders, and Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) took the chance to attack, bridge to the leaders and then leave them all behind. With the Madonna del Ghisallo looming, the group behind seemed content to let him burn his matches. Only Marcel Wyss (IAM) could be lured into chasing solo, but a crash took the impetus out of his effort.

A steady tempo set by Katusha for defending champion Rodriguez allowed the chasing peloton to swell to 30 riders as they made their way up the Madonna del Ghisallo, 2:35 behind Voeckler.

However, with a long stretch of flat roads and Michael Rogers marshalling the chase for Saxo-Tinkoff, the Frenchman looked to be riding on borrowed time. Strung out, and with the conditions worsening, the peloton began to slowly close with Voeckler ticking through his show reel of facial expressions in time with every desperate second lost.

With the waters of Como as the backdrop, and the Villa Vergano quickly approaching, Voeckler’s defences were futile. His earpiece theatrically discarded with the bunch on his heels, it was Mickaël Chérel (Ag2R) who led the reduced peloton up to Voeckler on the lower slopes of the climb.

Quintana and Valverde were still in menacing mood but Rodriguez lurked in the shadows watching every move. Ivan Basso (Cannondale) and Daniel Martin also looked comfortable but it was another Frenchman, Thibaut Pinot (FDJ), who scampered clear first. He drew Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R) with him and when the remnants of the peloton regrouped only a dozen riders remained in contention.

Pozzovivo decided to remain at the front of the action, setting the pace as the bunch held tight as they approached the final tough ramps of the climb. Rodriguez had played his first card in hunting down Pozzovivo and Pinot moments before, but his second turn of speed inflicted the significant damage.

It was a textbook move from the Spaniard. On the front, out of the saddle, Majka, Valverde and Martin could only watch as the rider everyone calls Purito left only a trail of smoke.

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Full Results
1Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Katusha6:10:18
2Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:17
3Rafal Majka (Pol) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:00:23
4Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp0:00:45
5Enrico Gasparotto (Ita) Astana Pro Team
6Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spa) Katusha0:00:55
7Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
8Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
9Ivan Santaromita (Ita) BMC Racing Team
10Robert Gesink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
11Ivan Basso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
12Thibaut Pinot (Fra)
13Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
14Ben Hermans (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
15Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
16Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Col) Movistar Team
17Cyril Gautier (Fra) Team Europcar0:01:07
18Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Argos-Shimano
19Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing Team
20Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team
21Mikel Landa Meana (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
22Dario Cataldo (Ita) Sky Procycling0:01:33
23Darwin Atapuma Hurtado (Col) Colombia
24Bartosz Huzarski (Pol) Team NetApp-Endura
25Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-Merida
26Johann Tschopp (Swi) IAM Cycling
27Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:01:59
28Diego Ulissi (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:02:46
29Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:03:02
30Emanuele Sella (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
31Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Col) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:38
32Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:03:44
33Stefan Denifl (Aut) IAM Cycling0:04:05
34Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Team Europcar0:04:08
35Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:05:31
36Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:07:27
37Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Katusha
38Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Movistar Team0:08:35
39Yury Trofimov (Rus) Katusha
40Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff0:10:37
41Maxime Bouet (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
42Thomas Damuseau (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano0:10:49
43Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) Androni Giocattoli0:10:56
44Marcus Burghardt (Ger) BMC Racing Team
45Marc Goos (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:11:11
46Tom Jelte Slagter (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team0:11:50
47Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Argos-Shimano0:11:52
48Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:11:53
49Matti Breschel (Den) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
50Marco Marcato (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
51Michael Rogers (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
52Louis Meintjes (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
53Dirk Bellemakers (Ned) Lotto Belisol0:20:46
HDJacques Janse Van Rensburg (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka0:37:35
DNFSergei Chernetckii (Rus) Katusha
DNFVladimir Gusev (Rus) Katusha
DNFAlexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Katusha
DNFAngel Vicioso Arcos (Spa) Katusha
DNFBen Gastauer (Lux) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFMatteo Montaguti (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFRinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFJean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale
DNFRiccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFPatrick Facchini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFFabio Felline (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFMarco Frapporti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
DNFVincenzo Nibali (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFValerio Agnoli (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFFabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFFrancesco Gavazzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFSimone Ponzi (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFPaolo Tiralongo (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFAlessandro Vanotti (Ita) Astana Pro Team
DNFBram Tankink (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFStef Clement (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFLars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFDavid Tanner (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFLaurens Ten Dam (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
DNFMathias Frank (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNFMarco Pinotti (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFManuel Quinziato (Ita) BMC Racing Team
DNFTejay van Garderen (USA) BMC Racing Team
DNFPeter Sagan (Svk) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFDamiano Caruso (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFAlessandro De Marchi (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFPaolo Longo Borghini (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFMaciej Paterski (Pol) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFDaniele Ratto (Ita) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFCameron Wurf (Aus) Cannondale Pro Cycling
DNFRobinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) Colombia
DNFFabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Col) Colombia
DNFLeonardo Fabio Duque (Col) Colombia
DNFJarlinson Pantano (Col) Colombia
DNFCarlos Julian Quintero (Col) Colombia
DNFJeffry Johan Romero Corredor (Col) Colombia
DNFJuan Pablo Valencia (Col) Colombia
DNFMikel Astarloza Chaurreau (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFGarikoitz Bravo Oiarbide (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFGorka Izaguirre Insausti (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFEgoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFJuan Jose Oroz Ugalde (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFGorka Verdugo Marcotegui (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi
DNFArnaud Courteille (Fra)
DNFMurilo Antonio Fischer (Bra)
DNFAlexandre Geniez (Fra)
DNFAnthony Roux (Fra)
DNFJérémy Roy (Fra)
DNFJussi Veikkanen (Fin)
DNFArthur Vichot (Fra)
DNFCaleb Fairly (USA) Garmin-Sharp
DNFNathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
DNFAlex Howes (USA) Garmin-Sharp
DNFMichel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp
DNFLachlan David Morton (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
DNFFabian Wegmann (Ger) Garmin-Sharp
DNFDavid Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Sharp
DNFMatthias Brandle (Aut) IAM Cycling
DNFJonathan Fumeaux (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFReto Hollenstein (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFThomas Lövkvist (Swe) IAM Cycling
DNFSébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFMarcel Wyss (Swi) IAM Cycling
DNFDamiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFWinner Anacona Gomez (Col) Lampre-Merida
DNFMatteo Bono (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFDaniele Pietropolli (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFMichele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
DNFGaetan Bille (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFBrian Bulgac (Ned) Lotto Belisol
DNFFrancis De Greef (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFGert Dockx (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFJurgen Van De Walle (Bel) Lotto Belisol
DNFAndrey Amador Bakkazakova (CRc) Movistar Team
DNFEros Capecchi (Ita) Movistar Team
DNFJesus Herrada Lopez (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFBenat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spa) Movistar Team
DNFSongezo Jim (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFTsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Ltu) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFSergio Pardilla Bellon (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFMeron Russom (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFJay Robert Thomson (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFGianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFSylvain Chavanel (Fra) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFDries Devenyns (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFSerge Pauwels (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFPeter Velits (Svk) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
DNFMichael Albasini (Swi) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFSimon Clarke (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFLuke Durbridge (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFMichael Matthews (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFChristian Meier (Can) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFCameron Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFDaniel Teklehaimanot (Eri) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFPieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
DNFAndy Schleck (Lux) RadioShack Leopard
DNFJan Bakelants (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
DNFGeorge Bennett (NZl) RadioShack Leopard
DNFMatthew Busche (USA) RadioShack Leopard
DNFMaxime Monfort (Bel) RadioShack Leopard
DNFNelson Filipe Santos Simoes Oliveira (Por) RadioShack Leopard
DNFHaimar Zubeldia Agirre (Spa) RadioShack Leopard
DNFSergio Luis Henao Montoya (Col) Sky Procycling
DNFChristian Knees (Ger) Sky Procycling
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Ita) Sky Procycling
DNFRigoberto Uran Uran (Col) Sky Procycling
DNFXabier Zandio Echaide (Spa) Sky Procycling
DNFJohannes Fröhlinger (Ger) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFFrancois Parisien (Can) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFThomas Peterson (USA) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFGeorg Preidler (Aut) Team Argos-Shimano
DNFNatnael Berhane (Eri) Team Europcar
DNFGiovanni Bernaudeau (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFVincent Jerome (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFDavide Malacarne (Ita) Team Europcar
DNFBjorn Thurau (Ger) Team Europcar
DNFAngelo Tulik (Fra) Team Europcar
DNFCesare Benedetti (Ita) Team NetApp-Endura
DNFIker Camano Ortuzar (Spa) Team NetApp-Endura
DNFJosé Joao Pimenta Costa Mendes (Por) Team NetApp-Endura
DNFErick Rowsell (GBr) Team NetApp-Endura
DNFAndreas Schillinger (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
DNFPaul Voss (Ger) Team NetApp-Endura
DNFAlexander Wetterhall (Swe) Team NetApp-Endura
DNFAlberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFSergio Miguel Moreira Paulinho (Por) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFNicolas Roche (Irl) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFRory Sutherland (Aus) Team Saxo-Tinkoff
DNFThomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFSergey Lagutin (Uzb) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFMaurits Lammertink (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFRob Ruijgh (Ned) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFMirko Selvaggi (Ita) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
DNFWillem Wauters (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

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