Martin wins Il Lombardia

Garmin-Sharp's Dan Martin timed his late attack to perfection to win the Tour of Lombardia. The Irishman was part of a stellar break that formed on the descent of the Bergamo Alta and attacked inside the final kilometre to win ahead of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) and former world champion Rui Costa (Lampre Merida).

For Martin, who had crashed out of a number of major races this year, and even took a tumble in Lombardia 12 months ago, it was a moment to savour, with the Irishman building up enough time to lift his arms in celebration as he crossed the line.

The win signified Martin’s second Monument, adding to his Liège-Bastogne-Liège title in 2013. His win in Lombardia was just as clinical and he once again owed much to his teammates – notably Ryder Hesjedal - who buried himself in the final of the race as the peloton sought to bring back a dangerous pairing of Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing).

The duo was caught on the slopes of the final climb with the main contenders vying for position at the front of the bunch. It was Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol) who took the early initiative with a daring move but he was quickly caught by a rampaging Philippe Gilbert (BMC), who led across a group contain Martin.

The Irishman was, however, able to bridge to the leaders on the descent and as Gilbert’s teammate Samuel Sanchez led the group that contained Valverde, Costa, Fabio Aru (Astana), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge) and defending champion Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Martin ghosted to the back of the group.

Sanchez’s pace setting briefly eased as he checked back to catch Gilbert’s position, and the moment of hesitation was all Martin needed as he kicked clear.

Valverde and Gilbert exchanged glances with neither willing to sacrifice their chances. It was all Martin needed, his only obstacles remaining, the final corners before the line.

“I love this race, it’s one of my favourite races,” Martin said at the line. “To get second and crash in the last corner last year, it’s incredible to win it after all the bad luck this year. Last week I felt good and I crashed again. I believed, and the team believed, in me all the way, that the luck would change and we would get the big victory.”

In victory, Martin can look back at an overall successful of season. Second in La Flèche Wallonne may have been followed by bitterly disappointing outings in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d’Italia due to crashes but he has shown dogged determination in the second half of the season, with seventh at the Vuelta a España reaffirming confidence in his Grand Tour aspirations and this Lombardia win adding to his impressive palmares.

As for Valverde, another second place this season was at least enough to give him the lead in the WorldTour rankings with just the Tour of Beijing remaining. His nearest rival, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo), dropped to second after he was eliminated on the final climb.

A new start for Lombardia

A new course for one of cycling’s most established and respected races saw the peloton limber up in Como on Sunday morning. Unlike last year, the sun was out, the autumn temperatures offering the perfect send off as riders closed out their European campaigns.

Among them, Cadel Evans (BMC), who was joined at the start by his infant son for the Australian’s final race as a professional rider in Europe.

There was little time for ceremony and nostalgia as the race headed towards the Madonna del Ghisallo. In previous years the location had been positioned closer to the finish but this time around the early break had already formed as the race passed with Tiziano Dall'Antonio (Androni Giocattoli), Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Jeremy Roy (FDJ), Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli - Yellow Fluo), Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff-Saxo), Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Colombia), Paul Voss (NetApp-Endura), Angelo Pagani (Bardiani-CSF) and Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling) building up a lead in excess of eight minutes.

With 80 kilometres of racing remaining and barely a metre of flat road between the break and the finish, the gap had been reduced to four minutes.

Remaining were a set of decisive climbs with Passo di Ganda snapping the elastic as a number of riders from the initial break began to struggle.

When the peloton reached the climb a few minutes later the whittling down in the main field began with Philip Deignan (Team Sky) among a number of riders who raised the tempo with a darting attack.

Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural), however, was the only man to make his move stick and as he effortlessly scythed through the stragglers from the early break with just Paulinho, Fedi, Chavez and Polanc remaining ahead.

Back in the bunch, a slow but important selection process had begun to take shape. A counter attack including Pieter Weening, Bauke Mollema, Ben Hermans, Jeremy Roy, Txurruka, Chavez, and Mickaël Chérel had linked up. They sat 1:50 behind the two leaders with the peloton roughly a minute back, and the Berbenno climb looming.

With Paulinho on the offensive his team was able to take a backseat as Katusha, Movistar and Omega Pharma-QuickStep set about controlling the race.

Polanc, who rode strongly in last month’s WorldTour race in Montreal, made contact with the two leaders before Hermans, Weening and Chérel made it across.

As the gradient rose on the Berbenno, Weening applied enough pressure to distance all but Hermans and as the pair descended they held a slender 13-second lead over the field.

Leopold König (NetApp-Endura) jumped from the peloton on the descent and his presence gave the break new impetus but he was distanced with a cramp – as was world champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). Hesjedal buried himself with a huge turn on the front as the peloton approached the final climb.

Hermans and Weening were duly caught on the lower slopes, just as Wellens powered clear. Gilbert was the first to match his countryman but by the time he made contact the leaders were already approaching the descent.

Sanchez took over as the leading group raced towards the line. At the back of the group sat Martin, laying in wait for the moment to pounce. When it arrived, he leapt into action and while those around him hesitated, he demonstrated panache and timing to take the win.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp6:25:33
2Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team0:00:01
3Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre-MeridaRow 2 - Cell 2
4Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto BelisolRow 3 - Cell 2
5Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing TeamRow 4 - Cell 2
6Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica GreenedgeRow 5 - Cell 2
7Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing TeamRow 6 - Cell 2
8Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team KatushaRow 7 - Cell 2
9Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro TeamRow 8 - Cell 2
10Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale0:00:14
11Romain Bardet (Fra) AG2R La MondialeRow 10 - Cell 2
12Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:00:18
13Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus) Team Katusha0:00:20
14Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ.fr0:00:25
15Alessandro De Marchi (Ita) CannondaleRow 14 - Cell 2
16Davide Villella (Ita) CannondaleRow 15 - Cell 2
17Wilco Kelderman (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling TeamRow 16 - Cell 2
18Tiago Machado (Por) Team NetApp - EnduraRow 17 - Cell 2
19Mauro Finetto (Ita) Yellow FluoRow 18 - Cell 2
20Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Orica GreenedgeRow 19 - Cell 2
21André Cardoso (Por) Garmin SharpRow 20 - Cell 2
22Riccardo Zoidl (Aut) Trek Factory Racing0:00:30
23Roman Kreuziger (Cze) Tinkoff-Saxo0:00:31
24Frank Schleck (Lux) Trek Factory Racing0:00:42
25Cadel Evans (Aus) BMC Racing Team0:00:46
26Chris Anker Sörensen (Den) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 25 - Cell 2
27Lars Petter Nordhaug (Nor) Belkin Pro Cycling TeamRow 26 - Cell 2
28Romain Sicard (Fra) Team EuropcarRow 27 - Cell 2
29Sébastien Reichenbach (Swi) IAM CyclingRow 28 - Cell 2
30Angel Madrazo Ruiz (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGARow 29 - Cell 2
31Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Movistar Team0:00:54
32Edoardo Zardini (Ita) Bardiani-CSFRow 31 - Cell 2
33Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Garmin Sharp0:00:58
34Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Tinkoff-SaxoRow 33 - Cell 2
35Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step Cycling Team0:01:05
36Warren Barguil (Fra) Team Giant-Shimano0:01:16
37Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Astana Pro Team0:01:21
38Diego Rosa (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:01:27
39Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing Team0:01:34
40Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-MeridaRow 39 - Cell 2
41David Arroyo Duran (Spa) Caja Rural - Seguros RGARow 40 - Cell 2
42Kristijan Durasek (Cro) Lampre-MeridaRow 41 - Cell 2
43Tom Dumoulin (Ned) Team Giant-ShimanoRow 42 - Cell 2
44Franco Pellizotti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli0:01:44
45Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Team Katusha0:01:46
46Mikael Cherel (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:02:06
47Vasil Kiryienka (Blr) Team SkyRow 46 - Cell 2
48Simon Clarke (Aus) Orica Greenedge0:02:37
49Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica Greenedge0:02:42
50Jean-Christophe Peraud (Fra) AG2R La Mondiale0:03:21
51Maxime Monfort (Bel) Lotto Belisol0:03:52
52Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr) Team SkyRow 51 - Cell 2
53Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Col) ColombiaRow 52 - Cell 2
54Marco Marcato (Ita) CannondaleRow 53 - Cell 2
55Robinson Eduardo Chalapud Gomez (Col) ColombiaRow 54 - Cell 2
56Jarlinson Pantano (Col) ColombiaRow 55 - Cell 2
57Bart De Clercq (Bel) Lotto BelisolRow 56 - Cell 2
58Enrico Battaglin (Ita) Bardiani-CSFRow 57 - Cell 2
59Jan Polanc (Slo) Lampre-MeridaRow 58 - Cell 2
60Steve Morabito (Swi) BMC Racing Team0:04:02
61Francesco Failli (Ita) Yellow Fluo