Oliver Zaugg (Leopard) has won Il Lombardia, the final race of the season and the Italian climbers monument. This win catapults Zaugg from relatively unknown to immortality in the cycling world. The shocking finish seems even more surprising considering the breadth of talent that existed in the final 50km. With 65 km remaining a dangerous looking group which contained Philippe Gilbert, Vincenzo Nibali, Pablo Lastras amongst 6 others seemed destine to be the select group from which the winner would emerge.
At the Madonna del Ghisallo, Nibali went alone dropping Gilbert like a rock after his second surge and built up a lead of nearly 2 minutes through the remaining kms of the climb and the descent. Here, a peloton some 50 strong rejoined, after being fragmented all over the Ghisallo, and made the pursuit together. What looked very promising for Liquigas, wasn’t, as Nibali was caught in the last 15km.
All of the favorites were in the peloton for the Salita di Ello where Thomas Lofqvist (Sky) went to the front and proceeded to decimate the group. Nibali, Brajkovic and LeMevel were amongst the first to drop off, followed shortly by Samuel Sanchez and Damiano Cunego. As Lofkvist smashed the pace Basso and Rodriguez moved forward to find a good position, but before anyone could respond, Zaugg launched a stinging attack that no one could answer. In pursuit the field ripped to pieces on the final 500m of the climb and the descent into Lecco.
Zaugg had little problem preserving the lead he gained on the final climb and rolled into Lecco, and into the history books, closing out the 2011 season, and capping the fifth monument the way four of the five other monuments ended, with a grand surprise.
Il Lombardia Top Twenty
1. Oliver Zaugg (Leopard)___________6h20’02”
2. Dan Martin (Garmin)_____________+8″
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha)
4. Ivan Basso (Liquigas)
5. Przemyslaw Niemiecz (Lampre)
6. Dominico Pozzovivo (Colnago)
7. Giovanni Visconti (Farnese-Vini)____+16″
8. Philippe Gilbert (Lotto)
9. Carlos Betancur (Acqua e Sapone)
10. Riccardo Chiarini (Androni)
11. Luca Paolini (Katusha)__________+27″
12. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
13. Dario Caltaldo (Quickstep)
14. Peter Stetina (Garmin)
15. Igor Anton (Euskaltel)
16. Nicolas Roche (AG2R)
17. Daniel Moreno (Katusha)
18. Remi Pauriol (FDJ)
19. Rigoberto Uran (Sky)
20. Thomas Lofkvist (Sky)