Joaquim Rodriguez (KAT) may not have won the Rainbow World Champions Jersey last weekend, but he was given a second opportunity at a monumental win today at the Giro di Lombardia and he came away with the trophy for the second consecutive year. Rodriguez attacked on the steepest slopes of the 3km Villa Vergano final climb just as he did last year and was able to hold off a cautious Dan Martin (GRM), a passive Rafal Majka (TSB) and an aggressive Alejandro Valverde (MOV). For Rodriguez, the thought of having Valverde bearing down on him must have easily provided the motivation necessary to hold off the Murcian, who had dropped the other two on the run into the line, as J-Rod surely wanted to close out the season with the win and perhaps make a little statement to his compatriot, and former teammate.
The day was bombarded with brutal weather as is often the case in the Lake Como region this time of year, and a long aggressive attack by Frenchman Thomas Voeckler, but the slow and methodical pace of the Katusha team thinned the peloton, dropping riders like Contador and Gilbert (who was able to fight back on), and brought Voeckler back with some 15km to go. Movistar was also busy on the front working for Valverde and cheekily making World Champion Rui Costa do some more domestique service before he flees to Lampre next season. As the group of some 35 riders all came together on the Villa Vergano, Domenico Pozzovivo was the first to make his intentions known, followed by Thibault Pinot, but it was Rodriguez patiently waiting for the final 600 meters of the climb to burst away. With only 11 seconds on the 3 pursuers, it looked unlikely to hold, but Dan Martin seemingly afraid of crashing on the slick surfaces (only to do just that when isolated) didn’t want to work and Majka neither, so Valverde just waltzed away in solo pursuit. However, J-Rod, was able to not only hold his gap, but increase it on Valverde finishing easily ahead with 17 seconds over the Movistar rider.
With the win, Rodriguez jumps into the Number 1 ranking on the World Tour, also for the second consecutive year finishing with 607 points, 20 more than Number 2 ranked Chris Froome (587pts). Valverde, with second today at Lombardia rounds out the top three with 540 points.
The 2013 season is quickly winding up with the Chinese races the only remaining stage races, and Paris-Tours, Giro dell’Emilia, Coppa Sabatini and Giro Della Romagna as the remaining smaller classics.
2013 Il Lombardia Top Twenty
1. Joaquim Rodríguez (KAT)_______6h10’18”
2. Alejandro Valverde (MOV)______+17″
3. Rafal Majka (TST)_____________+23″
4. Daniel Martin (GRS)___________+45″
5. Enrico Gasparotto (AST)_______+45″
6. Daniel Moreno (KAT)___________+55″
7. Pieter Serry (OPQ)
8. Franco Pellizotti (AND)
9. Ivan Santaromita (BMC)
10. Robert Gesink (BEL)
11. Ivan Basso (CAN)
12. Thibaut Pinot (FDJ)
13. Juan Antonio Flecha (VAC)
14. Ben Hermans (RLT)
15. Domenico Pozzovivo (AG2R)
16. Nairo Quintana Rojas (MOV)
17. Cyril Gautier (EUR)_________+1:07
18. Tom Dumoulin (ARG)
19. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC)
20. Philippe Gilbert (BMC)