Rodriguez seals Il Lombardia
Spaniard edges out Wiggins in WorldTour
Last Updated: September 29, 2012 5:06pm
Joaquim Rodriguez: Continued his impressive campaign by winning a monument
Joaquim Rodriguez launched a stinging attack on the final climb to take a solo victory at Il Lombardia.
The Katusha rider became the first-ever Spaniard to win the famous monument classic, holding off the chasing pack by nine seconds to secure the number one spot in the UCI WorldTour Rankings on soaking wet roads in Lecco.
Rodriguez kicked hard on the steep ramps of the final Villa Vergano climb, finally distancing his rivals after six and a half hours of racing.
Samuel Sanchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) arrived late in an elite chase group to claim second ahead of Team Sky’s Rigoberto Urán.
Urán and Colombian Team Sky team-mate Sergio Henao had driven a chasing group of six which began to swell in numbers in the closing kilometres.
Absent from the results was pre-race favourite Philippe Gilbert, the newly-crowned world champion (BMC Racing) having crashed on the descent off the infamous Muro di Sormano and abandoned.
As forecasted it was bad weather that greeted the riders as the peloton rolled out of Bergamo on Saturday ahead of 251 kilometres of racing.
An initial group of 10 riders made tracks early on, the first climb over the Valico di Valcava splitting things up briefly as the weather closed in further.
Team Sky took up the gauntlet and chased early before BMC Racing finally looked to set things up for Gilbert ahead of the Surmano.
The big names quickly arrived at the front with Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Canondale) among those forcing a selection on the brutally steep ramps, the breakaway being swept up with over 80km remaining save for the plucky Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale).
The climb, returning after a 50-year absence, looked as though it would completely change the complexion of the race as the peloton blew to pieces ahead of the summit.
A general regrouping on the treacherous descent saw an elite selection of around 30 riders chasing Bardet, but the technical terrain spelt the end of the race for Gilbert who crashed alongside team-mate Alessandro Ballan and Luca Paolini (Katusha).
Kevin De Weert was the next to try and forge clear on his own, the Omega Pharma – Quick-Step rider finding himself clear by 43 seconds over the top of the famous Madonna del Ghisallo.
A brief spate of crashes on the glass-like roads saw the Belgian’s lead brought back, De Weert going down along with Nibali, Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) and Paolo Tiralongo (Astana).
It all came down to the final climb and Rodriguez again proved his strength to win an epic race in style.