Milan - Katusha's Joaquim Rodriguez won a
rain-lashed 106th edition of the Tour of Lombardy Saturday to become the
first Spanish winner of the 'Race of the Falling Leaves'.
who has finished on two Grand Tour podiums in 2012, launched a solo
attack on the final climb 9km from the finish and held off a desperate
chase to finish the 251km classic in triumph.
"It's the biggest
win of my life," said Rodriguez, who started his season by winning the
Fleche Wallonne semi-classic before finishing runner-up in the Giro
He also finished third in the Tour of Spain won by
compatriot Alberto Contador, who finished ninth and among a small group
that was nine seconds adrift.
Rodriguez added: "This year has been
perfect, but despite winning Fleche Wallonne and my second place at the
Giro I still hadn't won a big classic."
Fellow Spaniard Samuel
Sanchez finished second ahead of Olympic silver medallist Rigoberto Uran
of Colombia as a number of pre-race favourite fell out of contention in
the treacherous conditions.
Rodriguez's win came in the absence
of Belgium's former two-time winner and new world champion Philippe
Gilbert, who crashed out around 80 km from the finish.
Vincenzo Nibali also came down on a descent shortly after and despite
latching back on to the lead peloton the Liquigas leader was among those
caught out when Rodriguez launched his decisive attack.
those dangers gome, Rodriguez -- a 'puncher' who excels on steep climbs
-- launched his bid for victory on the climb to Villa Vergano, whose
summit was 9.5 km from the finish.
Uran, who had signalled his
ambitions pre-race by winning the Giro del Piedmont midweek, admitted:
"We expected Rodriguez to attack on the final climb, or else Contador.
When he did we just couldn't follow.
"It was a very hard race and made even worse by the rain."
it looked like the seven-strong chase group of Contador, Sergio Henao,
Uran, Mauro Santambrogio, Nairo Quintana, Thomas Lovkvist and 2011
champion Oliver Zaugg, would reel in Rodriguez, who held a lead of just
20sec with 6km remaining.
But their lack of collaboration in the
closing kilometres played in the Spaniard's favour. Zaugg, frustrated,
finally countered in the closing 1.5 km but by then it was too little
Rodriguez, however, had never imagined winning solo.
this morning I just felt that things would go right. I saw people
getting tired during the race and I was feeling good. But I didn't think
I'd be going to the finish on my own," he said.
"I thought I'd have to contend the sprint with (Alberto) Contador and Nibali."
maiden Lombardy triumph means he secures the number one World Tour
ranking held by British Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins. He now
has 692 points with Wiggins, who did not race Saturday, now in second on
In 105 previous editions hosts Italy have dominated with 67
victories, with 12 for Belgium, 11 for France, five for Switzerland and
three each for Ireland and the Netherlands.
Riders from Britain, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Russia, and now Spain, have claimed one win each.Tour of Lombardy results on Saturday:
1. Joaquim Rodriguez (ESP/KAT) 6hr 36min 27sec
2. Samuel Sanchez (ESP/EUS) at 09sec
3. Rigoberto Uran (COL/SKY) s.t.
4. Mauro Santambrogio (ITA/BMC) s.t.
5. Sergio Henao (COL/SKY) s.t.
6. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN/GRM) s.t.
7. Bauke Mollema (NED/RAB) s.t.
8. Oliver Zaugg (SUI/RSH) s.t.
9. Alberto Contador (ESP/SAX) s.t.
10. Fredrik Kessiakoff (SWE/AST) s.t.
11. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) s.t.
12. Franco Pellizotti (ITA/AND) s.t.
13. Damiano Cunego (ITA/LAM) 35
14. Alexandr Kolobnev (RUS/KAT) 57
15. Simon Clarke (AUS/OGE) s.t.
16. Daniel Martin (IRL/GRM) 1:23
17. Greg Van Avermaet (BEL/BMC) 1:25
18. Jean-Christophe Peraud (FRA/ALM) s.t.
19. Matteo Rabottini (ITA/FAR) s.t.
20. Danilo Di Luca (ITA/ASA) s.t.
24. Carlos Betancur (COL/ASA) 1:25
26. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/LIQ) 1:30
28. Ivan Basso (ITA/LIQ) 1:30
29. Romain Bardet (FRA/ALM) 2:10
30. Dario Cataldo (ITA/OPQ) 2:14
32. Mikel Nieve (ESP/EUS) 2:38
34. Rinaldo Nocentini (ITA/ALM) 3:03
35. Marco Marcato (ITA/VAC) 3:03
36. Igor Anton (ESP/EUS) 4:07
37. Lars Petter Nordhaug (NOR/SKY) 4:07
38. Rui Costa (POR/MOV) 4:07
41. Diego Ulissi (ITA/LAM) 5:06
45. Chris Anker Sorensen (DEN/SAX) 7:29
47. Johnny Hoogerland (NED/VAC) 10:14
49. Daniel Moreno (ESP/KAT) 10:14
54. Peio Bilbao (ESP/EUS) 20:03