Bartoli Wins Tour of Lombardy; Bettini Takes World Cup
Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo) has won the Tour of Lombardy for the second time. Bartoli outsprinted breakaway companion Angelo Lopeboselli (Cofidis) to win the tenth and final round of the World Cup in 6:29:41. Bartoli's teammate Dario Frigo finished third at 1:35. Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), who abandoned with 30 km remaining, has won the World Cup for the second consecutive year.
Matteo Cappe' (Formaggio Pinzolo Fiave') and Francesco Bellotti (Mercatone Uno) began racing early. The pair sallied off of the front at 22 km, and Bellotti eventually dropped Cappe' and built a fourteen-minute lead before Saeco and Rabobank began to chase. At 184 km, the peloton reeled in the Mercatone Uno rider at the base of the Selvino. By the top of the climb, Michael Rasmussen's (Rabobank) pacemaking reduced the lead group to 14, but the field regrouped on the descent.
With 50 km left, Juan Antonio Flecha (iBanesto.com) attacked on the Bracca and took Andrea Peron (CSC) and Maarten Den Bakker and Beat Zberg (both from Rabobank) with him. The peloton reeled them in, but Den Bakker, Peron, and Flecha tried again on the descent. With 42 km remaining, the trio led an eight-man chase group by 0:20 and the 40-rider peloton by 0:50.
Fassa Bortolo, led by Dario Frigo and by Bartoli, powered after the escapees. At the top of the Barbenno (221 km), Flecha, Peron, and Den Bakker led the new chase group, which Fassa Bortolo's pursuit had formed, by 0:30, and Bettini abandoned. At the base of the Barbenno, the lead group was 20 riders strong.
With 20 km left, Bartoli attacked and took Lopeboselli with him. Zberg attempted to organize a chase with Peron and Marcos Serrano (ONCE), but Lopeboselli had teammates Cedric Vasseur, David Moncoutie, and Guido Trentin in the break, with Frigo representing Fassa Bortolo. With 10 km remaining, Bartoli and Lopeboselli led the pursuit by 1:10.
Lopeboselli attacked on the Citta' Alta, the day's final climb, but Bartoli was too strong. Behind, Frigo dropped the other chasers. Lopeboselli led the pair into the last km, but with 250 m left, Bartoli jumped him for the win.
Bettini wins the World Cup with 350 points. Michael Boogerd (Rabobank), who received 16 points for finishing 10th at the Tour of Lombardy, finishes second overall with 220 points, one more than Peter Van Petegem. After having won three World Cup races in 2003, Bettini can legitimately claim to be cycling's best classics man of the year.