Bettini Wins Giro di Lombardia; Di Luca Wins ProTour
Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) has finished his season with a bang. Last week, the Olympic champion won the Championship of Zurich, and today he has taken the Giro di Lombardia. Bettini took a three-up sprint to win the 246-km Race of the Falling Leaves in 5:56:22. Gilberto Simoni (Lampre) outsprinted Frank Schleck (CSC) for second. Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas), who entered the race with an insurmountable lead in the ProTour, has won the competition.
The racing began early. In the first 20 km, Di Luca (Liquigas) attacked and took Francesco Bellotti (Credit Agricole) and Juan Mercado (Quick Step) with him. The bunch chased down the trio, but Di Luca tried again after 29 km with Eric Leblacher (Credit Agricole), Mario Aerts (Davitamon), Jose Garcia Acosta (Illes Balears), and Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros). The peloton reeled in that break, too, but at 41 km Giovanni Visconti (Domina Vacanze), Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Acosta, Devis Miorin (Liquigas), Carlos Barredo and Davis (Liberty Seguros), Valerio Agnoli (Naturino), Davide Bramati (Quick Step), Bram De Groot (Rabobank), Constantino Zaballa (Saunier Duval), Ivan De Gasperi (LPR), and Sascha Urwelder (Phonak) escaped.
The CSC-led bunch kept the break on a relatively short leash, with the fugitives? lead maxing out at 5:15 at 104 km. At the top of the Taceno (145 km), 2:00 separated the peloton from the escapees. Urwelder fell off of the pace.
At the base of the Madonna del Ghisallo (192 km), Bettini accelerated. Only Simoni, Schleck and Carlos Sastre (both from CSC), and Giampaolo Caruso (Liberty Seguros) could join the Olympic champion. At the top of the ascent (202 km), Bettini?s group led a six-man chase group by 0:30. The gap grew to 1:00 with 23 km left.
On the day?s next-to-last climb, Bettini and Simoni applied pressure and dropped their three companions, although Schleck rejoined on the descent and Caruso got back on just shy of San Fermo di Battaglia, the day?s final climb. On the ascent, Bettini attacked and put his companions in difficulty, but Simoni and Schleck caught the Quick Stepper at the summit.
On the run to the finish, Bettini and Simoni did the work. With one km remaining, Caruso rejoined the trio and attacked. Bettini took his wheel. With 300 m left, Bettini came around Caruso for the win.
Di Luca, who abandoned, has won the ProTour with 229 points. World champion Tom Boonen (Quick Step), who did not race today, finishes second with 171 points, while Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) vaulted from 10th to third with 151 points by finishing fifth today.