Costa Wins World Road Race Championship
Yesterday, 2008 world road race champion Alessandro Ballan said, “…we could end up with a surprise winner.” Ballan should consider becoming a clairvoyant when his racing days are done. Today, Rui Costa (Portugal) surprised everyone, including himself, by winning the world road race championship.
Costa became the first Portuguese world road race champion by pipping Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain) in a two-up sprint. He won the rugged, 272.26-km ride from Lucca to Florence, Italy in 7:25:44. Alejandro Valverde (Spain) outsprinted Vincenzo Nibali (Italy) to take third at 0:17.
Until today, good weather had greeted the riders in this year’s world road race championships. Today, however, the riders in the elite men’s road race left Lucca in a downpour. At 14 km, Bartosz Huzarski (Poland), Jan Barta (Czech Republic), Matthias Brandle (Austria), Yonder Godoy (Venezuela), and Rafaa Chtioui (Tunisia) got clear. Great Britain rode tempo, and the escapees’ lead maxed out at more than eight minutes before the peloton cut it to 7:44 at 112 km, the start of the first of 10 16-km laps.
Italy made a controversial move by taking over at the front and upping the tempo. Some observers felt that the azzurri did too much work too early in the race. Regardless of whether the Italians used poor tactics, they cut the break’s advantage to 5:56 at the end of the first lap, 4:10 at the end of the second, and 2:22 at the conclusion of the third. The pace and the rain, the latter of which caused numerous crashes, reduced the peloton to 60 riders at the start of the fourth lap, with riders such as Samuel Sanchez (Spain); Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland); Tejay van Garderen, Taylor Phinney, and Chris Horner (all from the United States); Nicolas Roche (Ireland); Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain); and Matti Breschel (Denmark) calling it a day. Most of the heads of state were still in the race, however.
On the fourth lap, Chtioui dropped off of the pace, and one lap later, Brandle and Godoy followed suit. Behind, the Italians cut the fugitives’ lead to two minutes but then backed off, which allowed Barta and Huzarski to increase their lead.
On the sixth lap, riders began to attack from the peloton. Georg Priedler (Austria) attacked on the Via Salviati, and Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands) joined him. At the end of the lap, the pair was 2:01 behind the leaders, with the bunch at 2:41.
The peloton accelerated, and on the climb to Fiesole Cyril Gautier (France) attacked. At the summit, the Frenchman was 0:10 behind Priedler and Kelderman, who trailed Barta and Huzarski by less than a minute. At this point, the peloton was at 1:15. Giovanni Visconti (Italy) attacked and joined Gautier.
At the top of the seventh ascent of Via Salviati, Barta and Huzarski led Priedler and Kelderman by 0:25, and Visconti and Gautier were at 0:42, with the peloton at 1:27. Again, the Italians eased up, and at the end of the lap, Priedler and Kelderman were at 0:15, and the bunch was at 1:44.
On the eighth ascent of the Fiesole, Huzarski dropped Barta and the two chase groups merged. Visconti attacked, overtook Barta, and was 0:20 behind Huzarski at the top. Behind, the peloton reeled in the other chasers and was at 1:48 at the summit. At the summit of the Via Salviati, Visconti trailed