Martin Wins Giro di Lombardia
Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp-POC) has won the Giro di Lombardia 2014. Martin won the hilly, 260-km Race of the Falling Leaves by surging away from the lead group in the final km. The Irishman took Il Lombardia in 6:25:33 with Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) outsprinting Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) for second.
Because of road work, the course was lengthened from 256.8 km to 260 km. An early break formed at around 10 km. It consisted of Tiziano Dall'Antonio (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Jeremy Roy (FDJ.fr), Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli-Yellow Fluo), Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff-Saxo Bank), Miguel Chavez (Colombia), Paul Voss (NetApp-Endura), Angelo Pagani (Bardiani-CSF), and Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling). The escapees’ lead ballooned to more than 10 minutes at 50 km.
Movistar and Katusha took over at the front. The Spanish squads’ pacemaking cut the break’s advantage to 8:30 at 70 km and 7:00 midway through the race. At this point, Omega Pharma-Quick Step joined Katusha at the front, and Tinkoff-Saxo Bank went to the front later. On the ascent of the Colle dei Pasta, Movistar, Katusha, and Tinkoff-Saxo Bank were at the head of the pack, and their pursuit had narrowed the gap between bunch and break to six minutes.
The pursuit accelerated, and the bunch trailed the fugitives by four minutes at 180 km and 3:45 at the base of the Colle Gallo. Ahead, Voss was the first to be dropped, and Brandle followed soon after. Philip Deignan (Team Sky) was the first of a number of riders to attack from the peloton before Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural-Seguros RGA) had a dig and got near the lead group. At the summit, the leaders were Paulinho, Fedi, Chavez, and Polanc.
On the Bracca, Paulinho attacked, and Fedi caught him on the descent. Behind, a chase group consisting of Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Bauke Mollema (Belkin), Ben Hermans (BMC), Roy, Txurruka, Chavez, and Mickael Cherel (Ag2r-La Mondiale) formed. This group trailed Paulinho and Fedi by 1:50, with the peloton a minute further behind.
Katusha, Movistar, and Omega Pharma-Quick Step led the chase. Ahead, Polanc joined the two leaders. Shortly thereafter, Weening, Hermans, and Cherel bridged up to the lead group. On the Berbenno, Weening attacked and only Hermans could follow. On the descent, they led the peloton by 0:13.
Leopold Konig (NetApp-Endura) attempted to bridge up to Hermans and Weening, but cramps struck him. The same fate befell newly crowned world road race champion Michal Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma-Quick Step). On the approach to the Bergamo Alta, the day’s last climb, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp-POC) accelerated.
Hesjedal’s acceleration pulled the peloton past Hermans and Weening. Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) counterattacked, and Philippe Gilbert (BMC) joined the Belgian, as did two-time defending champion Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing Team), Costa, Fabio Aru (Astana), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEdge), Martin, and Valverde. Sanchez paced the group into the final km, and Martin attacked with 600 m left. His erstwhile companions hesitated, and Martin had time to celebrate as he crossed the finish line.
Martin’s victory ended a run of bad luck for the Irishman. He crashed out of the 2013 Vuelta a Espana, crashed out of contention at this year’s Liege-Bastogne-Liege, broke his collarbone in a crash at the Giro d’Italia, and was delayed by a crash at last week’s world road race championship. The Garmin-Sharp-POC man’s win relieved him. “It has been a difficult year,” he said. “After crashes in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d’italia, I also crashed at the Vuelta [a Espana], at a really bad moment. Even last week, at the Worlds, people fell in front of me, leaving me out of contention. I’ve mostly had good luck in my career, so it’s normal to have a season of bad luck. The team helped me. They really believed I could win today, so it was easier to stay motivated and train hard coming into these final races. I didn’t want to finish the season without a win. After the Vuelta, I really worked 100 percent and I wanted to win here or in Beijing, and I’ve won here, so it’s a special victory.”
One race remains on the UCI World Tour schedule, the Tour of Beijing, which begins on October 10. Some of the placings in the UCI World Tour rankings are still up for grabs, so riders and teams will put their best feet forward. How will they fare? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!