Il Lombardia: Dan Martin, At The Last Corner

Embedded image permalinkIndead: a fluid race raced on the attack. Indead: a spectacular finish. But I can't recognise the Giro di Lombardia in this Il Lombardia: another race. Not a classic.
For Classics' riders though, like Dan Martin. But on the classic route he could have gone earlier. Here he won at the true last corner, in Bergamo - crowded.
There was a an early break-away including Dall'Antonia, Gavazzi, Roy, Polanc, Fedi, Guillemois, Voss, Paulinho, Brandle, Pagani and Rubiano Chavez. They animated 2/3 of the race, exploding and imploding several times. The most active was looking Paulinho. Behind Txurruka was the first one to give it a go. 
On the climb of Bracca Paulinho was solo. From the peloton small group got off to chase: Bauke Mollema, Ben Hermans, Mickaël Chérel and Pieter Weening. They easily caught the break-away and things became complicated: Weening and Hermans in front, then Zardini and Kolobnev, then Kiryienka, then Wellens, Pelizzotti and Zoidl, finally... what was left of the peloton.
Embedded image permalinkAproaching the last climb in Bergamo Leo Konig joined the leading duo but got quickly dropped. Weening and Hermans afforded in front the passage on the pavé in Città Vecchia, then the last fast descent, unfortunately too regular to allow a safe advantage. A larger group was ready for a small group sprint when Dan Martin anticpated it and went away solo. Some curvs and it was done. 
Embedded image permalinkAlso, some crashes disrupted the chase, Frank Schleck was involved but didn't fall. Cramps stopped instead the new World Champion Michal Kwiatowski. Popovich had crashed earlier off to the hospital, while Dumoulin crashed later and couldn't disputate the sprint for the podium.
Embedded image permalinkFor a change, there was the sun. I told you: it was a different race.

Daniel Martin:
“I crashed on the last corner last year and that was the start of my bad luck. I think this is full circle and to win Il Lombardia is just incredible.
I only knew I'd won when I got through the last corner without crashing. Getting through it was my big objective ...
I've had a lot of good luck in my career and so I knew I'd have one year of bad luck but I always try to stay positive and so does the team. We always believed we'd win. After a difficult season it's actually easier to be motivated, focused and train for these races. I didn't want to end the season without a win. 
We work hard and getting kicked down hurts. In Belfast I was in the best condition I'd had and not finishing the first stage hurt. I actually caused more damage to the team and that hurt so badly. I had incredible support from Irish people, even out on the route today. It's incredible to bring it home and to follow on from Sean Kelly a few years ago.
I was actually thinking of attacking on the climb but I didn't have the opportunity. I saw that [Philippe] Gilbert, [Alejandro] Valverde, [Michael] Albasini and [Rui] Costa were there and they're all very fast, so I needed to go before the sprint. I moved up to be on Gilbert's wheel, got speed, saw a gap and went. I didn't think about it, it just happened. It was inspiration.
Then it was a case of not crashing on the last corner. I was quite nervous because I've got a track record ... but it all worked out.
Lombardia and Liège-Bastogne-Liège are my two favourite races of the year. I just love these long races and getting eighth in 2009 was when I first realised I could perhaps win it.
Lombardia is a beautiful, beautiful race. It's the climber's Classic and it's one of the first cycling memories I have, starting when Bettini won it. I understand the history of the race. I love cycling and this is one of the biggest races of the year. To have my name on the race palmares is incredible.
I love racing and actually enjoy one-day races the most. I just love racing. I've proved in the Vuelta that I do the general classification but winning a Grand Tour is perhaps a few years away. There's something special about starting fresh and finishing empty. One-day Classics are more tactical, you have to take risks. I'm less conservative (as a rider) and love that kind of racing.
Movistar TeamIn my career, I wanted to win three races: Lombardia, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Flèche Wallonne. Now there's only one left and I was close to Flèche this year. I'm only 28 and I've already won two Monuments. But I'm going to continue racing how I do and enjoy my racing.”

Alejandro Valverde: 
“I had the legs to win the race and I’m a bit sad about that, but nothing is taken for granted in pro cycling. Everyone was looking at me when Martin attacked, they left all responsibility on my shoulders to go after him. I just couldn’t control everything in the end and we had to sprint for 2nd place, which we achieved. Still, I’m happy about today’s result: the team worked well, I accompllished the goal of getting back into the WorldTour lead and these 66 points make things look well in view of the final race. We’ll see how we manage the circumstances to profit the best from Beijing.
This second place is a tribute to my whole family and my kids, especially the newborn Natalia. These weren’t easy days when it comes to resting: I was always going everywhere to look after my wife and the kids and I could only get to Italy on Saturday evening. The effort was worth, though. Lombardy is a really beautiful race, and though I’m not happy I couldn’t win it this time, surely there will be more chances to take that grudge off.” 

Rui Costa:
“First of all, I want to thank my team mates, because they perfectly supported me from the start to the last climb, I could not ask more from them. I tried to give the team a top result, all the nine members of the group that was leading the race after the climb of Bergamo Alta were pedaling with few energies left, so we were all waiting for the sprint, but Martin attacked when the speed had decreased and he deserved the victory. 
The third place is a good result, I’m happy I could honor the first race I took part in without wearing the rainbow jersey.

Today is my birthday and it would have been great celebrating it with a victory, but I’m satisfied for celebrating is knowing that I’m the first Portugese cyclist to be on the podium of the Giro di Lombardia and that now I’m fourth in the World Tour ranking“.

1 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin Sharp 6:25:33
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Movistar Team 0:00:01
3 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Por) Lampre-Merida 
4 Tim Wellens (Bel) Lotto Belisol 
5 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) BMC Racing Team 
6 Michael Albasini (Swi) Orica Greenedge 
7 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 
8 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Spa) Team Katusha 
9 Fabio Aru (Ita) Astana Pro Team 
10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) AG2R La Mondiale 0:00:14

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