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Daniel Martin made up for his crash marred 2014 season, outsmarting all race favorites to take a convincing solo victory in Il Lombardia. Alejandro Valverde came second, while Rui Costa completed the podium.

Photo: Sirotti






05.10.2014 @ 17:17 Posted by Aleksandra Górska

Daniel Martin eventually put an end to a bad luck which chased him all the way through the crash-marred 2014 season, taking a convincing solo victory in the Il Lombardia on Sunday. Biggest pre-race favorite, Alejandro Valverde, won a sprint from leaders group for a runner-up spot, while Rui Costa kicked off his post-championship chapter of professional career on a positive note, completing the podium.


With his victory in the “race of the falling leaves”, Martin took his career’s second monument following 2013 edition of Liege-Bastogne-Liege. Achieving this, he finished his crash-marred 2014 season in the best possible way, making up not only for accidents which hampered his title defense in La Doyenne and whole Giro d’Italia campaign, but previous Il Lombardia edition, where he hit the deck while challenging Rafał Majka for the third spot in the finale.


As it was expected, the real racing kicked-off on the ultimate climb into Bergamo Alto right after last escapees were caught. Tim Wellens decided to attack as first, and was quickly followed by pre-race favorites in likes of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar), Fabio Aru (Astana), Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida), Samuel Sanchez, Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing), Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE) and Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp).


The 28-year old Irishman timed his attack perfectly with 1 kilometer to go, acknowledging that a pace in the 9-man group slightly went down. Garmin-Sharp rider gained a significant gap coming into last corners, as Valverde, Rodriguez, Costa and Gilbert came to almost standstill, looking at each other. Eventually the Movistar captain decided to lead the chase, but it was only enough to take his another runner-up spot behind celebrating Martin, while witty former World Champion finished third.


A novel course

After two last editions being marred by heavy rainfalls, riders were pleased to welcome more favorable weather conditions on Sunday, as the 2014 edition of Il Lombardia kicked of under a slightly cloudy sky in Como. The “race of the falling leaves” was held on the novel route with much lumpier final 50 kilometers, reaching its conclusion in Bergamo for the first time since 2003.


Rodriguez eyes a hat-trick

This meant that Joaquim Rodriguez couldn’t hope to repeat his winning move from last two years, but nonetheless he was planning to become the first rider to take three consecutive victories in season’s ultimate monument. The 35-year old Spaniard lined up at the start along with other Il Lombardia champions from last years: Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) and Oliver Zaugg (Tinkoff-Saxo), while other three time winner of the event, Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Merida) was a notable absentee.   


Day’s breakaway is formed

Even though an aggressive start of the Il Lombardia 2014 edition was expected and countless attacks were anticipated to get into day’s breakaway, it took less than 30 kilometers of racing before the right group was formed, consisting of Tiziano Dall'Antonia (Androni-Venezuela), Francesco Gavazzi (Astana), Jeremy Roy (, Jan Polanc (Lampre-Merida), Andrea Fedi (Neri Sottoli), Sergio Paulinho (Tinkoff-Saxo), Paul Voss (NetApp Endura), Romain Guillmois (Europcar) and Mathias Brändle (IAM Cycling).


A two-rider chasing group was immediately formed in response, as, Angelo Pagani (Bardiani-CSF) and Miguel Angel Rubiano (Team Colombia) took off in pursuit.


Katusha and Tinkoff-Saxo take control

The peloton controlled by mainly Katusha and Tinkoff-Saxo took a quick breather before passing the 50-kilometre mark, what let nine escapees build an impressive advantage of over 10’20” as they reached the summit of the first climb of the day – the famous Madonna del Ghisallo.


The gap has come down a touch as the leaders rider through this flat section. With 155 kilometers remaining, nine escapees, already caught two chasers, had an advantage of 7:52 over the peloton. Meanwhile, the second hour of racing has passed, negotiated by riders with advantage of 44.8 km/h.


The advantage of the eleven-rider breakaway was significantly reduced to only 6’39” by the joined forces of Katusha, Tinkoff-Saxo and Omega Pharma – Quick Step at the halfway point.

The same, riders have paid their first visit to Bergamo today and entered a hilly circuit around the city, the toughest part of the novel Il Lombardia course.


Txurruka does it again

Movistar team took control of pace setting as soon as the peloton hit the most demanding climb of the day – Passo di Ganda and peloton immediately started to split. Philip Deignan (Team Sky) and Gianluca Brambilla (Omega Pharma – Quick Step) were first riders to try attacks, followed by the most usual suspect on such occasions – tireless Amets Txurruka (Caja Rural).


Breakaway explodes

Meanwhile, a fierce pace set by Paulinho and Polanc caused splits in the breakaway, as only Roy, Fedi and Rubiano were initially able to stick to their wheels.

The Portuguese Tinkoff-Saxo rider apparently had had enough of his breakaway companions and took off on his own on the Bracca climb, with 47 kilometers to go. Relentless Txurruka continued his chase, passing Guillemois and Brandle with about 1’30” time loss to the sole leader and 40” advantage over the peloton.


Dutch trio takes off

A Dutch trio of Ben Hermans (BMC Racing), Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE) and one of dark horses for today’s event Bauke Mollema (Belkin Procycling) took off on the Bracca climb, quickly joined by Mikel Cherel (Ag2r La Mondiale), while Fedi managed to catch Paulinho.


Chasing group quickly caught Txurruka, Roy and Rubiano, and working together they reduced an advantage of the front duo to less than 1’00”, while the peloton was losing further 1’20”.


Katusha was apparently slightly worried by Mollema’s attack, as they took control over pace setting again as they hit the penultimate ascent of the day into Berbenno and immediately caused havoc in the peloton, which exploded into pieces.


Countless attacks

One action was followed by another, as riders like Kolobnev (Katusha), Zardini (Bardiani-CSF) and Kiryienka (Team Sky) all tried to go clear, while most of the escapees were reeled back by the peloton powered by joined forces of Katusha and Movistar, leaving only a duo of Weening and Hermans with a slight advantage at the front.


The peloton took a little breather while negotiating the penultimate descent into Bergamo, where all latest attackers were caught. With 18 kilometers to go, the Dutch duo staying at the front was caught by Leopold Konig (NetApp Endura), but their 15” advantage was gradually reduced. While BMC riders started to underline their presence in a group of race favourites, the likes of Valverde (Movistar), Rodriguez (Katusha) and new World Champion Michał Kwiatkowski (Omega Pharma – Quick Step) also stayed attentive.


Peraud steals spotlight

Jean-Christophe Peraud (Ag2r La Mondiale) was the first big name to try an offensive action, as he went clear 14 kilometers from the finish line. The 36-year old Frenchman certainly tried to underline his presence in his last event of the 2014 season, certainly the best in his professional career as road cyclist.


The curse of the rainbow jersey

A revelation of the latter part of the 2014 season, Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Shimano) crashed with only 10 kilometers to go, while Kwiatkowski tasted the curse of the rainbow jersey in his first appearance as the World Champion, as terrible cramps forced him out of contention just before the finale.


Favorites show their cards

In the same time, Garmin-Sharp appeared at the front of the 30-rider peloton and started their work, digging deep to catch the front duo of Weening and Hermans. All came together with 4 kilometers to go, just as they hit the ultimate 1-kilometre climb into Bergamo Alto, and race favorites finally started their dance..

Il Lombardia 2014 top 10:

1 Daniel Martin (Garmin-Sharp)
2 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar)
3 Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida)
4 Tim Wellens (Lotto Belisol)
5 Samuel Sanchez (BMC Racing)
6 Michael Albasini (Orica-GreenEDGE)
7 Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing)
8 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha)
9 Fabio Aru (Astana)
10 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ag2r La Mondiale)



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