Rui Costa claims historic rainbow jersey in Florence after one of the toughest World Championships in recent years; Valverde (bronze) grabs fifth medal in the event, rounds up dream race for Movistar Team
A brilliant finish for a season full of success. Rui Costa has become the first-ever Portuguese road World Champion after claiming a resounding win in Tuscany, venue for one of the most demanding events in recent Championships -long (272km), difficult with the climbs of Fiesole and Via Salviati- and made even harder by soaking rain that hit the riders for more than six hours, with only 61 riders of 208 starting able to complete the race. The Portuguese crowned a stellar performance from the Movistar Team, with eight riders in six natinoal teams, starting off with the domestique effort by Jonathan Castroviejo. The Basque got to keep the pace into the climbs and held the attacks tight after his team-mate Giovanni Visconti, one of the biggest protagonists in the race, saw his early attack chased down with two laps remaining.
The Italian rode at service of his national team’s leader Vincenzo Nibali until the bell lap, when an attack by Joaquim Rodríguez (ESP) left only five riders at the front, with two Blues -Costa and Alejandro Valverde- against Nibali, Rodríguez and Urán (COL), who crashed into the last Fiesole descent. Playing for the medals, another move from Rodríguez forced Nibali to react on his own pace and later took Rui to counter with 1.5k remaining. With Valverde out of energy to control him, the Portuguese went on the perfect launching platform to sprint in a ‘tête-à-tête’ with Rodríguez and snatch the gold medal and the rainbow jersey, the first Movistar Team riders have claimed in their history. The negative notes of the day for the telephone squad -already 30 victories on their 2013 season tally- came as Nairo Quintana and José Herrada crashed out of contention, yet with no severe consequences.
Rui Costa: “Wearing this jersey was a goal during my entire career and I can’t still believe it. I had this race marked down on my season schedule. The World Championships are always sort of a lottery, difficult to win. It’s hard, even more in a race like this, with soaking rain, especially in the first three hours. You always go through ups and downs in such courses; at some points I didn’t feel well, but my feelings in the last lap were better. I knew I had to stay focused into the Fiesole climb and sticked to the decisive move. I also knew I’d be struggling at Via Salviati, and knew where I had to attack to chase Joaquim down and going for the sprint with him. I was thinking the same as everyone about these Worlds – I mean, Italy leading the race, the Spaniards closing the gaps on Nibali – so I took a choice about how I should have ridden before the race. But I know Purito well, and I never thought I could beat him. Now it’s time to finish this season; I will have time to enjoy and taste this victory after that.”
Alejandro Valverde: “I can’t complain: I have snatched five medals, and even though the gold didn’t come today, we’ll to our best to contest it in the next few years. Purito rode perfectly, and there was some moment when I though he could really win. At the end, Rui launched a strong attack. I didn’t rule out Rui’s chances – I knew he was as dangerous as Nibali and I shouldn’t be leaving him go ahead, but after 270k, the legs did not respond so well, and those meters he took into the turn… I couldn’t close it. I should have been there, but I couldn’t. Taking second and third is something to be happy about, and we must congratulate him – he was the best today.“
Rui Costa reaction thanks to www.biciciclismo.com