Valverde surrenders to Dan Martin in Bergamo, finishes 2nd in Lombardy for the second year on a row, takes back WorldTour lead -Blues coming closer to teams’ title- with only Beijing left
PICTURES | Il Lombardia gallery
Closer than ever to a big success, a third monument to add to the two Liège-Bastogne-Liège wins (2006, 2008) that already enlightened his prolific career, and constant, consistent enough to get back into the lead of the UCI WorldTour -a competition he has already won twice-, Alejandro Valverde leaves Il Lombardia, ‘La Foglie Morte’, with bittersweet taste after chances abandoned him only on the finishing straight.
The Movistar Team leader, whose team-mates worked at the front for sections of the 256km route between Como and Bergamo -including seven climbs and a short final ascent to the Città Alta, just before the finish-, always rode well positioned and into alert against the late attacks, including a three-man move whose last survivor, Tim Wellens (LTB), was caught with just 3km remaining. However, Irishman Dan Martin (GRS) anticipated the sprint with a long attack which neither the Spaniard nor his rivals could bring back. Valverde has now 28 podium places and 44 top-ten finishes -not to forget his eleven victories- after 77 racing days in 2014, a sign of his absolute regularity.
Valverde, who takes 80 points with his podium on Italian soil as main rival Alberto Contador didn’t score, is now 66 points ahead with just one race left: the Tour of Beijing, with 100pt up for grabs as well as six per stage. The Movistar Team’s margin ahead of Tinkoff (254 points) strengthens an already considerable lead in the standings of a race almost won by the Blues before heading into China.
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.”