Last Monument of the season
Intelligent Bauke Mollema (TFS) only man able to beat Spanish champion from Movistar Team, always consistent until the final race of the year.
Full of professionalism and competitive spirit, all the way until the final race of the season. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team) came again just short for a victory at Il Lombardia, the last Monument of the international classics calendar, with a 2nd place behind Bauke Mollema (TFS) which did not make justice to the legs the Spanish champion had today, the strongest of the main favourites from a physical standpoint.
The Dutchman took advantage from the lack of cooperation between the main leaders at the penultimate, decisive climb of Civiglio, just under 20km before the end. At the climb and its descent, Mollema opened a gap exceeding half a minute over a a group where Valverde had enjoyed support from Jaime Castrillo, keeping the early breaks under control, and a great Rubén Fernández, full of courage with attacks and strong pacing into the main climbs. Valverde caught Primoz Roglic (TJV) into the final ascent to San Fermo and even tried to go solo after Mollema after the summit, yet was unable to make up the 25″ that separated the two through the descent towards Como.
Valverde, caught by the pursuit group before the sprint, still had energy left in the tank to hold off Egan Bernal (INS) at the finish and secure the second place. A ‘silver medal’ which doesn’t downplay Alejandro’s impressive effort, which also brings another prize: it’s an almost decisive step forward for Spain to grant themselves a maximum quota, five riders, in the road race of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, overtaking Slovenia, which finished only 7th today with Roglic.
REACTION / Alejandro Valverde:
“I’m satisfied with this econd place, but knowing that I had the legs to win, I’m left with a bittersweet taste. This is an important race, a Monument, one that I really love, and hence the feeling I’ve got at the end. There was a lot of everyone looking at each other near the end, and that makes it easier for a solo rider, with less vigilance, to go away and stick at the front until the end. Bauke took advantage to attack, make a big move and use his energy well to succeed. Hats off to him – he’s a deserved winner. I tried to attack again at San Fermo – I had jumped before at Civiglio, but once caught, I didn’t want to keep the pace because there was still one tough climb left – and even gave it a try at the summit, but seeing that they were just behind, I waited for them to push together and see if we could gain some time on Bauke. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, that’s cycling. I’ll be 40 next year and it’ll be hard to aim for a victory again here, but you can see that I’m still here after so, so long, doing even better than in previous seasons, so there might be some room for surprise left!”
Cover picture (c): BettiniPhoto