Omega Pharma’s fall classics specialist Philippe Gilbert won the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday for the second year in a row.
Gilbert emerged at the front of the field with Michele Scarponi (Diquigiovanni-Androni) with 30km remaining following a series of attacks by riders including Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), Giovanni Visconti (ISD) and Liquigas’ Vincenzo Nibali over the final 50km of a rain-soaked race near Lake Como in Italy. Gilbert entered the race as a clear favorite, despite a new, longer and more difficult route that benefited the climbers in the peloton.
On the day’s final climb, Gilbert moved ahead of Scarponi with about 5km to go and soloed in for his second successive victory in the classic known as “the race of the falling leaves.”
Monaco-based Gilbert made it two wins in three days as Thursday he carried off the Tour of Piedmont, also for the second straight year, compensation in part for missing out on his main objective of the season, the world championships in Australia two weeks ago.
Saturday he strove from the outset to impose his superiority.
And victory was assured once he had negotiated the tough 9.5km, 6.6 percent-grade Sormano climb with 41km to go. After a 20km flat stretch on the shores of Lake Como, leading into the final climb at San Fermo della Battagila, he rode alone to the finish.
“I said the descent would be even tougher than the (San Fermo) climb,” said Gilbert, who had clearly done his homework.
Liquigas all-rounder Nibali had hoped to give home fans their first classic win of the season, but instead this has been a barren vintage for the Italians.
Sanchez for his part had finished on the podium three times since 2006 but was unable to pull off a repeat in the 104th edition of a race won by such luminaries as Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Sean Kelly.
1. Philippe Gilbert (B), Omega Pharma, 260km in 6:46:32 (38.373kph)
2. Michele Scarponi (I), Diquigiovanni-Androni, at 0:12
3. Pablo Lastras (Sp), Caisse d’Epargne, at 0:55
4. Jakob Fuglsang (Dk), Saxo Bank, at 1:08
5. Vincenzo Nibali (I), Liquigas, at 1:08
6. Samuel Sanchez (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 1:12
7. Mikel Nieve (Sp), Euskaltel-Euskadi, at 2:07
8. Mauro Santambrogio (I), BMC, at 3:01
9. Carlos Barredo (Sp), Quick Step, at 3:25
10. Giampaolo Caruso (I), Katusha, at 3:50
Philippe Gilbert in brief
Born: July 5, 1982, Aywaille, Belgium
Height: 1.79 m
Weight: 67 kg
Teams: Francaise des Jeux (2003 to 2008), Omega Pharma (since 2009)
Giro di Lombardia 2009 and 2010
Amstel Gold Race 2010
Paris-Tours 2008 and 2009
Het Volk 2006 and 2008