Oliver Zaugg (Leopard-Trek) closed the cycling season today in Lecco, Italy, by winning solo the Tour of Lombardy. The Swiss finished ahead of Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervélo) and Joaquín Rodríguez (Katusha).
“This is a dream win,” Zaugg said. “I still have a hard time believing it.”
Zaugg held off a five-man chase with Martin and Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) and, earlier in the race, resisted an attack by Basso’s team-mate, Vincenzo Nibali.
Nibali attacked at the base of the famous Madonna del Ghisallo climb and stayed clear until 16.5 kilometres to race. Sky’s Steve Cummings and Michael Rogers led the chase behind.
“I remained calm when Nibali attacked,” Zaugg added. “I knew it was far and Sky was pulling.”
Zaugg attacked with 9.8 kilometres to race, on the new Villa Vergano climb. Behind the race sorted itself out. Winner of the last two editions, Gilbert drifted behind and Martin moved ahead.
“This is the best way to end the season,” Martin explained of his second place. “We chased, but couldn’t do anything more to catch Zaugg.”
An escape of six led the in the early hours of the race: Paris-Roubaix winner, Johan Van Summeren, Claudio Corioni, Andrea Pasqualon, Yukiya Arashiro, Mikel Astarloza and Omar Bertazzo.
They held up to 6-50 minutes, but they had 1-35 minutes by the Valcava climb. Nibali’s Liquigas team led the chase, to keep the advantage in check.
The Valcava, 11.8 kilometres, returned this year, having only been included from 1986 to 1990.
The Sormano decided the race last year, when Gilbert rode free on the bottom of the rain-soaked descent. This year, BMC, Liquigas and Zaugg’s Leopard controlled the pace up the climb. Van Summeren, Astarloza and Arashiro led over the top with 1-06 minutes.
Vuelta a España winner, Juan José Cobo (Geox-TMC) abandoned near the top of Sormano.
In Nesso, after the descent, a small group with big names caught the lead three. The group included Gilbert, Nibali and Jakob Fuglsang (Leopard-Trek). Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervélo) and Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini) bridged to the group on the way to Bellagio.
Nibali attacked two times at the start of the Madonna del Ghisallo climb. The second time he freed himself from Fuglsang and Gilbert. Visconti, Le Mevel and Domenico Pozzovivo chased further behind.
The Italian winner of last year’s Vuelta a España, led by 1-22 minutes over Ghisallo. However, he still had 45 kilometres to race. Sky led the push and, with Steve Cummings at the head, caught Nibali with 16.5 kilometres to race.
“We worked for Rigo,” Cummings said of team-mate, Rigoberto Urán. “Also, the WorldTour points.”
Rigo and Zaugg had their chance thanks to Sky’s work. Zaugg timed his move right, cleared the climb first, flew to Lecco’s lake side and captured a win in one of cycling’s Monuments.
Tour of Lombardy 2011
1. Oliver Zaugg (Swi) Leopard-Trek
2. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at 8 secs
3. Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
4. Ivan Basso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-ISD
6. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Colnago CSF-Inox at same time
7. Giovanni Visconti (Ita) Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli at 15 secs
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
9. Carlos Betancourt (Col) Acqua & Sapone
10. Riccardo Chiarini (Ita) Androni Giaocattoli at same time
Start in Milan
Daniel Martin (second), Oliver Zaugg (winner) and Joaquin Rodriguez (third)
Tour of Lombardy 2011: The Big Preview