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UCI WorldTour: Rodríguez regains number one spot with second straight Il Lombardia win




UCI WorldTour rankings 2013

This time last year, Rodríguez’ win in Italy’s autumn ‘Monument’ saw the Spaniard leapfrog ahead of longstanding UCI WorldTour leader Sky ProCycling’s Bradley Wiggins, the Tour de France champion of 2012.

Fast forward 12 months and Rodriguez victory in Il Lombardia in 2013 has enabled the veteran Spaniard again to move 20 points ahead of leader Chris Froome, this summer’s Tour de France winner and also, as it happens, Wiggins team-mate at Sky ProCycling.

With one UCIWorldTour race remaining, the Tour of Beijing which starts on Friday October 11th, Rodriguez has 607 points and Froome 587.

History repeated itself in other ways in the 242 kilometre, rain-soaked hilly Classic. Following a long solo attack by Thomas Voeckler (Europcar) which only ended on the Villa Vergano climb, less than 15 kilometres from the finish, Rodríguez shot away from a group of around a dozen favourites close to the summit -  in exactly the same place where he had attacked last year.

With barely a handful of seconds on a group of three chasers as he crowned the summit of the climb, on the fast, technical descent and flatter finale through the streets of Lecco, Rodríguez opened up a slightly wider lead.

Come the finish, Rodríguez was ahead by 17 seconds of Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team), with Rafael Majka (Saxo-Tinkoff) third at 23 seconds - giving him ample time to savour his biggest triumph of 2013.

For the Spaniard, victory in Il Lombardia for the second year running was all the sweeter following a tough World Championships last Sunday in Italy, where in a last metre duel in the streets of Firenze he took silver behind Portugal’s Rui Costa. Valverde, bronze last week in the Elite Mens’ Road-Race, this time went one better with second in Il Lombardia. But he was still behind Rodríguez.

“It’s been a very spectacular victory,” Rodríguez said afterwards. “We all know that Il Lombardia is a Classic ‘Monument’ and with this kind of form, I really wanted to try to win again. And I wanted to win like this, alone and thanks to a big attack.”

He said, too, that he would have liked to have won with the rainbow jersey of World Champion on his shoulders, but that even so “this was a great win. I was the rider to beat, the top favourite, everybody knew where I would attack, and even so  - I won.”

Rodríguez is far from the only rider to benefit in the UCI WorldTour individual rankings thanks to Il Lombardía. Valverde has jumped from fifth to third overall with 540 points, pushing Peter Sagan (Cannondale Pro Cycling) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana Pro Team) - both of whom abandoned during the race -  down into fourth and fifth spots. In the other main change in the top ten overall, Daniel Martin (Garmin Sharp), who finished fourth after crashing, moves up from eleventh to eighth, too.

Whilst Sky ProCycling remain in command in the UCI WorldTour teams rankings, the nations rankings is equally stable. With a current total of 1841 Spain have now stretched their already considerable overall lead even further, gaining another 220 points on second placed Italy - who in turn, have opened up a bigger gap, albeit of just 30 points, on Colombia in third.

Although a lot of nations have consolidated their rankings positions, in fact the only shift in placings in the top ten is for Poland, who have gained three places, up from thirteenth to tenth, in large part thanks to Rafael Majka’s third place in Il Lombardia.

The end of the 2013 UCIWorldTour is coming up fast, with only the Tour of Beijing left to go, from October 11th to October 15th. Will Rodríguez remain in command of the individual rankings, or will we see yet more changes? Check back in just over a week’s time!


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