102nd Giro di Lombardia - HC
Italy, October 18, 2008
Complete live coverage
Live commentary by Bjorn Haake
Ciao and welcome back to Cyclingnews' Live coverage of this year's racing. We are at the final Classic of the season, the 242-kilometre Giro di Lombardia. Its nickname, race of the falling leaves, already hints the end of the season is nigh. But don't despair,cycling has grown into a 12-month calendar. Australia is just warming up, both in weather and season. The Herald Sun tour just concluded and there should be no fall depression about lack of racing in the upcoming months. For now, though, let's see who gets the final monument of the year.
There is a group of 11 riders ahead with three and a half minutes right now. Among them is Australian Michael Rogers.
Lampre and Quick Step are currently doing the work on the front of the peloton. Euskaltel is also at the front.
The riders are heading down some narrow, winding roads. The lake is directly to the riders' right. One false move and they are wet, but a small stone fence will make sure they first hit their head.
On top of the climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo there will be no time to stop at the chapel, although some will probably have a relief prayer that the climb is over. If you ever should ride up there, do take time to stop there. Cyclingnews Ben Atkins took a look around for you. Seeing the newspaper that announced the first-ever Tour de France and other interesting items is quite fun.
15:12 CEST 152km/90km to go
There are still 90km left in the race. Almost the entire Lampre team is at the front, so Damiano Cunego has a shot of winning a third time.
Garmin Chipotle's Tom Danielson does not feel the burden of team leader despite having the whole team at his disposal.
"There is a little bit of pressure, but at the same time it is just for myself because I have been injured for a long time and my form is just recently coming on -- I am really motivated to show something. This is really the only race at the end of the season that gives me an opportunity. It has some climbs and it is a long race," said Danielson to Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown.
Daniel's season typically ends before Lombardia. "I never have done this race before; I have never raced in October. I have always done the Vuelta a España and then finished my season after that. I have worked hard to be here and to have the condition. It is a one-day race and it is really unpredictable, but that is what makes it so beautiful."
No one is talking of Tom Danielson and this could work in his favour.
"I have put pressure on myself but I need to keep thinking 'there is no pressure.' I will stay low and see what happens and in the end, I hope to do something."
A little rise breaks up the front group. Four riders are at the front, with Agnoli, Rogers, Santambrogio and Lastras. In the peloton there is also a attack, by Gilberto Simoni. He takes three riders with him.
The rider in the break is actually not Paolo Tiralongo. He was replaced by Mauro Santambrogio.
15:28 CEST 162km/80km to go
Simoni was victim of his own pace and has dropped back. Garzelli, who was one of those who joined Simoni, keeps going, with Scarponi latched on to his wheel. Scarponi is back after an almost 18-month doping suspension.
Chris Anker Sorensen has fought his way back up to the front group.
Out of the switch back one rider storms to the front, easily distinguished from the others. He has rainbow stripes and his name is Alessandro Ballan, the current world champion.
Stefano Garzelli (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) is currently chasing hard. He said before the race, "At this moment in the season we are all tired. I hope to do something and to be a surprise."
He is sure trying and currently 1'45 behind the leaders.
Sørensen keeps hanging at the back. He may hope that his teammate Gustav Erik Larsson will move up. The latter is currently chasing with a rider from CSF Group Navigare on his back wheel
15:35 CEST 169km/73km to go
Garzelli and Scarponi are still chasing the five-man front group. It looks like they are closing in. The just gobble up some of the riders that were in the big break earlier, but had been dropped by the five in the front.
Chris Anker Sørensen was not hanging at the back for tactical reasons. The road tilts up and he gets dropped.
15:39 CEST 198km/44km to go
The riders are already at the top of the climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo. We will have to adjust the kilometres to go a bit. Only 44 until the finish.
Agnoli led Rogers over the top, with Santambrogio in third.
The three are heading down and Lastras quickly catches up again, but there is no sign of Sorensen currently.
Spaniard Joaquím Rodríguez (Caisse d'Epargne) is looking forward to to spend some time with his baby boy. "It is the last race of the season. I will race a few criteriums, but this is the important one," he explained to Gregor Brown of Cyclingnews.
"I am the captain; Alejandro [Valverde] is not here. The team will give its backing to me and I hope to ride a good race. It is a race that really suits my abilities. I think that I can be up front in the finale. ... My legs are going well. After the Worlds -- where I rode well -- I did specific work to be ready for Lombardia. I think I will go even better here than at Varese [the Worlds]."
"Vacation? It is difficult because we have a baby boy and we will likely pass the time at home."
15:41 CEST 202km/40km to go
Garzelli and Scarponi are down by 46 seconds.
Sorensen is 18 seconds behind. A wild chase on the descent.
Ballan is back in the bunch and in the pace line. He and the entire Lampre team is at the front again. The whole team minus Cunego, who will save himself for the final.
Santambrogio is also doing his share of the work. He will likely stop cooperating at some point, as he is Cunego's teammate.
We neglected to mention that when the riders crossed the top and passed the chapel that of course the bells rang. Some things never change.
15:46 CEST 207km/35km to go
The Lampre work has gobbled up the remainder of those that were dropped from the break of the day.
In the front it is still Agnoli, Rogers, Lastras and Santambrogio pulling good, with Sorensen in no man's land and Garzelli and Scarponi trying to catch up.
Uhh, Rogers almost doesn't make the left hand turn on this descent. He is second wheel but has to swing out wide. He jumps on the side walk, skillfully avoiding to crash into a one-metre high wall and goes back on the road.
Current race situation
- Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre), Michael Rogers (Team Columbia), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) and Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas)
- Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC-Saxo Bank), Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC) and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo) at 0.32
- Peloton at 1.15
Sorensen has been caught by the other two, Scarponi and Garzelli. What is left of the peloton is led by Lampre and 1'15 behind.
15:53 CEST 212km/30km to go
Agnoli puts some food in his pocket. At this point in the race, he'd be better off to put it in his mouth...
The gaps are slightly coming down. 20 seconds to the chasing trio and 1'10 to the Lampre-led bunch.
Sorensen, Garzelli and Scarponi are only 12 seconds behind. Agnoli gets nervous and tries to push the pace.
The riders are heading over a wide, smooth, tree-lined road. It is slightly uphill, as Sorensen gets out of the saddle, swinging left and right. He still sits third wheel, but happy that they are about to catch the others.
What does the main favourite have to say? Does Cunego have a special feeling for Lombardia?
"I like it. The course suits to me. The finish is beautiful," explained last year's winner, Damiano Cunego (Lampre), to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Do you feel to 100%?
"Yes. I am well."
When first won, you bettered Boogerd, Basso, Riccò. Now they are no longer here. What does this mean?
"The race is always new. It will be much more difficult than the other times."
Will you try something on the Ghisallo?
"It is too soon. On Civiglio and on San Fermo."
With the final descent decide the race?
"Not the descent of San Fermo, but of Civiglio ... There you can go strong."
15:58 CEST 215km/27km to go
The seven have joined up in the front. So we have Mauro Santambrogio (Lampre), Michael Rogers (Team Columbia), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) and Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas), Chris Anker Sørensen (Team CSC-Saxo Bank), Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC) and Stefano Garzelli (Acqua Sapone-Caffè Mokambo)
The bunch is flying and the gap is down to 50 seconds
Cunego sits last in the Lampre line-up, not taking any turns. He looks alert and anxious. Undoubtedly his adrenaline is pumping, as he gets ready to finish off the team's work. He will want to make it a third win at Lombardia and head with a good feeling into the break.
The gap is down to 18 seconds!
16:02 CEST 220km/22km to go
Rogers is still pulling at the front, but they are doomed. The cards will be shuffled anew soon. There comes the bunch around the bend, only a good dozen seconds behind.
In fact the break is sitting up and just checking back to the bunch. It makes sense to conserve now and try again.
It is Gruppo compatto. but it is still Lampre who is in charge.
We have entered in the outskirts of Como. Two more obstacles with the Civiglio and the S.Fermo della Battaglia will break up things soon. The peloton is still a large group, probably 50 or 60 riders.
The road goes up and Lampre has disappeared. Hondo and Kroon have gone out.
16:09 CEST 224km/18km to go
Hondo remembered that he is a sprinter and drops back, while Kroon gives it his all now. He knows that an attack is the only way he has a chance.
Kroon is on the climb and powers through the switch backs. A Lampre rider and Ballan are leading the chase, but most other Lampre guys are gone.
16:10 CEST 225km/17km to go
It is Santambrogio on the front. He is strong today, having been in the break too.
His work is enough to bring Kroon back.
Cunego is in fifth wheel. Kolobnev is there as well, and so is Donati
Little gaps begin to form. There is only about 20-25 riders in one line, the others are unlikely to be contenders. Unfortunately, Matthew Lloyd is also behind.
Astana attack! Will they get another win?
It was Chris Horner who stormed to the front, but Cunego has none of it. Failli also joins them.
So three in front. They are heading over a little rise, then go downhill. They have a good gap of about ten seconds. Is that the move? Horner, Cunego and Failli work well together.
16:15 CEST 227km/15km to go
Daniel Moreno of Caisse thinks it is a good move and gives it a good kick to join the leaders.
The four are heading down, with a good view over the lake to their left. But they will have to concentrate on the road, which is in bad condition and very twisty.
Samuel Sanchez is active in the chase. He takes a left hand switchback really hard and tries to get back to the front.
16:18 CEST 229km/13km to go
The descent is a bit of a reminder to the Poggio descent, minus the green houses
Sanchez has caught up with the front!!! What a descent. Horner is still there, as well as Moreno.
Too many switchbacks to see the others, what a crazy ride down. Cunego actually seems to be gone!
Cunego is up front, some 10 seconds ahead! What a descent by the little Lampre rider.
He now time trials towards a possible a third victory. Four riders are chasing: Horner, Failli, Sanchez and Moreno.
Cunego leans over his handlebars and checks back under his left arm. He likes what he sees. One more climb left for Cunego.
Sanchez seems to be bonking, he is actually sucking on a power gel. But his arm warmers of the Olympic champ sure look golden.
16:26 CEST 235km/7km to go
Cunego storms onto the final climb of the day, the S.Fermo della Battaglia. Still seven km to go
16:28 CEST 236km/6km to go
Cunego attacks the climb hard and is still on the front. Horner leads the chasers 21 seconds later, but it looks like the American is done. But he does all the work, wit Failli just sitting on
It is over for Horner and Failli, they are caught by the bunch.
Cunego still looks fluid as he dances out of the saddle.
He tries to cut the corners as tight as possible and almost crashes into a wall on his right. But he manages.
Behind, it is Rigoberto Uran who counters and storms away from the peloton. He is still 20 seconds behind Cunego.
The tifosi on the side of the road are getting crazy as Cunego rides by. Uran gets help from Brajkovic
16:32 CEST 238km/4km to go
Uran doesn't like it and attacks, but Brajkovic stays close.
Behind, Ballan marks an attack by Lloyd,.
Cunego is over the top and only has the descent left. His gap is 22 secs over the chasing duo and a good 30 over the bunch
16:33 CEST 239km/3km to go
Cunego is three km away from his third win at Lombardia. He keeps time trialling through the roads of Como.
Brajkovic still has his jersey all unzipped. He checks back, but he really needs to check to the front. A second place doesn't count for much here.
16:34 CEST 240km/2km to go
Cunego takes a right turn and powers on. He is looking good. Only a couple of kilometres left, as he passes the 2km to go sign.
16:35 CEST 241km/1km to go
Cunego takes a left, nowhere else to go with all the spectators blocking the road that goes straight. He is on the last kilometre.
Cunego still has 20 secs and that should be enough.
Cunego keeps going towards the line.
Uran leads Brajkovic
And Cunego does it! He raises his arms in victory.
Cunego wins his third Lombardia with a classy attack.
Brajkovic gets second, with a nice sprint win over Uran. He celebrates as he had won the race. Right on, that is great attitude!
Cunego showed three fingers as he crossed the line. Nice win, Damiano.
Thanks for joining us for the final classic of the season. We will now all take a long two-day break before the cross and track season. Oh wait, they already started. No break, then.
Remember the next live coverage will be a Cyclingnews first! We will bring you live video from the Tour de France presentation next Wednesday, October 22, at 11:30am CEST.
Until then. Ciao.