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Martin undone by fall as Gilbert takes Lombardy

Posted 16 October 2010

A fall in atrocious weather conditions put an end to Dan Martin’s hopes of victory in the Tour of Lombardy while lightening struck twice for Philippe Gilbert who soloed to a second win in as many years.

Martin (Garmin Transitions) was one of a number of riders to hit the deck on the descent off the Colle di Balisio as the peloton made its way to the town of Lecco after 163 kilometres of racing.

The heavy fall could not have happened at a worse time for the young Irishman as Gilbert’s Omega Pharma Lotto team carved into the lead of an early six man break on the run into the decisive climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

The break of Tony Gallopin (Cofidis), Mauro Da Dalto (Lampre Farnese Vini), Kjeil Carlstrom (Team Sky), Michael Albasini (HTC Columbia) and ISD Neri riders Gianluca Mirenda and Diego Caccia had held a lead of over eight minutes having escaped after 15 kilometres.

Albasini crested with a slight lead as the break fractured on the legendary climb and was joined by Giovanni Visconti (ISD Neri) and Vladimir Gusev (Katusha) on the next climb of the Colma di Sormano.

The steep gradient and deplorable weather soon took its toll on Albasini but an attack from Bauke Mollema (Rabobank) out of the bunch helped him to pick off the riders out front and to lead over the top as Gilbert led a chase group of 15 riders.

The 20 kilometre descent off the mountain was treacherous with Gilbert, Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas Doimo) and Pablo Lastras (Caisse d’Epargne) adapting best to overhaul Mollema and to open up a slender lead.

Nibali’s superior bike handling skills were not enough to keep him upright through a tight left hand corner with 30 kilometres to go as fallen leaves and torrents of surface water caused him to lose the front end.

Gilbert capitalised on his misfortune pulling clear over the next five kilometres and it took a ten kilometre chase from Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) to pull the Belgian back.

The duo opened a lead of over one minute on an eight man chase group heading into the final ten kilometres with Saxo Bank’s Jakob Fuglsang the most active among the chasers who also included Nibali, Lastras, Mollema, the Euskaltel-Euskadi trio of Samuel Sanchez,  Mikel Nieve and Ametsa Txurruka, and Carlos Barredo (Quick Step).

Gilbert and Scarponi rode shoulder to shoulder in torrential rain on the lower slopes of the final climb of San Fermo but the defending champion had another gear and he displayed extraordinary class and panache when he attacked the Italian with just over 500 metres to the summit.

The killer attack was as impressive as his descent off the Colma di Sormano and there was simply no stopping him as he powered his way through the downpours and the final five kilometres of the race.

His aggression and control of the race was breathtaking and he was confident enough to declare victory with a salute as he entered the final two kilometres of the race as Scarponi struggled through the final descent to close the 10 second gap.

The Belgian celebrated an emphatic solo win as Scarponi held on for second while Lastras proved to be the strongest of the chase group taking third ahead of Fuglsang and Nibali. 

Results:

Giro di Lombardia

Milano - Como, 260 kilometres

1. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 6 hours 46 minutes, 32 seconds
2.  Michele Scarponi (Ita) Androni Giocattoli at 0:00:12
3.  Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Caisse d'Epargne at  0:00:55
4.  Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Team Saxo Bank at 0:01:08
5.  Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo

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