(Photo shamelessly stolen from Graham Watson)
One of my favorite races of the year. What’s not to like about Italy in Fall? (Or any other time, for that matter.)
Together with Ricco, Cunego escaped on the final climb of the day, San Fermo della Battaglia. Over the top, they had just five seconds in hand over a chase group containing a pair of CSC’s, Rebellin, Cadel Evans, and Sammy Sanchez. Despite the best efforts of kamikaze descender Sanchez, Ricco and Cunego reached the last kilometer alone, where Ricco tried desperately to convince il piccolo to come around. As if Cunego was going to fall for that. Watch the final kilometer, and feel Ricco’s pain. I don’t count myself among the Ricco tifosi, but he drew the low card in that particular deal. Too bad he couldn’t rid himself of Cunego before the finale. As it was, he was almost certainly racing for second. With only the smallest of gaps, there was no time for funny business, and Cunego easily took the sprint.
Ricco may have held the low cards, but at least he was still at the table. On the Ghisallo, CSC looked to be holding a royal flush, with Sastre, Kolobnev, and a pair of Schlecks in the front group. Sastre, who always looks simply bursting with fruit flavor, turned the screws up the climb, and the front group dwindled. But in a moment of inattention on the road to the Civiglia, Frank Schleck touched wheels and crashed out of the front group. Oopsy. So much for the perfect race. The younger Schlecky still managed fourth, beating out Rebellin, Evans, and T Dekker, among others. Silly talented, that kid (I especially like the bed head.)
Here is a tidbit for the trivia – or is that trivial? – minded. When Cunego won Lombardia in 2004, he achieved a rare feat in cycling by winning both a grand tour and a monument in the same season. Prior to Cunego, who was the most recent to do the same?
And while we’re at it, had Bettini won (best watched without the sound, unless you like sappy techno), he’d have taken three straight. Who is the last rider to win Lombardia three times running?
Ah, but maybe I should have just posted this bit of love, ten minutes of choice footage and saved my little fingers the tappy-typing. Grazie anonymous Belgian youtuber! (Now, if only I’d found that sooner.)