Giro di Lombardia: Zaugg surprises favorites with strong move on final climb
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Giro di Lombardia: Zaugg surprises favorites with strong move on final climb

by Bjorn Haake at 11:40 AM EST   comments
Categories: Giro di Lombardia
Biggest win in career of Swiss rider; Nibali's courageous break not rewarded

oliver zauggOliver Zaugg of the Leopard-Trek team celebrated the biggest result of his career when he took a solo victory in the Giro di Lombardia (now officially Il Lombardia). He saved eight seconds over a five-man chase group, led home by Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervélo). The big favorites, Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas), showed themselves surprisingly early, but were beaten in the end.

An exhausted Zaugg answered the first questions in Italian to the journalists. "It was hard. We had looked at the finish [the day before]. I tried and it worked," he described the decisive moment over the Villa Vergano climb, nine kilometers from the top. Ivan Basso (Liquigas) had set a strong pace, reducing the large group to less than ten riders. At the steep part near the top, Zaugg went hard and nobody was able to follow.

The Swiss rider had a small gap over the top and used the descent to his advantage. "It worked out very well," noted Zaugg. "I got a gap right away. My hope had been that I would attack solo and hold off the others all the way to the finish. I don't have a sprint," Zaugg said.

Italian TV did now show the time gap as Zaugg went over the top, but TV spectators were not the only people left clueless. "My radio didn't work, so after my attack I had no clear view on the gap," Zaugg explained. That left the strategy fairly simple. "I knew I could only go full gas and hope they wouldn't catch me back, so that's what I did. I controlled my bike on the six kilometers downhill and then I went all out on the three kilometers of flat road to the finish. I had no idea what my gap was as I headed to the line."

Only when he checked back on the finishing straight did he see that the others were close but not close enough. He was then able to enjoy the final meters to the line. Zaugg is known as a trusted domestique and this was his first individual win as a professional.

A five-man group sprinted for second place, with Irishman Martin the quickest of the rest. "I've got real mixed emotions, to be honest," Martin told Velonation's Shane Stokes. "Getting second in a monument, to come so close…you could also say if we caught the guy, maybe I would have won the sprint."

The Garmin-Cervélo team was looking strong, with Johan Van Summeren in the break of the day. "The team was really great, and I think I rode a really good race, as far as I didn't waste any energy at any point," Martin said. "Everything seemed to go my way at the right time." It may not have worked out today but Martin showed that he is ready to take out a big one.

A six-rider break had dominated the day, but when they were caught on the descent of the Colma di Sermano, the race became interesting. The twisty downhill splintered the peloton and a ten-man move formed, including Philippe Gilbert, Vincenzo Nibali and Jakob Fuglsang. Racing remained hectic all the way to the beginning of the climb of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

The favorites had shed their domestiques early and Nibali attacked shortly after the ascent started, with 53 kilometers to go. He managed to drop Gilbert and everyone else, but was caught by a large peloton with 16.5 kilometers remaining.

Racing stayed neutral until the Vergano hill. Basso tried to save the day for Liquigas, but his constant pace only reduced the group to less than ten riders. Basso himself did not get a gap and then was unable to follow his own pace. Zaugg attacked and it immediately became apparent that Gilbert had nothing left to make it a hatrick at Il Lombardia.

A sunny but crisp day greets the riders

A quick start to the race at 11am left little chances for breakaways to succeed in the first 50 kilometers. Finally, a six-rider break formed with Claudio Corioni (Acqua & Sapone), Omar Bertazzo (Androni Giocattoli - C.I.P.I), Andrea Pasqualon (Colnago - CSF Inox), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel- Euskadi), Johan Van Summeren (Garmin-Cervélo). The peloton let the group get ahead quickly and at kilometer 66 the gap was at 8'30 minutes. This was the point with the start of the Valico di Valcava, the longest climb of the day. The Valcava is almost 12 kilometers in length, with an elevation gain of 934 meters.

The maximum gradient is 17 percent and the peloton cut into the lead of the sextet during the uphill. Over the top of the Valcava, the difference was only 1'35 minutes. Some riders, including Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), had difficulties in the cold temperatures in the higher altitudes - the top of the Valcava was the highest point in the race, being 1336 meters above sea level.

The peloton was content to let the group go ahead again, with the gap at 2'52 at kilometer 105. At kilometer 122, the riders topped the second climb, the Colle Brianza. At kilometer 133 the front group reached the feed zone, more than six minutes ahead of the peloton. They also had a view of Lake Annone, a sign that Lake Como was close.

Ahead of the next climb, the Colma di Sermano, the peloton's pace picked up, spearheaded by Liquigas. The six-man break reached the bottom of the 9.5-kilometer long climb less than three minutes ahead of the bunch (km 149.7).

On the climb, BMC took over the pacemaking. The front group was reduced to five riders when Bertazzo couldn't follow the others on the earlier parts of the slope. With four kilometers to the top, Van Summeren and Astarloza also brought the others into trouble, as the gap had diminished to 1'30. Arashiro was hanging close for a long time and managed to get back to the front duo with over a kilometer to the top. In the peloton, Leopard-Trek had taken over the pacemaking from BMC. The bunch reached the top a good minute after the leading trio.

On the lower parts of the descent, with Lake Como looming, the peloton had reached the front group. The narrow roads on the way cut the peloton in several factions, with Gilbert near the front. Jakob Fuglsang and Vincenzo Nibali were also in the ten-man move. The first chase group was 20 seconds behind.

With 57 kilometers to go Fuglsang and Gilbert attacked, but the effort was short-lived. The attack increased the gap to over 30 seconds, and Gilbert gestured angrily to the others to pitch in to open a bigger advantage. Nibali was then the next to attack, with Fuglsang and Gilbert close behind.

This marked the beginning of the Madonna del Ghisallo climb. Nibali, Gilbert, Fuglsang, Luca Paolini, Christophe LeMevel, Mauro Santambrogio formed the front group. Nibali attacked again with 53 kilometers to go. Gilbert and Fuglsang chased behind, with the others slowly dropping back. A second chase group consisted of Domenico Pozzovivo, Luca Paolini (Acqua & Sapone), Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin) and Giovanni Visconti. The four closed the gap with five kilometers to the top. Nibali was still around 20 seconds ahead. The peloton was a further 20 seconds back.

The peloton crept closer to the Gilbert group, while Nibali increased his lead. With two kilometers to the top, Nibali had a minute on the chase group and 1'11 on the peloton. With 46.6 kilometers to go, the bunch caught the Gilbert group, with Nibali still 1'07 clear.

The Tifosi cheered Nibali on as the Italian passed the top with the bells of the famous Chapel going all out. Cadel Evans had donated his yellow jersey earlier in the day and was in attendance amongst the spectators near the top. The bunch cleared the top about 1'20 later.

With just under 40 kilometers to go the gap had increased to 1'43 as Nibali had advantages on the twisting descent. Despite teammate Ivan Basso siting near the front to break the rhythm a little bit, the peloton had advantages on the flatter parts. With 30 kilometers to go the gap was down to 1'16. Some more narrow switch backs followed and at the bottom of the descent, back to the shore of Lake Como, the gap was still at 1'20 (27 kilometers to go).

In Parè, 21 kilometers from the finish, the gap was down to 53 seconds. Nibali started to show signs of his long escape. Two kilometers later his advantage was less than half a minute; with 16.5 kilometers to go, Nibali's break ended after 36 kilometers alone on the front.

After a lull in the pace, Katusha picked up the pace 12 kilometers from the line, when the final climb of the day to Villa Vergano started. The pace was high, which prevented attacks, but thinned the group out a little in every turn.

Basso took over the front, but neither he nor Dan Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) had any answer when Zaugg went with 9.7 kilometers to go. Gilbert started to struggle as well. Zaugg crested the top with nine kilometers to go, around 15 seconds ahead of a three-man group, with Pozzovivo, Joaquím Rodriguez, and Martin there. Basso and Przemyslaw Niemic joined the chasers shortly after the top, which interrupted their rhythm. This helped Zaugg to stay clear. At the end of the descent, with 2.5 kilometers to go, the gap was 21 seconds, and that proved more than enough for the Swiss to nab a huge victory.


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Il Lombardia (WorldTour) Results: Milan to Lecco (241 kilometres)

  Click on the arrowsat the top of the column to sort the race results.
Country Result Name Team Time
sui SUI 1 Oliver Zaugg (LEOPARD - TREK) 06:20:02
irl IRL 2 Daniel Martin (Garmin-Cervelo) 00:00:08
esp ESP 3 Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (Katusha) s.t.
ita ITA 4 Ivan Basso (Liquigas-Cannondale) s.t.
pol POL 5 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-ISD) s.t.
ita ITA 6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Colnago-CSF Inox) s.t.
ita ITA 7 Giovanni Visconti (Farnese Vini-Neri-Sottoli) 00:00:16
bel BEL 8 Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto ) s.t.
col COL 9 Carlo Alberto Betancurt (Acqua E Sapone) s.t.
ita ITA 10 Riccardo Chiarini (Androni Giocattoli) s.t.
ita ITA 11 Luca Paolini (Katusha) 00:00:27
bel BEL 12 Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) s.t.
ita ITA 13 Dario Cataldo (Quick Step) s.t.
usa USA 14 Peter Stetina (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
esp ESP 15 Igor Anton Hernandez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
irl IRL 16 Nicolas Roche (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
esp ESP 17 Daniel Moreno Fernandéz (Katusha) s.t.
fra FRA 18 Rémi Pauriol (Française Des Jeux) s.t.
col COL 19 Rigoberto Uran (Team Sky) s.t.
swe SWE 20 Thomas Löfkvist (Team Sky) s.t.
ita ITA 21 Ivan Santaromita (BMC Racing) s.t.
ita ITA 22 Fabio Felline (Geox-TMC Transformers) 00:01:11
esp ESP 23 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Rabobank) s.t.
ita ITA 24 Marco Marcato (Vacansoleil-DCM) s.t.
por POR 25 Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa (Movistar) s.t.
pol POL 26 Rafal Majka (Saxo Bank-Sungard) s.t.
ita ITA 27 Damiano Cunego (Lampre-ISD) 00:01:15
ger GER 28 Fabian Wegmann (LEOPARD - TREK) s.t.
ned NED 29 Steven Kruijswijk (Rabobank) s.t.
esp ESP 30 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
ita ITA 31 Federico Canuti (Colnago-CSF Inox) s.t.
slo SLO 32 Janez Brajkovic (RadioShack) s.t.
den DEN 33 Chris Anker Sorensen (Saxo Bank-Sungard) s.t.
fra FRA 34 Christophe Le Mevel (Garmin-Cervelo) 00:02:39
ita ITA 35 Matteo Montaguti (Ag2r-La Mondiale) s.t.
esp ESP 36 Amets Txurruka (Euskaltel - Euskadi) s.t.
esp ESP 37 Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel - Euskadi) 00:05:30
ita ITA 38 Giampaolo Caruso (Katusha) 00:06:44
den DEN 39 Jakob Fuglsang (LEOPARD - TREK) 00:07:14
ita ITA 40 Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) s.t.
aus AUS 41 Michael Rogers (Team Sky) s.t.
gbr GBR 42 Steven Cummings (Team Sky) s.t.
blr BLR 43 Kanstantsin Siutsou (HTC-Highroad) 00:11:20
ukr UKR 44 Volodymyr Gustov (Saxo Bank-Sungard) s.t.
ukr UKR 45 Andriy Grivko (Astana) 00:12:04
fin FIN 46 Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma-Lotto ) 00:12:31
fra FRA 47 Thibaut Pinot (Française Des Jeux) s.t.
rus RUS 48 Petr Ignatenko (Katusha) s.t.
den DEN 49 Brian Vandborg (Saxo Bank-Sungard) s.t.
ger GER 50 Grischa Niermann (Rabobank) s.t.
por POR 51 Bruno Manuel Silva Pires (LEOPARD - TREK) s.t.
ned NED 52 Tom Jelte Slagter (Rabobank) s.t.
ita ITA 53 Elia Favilli (Farnese Vini-Neri-Sottoli) s.t.
ita ITA 54 Manuele Mori (Lampre-ISD) s.t.
kaz KAZ 55 Andrey Mizurov (Astana) s.t.
usa USA 56 Thomas Peterson (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
ned NED 57 Pieter Weening (Rabobank) s.t.
ita ITA 58 Luca Mazzanti (Farnese Vini-Neri-Sottoli) s.t.
pol POL 59 Sylvester Szmyd (Liquigas-Cannondale) 00:15:34
nor NOR 60 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Team Sky) s.t.
bel BEL 61 Nick Nuyens (Saxo Bank-Sungard) s.t.
bel BEL 62 Johan Vansummeren (Garmin-Cervelo) s.t.
bel BEL 63 Francis De Greef (Omega Pharma-Lotto ) s.t.

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