Flèche Wallonne victory fires Joaquim Rodríguez up the WorldTour rankings
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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Flèche Wallonne victory fires Joaquim Rodríguez up the WorldTour rankings

by Ben Atkins at 3:28 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
Tom Boonen still holds commanding lead but 2010 winner already eyeing second series title

joaquim rodriguezAfter his victory in today’s Flèche Wallonne, Katusha’s Joaquim Rodríguez has catapulted himself up from ninth to third in the International Cycling Union (UCI) WorldTour rankings. The Catalan netted 80 points for his win at the top of the Mur de Huy, which raises his total to 222; putting him on equal footing with compatriot Samuel Sánchez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) but above him in the classification by virtue of having won the most recent race.

The classification is still commandingly led by Cobble-King Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), whose dominance of the northern Classics netted him a total of 366 points; while a consistent spring from Slovakian champion Peter Sagan (Liquigas-Cannondale) keeps him in second place on 229. Rodríguez, the 2010 series winner is closing in on the lead however, with Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège likely to net him further points.

While he won’t overtake Boonen - even if he wins on Sunday - he will likely leapfrog Sagan, and begin to take aim at the Belgian’s lead as the season heads into the summer.

With a big gap between himself and those above him before the race, GreenEdge rider Michael Albasini’s second place in Huy only lifts the Swiss Volta a Catalunya winner two places, from tenth to eighth. Jelle Vanendert (Lotto-Belisol) entered the rankings on Sunday, as 60 points put him in 27th place; fourth spot in la Flèche gets him another 40, and he jumps fourteen places to thirteenth.

2011 WorldTour champion Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing) is making a slow start to his title defence, but third in Huy sees him jump from 50th to 23rd with a new, modest total of 72.

Spain consolidates; Katusha rises

Rodríguez’ victory sees Spain consolidate its lead in the national rankings. With Sánchez, Oscar Freire (Katusha), and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) all joining ‘Purito’ in the top ten, along with points from Juan Antonio Flecha (Team Sky), the Iberian nation towers above the rest of the competition.

Belgium is on the rise however, as Vanendert’s self-discovery in the Ardennes Classics, coupled with the rise of Gilbert, and strong cameos from their teammates - Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) and Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) - added to Boonen’s huge haul lifts the country above Italy into second place.

Boonen’s points - along with those of teammates Niki Terpstra, Tony Martin, Sylvain Chavanel and Dario Cataldo - are enough to keep Omega Pharma-Quick Step at the top of the pile, despite a relatively quiet Ardennes campaign so far. With Rodriguez’ Flèche points however, Katusha rises over Liquigas-Cannondale into second place, while Albasini’s result sees GreenEdge leapfrog Team Sky into fourth.

The next event in the UCI WorldTour will be Sunday’s Liège-Bastogne-Liège, where the winner will net 100 points, followed by the Tour de Romandie, in Switzerland, between April 24th and 29th, which offers a similar number to the victor.

UCI WorldTour ranking April 18th, 2012
1. (1) Tom Boonen (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 366pts
2. (2) Peter Sagan (Svk) Liquigas-Cannondale 229
3. (9) Joaquim Rodríguez (Spa) Katusha Team 222
4. (3) Samuel Sánchez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 222
5. (4) Simon Gerrans (Aus) GreenEdge 210
6. (5) Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale 192
7. (6) Oscar Freire (Spa) Katusha Team 180
8. (10) Michael Albasini (Swi) GreenEdge 172
9. (7) Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar Team 167
10. (8) Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team 166

13. (27) Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Lotto-Belisol 100
23. (50) Philippe Gilbert (Bel) BMC Racing Team 72

National ranking
1. (1) Spain 851pts
2. (3) Belgium 670
3. (2) Italy 611
4. (4) Netherlands 364
5. (5) Australia 315

Team ranking
1. (1) Omega Pharma-Quick Step 547pts
2. (3) Katusha Team 502
3. (2) Liquigas-Cannondale 436
4. (5) GreenEdge Cycling Team 402
5. (4) Sky Procycling 366


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