Dramatic, intense, and incredible. These are the words to describe the men’s road race at the cycling world championships. The foul weather ruled for most of the race making the roads a true inferno. All the drains were flooding and crashes began because riders moving up on the side would get stuck in the gutters.
The Italian team worked incredibly hard to set up a great show for the local fans, starting to push in the front already on the first laps of the circuit, trying to split the group and eliminate the number of riders. Many great names abandoned the race in the first laps: Horner, Evans, Daniel Martin, Wiggins, Van Garderen, Samuel Sanchez and Nicolas Roche fall, followed by Froome and Nairo Quintana after four laps of the circuit.
Once the rain stopped, it was Giovanni Visconti’s moment to attack. Visconti joined and then dropped the small chasing group of four (Visconti, Kelderman, Preidler and Gautier) setting off alone to catch the sole survivor of the morning break, Bartosz Huzarski (Poland). When Visconti catch the Pole with a shade over two laps to go, the Italian plans were flushed down the drain when Nibali and Paolini crash with high speed on the greasy tarmac.
Paolini abandon the race while Nibali is forced to chase alone in the slipstream of the Italian team car to get back on. During the penultimate lap, Visconti and Huzarski are caught by the big group of about 40 riders.
The last climb to Fiesole makes the final selection, Scarponi is the first rider to attack, then Rodriguez punch his way clear on the steepest section, finding Nibali on his wheel, who takes the lead with Rodriguez. Valverde and Rui Costa bridge across on the descent, and these four riders start the final fight for the title. Rodriguez attacks, Rui Costa jumps up in the final kilometres to catch him leaving Nibali and Valverde. In the last 500 metres, Rui Costa sprints to claim the rainbow jersey.
A lot of Gabba Jerseys were in use on half the peloton.
Photo: Daniel Loots, Fabio Pellencin, TDW.