Costa Wins World Road Race Championship
Yesterday, 2008 world road race champion Alessandro Ballan said, “…we could end up with a surprise winner.” Ballan should consider becoming a clairvoyant when his racing days are done. Today, Rui Costa (Portugal) surprised everyone, including himself, by winning the world road race championship.
Huzarski by a few seconds, while the peloton, which the Belgians led, was at 1:15.
The rain stopped, and the sun began to shine. The ground was still wet, however, and crashes took their toll. The Italians were particularly hard hit, as Luca Paolini and Nibali hit the deck. Nibali remounted and chased, but he used much energy rejoining the peloton.
On the ninth ascent of the Via Salviati, Romain Bardet (France) attacked and led the peloton by a few seconds at the summit. Michele Scarponi (Italy) followed the Frenchman, however, and the bunch shut down the move. Germany took over at the front and did the pacemaking going into the last lap.
The peloton was 45-strong when it took on the Fiesole for the last time. Italy and Denmark led the field onto the climb. Scarponi attacked, and Rodriguez and Valverde (both from Spain), Nibali, Costa, Rigoberto Uran and Carlos Betancur (both from Colombia), and Lars Petter Nordhaug (Norway) followed. Nibali attacked near the summit, and Rodriguez joined him. They breasted the climb 0:05 ahead of the chasers.
On the descent, Uran overcooked a turn and crashed. Rodriguez dropped Nibali, and Valverde and Costa caught the Italian. With no assistance from his companions, Nibali was forced to lead the chase. The quartet came together with four km left.
Rodriguez took another dig. Again, Nibali led the pursuit. He was not closing the gap, however. With two km remaining, the Italian, who was either unable or unwilling to do more chasing, sat up. Costa, who had been sitting on Valverde’s wheel, attacked.
Costa slowly reeled in the Spaniard. He caught Rodriguez with 500 m left. Rodriguez turned to the Portuguese, and the two conversed briefly. Rodriguez led out the sprint. Costa jumped into the lead with 150 m to go, but Rodriguez came alongside of him. Costa then seized the gold medal with a bike throw. Rodriguez settled for silver, and Valverde bested Nibali for the bronze.
Costa was ecstatic. He shouted and placed his hands on his head in disbelief. He and his team had expected Italy and Spain to attempt to dominate the race. "Wearing this jersey was the goal of my whole career," he said, "and I cannot believe it....A world championship is like a lottery, and it is difficult to win it. It is always difficult....You always go through ups and downs. At times, I was not well, but the feelings improved in the last lap. I knew I had to be careful in Fiesole....I thought...that Italy would lead the race and that the Spaniards were worried about keeping Nibali at bay."
Valverde, Costa’s teammate on Movistar, was philosophical about Spain’s failure to win despite having the numbers in the final break. “I am not going to complain,” he said. “I have five medals, and although we did not win gold today, we will continue fighting to make it possible in the coming years. We knew that Rui was strong. I knew that he was as dangerous as Nibali…but after 270 kilometers the legs did not respond….I should