Como (Italy) (AFP)
Once again second, Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde (39) was close to victory on Saturday in the Tour of Lombardy won by Dutchman Bauke Mollema who surprised the favorites in Como.
"I found the right moment to attack," said Mollema, who took the lead 18 kilometers from the finish in the Civiglio climb, the penultimate difficulty. Far enough for his opponents to delay the pursuit and react late, despite the counterattack of the Slovenian Primoz Roglic and the Spaniard Valverde.
"Mollema was strong, really strong, he made the gap in the climb," said Tour de France winner Egan Bernal of Colombia, narrowly overtaken by Valverde for second place in the season's last big classic. (243 km). "He was the best."
Accustomed to places of honor and other accessits, both in the day and stage races, Mollema has for the first time established itself in a "monument". At the age of 32, and at his eleventh attempt in Lombardy.
Behind the runner of Trek, a team he joined in 2015 after eight seasons in the late Rabobank who was for a long time the iconic training of the Netherlands, the other contenders have long watched. But, at this game, their delay was 40 seconds at the foot of San Fermo della Battaglia, the last obstacle of the race to less than 8 kilometers from the line.
- Roglic caps -
Primoz Roglic, designated favorite, tried to leave alone with the approach of the last climb. But the winner of the Vuelta has capped and has seen the group led by the indefatigable Valverde (with Fuglsang, Woods and Bernal).
Already second in 2013 and 2014, while the finish was judged in other places, the Spaniard has tried everything for everything to finally win in a race carved for him. Valverde condemned Roglic in San Fermo and revived at the top, but failed to close the gap of 20 seconds between him and Mollema.
In the very steep wall of Sormano, Valverde had already shown himself to his advantage before the last hour of the race. At the age of 40, the Spaniard remains one of the podium candidates in major races, as a foretaste of the Tokyo Olympics race, next summer, on a course again very selective.
For his part, Mollema, the 13th winner of his career, brought his tenth success of the year to Trek, filled with the end of the season. At the end of September, the American-Italian team saw one of its own, the young Danish Mads Pedersen (23 years old), become world champion.
Far from the scores of Deceuninck (66 wins), Jumbo (49), Bora (45) or Astana (37), Trek has offered an end of the season in fireworks. Next year, the group of Luca Guercilena will acquire a new leader in the person of the Italian Vincenzo Nibali, overwhelmed Saturday in the Civiglio where the French Pierre Latour (9th finally) has developed.
© 2019 AFP