The Giro di Lombardia, the Fifth Cycling Monument , saw the monumental victory of Bauke Mollema , the Dutch of the Trek, in his first victory of the year (we do not count the one obtained in the mixed, or unisex relay test, or whatever we want to call it, of the World Cup). Behind him, Alejandro Valverde (39 years old), a monument to longevity, beat Egan Bernal (22), a monument to precocity and the future, and Jakob Fuglsang (34), a monument to resistance. Game of monuments in a race at the height of its prestige, in which the greatest champions have historically imposed themselves: Merckx , Hinault , Coppi ...
It was weird not to see Valverde with the rainbow jersey. I misled slightly for lack of habit. But we had become accustomed little by little to distinguish it with the humble, semi-clandestine Spanish champion's jersey . That on whose surface, unlike the other proud countries, national colors occupy less space than the commercial team with its corresponding logo. His obtaining had meant the 126th victory of Murcia.
We had followed the new Valverde during the five Italian races before Lombardy, which were warming in crescendo the atmosphere: Giro de la Emilia, Grand Prix Beghelli, Three Valleys Varesinos, Milan-Turin and Grand Piedmont. Valverde had been fifth in the first, second in the second and, also, second in the fourth. I was fit. It arrived, yes, in form at the end of the season, which, given its age, acquired an additional merit.
Because of the dates of its celebration, Lombardy is known as The Dead Leaves Race . To the trajectory of Valverde, we can call it The Evergreen Race . Alejandro returned to be second, as in 2013 and 2014, in a test that, according to tradition and logic, began to be decided after a first sieve in the very hard Sormano Wall, 50 km. of the goal. Mikel Landa had retired 10 km. before. Another trigger. And, in December, 30 years.
It was a group escabechina that left about thirty men chasing Emanuel Buchmann and Tim Wellens , doomed beforehand. In the Civiglio level (4.2 kilometers at 9.7%, a wall after 226 km., And 17 after arrival), the final game was also played according to logic and tradition. And he was in charge of a lonely player. Mollema jumped and they could no longer catch him. He was attacking behind, counterattacking and ... stopping. Mollema was maintaining an advantage between 28 and 47 seconds. Smelling the goal, he celebrated by relaxing so that, 16 seconds later, Valverde, Bernal (winner of Great Piedmont) and Fuglsang entered. At 34, off-hook at the last minute of the group of pursuers, Michael Woods (winner in Milan-Turin), Jack Haig and Primoz Roglic , the highest preliminary favorite with Valverde. And it came from winning the Giro de la Emilia and the Three Valleys Varesinos.
The season is over. There is only, in the World Tour category, the Guangxi Tour, an epilogue without, already, much of the best of the peloton. Without Valverde, that monument.
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