World Road Championships – Valverde, Hero or Schmuck

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Man, was that race yesterday in Italy great or what? Nearly 7 1/2 hours of riding in torrential rain only to be decided in the last 100 meters. There were so many crashes that Cadel tweeted from the hospital wondering who was left racing because so many riders were there. The course must have been super slick and dangerous, but I’m going with shitty bike handling because of carbon rim breaking.

Anyway, the last lap was out of control. I thought that Joaquim Rodriguez, (Spain) had won the race twice. The first time on his first attack where he distanced himself from the last riders standing. It took a super human effort by Vincenzo Nibali, (Italy) to bring him back. I wonder what the difference would have been if Rigoberto Uran Uran, (Colombia) wouldn’t have fallen on the 2nd to last descend and there would have been another guy in the mix? Anyway, there was only Alejandro Valverde Belmonte, (Spain) and his Movistar team mate from Portugal, Rui Costa, left to duke it out.

The 2nd time I though Rodriquez had won was when they went around a corner with less than 2 km to go, Rodriguez leading and Valverde sitting on his wheel. Valverde sat up and Rodriguez was gone once more. He looked like he had the race in the bag at that point. This is when it started looking screwy.

Rui Alberto Faria Da Costa, jumped from behind and Alejandro did nothing. That was strange. There would be no reason to mark Nibali because Valverde could smear him in a sprint and that is where they were at in the race. It was amazing how quickly that Costa rode up to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez is blaming Valverde for the loss, but Rodriguez played it horrible in the sprint. He should have sat and started on Rui Costa’s wheel. Costa’s initial jump was all that separated them at the finish. Worse case scenario is that they play cat and mouse and Valverde reconnects and wins.

Anyway, Spain finishing 2nd and 3rd is a great result for one country, but Spain had that race in the bag. Makes you wonder if Valverde was thinking he was in a win-win situation. Either his Spainish team mate wins the race or his “real” team mate wins the race and brings the jersey back to Movistar. Valverde had played the perfect team mate, giving Joaquim more than one chance to win the race. But, he is going to be all the focus because of how it played out in the end. Only Alejandro will know the true answer.

The Spanish national team coach, Javier Minguez isn’t too pleased. He said – “Joaquim raced fantastically well, but Valverde made a serious mistake. If Rui Costa goes for Purito, he has to go after him. If he had done that, he’d be in the rainbow jersey now.”

“He should have chased down anything that moved – even the television motorbike.” That is great, even the motorbikes!

Whatever that answer is, it was a epic World Champhionships with a great finish. Here is the Cyclingnews report.

I thought this was the decisive moment with only 2 km to go.

I thought this was the decisive moment with only 2 km to go.

Here are a couple unhappy Spainish guys.

Here are a couple unhappy Spainish guys.

Cadel's tweet.

Cadel’s tweet.

13 thoughts on “World Road Championships – Valverde, Hero or Schmuck

  1. El Tejan

    More like a win-win-win situation for Valverde.

    #1 – his spanish teammate wins
    #2 – his trade teammate wins
    #3 – somehow nibali is able to make another effort to bring the two back which would have gifted the race to valverde.

  2. scott

    depending on how you look at it, either win-win or lose-lose for valverde. anyway, he was pretty selfless, considering he would have most likely won had they stayed together or if he rode back to rodriguez on costa’s wheel. and i’m guessing he had the gas to do that.

  3. channel_zero

    I wonder if Purito was buying the race from Costa when he was trying to chat him up on the run-in.

    Where were the field crushers from the entire 2013 stage racing season team Sky? Hmm. Only Uran and Henao left and Uran actually finished. The rest of the Sky squad seems legit.

  4. flythebike

    With the Worlds so late in the year now you are probably the only one that finds it odd that a certain cohort of riders is not participating by and large.

  5. flythebike

    I have always found Valverde to lack a certain amount of creativity. It’s just an impression I have of him, that he is hard-headed and linear in his thinking, and thus, his tactics. I think he was simply target fixated on Nibali. He couldn’t conceive of Rui Costa bridging across to Rodriguez, or he simply didn’t have the legs after following so many counters from Nibali. I have trouble believing he was just playing it passive to help out his trade team teammate who is leaving in a few weeks, that makes no sense.

    For my money I felt like Rodriguez should have been riding to control that group instead of trying to get away, and then set up Valverde for the sprint. Of course that tactic carries risks of it’s own namely that Valverde has to cover moves himself if the tempo isn’t sharp enough, and that he may then lose the sprint to Rui Costa who is no slouch in such affairs.

  6. channel_zero

    With the Worlds so late in the year now you are probably the only one that finds it odd that a certain cohort of riders is not participating by and large.

    Froome/Porte were like pros showing up to a cafe run FOR SIX MONTHS while Sky’s British contingent suddenly and inexplicably had nothing. Yeah, that’s believable. Cleanest peloton ever. Just don’t open a case like they did with JTL.

    And then you suggest the WC podium somehow weren’t racing at peak fitness at some point between February to the end of July against Froome/Porte. Yeah, that happens all the time.

    The only Sky rider performances that make any sense at all this year are Henao and Uran.

  7. Rob

    As Steve has written, a bicycle race isn’t a competition to see who can spend the most time at the front or generate the most watts. The point is to win the race. Costa rode a very smart race. He sat in the peloton and conserved energy, allowing the teams of the favorites to burn themselves out. He was anonymous until the very end. He was patient and made his move only when it was necessary. In the end, Valverde was gassed and Nibali had to work too hard post-crash to have enough left. If not for the crash, I believe he would have won, but crashing (and avoiding crashing) is a part of racing. Costa was the smartest rider, and won because of it.

  8. TomasC

    To be fair to Valverde, Costa attacked in perfect moment in the right-hand turn where Valverde was behind Nibali. After the turn he already had considerable gap and it might not have been possible for Valverde to catch up. See the video.
    But it’s true he doesn’t look like he even tried :).

  9. Calvin Jones

    Think that was “carbon braking” as in rim brakes on carbon fiber rims. Easy to see how the “breaking” sneaked in there. For my part, I would like to see this exact race run with disc brakes. Would they have helped? I would guess not so much, the issue was between tire and pavement…or water in this case.


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