Sunday, 30 September 2012

Joaquim Rodriguez Brings Season To A Close


In a fantastic double triumph, Joaquim Rodriguez has ended his season on a high with Victory in the Giro di Lombardia and finishing top of the WorldTour Points Ranking leader board - which Bradley Wiggins lead until yesterday. After such disappointment in the Giro d'Italia and La Vuelta a Espana Rogriguez can hold his head high knowing that he finished as the most consistent rider of 2012. Yesterdays victory effectively though, draws the competitive season to a close...

Lombardy
The race was defined by the weather and indeed it rained from the moment the race began and pretty much until the race ended. In true 'Race Of The Falling Leaves' style, the event made for some beautiful scenery, some torid conditions and an extroardinary display of end of season endurance from all of the riders in the Peloton. The racing itself was defined by the Muro di Sormano climb where Rodriguez forced the pace and a select group of riders was formed to ride the remaining 80 kilometres - it was also here on the descent that new World Champion and race favourite Philippe Gilbert slid from his bike, tore his rainbow stripes and abandoned the race. The winning move came from Rodriguez in the closing kilometres however thanks to horrible weather conditions and huge amount of picture break-up viewers didn't get to see it! He was followed to the line by fellow Spaniard Samuel Sanchez in a 1-2 that will go down in the record books - Rogriguez was the first Spaniard to win this race in its 100+ year history - a remarkable statistic considering the races penchant for climbing. 

WorldTour Ranking 
Joaquim started the day second to Bradly Wiggins in the WorldTour ranking table, but with Wiggins season already at an end, Rodriguez made it his number one priority to overhaul the Brit rather than win Lombardy. The Spaniard needed to finish 9th or better to take the lead and effectively win the competition which decides the World Number 1. Hang on though, I here you say - Wiggins won Romandy, Paris-Nice, the Dauphine, The Tour de France so how on earth can he not be the number one rider in the world right now? Well it's not as simple as that. Rodriguez himself said: “It’s hard to know if I was the strongest rider over the course of the year, and Wiggins was certainly the best stage race rider" which is correct - Wiggins took more stage race success than any other rider by some distance this year - and what about Tom Boonen? He won every classic going! True, but consistency is key when it comes to the WorldTour rankings. We may find ourselves hard pushed to remember too much of Rodriguez season, but his 2012 palmares speak for themselves: 

2012
1st La Flèche Wallonne
1st Giro di Lombardia
2nd Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Points classification
1st Stages 10 & 17
2nd Overall Tour of the Basque Country
1st Stages 4 & 5
3rd Overall Vuelta a España
1st Stages 6, 12 & 14
6th Overall Tirreno–Adriatico
1st Stage 6
8th Clásica de San Sebastián

Not to mention a host of other top 10 and 20 finishes throughout the year. Here is the top 15 of in the WorldTour ranking is it currently stands:

1 RODRIGUEZ OLIVER Joaquin ESP19790512 KATUSHA TEAM (KAT) 692
2 WIGGINS Bradley GBR19800428 SKY PROCYCLING (SKY) 601
3 BOONEN Tom BEL19801015 OMEGA PHARMA-QUICKSTEP (OPQ) 410
4 NIBALI Vincenzo ITA19841114 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE (LIQ) 400
5 VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro ESP19800425 MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 394
6 GERRANS Simon AUS19800516 ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) 390
7 FROOME Christopher GBR19850520 SKY PROCYCLING (SKY) 376
8 SAGAN Peter SVK19900126 LIQUIGAS-CANNONDALE (LIQ) 351
9 SANCHEZ GONZALEZ Samuel ESP19780205 EUSKALTEL - EUSKADI (EUS) 332
10 FARIA DA COSTA Rui Alberto POR19861005 MOVISTAR TEAM (MOV) 309
11 CONTADOR VELASCO Alberto ESP19821206 TEAM SAXO BANK-TINKOFF BANK (STB) 290
12 BOASSON HAGEN Edvald NOR19870517 SKY PROCYCLING (SKY) 241
13 HESJEDAL Ryder CAN19801209 GARMIN - SHARP (GRS) 237
14 VAN DEN BROECK Jurgen BEL19830201 LOTTO BELISOL TEAM (LTB) 237
15 URAN URAN Rigoberto COL19870126 SKY PROCYCLING (SKY) 199

Whats Next?
Well, not a lot if we are being honest though there is still some cycling action to be had in the form of Paris-Tours on October 7th and the Tour of Beijing which runs from the 10th to the 13th of October. Riders who are yet to sign new contracts and still in the hunt for a deal will be looking to put in one last outstanding performance in these races in an effort to get noticed. Competitively though for the big guns the season is now finished and the wind down begins in earnest. Fear not though, the off season gets shorter each year and Road Racing will return as early as January 3rd with the Jayco Sun Tour in Australia followed by the first WorldTour event in the form of the Tour Down Under. I will still have plenty to blog about over the Winter - The Armstrong evidence will be out soon, there will be the Court battle between Paul Kimmage and the UCI in December, plenty of transfer talk, new kit releases and I'll be writing some features ready for the new season and indeed looking back to this season, so stick around for a while yet!

3 comments:

  1. Sounds good - an intriguing off season.

    I used to own a house that overlooked one f the most beautiful stretches of the Tour Down Under where it passed through the Barossa Valley. I watched th first couple if editions from my veranda. How I wsh I still had that place...

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  2. Sounds Like a lovely spot to view the race Roff, I am very jealous! I bet you wish you still had it, but surely nothing beats a horrific British winter! ;)

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  3. Oh yes, who'd want to be sitting along a row if Canary Island dare palms and vineyards in 27C sunshine when you could be enjoying an English January!

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