Giro di Lombardia

Quiet finish in Lombardy

Carlström visible during early exchanges

By Nick Howes   Last updated: 22nd October 2010

Kjell Carlström featured in an early breakaway for Team Sky at the Giro di Lombardia, but it was Philippe Gilbert who took the plaudits once again by ending his second successive season with back-to-back victories.

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The Omega Pharma-Lotto rider - who also defended his title at the Giro del Piemonte on Thursday - was joined out front by Michele Scarponi (Androni Giocattoli) with around 30km to go and the duo build an insurmountable lead before Gilbert left the Italian on the final climb of the day.

The Belgian battled on valiantly in the closing stages and crossed the finish line a full 12 seconds ahead of his rival.

In stark contrast to the sunny conditions in Piemonte, downpours battered the riders for most of the day but that didn't deter Carlström escaping the peloton with five accomplices soon after they had exited Milan.

The Finn took a nasty tumble during the second hour of action but managed to re-join the break as they pressed on around the picturesque shores of Lake Como.

At one point the sextet's advantage had risen to nine minutes, but had almost halved by the time they approached the gruelling climb to Magreglio.

Michael Albasini's early attack would quickly splinter that group and the HTC-Columbia rider passed the iconic church of Madonna del Ghisallo alone before being caught by Vladimir Gusev (Katusha), Angel Madrazo (Caisse d'Epargne) and Italian champion Giovanni Visconti (ISD-Neri) as he began the ascent of the Colma di Sormano.

That quartet would all fall by the wayside though as they battled up the day's major climb, and it was Rabobank's Bauke Mollema who jumped clear of the chase bunch and passed them seemingly with ease as he pressed on towards the summit.

At that point Gilbert roused himself into action behind, and formed an elite group with Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo), Pablo Lastras (Caisse d'Epargne) and the plucky Scarponi which hauled back the Dutchman on the long and treacherous descent which followed.

Nibali's hopes of a home victory would be quickly dashed as he crashed on a tight left-hand bend, and Gilbert took full advantage by dropping Scarponi and Lastras as they hurtled back down towards the waterfront.

Scarponi dug deep to bridge the gap back over to Gilbert as they battled on towards Como, and the race looked poised for a sprint finish as they approached the final climb of San Fermo.

Gilbert made his decisive move by turning up the gas with 5.3km to go and raced clear as his rival agonisingly missed a gear behind.

From then on the victory was a formality and Gilbert even flashed a cheeky salute before wrapping up the final monument of the season.

Serge Pauwels was the highest-placed Team Sky rider on the day in 24th place, with Lars-Petter Nordhaug the only other rider to finish in 33rd.

Yates realistic

Sports director Sean Yates was philosophical about how the race had panned out when we caught up with him back in the team car, and admitted luck had been against his riders on the day.

He said: "The plan had always been to get either Kjell, Serge or John-Lee [Augustyn] in the break and we did that.

"The idea was that they would stay away for a reasonable length of time and then Kjell would help out the other guys if it came back together before the Ghisallo.

"He was a late addition to the team today because Morris [Possoni] picked up a flu bug overnight and I thought he put in a great performance.

"He's feeling alright after his fall and he just came a cropper in the slippery conditions.

"There were countless other crashes today and Bradley [Wiggins] - who was our main hope for today - got caught up behind several of them which pretty much ended his chances, and our chances as a team.

"That's unfortunate, but it's just the way it goes sometimes when the weather is as bad as it has been today.

"This is a hard race in any weather, and obviously it has even more so today, but full credit to Gilbert though, he rode brilliantly today."

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