Nibali closes season with Giro di Lombardia win

Vincenzo Nibali (AFP)
Vincenzo Nibali (AFP)

Como - Italy's Vincenzo Nibali won the Giro di Lombardia, the final one-day classic of the season, for the second time on Saturday in a race overshadowed by the spectacular crash of Belgium's Laurens De Plus.

Bahrain rider Nibali finished half a minute ahead of France's Julian Alaphilippe in a drama-filled 247km ride between Bergamo and Como in northern Italy. Gianni Moscon of Italy crossed in third at 38 seconds.

"This is really the cherry on the cake for me to close the season," said Nibali.

"Everyone was watching me. When I tried to pull ahead, I was picked up every time. I understood that I had to find something else to win," explained Nibali.

The Shark, as the Sicilian is known, added to the title he won in the fifth of the year's five prestigious 'Monument' races two years ago.

Crossing the line under the sun on the banks of the popular Italian lakes the 32-year-old drew a '50' with his fingers for the total number of his victories.

Nibali has been in good form this season, finishing second to Chris Froome at last month's Vuelta a Espana having come third in May's Giro d'Italia -- two of the three Grand Tours.

"I was hoping because after so many podiums I really wanted a win," said the Sicilian.

"These roads I know, I train here often. I knew it was tough but today my team was perfect despite (Franco) Pellizzotti and (Enrico) Gasparotto not being the best."

On the descent towards Lake Como some 40km from home, Quick Step rider De Plus crashed after taking a corner badly, tumbling over the top of a barrier and falling into the void before apparently landing on grassy ground relatively unhurt.

The Belgian rider had been alone in pursuit of race leader Mikael Cherel of France when he came a cropper.

"We've spoken to Laurens De Plus, who luckily has no serious injury," his team confirmed adding that the rider had been taken to hospital.

The 22-year-old was competing for the second time in the race after also being forced to quit last year.

- First win for Bahrain -

Nibali hung onto the tailwind of France's Thibaut Pinot on the 'Civiglio' -- the climb towards the Alps starting in Como -- and the penultimate difficulty of the race.

The 27-year-old Pinot attacked three times on the climb but Nibali crept up near the summit and pulled ahead on the descent.

The Italian increased his lead on the final climb towards San Fermo della Battaglia, flying over the summit with a 40-second advantage on his pursuers.

Alaphilippe conceded he was unable to match the wily Italian who gave the Bahrain team -- founded this year around him -- their first big victory.

"I couldn't follow Nibali, I was at breaking point," said the 25-year-old who again settled for a podium after second in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2015, and third in this year's Milan-SanRemo.

"I'm disappointed but don't have any regrets," said FDJ rider Pinot, who crossed in fifth.

"It's a pity as I was riding well, I had a super team behind me, but I'll come back next season with more motivation and a more adapted programme."

Final official results from the Giro di Lombardia, the final classic of the season, over 247km between Bergamo and Como on Saturday:

1. Vincenzo Nibali (ITA/Bahrain) 6hr 15min 29sec 2. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA/QST) at 28sec, 3. Gianni Moscon (ITA/SKY) 38, 4. Alexis Vuillermoz (FRA/ALM) 38, 5. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 38, 6. Domenico Pozzovivo (ITA/ALM) 38, 7. Fabio Aru (ITA/AST) 38, 8. Mikel Nieve (ESP/SKY) 40, 9. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 42, 10. Sergei Chernetski (RUS/AST) 47,

11. Sam Oomen (NED/SUN) 47, 12. Nicolas Roche (IRL/BMC) 47, 13. Egan Bernal (COL/AND) 47, 14. Ben Hermans (BEL/BMC) 47, 15. Davide Villella (ITA/CAN) 1:12, 16. Mathias Frank (SUI/ALM) 1:12, 17. Diego Rosa (ITA/SKY) 1:12, 18. Wilco Kelderman (NED/SUN) 1:12, 19. Bauke Mollema (NED/TRE) 1:26, 20. Tim Wellens (BEL/LOT) 1:26

Selected others

36. Dan Martin (IRL/QST) 5:51

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