How Joaquim Rodriguez became world number one – again

World Road Race Championships

A disconsolate Rodriguez contemplates a silver medal in the elite men’s race after his courageous ride was not quite enough to take victory (Pic: Sirotti)

While the treacherous riding conditions put paid to Chris Froome and Great Britain’s World Championship hopes – and earned a stern assessment of their failures from coach Rod Ellingworth – the same can not be said of Rodriguez.

After the race had been torn to shreds by the torrential downpours in Tuscany, when the peloton hit the final 20km lap in Florence the Spaniard came into his own.

First acting fast to neutralise an attack from Michele Scarponi (Italy), Rodriguez then led alongside home favourite Vincenzo Nibali for a short time.

Although their two-man break was soon reeled in, Rodriguez went again over the summit of Fiesole – with Nibali again in tow.

However, his tremendous skills outdid even those of the Giro d’Italia champion and he attacked once more to build another small lead.

With team-mate Alejandro Valverde among the chasing group, which also contained Nibali and Portugal’s Rui Costa, Rodriguez maintained a small lead as Nibali and Costa worked to chase him down.

When he was caught it appeared his chances of securing the rainbow jersey were gone, but Rodriguez is made of sterner stuff and attacked once again, shaking off his Italian rival once more to establish a 40m gap with just two kilometres remaining.

However, just as it looked as though Rodriguez would be crowned world champion, Valverde was unable to contain a counter-attack by Costa – a Movistar team-mate of the Spanish former Vuelta a Espana winner.

Valverde later claimed he just did not have the legs, and Costa passed Rodriguez just yards from the line, leaving the visibly downhearted Spaniard with a silver medal to show for his courageous ride.

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