Second last year, Alejandro Valverde could reclaim top spot in the WorldTour rankings should he perform well at Il Lombardia.
His World Championship bronze medal proved he still has good legs after his third place at the Vuelta a Espana, and with five one-day victories to his name his season – Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia, Roma Maxima, GP Miguel Indurain, La Fleche Wallonne and the Clasica Ciclista San Sebastian – he is certainly a strong contender for a maiden victory at Il Lombardia.
Valverde has both the climbing ability and the one-day nous to succeed at Il Lombardia and, after a stunning season, will look to make amends for his near-miss last year.
One of few riders capable of matching Rodriguez on the Villa Vergano, Valverde just did not quite have the legs to catch his compatriot’s solo attack.
This time out, however, it will be a case of once bitten, twice shy. One of the undoubted stand-out performers of the season, Il Lombardia represents his chance to crown a stunning year.