LEON, Spain (VN) — Alejandro Valverde won’t have a chance to take revenge against Philippe Gilbert in tomorrow’s Giro di Lombardia. The Movistar captain, who botched last weekend’s battle up the Cauberg against the Belgian, has succumbed to a chest cold and will not race the season-closer in Italy.
Valverde was still fuming at his missed chance at claiming the rainbow jersey last weekend and hoped to become the first Spaniard to win Lombardia, but he fell ill over the past few days with fever.
The world championship bronze medalist was forced to stop training Wednesday and Movistar officials confirmed Friday that Valverde would not be up for racing in the season’s final major race. Juanjo Cobo and Sergio Pardilla replace Valverde and Andrey Amador, who was injured during the Gran Piemonte yesterday.
Gilbert (BMC Racing) is five-star favorite to win Lombardia following his stunning victory Sunday up the Cauberg to claim the world title.
Valverde, however, was hoping to take revenge against Gilbert following Sunday’s disappointment in the Limburg.
Spain’s worlds strategy was built around racing for the sprint with Oscar Freire, but when Gilbert uncorked his race-winning move, Valverde was caught between a rock and a hard place.
Following team orders, he hesitated to follow Gilbert, even though he appeared to have the legs to do so. When he looked back to see Freire faltering and looked ahead to see the medals riding away, Valverde made the split-second decision to follow.
Valverde saved Spain’s honor with a bronze medal, but Freire was frustrated at the finish line Sunday, venting against Valverde for not following team orders and leaving him isolated. Freire, a three-time world champion, could only muster 10th in the final race of his career.
Valverde was equally frustrated, because he believes that if he had had freedom to follow Gilbert, he might have come away with his first rainbow jersey.
“It’s a medal for Spain, so I am content, but maybe it could have turned out differently,” Valverde said last weekend. “Gilbert got a big jump on everyone. It was a complicated
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