New world champion Philippe Gilbert crashes out on descent from the Muro di Sormano

Joaquin Rodriguez of Katusha has become the first Spaniard to win the Giro di Lombardia and in so doing overhauls Bradley Wiggins of Team Sky to end the 2012 season on top of the UCI World Rankings. As the rain hammered down at the finish line in Lecco, a thunderstorm playing havoc with TV pictures, Rodriguez who had attacked on the day's final climb of Villa Vergano, did enough to hold off a chasing group led by Samuel Sanchez of Euskaltel-Euskadi and Team Sky's Rigoberto Uran by 9 seconds.

While the climb of the Muro di Sormano, crested around 80 kilometres out and returning to the race after an absence of half a century, had been the most eagerly anticipated feature of the today's 251-kilometre race from Bergamo, it was the descent from that summit that provided the drama with one of the race favourites, newly crowned world champion Philippe Gilbert, crashing out.

The 2-kilometre ascent, which has an average gradient of 17 per cent with a maximum of 27 per cent and previously featured in the race for three consecutive editions beginning in 1960, proved to be the scene of suffering rather than attacking, its effect being to make a big selection in the field with a group of around 30 or so riders heading towards the day's other big showpiece climb to the sanctuary of the Madonna del Ghisallo.

Once more, the descent from that climb proved problematic for some, with Vincenzo Nibali, riding his last race for Liquigas-Cannondale before moving to Astana, going down on a corner, as did one of the Kazakh team’s current riders, Paolo Tiralongo.

Ahead, Kevin De Weert of Omega Pharma-Quick Step, who had attacked on that climb after the last of the day's breakaway riders had been swept up and built a lead of around a minute on the chasing bunch, also crashed on a corner as his rear wheel slid out from under him and was soon swallowed back up by the bunch.

By that stage, it was clear that the Villa Vergano climb, less heralded than the two that preceded it, was likely to be decisive and so it proved as Rodriguez won his second big classic of the year, having claimed victory in the Fleche Wallonne in the spring.

Today's victory, the 33-year-old's first in a Moument, will also go some way towards easing the rider's disappointment in missing out on the overall win in both the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta this year, having spent long spells in the leader's jersey in both those races.

Il Lombardia 2012 result

1.  RODRIGUEZ Joaquin       KATUSHA                       6.36'27
2.  SANCHEZ Samuel          EUSKALTEL-EUSKADI             at 0'09"
3.  URAN Rigoberto          SKY PROCYCLING
5.  HENAO Sergio            SKY PROCYCLING
6.  HESJEDAL Ryder          GARMIN - SHARP
7.  MOLLEMA Bauke           RABOBANK
8.  ZAUGG Oliver            RADIOSHACK-NISSAN 
10. KESSIAKOFF Fredrik      ASTANA
11. QUINTANA Nairo          MOVISTAR
13. CUNEGO Damiano          LAMPRE-ISD
14. KOLOBNEV Alexandr       KATUSHA                      at 0'57"
15. CLARKE Simon            ORICA GREENEDGE
16. MARTIN Daniel           GARMIN-SHARP                 at 1'23"
17. VAN AVERMAET Greg       BMC RACING                   at 1'25"
18. PERAUD Jean Christophe  AG2R LA MONDIALE



Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.