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"We probably expected a bit more from Wout but it's the end of the season and it was a hard race. At the end of the day the legs are how they are and you can't always be up there at the end."

Photo: Sirotti

IL LOMBARDIA

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MIKEL NIEVE

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04.10.2015 @ 19:19 Posted by Andy Pedersen

Mikel Nieve led the Team Sky charge with sixth place at Il Lombardia as the 2015 WorldTour came to a close.

 

The Basque rider was joined by team-mates Sergio Henao and Wout Poels in an elite front group as the monument classic entered its closing stages.

 

Under sunny skies the run into Como produced plenty of action with Henao and Nieve both accelerating in a bid to go clear. Eventually the decisive attack came from Vincenzo Nibali, with the Astana rider jumping clear on the climb to Civiglio before taking big risks on the following descent.

 

Despite the gap spinning out to 40 seconds the Italian had to hold off a late charge from Dani Moreno (Katusha), eventually crossing the line for a popular home victory by 21 seconds. After Thibaut Pinot (FDJ) had locked up third Nieve contested the sprint for fourth, eventually securing sixth place, 46 seconds back on the Italian national champion.

 

Henao came home ninth, with Poels completing a consistent Team Sky showing with 12th place after slipping back on the penultimate climb.

 

Team Sky had set the pace early in the peloton after a big break of 11 went away out of Bergamo. Eventually throttling back, the gap stretched out to almost eight minutes by the time they reached the Colle Gallo.

 

Astana began to control the situation, but as the race approached the famed Madonna del Ghisallo the gap suddenly began to tumble. A group of big names including Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx - Quick-Step) and Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) pushed clear ahead of the brutal slopes of the Muro di Sormano.

 

Poels moved to the fore to make sure he was in position heading over the top and was joined by Nieve and Henao as part of a regrouping on the technical descent. With Kwiatkowski hauled back the race came back together with 20km to go.

 

Henao followed Diego Rosa (Astana) briefly on the Civiglio as a barrage of attacks began to fire, but when the big move came from Nibali there was no stopping the Italian from taking monument glory.

 

"The guys did a good job out there and I think as a team it was a good performance," confirmed Sports Director Dario Cioni.

 

"We probably expected a bit more from Wout but it's the end of the season and it was a hard race. At the end of the day the legs are how they are and you can't always be up there at the end.

 

"It was good to see so many of our guys still in the front group going for the win with 10km to go. Unfortunately no one had the punch to finish it off.

 

"Mikel did a good ride. He was just behind the podium and in that group he wasn't the favourite for the sprint against Valverde and Rosa. It was also good to see Sergio finishing the season off on a high with a good result. This time last year he didn't even know if he'd be back racing so he must be really pleased. With all the work he's done this year he'll be in a much better place next year."

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