Costa pips favorites to win world title

Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:11pm EDT
 
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By Julien Pretot

FLORENCE, Italy (Reuters) - Portuguese Rui Costa kept his composure in a tense finale to upset the favorites and win the cycling world championships road race following a series of crashes and persistent rain on Sunday.

After sitting behind and refusing to take turns at the front, Costa made his move some 1.5 kms from the finish to bridge the gap with Joaquim Rodriguez and beat the Spaniard in a sprint finish to become the first Portuguese to win the event.

Another Spaniard, Alejandro Valverde, took third place for his fifth podium at the event although he has never won the coveted rainbow jersey after a poor tactical choice possibly cost Rodriguez the win.

"My first concern was to stay safe because there was a lot of rain and make to the finish in one piece but in the end, when we were only a small group left in front I thought I had a chance," Costa told a news conference.

"I stayed behind Rodriguez (ahead of the final sprint), played a tactical game and I was hoping that my legs would not fail me."

Home favorite Vincenzo Nibali, who launched the decisive attack in the Fiesole climb despite being one of several riders to crash during the 272.3 kms race, had to settle for fourth.

The move left one-day race specialists Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, Peter Sagan of Slovakia and defending champion Philippe Gilbert of Belgium stuck on the tarmac on the final of 10 laps on a 16.6 kms circuit.

MULTIPLE CRASHES   Continued...

 
Portugal's Rui Costa (R) celebrates as he crosses the finish to win the men's elite road race ahead of Spain's Joaquim Rodriguez at the UCI Road World Championships in Florence September 29, 2013. REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito