Road World Championships - men's road race as it happened

Portugal's Rui Costa is crowned world champion in Italy after Britain's Chris Froome drops out.

29 September 2013 Last updated at 17:23

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As it happened

  1. 1651: 

    And that is pretty much that from me. Thanks to all those of you who have been with me for some, or all of the last eight hours and for your contributions via text and twitter.

    I think you'll agree it's been a truly epic race and that finish was something special - you can read more and watch highlights in the race report.

    It wasn't to be for the British team today, but it's not been a bad year - with Froome winning the Tour de France and Cavendish picking up his 100th professional victory, among many other highlights.

    The live text will return in the spring for the one-day classics, with the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, which starts in Yorkshire, to follow.

  2.  
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    Danny Butler: A great race. With a worthy winner and a glorious second placer, but GB you should of been far more competitive. Disappointed.

  3. 1643: 

    The medal ceremony is taking place and Rui Costa is presented with the winner's rainbow jersey by Brian Cookson - the new president of cycling's governing body the UCI.

    Costa is beaming as he waits for the national anthem - Rodriguez is wiping away tears. I can't work out whether they are tears of sadness at missing out on the win, or tears of joy at winning silver.

  4. 1640: 

    You may be pleased to learn that Rigoberto Uran, dusted himself down after his spill and rode to the finish - he was 4'28" behind the winner.

    No British riders among the 61 finishers though - they all withdrew long before the end. Team leader Chris Froome summing up their efforts thus: The conditions are the same for everyone. We've got no excuse. We just weren't there," he told BBC Sport.

    "It's a big disappointment, especially having made it such a big objective but with these conditions it just wasn't meant to be."

  5. 1636: 

    Rui Costa is being interviewed in English but answering in Portuguese - my Portuguese isn't great but I understood part of one answer - he didn't expect to win today.

    But win he did, in sensational style, leaving a host of world class riders in his wake.

  6.  
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    Matt Hogsden: What a final lap at the men's Road Race World Championship!

    Parmjit Dhugga: What a fantastic finish. Pity GB don't do rain. Still a great day of cycling.

  7. 1633: 

    Rui Costa is in bits as he is congratulated by all and sundry. The Portuguese rider looks absolutely shattered. But then, he's just been racing for seven hours, 25 minutes and 44 seconds.

    Rodriguez was credited with the same time, while Valverde and Nibali finished 16 second back.

    Peter Sagan was sixth while Gilbert was ninth and one place ahead of Cancellara - all three were in a group 34 seconds behind the winner.

  8. 1629: 

    And Italy's Nibali gives up on the chase for bronze as Valverde picks up another world championship medal to add to his growing collection.

  9. 1628: 

    Rodriguez is beaten by a bike length after more than seven hours of racing. Wow.

  10. 1626: 
    CHAMPAGNE MOMENT

    PORTUGAL'S RUI COSTA WINS THE ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP.

  11. 1626: 

    Costa goes first but here comes Rodriguez...

  12. 1625: 

    And here we come into the final kilometre and the pain is etched across Rodriguez's face as Rui Costa creeps ever closer on the straight finish. Who is going to get this? Costa and Rodriguez are alongside each other, looking at each other. Who has the legs?

  13. 1624: 

    Inside the final 2km and Nibali has backed off as Rodriguez opens up a significant lead and it's now down to Rui Costa to chase and the Portuguese sets off in pursuit.

  14.  
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    Danny Cunningham: Respect to Uran for getting his bike out of the way of the chasers - hope he's ok, bad time to crash out.

    Ian: Unlucky Uran, just be glad no serious injury.

  15. 1623: 

    Rodriguez has another little dig. He is forcing Nibali to waste energy by chasing - is he trying to set up his team-mate Valverde, who is the better sprinter?

  16. 1622: 

    And Nibali has caught Rodriguez and brought Valverde and Rui Costa with him. Four riders into three medals does not go. Who is going to miss out?

    Rodriguez has another go but it's more a show of strength than a serious effort. Just 3km remaining.

  17. 1620: 

    The Italian fans are urging Nibali on but nobody looks like they are going to catch Rodriguez on this climb and they crest the summit four seconds adrift of the Spaniard.

    Can Nibali catch him on the descent? We have about 4km remaining.

  18. 1618: 

    Back up front and Rodriguez has left Nibali on the descent. Valverde and Rui Costa have caught Nibali and the Italian is remonstrating with the pair, trying to get them to help.

    Valverde shrugs his shoulders, with his team-mate out front, he doesn't need to help and Costa doesn't seem too bothered either.

    Here goes Rodriguez up the Via Salviati...

  19. 1615: 
    OUCH!

    Nibali is flying down the snaking descent from Fiesole with Rodriguez in his wheel. And there's a massive crash behind - it's Uran - he cartwheels over his bike as he runs wide and careers into a grass bank.

    Thankfully the Colombian looks OK - he's quickly up on his feet although he looks a little shaken.

    About 9km to go.

  20.  
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    Ken Adams: Poor weather again shows the only weakness in GB team. They are all built in a lab. Their big strength has been sport science under Brailsford. Can't match Italian passion for racing or handling skills in the wet.

  21. 1613: 

    Nibali has decided he needs to go now. He is an expert descender and perhaps thinks he can take some more time on the slope between the top in Fiesole and the climb of Via Salviati.

    Rodriguez has gone with him and leads the pair over the summit. Colombia's Rigoberto Uran is with Alejandro Valverde and Rui Costa just five seconds back.

    Who has the nerve on the descent?

  22. 1611: 

    Peter Sagan is sitting pretty at fifth wheel in the leading train and this is looking good for the Slovakian. Fabian Cancellara is a few riders back, keeping tabs on Gilbert.

    Scarponi of Italy has a dig off the front and Joaquin Rodriguez of Spain jumps across and pulls a couple of riders with him. Among them is Vincenzo Nibali.

    Sagan is suddenly six seconds back, along with Boassen Hagen.

    And Nibali is going...

  23. 1607: 

    The Italians take up the pace but this is not shaping up for Nibali who, like Froome, needed a hard race that does not end in a sprint finish.

    Denmark's Chris Anker Sorensen is the next to take up the pace - he is riding for Jakob Fuglsang but you've got to fancy that, like in the women's race, it will all explode on the final climb of Via Salviati.

  24. 1604: 

    After exactly seven hours and one minute of racing, Slovenia's Jan Polanc leads the peloton over the line for the final lap.

    Just 16km or so remaining and Sagan v Cancellara v Gilbert v Boasson Hagen coming up.

    Of course there could be others involved - Valverde, Nibali - how about Portugal's Rui Costa? This really is anybody's race.

  25.  
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    Windibank: I think the GB Team should be made to stay behind, sweep up & stack the chairs for being naughty.

    Daniel Eckersley: They've all played into Sagan's hands. He's climbing in the top 10. Think he should take it from here.

  26. 1558: 

    Just 20km remaining as the riders head back into Florence to cross the finish line for the penultimate time and start the final lap and the peloton is strung out as everyone takes it easy on the drying roads - nobody wants to crash out this late on.

  27. 1555: 

    Germany's Jon Degenkolb has been quietly going about his business this afternoon - he's a big lad to be climbing this well and he has a useful sprint if there's a bunch coming into the finish in around half an hour.

    Here we go up the Via Salviati and nobody is making a break - there is a lot of face pulling and shoulders are rocking and rolling as they approach the summit. Romain Bardet of France stretches his legs but his efforts are quickly nullified by Italy's Michele Scarponi.

  28.  
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    Jonathan Abbott: Would love to see Rui Costa become World Champion and think the finish will suit him.

    Chris Brown: Sagan still sitting pretty and not doing too much work. Still think he could be in the mix.

    Ciaran Enright: Sagan and Cancellara will mark each other out of it.

  29. 1552: 

    It looks like the finish of the race could be in beautiful Tuscan sunshine. After almost seven hours of relentless rain, the sun has popped out to say hello and dry the road and the riders.

    There is less than 25km to the finish and all the main contenders are watching each other as they head towards the Via Salviati for the penultimate time. Will anyone have a dig this time round?

  30. 1549: 

    And the break is over. Chapeau Huzarski for a monumental effort out front.

    Belgium's Serge Pauwels is the new race leader as he takes the peloton over the summit in Fiesole - he is riding for defending champion Philippe Gilbert.

    There is a lap and a half remaining and even Chris Boardman is not sticking his neck out to pick a winner. He says anyone in the leading group of about 40 riders has a chance.

  31.   
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I'm amazed that nobody has launched a major attack yet."

  32. 1544: 

    It's looking like Visconti and Huzarski's time out front is coming to an end as the peloton edges ever closer... just a handful of seconds in it.

  33. 1543:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I heard the officials shouting no, no, no on the race radio. They don't want to have to take action against an Italian rider on home soil in a World Championships."

  34. 1542: 

    What's this? Nibali is getting a little tow off his team car - the Italians have to be careful because the race officials won't like that one bit!

  35. 1540: 

    Alejandro Valverde of Spain, twice a runner-up and twice a bronze medallist in this race, is also still in touch - could he finally secure the rainbow jersey?

    The camera pans back to Nibali who is frantically trying to get back on to the peloton but it's surely too big an ask for him. He is 16 seconds adrift of the peloton and weaving through the team cars to try and get back on.

    Colombia's Darwin Atapuma has taken over the lead of the peloton and he has a train of Belgian riders in his wake.

    The leading duo are 45 seconds clear as they start to ascend the climb to Fiesole for the penultimate time.

  36. 1536: 

    Nibali is one of the favourites and is back up and racing but he does not look comfortable on his bike, fiddling with his shoes and pedals - looks like race over for him.

    Suddenly Visconti's break takes on even-more significance - he is now their best chance of winning the race. He crosses the finish line ahead of Poland's Huzarski in 6:32'46". There are two laps of 16km remaining and Van Summeren brings the peloton over the line 67 seconds later.

    The favourites remain in contention - Cancellara, Gilbert and Sagan are all in that chasing group.

  37. 1531: 
    OUCH!

    The peloton goes over the top of Via Salviati 75 seconds adrift of the leaders. And there has been another spill on the descent. It looks like Luca Paolini is one who has gone down and Chris Boardman suggests Vincenzo Nibali has gone down as well.

  38. 1529: 

    Huzarski has been out in front for 230km as he hits the Via Salviati for the eighth time. Visconti is only 100m or so behind but he can make no inroads on the Polish leader as they struggle up the 16% gradients.

    But he has caught him on the descent and the Italian immediately moves into the lead and Huzarski drops in behind him, probably thankful he has a wheel to follow for a short while. Just 3km remaining on this lap and then two more of 16km to go.

  39. 1523: 

    Geraint Thomas, the last British man left pedalling in the race, has also been talking to BBC Sport.

    He said: "It was just carnage out there. I saw five or six crashes out in front of me. Once you're in that back half, you're kind of destined to get dropped. We all committed to try and get Froome there, but it wasn't meant to be.

    "There wasn't a lot you could have done when you don't have the legs.

    "Luke Rowe and Mark Cavendish did a great job early on and the first time up the climb we were all sort of there apart from Bradley Wiggins and Steve Cummings. It was just so hard."

  40.  
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    Steven Palmer: Difficult to know the ins and out of what went on but did Froome get all the support he deserved. Italy & Belgium seem to be ok.

    Andrew Cussons: Just heard Froome on tv. Definitely let down by his team. Can't do it by himself.

    Tom Edwards: Disappointing that TeamGB are out. Weather played huge part, shouldn't rain in Rio though! More than 1 plan needed next time.

  41. 1521:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "The rain has finally stopped on the race and I think that may be the sun we can see."

  42. 1520: 

    The Italian fans on the side of the road are going crazy as they cheer their man Visconti over the summit just 20 seconds behind Huzarski. Gautier is third over the line, a further 29 seconds back.

    The race is finally heating up. The peloton is 88 seconds behind Huzarski.

  43. 1518: 

    And Visconti has taken off and left behind the trio he was with. He zips past Barta as though he was a mere club rider and sets off in pursuit of Huzarski - he is 30 seconds adrift at present.

    Van Summeren continues to pace the peloton as the Belgians play the waiting game for their man Gilbert.

  44. 1516: 

    Johan van Summeren of the Belgian team is leading the peloton as they head through the feed zone and towards the bottom of the 4.3km climb to Fiesole.

    Kelderman, Preidler, Visconti and Gautier have come together and are chasing Huzarski, who is now out on his own at the front of the race, having dropped Barta.

  45. 1509: 
    Team GB alert

    BBC Sport's Jill Douglas has managed to get a word with Chris Froome following his decision to abandon the race. Here's what he had to say:

    "The conditions are the same for everyone but we've got no excuse. We just weren't there today.

    "It's a big disappointment, especially having made it such a big objective but with these conditions it just wasn't meant to be.

    "The first three laps on the circuit there were crashes everywhere. The weather hasn't let up. It's rained solidly all day. After three laps the split started happening and I looked around and realised I didn't have any team-mates left and it wasn't going to happen.

    "Given we've come up empty handed we'll have to go back to the drawing board [ahead of the Rio Olympics]."

  46. 1506: 

    Dutch rider Wilco Kelderman and Georg Preidler of Austria also went clear of the peloton a little while ago - I left them to it, thinking it would come to nothing, but they have managed to stay out there and they end lap seven 17 seconds behind Barta and Huzarski.

    Visconti and Gautier are a further 12 seconds back. And here comes the peloton. They roll over the line 1'44" behind the lead duo. Three laps to go. Race on.

  47. 1500: 

    A big clap of thunder followed by a flash of lightning reminds us of the stormy conditions in Tuscany today, although the rain appears to have eased a little.

    Italy's Giovanni Visconti slipped away from the front of the peloton while I was taking a bit of food on board and he has been joined by Gautier. They are between the front of the peloton and Barta and Huzarski.

    And the chasers have their prey in their sight as the leaders toil up the Via Salviati at about 10km/h and they cross the line 42 seconds adrift. The peloton, perhaps, keeping tabs on each other rather than organising a chase, are 90 seconds back.

  48. 1451: 

    Barta and Huzarski reach the summit in Fiesole for a seventh time. The peloton is all back together but that little bit of action at the front has seen the gap close right down and the lead is now just 75 seconds. France's Cyril Gautier is off the front of the peloton.

  49.  
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    Jayson Hales: Really disappointed with team GB, Contador crashed and he's still fighting! Don't get it?

    Jeremy Fox: Disappointing all GB riders are out. Weather looks awful. If there's no chance of a result then retiring is sensible.

    Richard Piggott: Poor by team GB, it's world champs and the same for all riders.

  50. 1449: 

    Voeckler, who finished seventh in last year's race, is quite an aggressive rider and he has gone on the attack and taken a bunch of eight other riders with him and they have opened up a lead of a few seconds on the main bunch. Peter Stetina of the United States is leading the group and the Italians have sent Michele Scarponi to monitor it.

  51. 1445: 

    Five Belgians, encouraged by team leader Gilbert, have moved to the front of the peloton as they take on the climb to Fiesole for the seventh time. Cancellara moves up alongside Gilbert, while Spanish hopeful Alberto Contador is also up near the front.

    And here's Tommy V dragging a quintet of French riders up towards the front - they've been incredibly quiet so far but they have decent riders among their ranks with Thibaut Pinot and Arthur Vichot among their ranks.

  52. 1440: 

    There is a big bunch that crosses the line 2'40" behind the leaders. All the main contenders left in the race are in there...defending champion Philippe Gilbert of Belgium, Slovakia's Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland, Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen to name the four I picked at that start of the race.

    Although I wouldn't be too disappointed to see Tommy Voeckler of France take the title. Long way to go yet though - about 60km in fact.

  53.  
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    Dan Stagg: Just worked out the race distance is longer than the M5. No wonder they're dropping like flies.

  54. 1435: 

    I don't think I've mentioned the rain for a little while. Don't worry, it's still hammering it down as the leading duo suck on an energy gel and splash through the puddles as they cross the finish line for a sixth time and head on to lap seven.

  55. 1432: 
    Bad news for a Brit

    Geraint Thomas has abandoned. There are no British riders left racing.

  56. 1431: 
    Italy down

    "That's a disqualification offence," says Chris Boardman as Filippo Pozzato instinctively puts out a hand to give his Italian team-mate Luca Paolini a shove at the bottom of the Via Salviati. Paolini's gears appeared to slip and as he almost came to a standstill, Pozzato gave him a helping hand.

    "It will be interesting to see what race officials make of that," continues Boardman. "That could be an instant disqualification."

  57. 1425: 

    Alexandr Kolobnev is in the chasing bunch, which is great news for the Russian rider who tweeted on Saturday morning that he was unlikely to start the race as the team's bikes had been nicked. I know the Katusha pro cycling team were trying to get a new set made up and shipped to the start line and I guess they made it. Anyone believe in fairy-tale endings?

  58. 1422: 
    LIVE NOW

    A quick reminder that live coverage has now started on BBC 2 and you can, of course, continue watching the coverage on this very website.

  59. 1420: 

    Italian Alessandro Vanotti is pulling the peloton up to Fiesole for the sixth time and this race is yet to really spark into life. The attritional nature of the opening 200km has certainly decimated the field but there is still a substantial bunch of quality riders in the main bunch.

    Long-time leaders Barta and Huzarski are now almost four minutes clear as they go over the summit in Fiesole and start the descent.

    Who in the peloton will show their hand first?

  60.  
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    Patrick Murphy: Appreciate it's the worlds but the distance is too far. Has a detrimental effect on the race IMO.

    Al Daviez: To be fair, the riders that have dropped out are a who's who of some of the finest riders on the planet.

  61. 1411: 

    The peloton sweeps over the finish line 3'25" adrift as they start lap six. 189.4km done, just the 83km or so to go then.

    Froome has been confirmed as retired from the race.

  62. 1409: 

    The leaders cross the line at the end of lap five after five hours and five minutes of racing. That means I've been tapping away on the keyboard for almost five and-a-half hours. If you've been with me all the way, drop me a tweet #bbccyling or a text to 81111.

    Unlike Froome, Wiggins and Cavendish, I can't duck out, but at least I'm dry, although I could do with a glass of water if any of my colleagues in the office are reading this...

  63. 1403: 

    Huzarski and Barta ride side-by-side up Via Salviati - they look like they are riding through treacle but their lead has gone out to 2'36" over the main chasing bunch.

    Italian Vincenzo Nibali appears unconcerned as he drops back to his team car for a quick pep talk with Bettini. Maybe Bettini is telling him of Froome's demise - that could affect his plans, although would he have the legs to take on Gilbert, Cancellara and Sagan in a sprint?

  64. 1358: 

    And rumour is reaching me that Froome has called it a day. I've not had that confirmed yet though. I'll endeavour to find out more. If that is so, then I think Geraint Thomas will be the sole British rider left pedalling.

  65.  
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    Ian Burnett: Still 8 Italians on the front. That's how you give yourself the best chance to have a winner.

    Simon Stromberg: If I was a betting man I might have a punt on Degenkolb, if he can stay with the group. Boassen Hagen might surprise.

  66. 1355: 

    These riders have nerves of steel. Barta and Huzarski are descending at speeds of more than 60km/h - approaching 40mph - on tight, windy roads, in treacherous conditions.

    The peloton is chasing along two minutes down. There are around 70 riders in that bunch but sadly for British fans, no Froome, or Thomas.

  67. 1351: 

    The race has just less than 100km to run - or about two-and-a-half hours at current pace. Luca Paolini drops back to his race car to discuss tactics with his Italian team coach Paolo Bettini. Bettini is worth listening to because he has won this race twice before.

    Up front, Godoy and Brandle have been dropped by Barta and Huzarski on the climb to Fiesole. They have extended their overall lead by a few seconds - Boardman reckons that is because the main bunch is preparing themselves for a charge.

  68. 1341: 

    Tunisia's Rafaa Chtioui has finally lost touch with the leading group and is caught in no-man's land, 39 seconds adrift of his fellow breakaway riders but 57 seconds ahead of the Cancellara-Gilbert group.

    Froome and Thomas are 2'29" behind the leaders as they start lap five - six to go.

  69. 1337:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "The chase is being controlled by the Italians but the race radio is referring to that chasing bunch as the Cancellara-Gilbert group."

  70. 1335: 
    Bad news for a Brit

    Brandle and Chtioui are finding the pace too high on the Via Salviati and the leading quintet are briefly a trio. They rejoin on the descent but that quintet will not be out there for much longer though as the chasing bunch are just 90 seconds or so back.

    Froome has fallen a further 10 seconds back and is now 40 adrift and Boardman suggests that could be the end of his race. He adds that he thinks there may only 30 or 40 riders finish the race.

  71. 1330: 

    Ireland's Nicolas Roche, some people's outside bet to get on the podium, is the latest to retire as three Italians take off on the descent as the leaders hit the Via Salviati for the fourth time.

    "It looks like it's getting steeper and steeper," says Boardman.

  72. 1327: 

    Michele Scarponi of Italy leads the chasers over the summit at Fiesole, 1'55" behind the leaders - it is a case of when, not if, they will catch the leading quintet.

    Britain's Chris Froome is 30 seconds adrift of that group but he has the tough Geraint Thomas with him. Thomas rode nearly all of the Tour de France with a fractured pelvis earlier this year.

  73.  
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    Fiona Ramsay: If Froome is dropping off leaders, then that is down to him. If he can't keep up, was Wiggins actually supposed to carry him?

    Peter Hudson: Wiggins will be protecting his knee. No point risking all for Froome who is neither a puncheur, nor a master descender.

    Mandy: I have a feeling that Froome with drop in the next couple of laps too. What a shame. He looks really unhappy out there.

  74. 1322: 

    The Spanish team has caught up with the chasing group as we head onto the fourth climb to Fiesole and there is now quite a large group back together.

    Peter Sagan has also got back in after losing a bit of time while he changed his bike.

    Some of the 100 or so riders who have retired: Ireland's Dan Martin, American Chris Horner, who won the Vuelta a Espana, and his team-mates Taylor Phinney and Tejay van Garderen.

    Meanwhile, race radio is reporting that Chris Froome has been dropped.

  75. 1313: 

    The quintet out front, Tunisia's Rafaa Chtioui, Poland's Bartosz Huzarski, Jan Barta of the Czech Republic, Matthias Brandle of Austria and Yonder Godoy of Venezuela, are having their lead eaten into with each revolution of the wheel.

    Their lead is down to two minutes, 22 seconds as they start lap four - 156.3km gone, around 116km remaining. Froome crosses the line 3'04" down, so 42 seconds behind the Italian-led group.

  76.  
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    Matthew Woodcraft: Looks incredibly tough riding in the road race in Florence, chapeau boys. Will Froome have the legs and the luck needed to win?

    Iain: The road race resembles a combined duathalon - cycling & swimming together.

  77. 1307: 

    Chris Boardman reporting that Australian duo Cadel Evans and Richie Porte have both pulled out of the race. He's also reporting numerous crashes on the road and says he would also have been in the bus by now!

    But those crashes are causing havoc in the chasing bunch. The Italians are leading a group of no more than 15 riders up the Via Salviati. Gilbert and Cancellara are still in touch but Froome does not appear to be in that group. They are 2'45" behind the leaders.

    And there is Froome - about 20 seconds adrift and he is shaking his head on the descent - whether he is trying to shake water out of his face, or just complaining about the conditions, I don't know.

    Geraint Thomas and Ian Stannard are a further 20 seconds or so behind Froome - they need to try and catch him to give him some support.

  78.  
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    David Flood: Are there many sportsmen as selfish as Bradley Wiggins? I mean, he really takes the biscuit.

    Thomas Lawlor: People are being a bit hard on Wiggins. Conditions are atrocious and about 50 riders have dropped out already.

    Lyn Whitfield: People criticising Brit tactics at home have NO IDEA how bad the weather is here. It's cutting the race to bits.

  79. 1257: 
    Italy up

    The Italian coach Paolo Bettini promised that his team would ride aggressively and they are doing just that with all nine of their riders still going strong and in the first dozen or so on the road. The lead is coming down lap-by-lap and is now just 3'35" as the chasers reach Fiesole.

    Interesting to see one of my favourite riders Tommy Voeckler of France in the mix. If you've not come across Tommy before, he has one of the most expressive faces in the peloton and is always good for a gurn to the camera.

  80. 1255: 

    Half of the Italian team have dropped back to help pace Filippo Pozzato back to the front of the peloton after he needed a bike change. The other half are continuing to set the pace but they are soon back all together.

    The television pictures flick forward to our leading quintet cresting the climb to Fiesole for the third of 10 times and the cameraman attempts to wipe the raindrops off the lens but only succeeds in smudging them with his soggy tissue and blurring the picture further.

  81.  

    Hogg, Kent: Always been a huge fan of Wiggo but I've always thought he's a bit of a self involved athlete and today seems to confirm that. You'd hope he's got a good reason to be dropping out as it seems like a poor showing to me.

  82. 1248:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I'd say there's only about half the field left in contention now. You can see one of the Italian riders has been down as well because he is trying to straighten his brake levers - a dangerous move in itself that."

  83. 1246: 
    World road race in Florence

    If you can't see the television pictures, hopefully this will give you an indication of just how wet it is in Florence today.

  84. 1244: 
    OUCH!

    There has been a big crash in the peloton on the descent from Via Salviati and there are riders strewn across the road. Cadel Evans, the 2009 champion, is among those caught up in it. Riders are slow to get back to their feet. Hopefully everyone is OK and I'll bring you more news as I get it.

  85.  
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    James Phelge: Poor tactics again by British team - like the Olympics. We also need 'racers' - not tempo riders for a one day.

  86. 1241: 

    The leaders are up and over Via Salviati for the second time and on the descent back into Florence. There is a small stream running down the climb as the Italians continue to set the pace on the way up it.

    Chris Froome is looking content in the middle of the bunch, which still contains all the main contenders - they are 4'30" adrift of the leading quintet who are pedalling along a gloomy, rain-soaked finishing straight which is getting a little more flooded with each passing lap.

  87. 1235: 
    Bad news for a Brit

    And following that, Wiggins and Cavendish have indeed abandoned the race. They are not the only ones - a quarter of the 208 riders who started the race have already climbed off.

  88. 1234:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I can confirm that the reason we didn't seen Bradley Wiggins is because he went through 13 minutes adrift, alongside Cavendish. So he will probably call it a day. Not a great finish to the season for him and a bit of a blow for Froome."

  89. 1230: 

    Ivan Santaromita is leading the Italian charge up to Fiesole as the leaders crest the summit of the 4.3km climb and begin their second descent. The chasing group has been whittled down to around 60 riders or so as they reach Fiesole 4'38" behind the leaders.

  90.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Gray, North Wales: I would love to see a big power move by Cancellara, but I fear the Italians will counter any move. Watched women's race, prediction after that is someone sneaks off with 3k to go while leaders faff about. Moreno, Mollema or maybe even Martin.

  91. 1224: 

    Peter Sagan has dropped back a little and television pictures show why - he's changed his bike in the feed zone. He appears to be unflustered though and collects his lunch before continuing on his way.

  92. 1220: 
    Bad news for a Brit

    We know Wiggins is not a big fan of the wet weather and once we locate him on the road we will, of course, let you know. The Italian team are riding hard on the front of the peloton and that is stringing the chasing pack out in a long sinuous line as they go over the finish line 5'56" behind the leaders.

    Froome is 21st at present and has Josh Edmondson and Geraint Thomas for company.

  93. 1215:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I'm skimming through all the transponder signals and I cannot find a time for Bradley Wiggins."

  94. 1214: 

    Vincenzo Nibali and Fabian Cancellara are both up near the front of the chasing bunch as they take on the Via Salviati for the first time. It's only 600m remember but it has an average gradient of 10% and sections at 16%.

    And as they reach the summit we learn that they have chopped the deficit to the leaders to six minutes, 31 seconds - they are just crossing the finish line to start lap two.

    Race favourites Peter Sagan, Philippe Gilbert, Chris Froome, Joaquin Rodriguez, Alejandro Valverde and Nairo Quintana are also in the leading bunch of chasers.

  95. 1209: 
    Italy up

    The Italians are leading the descent from Fiesole and taking it on at a fearsome pace given the state of the roads. The lead was cut by around 30 seconds on that first climb and we will get another time check when they reach the summit of Via Salviati, which the leading quintet have already ascended.

  96. 1205: 

    Six of the eight British riders are up at the front of the peloton - the two missing are Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins. Cavendish has done his work for the day and will probably just ride round to a safe place for him to climb off. Wiggins remains towards the back of the peloton where he has been joined by Contador who has caught up after his spill.

  97. 1203: 

    The leaders have 156km to race - so we are still 20km from halfway. And a quick reminder that there will be live coverage of the race from 12:30 on the Red Button and then on BBC 2 from 14:15 - the website coverage is continuous.

  98. 1159: 

    The peloton heads through the feed zone - noticeably, Rowe and Cavendish ride past the soigneurs without taking a bottle or a food bag - an indication of how much longer they will be involved in the race perhaps?

    Up at the front of the race, Godoy leads the escapees over the summit at Fiesole and they gingerly take on the descent.

  99.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Stuart Kendall: Why's everyone getting so uptight about Cavendish. He's there doing a job leaving the rest as fresh as possible for the circuit.

    Tim: Not going to be good for the Froome/Wiggins relationship if Wiggins hasn't made the peloton for the 1st lap, never mind the last.

  100. 1156: 
    OUCH!

    Here comes the peloton up the finishing straight and Cavendish leads them over the line, seven minutes, 44 seconds adrift of the leading quintet. Chris Froome safely in the bunch behind the British team while Wiggins is right at the back of the peloton.

    Another crash in the peloton and this time it is Spaniard Alberto Contador who hits the deck. There doesn't appear to be any damage done there and he is straight back up and pedalling.

  101. 1150:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I'm hearing on race radio a call for the British team car to come to the back of the peloton which is not a good thing with them only being a few minutes off starting the circuit. No news on who it is but there's also been another crash in the peloton."

  102. 1149: 

    It's raining so hard that even some of the soigneurs, who hand out the food and drink at the feed station, are sheltering under brollies.

    There is no sight of Bradley Wiggins in the train of British riders at the head of the peloton - all the riders will be soon going over the finish line so we should get an official time check on where everyone is.

    The finishing straight looks like a swimming pool at present.

  103. 1145: 

    The peloton is haring into Florence, riding alongside the River Arno before turning left and heading towards the Duomo. Luke Rowe has taken over pacing duties at the front of the peloton as the leaders go over the finish line - they have 10 laps to - or a little over 160km (100 miles) if you prefer.

  104. 1141: 

    My race pictures have frozen - Simon Brotheron on commentary appears to be seeing a little bit more than me and he is reporting that there have been a couple of crashes. Nothing serious though.

    He does say "the rain can best be described as torrential at the finish line".

    "I wouldn't want to descend in training in this weather, never mind race in it," adds Armitstead.

  105.  
    GET INVOLVED

    James Beaton: Could it be the slowest sprint finish ever with Froome, Quintana, Contador, Rodriguez and Martin battling it out?

    Brian Murray: If Cavendish is there simply to drag the peloton along for 100km, is he the best man for that job? Is it so vital for him to be there?

    Cavendish is there because he wants to be. It's his way of repaying the British team that helped him win the 2011 title.

  106. 1138: 

    The leading quintet are into the heart of Florence and heading past the Duomo - the city's striking cathedral. The streets are lined with thousands of spectators, all huddled under umbrellas as the rain that has followed the riders all the way from Lucca continues to pound down.

    Let's give our five hardy souls out front a quick namecheck. They are: Tunisia's Rafaa Chtioui, Poland's Bartosz Huzarski, Jan Barta of the Czech Republic, Matthias Brandle of Austria and Yonder Godoy of Venezuela.

  107. 1134: 

    Lizzie Armitstead on BBC commentary: "If they race it hard on the longer climb it should be good for Froome. I didn't find the second climb (the shorter but steeper Via Salviati) as tough."

  108. 1132: 

    Lizzie Armitstead has just joined the BBC commentary team - she says she didn't have the best night's sleep as she was still in pain after racing in the women's race on Saturday. Lizzie was in contention up until the penultimate lap and eventually finished more than five minutes down in 19th place.

    "I'm happy I'm not racing in this weather," she continues. "That descent (from Fiesole) is going to be dangerous. It's going to be about getting to the top of the climb in a good position."

  109. 1128: 

    Cavendish continues to lead the peloton into the outskirts of Florence, splashing through a massive puddle which almost covers Luke Rowe's bike and several others behind him. He flashes a quick apology over his shoulder but he is very much head down, teeth gritted, putting in a huge effort for the British team and Chris Froome.

    First sight of Fabian Cancellara - he's changing his waterproof top at the team car.

  110. 1126: 

    Brian Cookson, the new president of cycling's governing body has been on BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme this morning.

    He was talking about the situation surrounding British cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (see 08:54).

    "I think this absolutely underlines why anti-doping has got to be independent from the UCI," he said.

    "I think it's important it's handled properly and with integrity, under the processes' that are laid down. I certainly won't be interfering in it.

    "I am concerned that it has leaked because I don't think this information should be in the public domain whilst someone is being questioned. That's not the same at all as them being guilty and let's see what happens."

  111. 1122:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "Cavendish strikes me as being a man who is here just for this opening 106km to Florence and anything he manages after that on the circuit will be a bonus. He is carrying no waterproofs or anything to keep him warm for the circuit."

  112. 1120: 

    Cavendish and Rowe exchange a smile at the front of the peloton as the rain comes down a little harder. If you were with me during the worst of the rain at the Giro d'Italia in May, the conditions today are similar.

    The cameras pan back to Italian favourite Nibali, who is putting on an extra waterproof layer, although I'm not sure what good it will do him now. Cavendish by the way, is not wearing any waterproofs.

  113.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Gerard Henry: Money on Stybar, Costa or Boasson Hagen to be world champion and maybe Dani Moreno if he doesn't help Valverde.

    Jamie Robertson: From the beach in Vietnam...has to be Nibali or Cancellara. C'mon Spartacus! Keep the coverage coming.

    Chris Brown: One of Sagan, Cancellara, Uran, Nibali or Froome to win, with a real wildcard chucked in the mix, Wiggo.

  114. 1114: 
    Peter Sagan winning the Gent-Wevelgem one-day race

    The third of my four picks is Peter Sagan.

    The 23-year-old Slovakian can climb and sprint and is destined for great things in road cycling. He has won 21 races this year, including the incredibly tough one-day classic Gent-Wevelgem.

    He showed on the seventh stage of the Tour de France, on his way to winning the green points jersey, that he can get over significant climbs while keeping enough energy in reserve for the sprint.

    If he can keep pace with the expected aggressive riding of the British and Italian teams on the circuits around Florence, he could make his bid for glory on the final ascent of the Via Salviati, as Marianne Vos did in the women's race on Saturday.

    And who wouldn't want to see him pulling a wheelie over the finish line in Florence?

  115. 1104:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I am hearing on race radio that the peloton split on the descent and Bradley Wiggins is in the second part - 15 seconds back. I wonder if the other British riders know he is in there? Are they riding hard to stop the peloton from reforming?"

  116. 1102: 

    Guess what? It's raining again in Tuscany. Luke Rowe and Mark Cavendish are continuing to share the duties up front. Sir Brad has dropped back from the British train and there are a few glances around, presumably wondering where he is. There are no race radios allowed in the World Championships so it is tough to keep tabs on your team-mates.

  117. 1055: 

    Back to the puncheurs.

    Edvald Boasson Hagen is another of the Team Sky riders and he has form in this race, having finished second behind Gilbert in 2012.

    The 26-year-old Norwegian has been regarded as one of the brighter lights in the peloton since winning the Tour of Britain in 2009 and the one-day Gent-Wevelgem in the same year but he is starting to become the nearly man of cycling.

    Will this be his year?

  118. 1047: 

    Out on the road and Luke Rowe has taken up pacing duties on the front of the peloton. Significantly, all the British riders are at the front as they ascend San Baronto - the only climb before they reach Florence - the roads are extremely wet and they won't want to get caught behind any crashes, should they happen.

    The five out front are safely over the top and descending on a slippery, snaking road, seven minutes clear of the bunch

  119. 1043: 

    Let's take a closer look at those four.

    First up is Gilbert. The Belgian is a one-day specialist and has won numerous classics such as Liege-Bastogne-Liege and La Fleche Wallone, which contain short climbs similar to those he wil encounter today.

    He won last year's world title by racing clear on the finals ascent of the Cauberg.

    He has not had the best of years in 2013 and only won his first race at the Vuelta a Espana, however, that came earlier this month so maybe he is right on form?

  120.  

    Philippe Gilbert: Good morning to all. Rain here but not cold so I don't complain. I expect a great atmosphere and a lot of support from the crowd! #belgiumpower

    Fabian Cancellara: Today it will be a 272km race in pain....!!!!! #Toscana2013 Switzerland will go for it! One nation one team

  121. 1033: 

    Back to the challengers. For what it's worth, I reckon the winner will come from these next four riders.

    Defending champion Philippe Gilbert, Slovakia's Peter Sagan, Switzerland's Fabian Cancellara and Norway's Edvald Boasson Hagen.

    All four have the ability to get over the hills on the circuits around Florence and crucially have the speed to finish it off.

    My head says Sagan will win but my heart wants Cancellara - so long as there is no British involvement at the finish.

  122. 1027: 
    OUCH!

    There's been a bit of a spill towards the back of the peloton and Kanstantsin Siutsou looks likes he's had an early taste of tarmac. The Team Sky team-mate of Froome, Wiggins et al, is the solitary rider for Belarus. He's studying his bike and his chain in particular, which has come off.

  123. 1024: 

    The leading quintet has stretched out their lead to more than seven minutes and thankfully the rain has abated - although the roads remain damp. We are inside the last 220km of the race and there are black clouds all around though so expect more precipitation before the finish.

  124.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Ian Horsfall: Froome can't win a one man sprint? Tour of Oman 2013 he outsprinted Contador, Evans and Rodriguez after a pretty lumpy stage.

    John Williams: Worth a mention that Froome outsprinted Contador and Purito in stage 5 of Tour of Oman. Certainly no worse than most climbers.

  125. 1021:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "These riders are going to use something in the region of 8,000 calories today - that's the equivalent of about three day's food for the rest of us."

  126. 1020: 

    Who else should you be looking out for today? The Spanish squad is one of the strongest in the race with Alberto Contador, Joaquim Rodriguez and Alejandro Valverde all capable of contending.

    The Colombians also have a strong squad with Nairo Quintana, who finished second to Froome at the Tour de France, and Rigoberto Uran in their team while Irish pair Dan Martin and Nicolas Roche cannot be overlooked.

    All of the above are explosive climbers but again, do they have the speed in a sprint?

  127.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Pete, London: If it is unlikely to be a sprint finish today why is Cavendish in the team? Surely they should have a climber instead to help Froome?

    James, Newbury: If it comes to a bunch finish with Froome still in contention, could the team orders change to allow Cavendish a sprint chance?

    Hopefully explained in my 0956 entry...Cavendish wants to ride for the team after being helped to victory in 2011. It is extremely unlikely that he will be around at the finish because the climbs are too tough for him so he is doing a lot of work on the front of the peloton right now so the British riders behind him are using less energy.

  128. 1009: 

    Back to the challengers then. Those hills are likely to put pay to the sprinters in the field so let's take a look at the climbers.

    The Italians are hoping to help Vincenzo Nibali to victory. Nibali, like Froome, is an accomplished climber but he is a little quicker in a sprint. However, he is unlikely to win a sprint if there are several other riders involved so his tactics are likely to be similar to Froome.

    Italian coach Paolo Bettini, who has won two world titles himself, set his stall out early, saying his team would ride aggressively.

    On Nibali, he said: "He's unusual as a rider. He can win Grand Tours but can also blow one-day races apart and win. He can do something on Sunday."

  129. 1001: 

    I'll move on to the other contenders in a moment. But first a quick update from the road. You are missing very little. The break is up to more than five minutes and the weather conditions are horrendous.

    The rain is bouncing off the road, disrupting the television images, leaving commentator Simon Brotherton to admire some excellent topiary of Pinocchio, the championship mascot, near the finish line in Florence.

    It is also tipping it down at the finish line.

  130. 0956: 

    Cavendish may well have won more than 100 professional road races, including the 2011 world title, but he knows that none of them would have been possible without the help of his team-mates. And that is why he is prepared to bury himself today to help Froome.

    There is a good chance he will not finish the race, but he told BBC Sport: "We're going to ride for Froome with our hearts and if you know someone has a chance that's when you ride with your heart.

    "I know I'm going to give everything I can because he's got one of the best shots of anyone of winning and to get the rainbow jersey twice in the space of three years is pretty amazing for British cycling."

  131. 0953: 

    On the support of Team Sky team-mate Wiggins, Froome added: "Brad's come off winning the Tour of Britain and silver in the time trial on Wednesday, so he's in good form.

    "I expect Brad to be there towards the final few laps and hopefully help keep me in a good position at the front of the race, or if we need to make the race harder to get rid of some of the sprinters I think that's where he'll come in really useful."

  132. 0951: 

    Froome also told BBC Sport: "It's an honour to have a group of guys around me of that pedigree. I've got Tour de France winners, world champions. To have guys like Mark Cavendish commit to this, I know he put his hand up and said I want to try and help Froome win this, that really is touching. I hope I can do them proud."

  133. 0948:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "I think Froome is up against it. He's said himself he's not the world's greatest sprinter. To win this race he has to arrive alone. But he is certainly in the hunt. There is a joke going round that in a one-man sprint, Chris Froome would still finish second."

  134. 0946: 

    Time to look at the main contenders for the title then. And where better to start than with the British challenge?

    Chris Froome is the man the eight-strong squad, that also features Sir Bradley Wiggins and Geraint Thomas, is riding for.

    He is aiming to become the first man to win the Tour de France and world title in the same year since American Greg Lemond in 1989 but he has admitted it will be "a long shot".

    He added: "If I am to win, I'm going to have to try and go clear on possibly the last couple of laps."

  135. 0940: 

    British trio Mark Cavendish, Luke Rowe and Josh Edmondson are pacing the peloton - the lead is out to three minutes and Cavendish is content with that, although Boardman wonders if it is the best use of British firepower, suggesting they may be better to conserve their energy for the battles to come.

  136. 0936: 

    The trio that were chasing the leading duo have caught them to make a quintet out front. That other man in break is Venezuela's Yonder Godoy by the way.

    Chris Boardman reckons they need to have a lead of more than 20 minutes by the time they reach Florence and the 10 closing laps to stand any chance of winning.

  137.  
    GET INVOLVED

    Simon M: My money's on a puncheur. Sagan the obvious pick. Dani Moreno my dark horse. Doubt the Brits can control the race this year.

    Tom Edwards: With the weather as it is, I can't look past expert descenders in wet. Cancellara to win it as he is so good once he gets away.

    Cameron: If I was a betting man then I'd have to go for Nibali. Strong in this sort of weather. Dan Martin could do well too

  138. 0928: 

    A break appears to be settling down. Tunisia's Rafaa Chtioui and Poland's Bartosz Huzarski made the initial dash from the peloton and they have been allowed to open a lead of around 38 seconds.

    Three riders have set off in pursuit, in the hope of bridging across - among them are Jan Barta of the Czech Republic, and Matthias Brandle of Austria.

    Numerous riders, including Britain's Mark Cavendish are taking advantage of the slowing peloton to have a quick natural break.

  139. 0923: 

    That 10-lap finishing circuit is immensely tough. It is the same one that featured in Saturday's women's race and has a couple of climbs for the riders to deal with.

    The first is the 4.3km ascent to Fiesole and then the 600m-long Via Salviati follows, which has an average gradient of 10% with sections at 16% - neither of the climbs are particularly taxing for these riders - but by the time they've completed several laps, with 200km+ in their legs, only the strongest will be surviving.

  140. 0915:  
    Chris Boardman, Olympic cycling champion and BBC Sport summariser

    "A break will go away in this opening 100km before the race reaches Florence but they can open up a lead of 10 minutes and I still think they will be caught on that finishing circuit."

  141. 0913: 

    Out on the road, a few riders are trying to make a break but Britain's Mark Cavendish is among those marshalling the front of the peloton, closing them down.

  142. 0910: 
    GET INVOLVED

    The 272km race is expected to take around seven hours to complete - there is around a 100km ride to Florence where they will complete 10 laps of just over 16km on a tough, undulating course. More of that later too.

    For now though, it's time to recruit a few domestiques of my own. Send me your thoughts on who you think is going to win today's race. Will Chris Froome become Britain's third winner of the race? Or will it be one of the puncheurs such as defending champion Philippe Gilbert, Peter Sagan, or Fabian Cancellara? Has the wet weather altered your view?

    Get in touch via twitter #bbccycling or text on 81111. Please put your name on all texts otherwise I won't be able to use them.

  143. 0901: 

    I'll bring you more details on that story as and when anything else emerges throughout the day. But for now, let's get on with today's race.

    The 208 riders, representing 52 countries, are all leaving the start in the beautiful walled town of Lucca and rain macs for the competitors and umbrellas for the spectators are very much in evidence because it is raining - and the skies are looking dark and threatening.

  144. 0854: 

    Before we tumble headlong into today's race though, there is some news about British cyclist Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, who was due to be part of Britain's eight-man team today but pulled out of the race earlier this week.

    He tweeted: "Sorry I had to withdraw, don't have the form to help the lads."

    It has emerged that the Team Sky cyclist has been notified of a potential discrepancy in his "biological passport data" by the sport's governing body, the UCI.

    The Sunday Times reported that he has been asked by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to explain suspect blood values.

    Team Sky said the 28-year-old Briton has withdrawn from racing "whilst his response to the UCI is prepared" but that they understand that "any anomaly is in readings taken before he joined the team".

  145. 0852: 

    Hello and welcome to live coverage of the men's road race at the World Championships in Tuscany.

    And have I got a treat in store for you today. We are broadcasting the race in its expected seven-hour entirety here on the BBC Sport website with live coverage on the Red Button from 12:30 and BBC 2 from 14:15.

    As you may have garnered from Ms Armitstead's tweet, it's a bit wet in Italy today, which is only going to spice up an already wide-open race.

    You've got a little under 10 minutes to sort out your food bag and beverages for the day before racing begins.

  146. 0845: 

    Britain's Lizzie Armitstead: Have been woken up by thunderstorm in Florence, knowing I don't have race/train in this #bliss will be good fun commentating on men's race!

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Road World Championships

Rui Costa Costa wins Worlds as Froome pulls out

Portugal's Rui Costa wins the men's road race at the World Championships in Tuscany.

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