What did Joaquim Rodriguez win in 2012?

Joaquim Rodriguez won Il Lombardia on Saturday, the last of the five ‘monuments’. After finishing second in the Giro and third in the Vuelta, the vertical sprinter deserves to round off his year with a big win. He’s provided a great deal of entertainment and drawn much admiration – particularly if you’re like me and believe that cycling’s primarily about enduring suffering, both physical and mental.

Despite his near misses in the Grand Tours, Rodriguez tops the UCI rankings for the year, which goes to show the value of rankings. Riders cycle to win races, not to improve rankings.

Wins are the point; they’re a measurement in themselves; they’re THE measurement. Rankings try and paint themselves as being something superior, because they encompass all the individual wins, but it just doesn’t work like that. The fans on the roadside don’t give a flying flamme rouge who’s leading in the rankings and if they don’t care, why should the riders care?

However, while you do get a lot of points for finishing second or third in a Grand Tour, Rodriguez has won a few races along the way as well. Aside from Il Lombardia, he won two stages in the Giro, three stages in the Vuelta, La Fleche Wallonne, two stages in the Tour of the Basque Country and a stage in Tirreno-Adriatico.

That is not underachievement. That’s plenty of wins. The only trophy I’ve got is for my team finishing as runners-up in a Cub Scout five-a-side football competition in 1987. There were only four teams because the tournament was only for Cubs in ‘Tuesday pack’ (the village where I grew up was big enough to support two nights of Cubs). Some would say that victory in Il Lombardia alone trumps that.