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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

2003 World Cyclo-cross Championships - CM

Monopoli, Italy, February 1-2, 2003

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February 1 - U23 Men: 60 Minutes

Franzoi Flies To World Title Win

By Tim Maloney / Cyclingnews European Editor

Overnight rain and a frigid east wind blowing across the stormy Adriatic from the frozen Balkans made it tough going in Monopoli for Saturday's World Cyclo-cross Championships, but with two rainbow jerseys at stake, the Junior & U23 Men kept their eyes on the prize.

Franzoi can't believe it
Photo: © AFP
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Surrounded by a scrum of police, media and hysterical Italian supporters, an emotional Enrico Franzoi screamed "I can't believe it!" after winning the U23 World World Cyclo-cross Championship in Monopoli, Italy. The Italian champion, 20 year old Franzoi is from Mogliano Veneto, near Treviso. He quickly powered away on the first lap of the 2.7km Monopoli circuit, leaving the rest of the 56 rider field to race for silver. Behind Franzoi, Belgian Wesley Van Der Linden and last year's U23 World 'Cross champ Thijs Verhagen were the only riders who could even stay close to the flying Italian. Although the rain held off for the first half of the race, after 30 minutes, the skies opened up and a wave of cold rain squalls marched onshore from the whitecapped Adriatic. However, the precipitation didn't really change the conditions much as an overnight rain had already soaked the course before Saturday's racing.

"I was able to make a fast start as I usually do," explained Franzoi in the post-race press conference, "and as I rode a lot of World Cup races this season, my condition was very good." Franzoi also competed at the World Road Championships in Belgium last October, where he rode in the U23 Time Trial. "It was a little hard to get going with 'cross after Zolder, but today just went better than I could have believed", beamed the newly-crowned champion.

Runner-up Van Der Linden managed to close within 15" with 3 laps to go, but when Franzoi upped the pace, the Belgian couldn't match it. "I had a good start today, but was caught behind a crash on the first lap," declared the sandy haired Belgian from Brakel, the hometown of Peter Van Petegem. "I'm sure the best rider won today, so I'm pretty happy with second place." Last year's U23 World Champ Verhagen was clearly disappointed in his bronze medal. "I crashed in the first lap and lost contact (with Franzoi). But I just wasn't on my best rhythm today," stated the Rabobank rider.

America's best hope for success, U23 National Champion Adam Craig, was riding his last World's as an Espoir. Monopoli quickly turned into a nightmare for Craig after only 10 meters of racing. Starting on the third row, another rider ran into his rear derailleur and his chain snapped immediately. "I only did about 7 pedal strokes", said Craig after the finish. And finish he did; the game American ran halfway around the course with his bike to the pits and proceeded to chase his heart out from last place. For the talented Craig, one can only wonder what might have been as he ended up passing almost 20 riders and eventually finished in a respectable 37th place, 3'58" behind Franzoi. The first American ended up Barry Wicks in 30th, while the first UK 'crosser was Steven Roach in 50th.



1 Enrico Franzoi (Ita)          49.22 (26.617 km/h)
2 Wesley Van der Linden (Bel)    0.28
3 Thys Verhagen (Ned)            0.30
4 Martin Bina (Cze)              1.25
5 Bart Aernouts (Bel)            1.31
6 Jean-Baptiste Béraud (Fra)     1.32
7 Tim Van Nuffel (Bel)           1.33
8 Steve Chainel (Fra)            1.35
9 Pieter Weening (Ned)           1.36
10 Theo Eltink (Ned)
11 Kevin Pauwels (Bel)
12 Simon Zahner (Swi)            1.40
13 Flavio Longhi (Ita)           2.02
14 Tommy Nielsen (Den)           2.02
15 Michael Mueller (Swi)         2.06
16 Mariusz Gil (Pol)             2.08
17 Klaas Van Tornout (Bel)       2.13
18 David Kasek (Cze)             2.20
19 Lukas Fluckiger (Swi)         2.23
20 Michele Sbetta (Ita)          2.34
21 Radomir Simunek (Cze)
22 Martin Zlamanik (Cze)
23 Kenny van Hummel (Ned)
24 Bart Dirkx (Ned)
25 Shaun Snodden (GBr)
26 Thorsten Struch (Ger)
27 Josef Soukup (Cze)
28 Ismael Esteban (Spa)
29 Sébastien Minard (Fra)
30 Barry Wicks (USA)
31 Hannes Genze (Ger)
32 Leo Karstens (Ger)
33 Marco Bianco (Ita)
34 Fabien Bourly (Fra)
35 Marc Ernster (Lux)
36 JAutt Posthuma (Ned)
37 Adam Craig (USA)
38 Pirmin Lang (Swi)
39 Sem Mugica (Spa)
40 Johann Tschopp (Swi)
41 Haitz Ortiz (Spa)
42 Marian Hecl (Svk)
43 Felix Gniot (Ger)
44 Jochen Uhrig (Ger)
45 Krzysztof Kuzniak (Pol)
46 Ryan Trebon (USA)
47 Enrico Rossi (Ita)
48 Alan Obye (USA)
49 Harald Starzengruber (Aut)
50 Steven Roach (GBr)
51 Egoitz Murgoitio (Spa)
52 Stefan Gajdosik (Svk)
53 Julien Belgy (Fra)
54 Lubomir Glovniak (Svk)