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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

World Championships Cycling News for September 25, 2005

Edited by Jeff Jones

Under 23 men's road race wrap up

Super strong Grabovskyy wins in Madrid

Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukraine)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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19 year-old Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukraine) won the under 23 men's road race today at the World Championships with an excellent solo attack to beat William Walker (Australia) and Evgeny Popov (Russia). This is the second medal for the Ukrainian after he won the silver in the time trial last Wednesday.

The eight lap race was full of changes and attacks. The Ukrainian, together with Italian Tiziano Dall'Antonia, was nearly always in the front breakaway, and after the Italian made a solo bid with just over two laps to go, Grabovskyy joined him. On the final lap, the pair were caught by a small group, but Grabovskyy didn't panic and attacked hard on the last climb with around 8 km to go to open up an unbeatable lead. In the closing stages, Will Walker (Australia) escaped with Evgeny Popov (Russia) to fight it out for the silver medal, which Walker won comfortably with his sprint.

Full results, report & photos, Live report

Women's road race wrap up

Germany again: Schleicher wins

Regina Schleicher (Germany)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Regina Schleicher topped off a great team performance to ensure Germany retained the world championship road race title they won last year with Judith Arndt. Although Arndt came into the race under par due to a virus, her team-mate was fully up to the task of taking the rainbow jersey, unleashing a strong sprint to hit the line in front of the rest of the bunch.

Great Britain's Nicole Cooke showed her full recovery from an at-times difficult season in taking silver, while Australia's Oenone Wood scooped bronze.

The 126 kilometre women's race was characterised by numerous attacks, but despite efforts by riders such as home favourite Joanne Somarriba (Spain) and Olivia Gollan (Australia) to get clear, the peloton stayed largely together until the end. Here the German team worked perfectly to deliver their sprinter to the final 200 metres in a good position, after which she had little trouble in sprinting home in front.

Defending champion Arndt came into the race below par due to a virus and finished off the back of the peloton, but she was happy at the finish.

"I am delighted for the team, they did a really great job today in keeping it together and setting Regina up. I am very pleased with the result."

Full results, report & photos, Live report

Joane Somarriba says goodbye

By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid

Joane Somarriba (Spain)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Former Grande Boucle féminin and Giro d'Italia femminile champion Joane Somarriba (Spain) rode her last competition today at the women's road race in the World Championships. This outstanding athlete is finishing up her remarkable career at 33 years-old. "I made a very good evaluation of these Championships," said Somarriba to Cyclingnews seconds after she finished the road race in 23rd place. "The truth is that it was a terrible race. I tried to finish in the front, but I didn't feel good. When I trained today, I thought I could do more damage. We compete at a world level where there are many strong people. I knew my attacks couldn't do harm, though I tried."

She dedicated her silver medal in the time trial to her mother. "It's a goodbye; during the race, I didn't have time to think of this goodbye, that it was my last race. I'm glad to achieve it [the silver medal].

"Many years have passed, it's hard to believe that it's the last race, but I should feel happy to end my sporting career. They are beautiful moments."

The Spanish rider finished a brilliant career on Saturday in Madrid. She was World Time Trial Champion in Hamilton 2003 and third in the road race in Zolder 2002. She also won the Grande Boucle féminin three times: 2000, 2001 and 2003 and the Giro d'Italia femminile twice: 1999 and 2000, among other titles.

Armstrong and Murphy top finishers for U.S.

The U.S. team continued its World Championships campaign on Saturday with Kristin Armstrong (17th in the women's race) and John Murphy (119th in the U23 men's race) the best finishers, after a late-race crash claimed the hopes of protected sprinter Tyler Farrar.

Tabbed as one of the pre-race favourites after a string of victories and solid performances in late summer, the 22-year-old Farrar was hoping for a mass sprint finish in the 168 km race. Unfortunately for Farrar and his teammates, an early-race breakaway that went unchecked by the U.S. squad proved to be the team's undoing after having to spend most of the day helping to chase down the move.

While jockeying for position for the ensuing field sprint in the closing miles, Farrar got tangled up, hit the pavement and was forced to abandon the race. The group he was in went on to sprint for fourth place, 33 seconds behind winner Grabovskyy.

John Murphy was the highest placed U.S. rider, placing 119th out of 135 finishers after leading the chase effort to help bring Farrar closer to the breakaway. "We missed the break and we were working to chase with two laps to go," explained Murphy. "We did everything we could do to bring it back."

Steven Cozza and Michael Wolf were the only other finishers of the five-man U.S. squad, credited with 131st and 134th respectively. John Devine did not finish.

The bronze medalist in Wednesday's elite women's time trial, Kristin Armstrong placed 17th in the 126 km elite women's race, after late-race attacks from Christine Thorburn and Amber Neben failed, opening the door for a powerful German squad to lead out designated sprinter Regina Schleicher for the win.

Spread out over six laps of the same 21 km circuit, the final lap saw two solo breakaway efforts by the U.S. riders. Neben's attempt in the closing miles grew to ten seconds, but teams intent on keeping the field together for a mass sprint refused to let Neben advance too far up the road.

Amber Neben (USA)
Photo ©: CJ Farquharson
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"I jumped and I was able to get a gap but I didn't have the legs today to stick it," admitted Neben after the race. "It was still okay because it strung things out long enough to get it back to the final stretch and then hopefully we had Tina (Pic), Kristin and Christine there to finish things off, but the Germans were strong today and they've got that lead out train dialled in."

Thorburn placed 18th and Neben 33rd. Other U.S. finishes included Tina Pic in 38th, Kori Seehafer in 53rd, Katheryn Curi in 66th and Laura Van Gilder in 98th.

Pic was tabbed as one of the designated sprinters for the U.S. squad, but fell off the pace on the day's final ascent. "The final climb was too much for me, I lost contact there," said Pic, "It was very technical in between the climbs, everyone was fighting for position. If I would have been there, they might have tried to set me up for the sprint. This was the best world's team ever. We were so cohesive, everyone helping everyone else out."

"We had a really strong team," commented Neben. "Young in the sense there were some riders with no world championship experience, but strong, and we had hopes of getting on the podium. I think we raced smart today and it just didn't pan out. It would have been nice in the end if we would have been able to get a small group off and then take our chances from there. I'm confident in these girls and they all rode great."

Top two opt to delay pro debut

By Shane Stokes in Madrid

Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukraine)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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William Walker (Australia)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The top two riders in Saturday's Under 23 Men's World Championship road race have both said that they intend to delay their pro debuts until 2007.

Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukraine) was very impressive today, dominating the race. He took second in the time trial on Wednesday and these results, together with his European championship TT title and track wins in the European team pursuit and Under 23 European team pursuit underline his obvious class. However, although pro teams are likely to be highly interested in the rider - who won't be 20 until the 30th of September - he has said that he's happy to hold off on moving up to the paid ranks.

"I am only 20 years old. I want to gain experience for now, but maybe in 2007 I will sign a contract with a good team. I am not really ready yet, I want another year before stepping up."

The Under 23 silver medallist William Walker, who will be 20 on October 31, was also planning the same approach. "As regards next year, I will continue to ride with the Rabobank development squad," he said. "By waiting another year before turning pro, it will mean that I won't be just trying to keep up in each race. I will be more competitive and able to win in the first year when I do go pro. Hopefully in 2007 I will be with the Rabobank ProTour team."

Elite men's road race preview

A question of loyalty?

By Anthony Tan

Oscar Freire (Spain) won't be in Madrid to defend his rainbow crown, limiting the country's chances for a home-win.
Photo ©: AFP
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Bunch sprint or breakaway? Team or country? Right now, the latter appears to be the biggest issue concerning Madrid's blue-ribbon event, the elite men's road race, where potential hidden factions are likely to play a role in the final outcome.

First, let's focus on three of the strongest teams - Australia, Belgium and Italy - and their line-ups:

Australia: Baden Cooke (Française des Jeux), Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros), Cadel Evans, Robbie McEwen, Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto), Simon Gerrans (Ag2r), Matthew Hayman (Rabobank), Brett Lancaster (Panaria), Michael Rogers (Quick.Step).

Belgium: Mario Aerts, Björn Leukemans, Peter Van Petegem (Davitamon-Lotto), Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel), Philippe Gilbert (Française des Jeux), Tom Boonen, Wilfried Cretskens, Nick Nuyens (Quick.Step), Marc Wauters (Rabobank).

Italy: Alessandro Petacchi, Marco Velo, Matteo Tosatto, Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo), Paolo Bettini, Filippo Pozzato, Luca Paolini (Quick.Step), Daniele Bennati, (Lampre), Giovanni Lombardi (CSC)

As far as the team from Down Under is concerned, sprinter Robbie McEwen enjoys an enviable support network, with his some of his most important men for the final kilometres showing excellent form of late. Baden Cooke won the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne, Simon Gerrans clinched his second major one-day race at the end of last month, Allan Davis won a stage of the Benelux Tour, and Michael Rogers spent the majority of last month preparing to defend his time trial crown, and is obviously in good form after creating history on Thursday.

Click here for the full preview and start list

Van Petegem 100% in the service of Boonen

After winning bronze in Hamilton two years ago, and silver in Valkenburg seven years ago, Peter Van Petegem knows that the only thing lacking in his palmares is a world title. But the classics star is riding tomorrow's race in Madrid in full service of his team leader Tom Boonen.

"I'm good at solving puzzles, but the pieces of this one will have to really fall into place for me. Madrid will be a mass sprint, or a sprint of a big group at least," he said in HNB. "We are going for a mass sprint and that's it. Belgium has chosen the card of top sprinter Tom Boonen, and thus it's not up to me to attack. I don't believe that the top sprinters like Boonen, Petacchi, Zabel, McEwen and even Van Heeswijk or Hushovd won't be able to hang on. This is not a 'shitty parcours' for a mass sprint, on the contrary, it's magnificent. Who will have to let go? Every lap it's twenty kilometres of riding hard. The peloton will go fast. The last sixty kilometres the sprinters will start smelling their chance. That's where we do have the advantage of such a big talent in our team. Spain, without Freire, will be forced to race.

"The only way for me to become world champion is riding à la Museeuw in Lugano. The whole day in last position in a group, give the impression now and again that you working with them, but dose your efforts well. Then it happens in the last lap. A World Championship is something you ride with the head. I have only got a chance if the race is on from the word go. On the last hill you can give it a good kick, but there's a descent after that.

"I'm a rider for the Omloop Het Volk, Harelbeke, the Ronde van Vlaanderen, Parijs-Roubaix and the World Championships. Tom Boonen will grow to fit that profile in time too. You can't keep giving everything all season, year after year. The race for the rainbow jersey can be ridden in December if you ask me: if I'm not sick, I'm always good then. I'm the type of rider for a one-day classic, six, seven hours long. I was there this year in the Tour of Flanders, but then I crashed badly in the Hell. Even if I won a couple of stages in, let's say the Eneco Tour, people would still be critical about my season.

"There's changes made to that last U-turn but the risk for crashes remains the same. I expect us to go towards that turn with a speed of 90 km per hour. That is the real problem. There's guys going to think: ah well, this might as well be my last day, there's a rainbow jersey waiting. He who comes first out of the corner will be beaten. There might be a correction possible for Tom, but the question is how many fellow countrymen will still be together at that point. Lisbon's parcours was that much harder and it became a mass sprint too. I think on this parcours and in Salzburg in 2006 the sprinters will have the reign for two years."

The journalists' bets for the men's race

Cyclingnews' Hernan Alvarez conducted a poll in the press room, asking the numerous journalists who are covering the World Championships about their predictions for tomorrow's podium. Here's the verdict:

Jean-Christian Biville (L'Equipe, France): 1st Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), 2nd Erik Zabel (Germany), 3rd Robbie McEwen (Australia). "It's a course for sprinters and it'd be a logical result."

Jean François Quenet (Velomania, France): 1st Allan Davis (Australia), 2nd Luca Paolini (Italy), 3rd Jean-Patrick Nazon (France). "Logically, a finale like this cannot always happen."

Martin Roseneder (press officer Salzburg 2006, Austria): 1st Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), 2nd Robbie McEwen (Australia), 3rd Erik Zabel (Germany). "I think it's not such an easy course as we thought; it's harder."

Chris Lines (Australian Associated Press, Australia): 1st Robbie McEwen (Australia), 2nd Tom Boonen (Belgium), 3rd Alessandro Petacchi (Italy).

Fernando Emilio (Radio Clube Portugues, Portugal): 1st Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), 2nd Luca Paolini (Italy), 3rd Erik Zabel (Germany). "It depends on how Alejandro Valverde feels, but the favourites are the sprinters. The final meters are for bunch sprint specialists, but Valverde can surprise."

Alasdair Fotheringham (Cycling Weekly, United Kingdom): 1st Erik Zabel (Germany), 2nd Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), 3rd Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spain).

Stephen Farrand (Cycle Sport, United Kingdom): 1st Paolo Bettini (Italy), 2nd Alejandro Valverde (Spain), 3rd Roger Hammond (Great Britain). "I'll be a very aggressive and open race, so it's difficult that it'll end in a bunch sprint."

Sergi Lopez-Egea (El Periodico de Catalunya, Spain): 1st Alejandro Valverde (Spain), 2nd Paolo Bettini (Italy), 3rd Tom Boonen (Belgium). "I drove the course and there is an uphill with 5 kilometres to go that is very tough and that can prevent the sprint."

Pascale Schyns (ABC Color, Paraguay): 1st Robbie McEwen (Australia), 2nd Tom Boonen (Belgium), 3rd Alejandro Valverde (Spain). "Everyone says Petacchi is the favourite and we will see if he can handle that pressure. It will be difficult for him because of the Italian team."

Jose Carlos Carabias (ABC, Spain): 1st Paolo Bettini (Italy), 2nd Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain), 3rd Philippe Gilbert (Belgium). "In the end, it won't be too flat a course, it has more small climbs than I thought. The reference, as in every great race, will be Bettini."

Benito Uraburru (El Diario Vasco, Spain): 1st Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spain), 2nd Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), 3rd Alejandro Valverde (Spain). "The circuit is very difficult and I don't know if it will be a bunch sprint finale as it seemed."

Juan Gutierrez (As, Spain): 1st Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spain), 2nd Paolo Bettini (Italy), 3rd Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan). "I want and wish that the race doesn't end in a bunch sprint."

Jesus Gomez Peña (El Correo, Spain): 1st Paolo Bettini (Italy), 2nd Robbie McEwen (Australia), 3rd Igor Astarloa (Spain). "Everyone expected the last turn. In the end, Bettini will break the race and win."

Harm Vonk (NPA, the Netherlands): 1st Alejandro Valverde (Spain), 2nd Alessandro Petacchi (Italy), 3rd Robbie McEwen (Australia). "I think the end will be with a bunch group of 40 riders after a hard race."

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