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Bayern Rundfahrt
Photo ©: Schaaf

Latest Cycling News for October 1, 2007

Edited by Bjorn Haake

Belgium satisfied

Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) in the centre
Photo ©:
(Click for larger image)

Belgium may not have won a medal in the men's road race Sunday in Stuttgart, but national coach Carlo Bomans was not displeased. "I am satisfied with the performance of my riders," he told Sporza. "Collectively we were very good." He was especially pleased with Philippe Gilbert and Björn Leukemans, but noted that Stijn Devolder "had a bad day. He may still be having problems with his knee."

Devolder had to drop out of the race, but said that "I was still glad that I came to Stuttgart. I gave it a try, which was better than sitting at home [and] doing nothing."

Bomans noted before the race that he would be "pleased if we would get a top ten finish," a goal that was achieved. Gilbert was the best Belgian finisher in the race, in eighth place. "I have now ridden my first complete World Championship," he noted. "A place in the top 10 is really beautiful. I am happy."

Leukemans overcame a migraine attack a week ago that nearly prevented him from riding.

"Thirteenth and I rode for all I was worth to help Philippe Gilbert. I think I can look back with satisfaction on this World Championships," he told the belga press agency.

Riccò compliments Bettini

Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

"He was the best," was the simple, but revealing statement from Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval. Even though the rider was left off the Squadra Azzurra for the Worlds, he gave his sincere compliments to his compatriot, who has now won two consecutive titles. This was last achieved by another Italian, who started his 1991/92 campaign with a win ... in Stuttgart.

"He was the strongest. The last kilometres were a true masterpiece." Riccò was impressed in that the Italian captain "did not commit any mistake and made use of his experience and his irresistible ideas in the last kilometres" to defend his title.

In addition to his complements for Bettini, Riccò clarified how impressed he was with the team. "Obviously a praise to the whole team, that has done an exceptional work. If we wouldn't have won it would have been unjust," the rider from the Modena region added. He also liked the tactics laid out from Franco Ballerini and the way the team responded. "We had all the pressure on our shoulders, so we took control of the race from the first to the last kilometre. We demonstrated to everyone how a World Championships is raced."

German men happy about Worlds

"I achieved what I wanted to achieve. And I am super satisfied with that," said a very happy Stefan Schumacher Sunday evening. The 26 year-old Gerolsteiner rider finished third in the men's World Championships road race.

"I had the chance to become World champion. But Bettini was the strongest in the end," he said on the team's website, "It just wasn't enough. The race was so hard. I am happy just to have won a medal." He also thanked this team-mates, saying, "The team worked really great."

His Gerolsteiner team-mate Fabian Wegmann finished ninth, and Erik Zabel was 18th. "It worked out the way we thought it would today," said Zabel, who finished second in the race last year. "With the attack by Wegmann and Schumacher we had two up front, and they did a great job." He stayed back in the following group in case it came down to a sprint. "Then I would have been able to go with fresh power."

Askari holds Iranian flag up

Hossein Askari
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

Hossein Askari of Iran did what many others couldn't in yesterday's elite men road race, and that is finish. Granted, a Worlds road race is a team event and many riders simply drop out and there is no point in finishing just to finish for many of the higher ranked riders. Still, for Askari to hang on and finish the tough 267.4-kilometre course showed resilience.

Askari's training conditions aren't quite as good as it is for many of his European and North American colleagues, yet he had some good results this year. In the Tour de Hokkaido he finished sixth overall and third in GC at the Tour of East Java in Indonesia.

How he fared against the top pros, he was able to realize in August, at the Beijing invitational. It was an event to preview the road race and time trial courses for the 2008 Olympics. In the time trial, that was dominated by the Australians Cadel Evans and Michael Rogers, Askari finished a respectable 11th, 2'53"41 down on the Aussie pair. Rogers told Cyclingnews after the event that "the course is really hard. There is a very long uphill."

In the road race, Askari was one better and his tenth place was only five spots down on Evans' fifth, 1'09" slower. He ended up almost eight minutes ahead of Rogers, who was saving his strength to get ready for the Regio Tour.

Askari in the mean time will be looking forward to the next Olympics. He already participated in the 2004 Olympics, and showed his multi talents by also doing the track events.

Tanel Kangert signs withj Ag2r Prévoyance

Tanel Kangert (Estonia) has signed a contract with French team Ag2r Prévoyance. The rider of the French outfit Roue d'Or-Saint-Amandoise delivered his signature yesterday in Stuttgart, after the conclusion of the World Championships. The contract will be for two years.

Kangert, who had already done four races as a stagiaire for the ProTour team, finished tenth in the Coppa Placci. He also did both events in Stuttgart in the U23 category. In the road race he ended up in 31st, while he got a very good seventh place in the time trial. The 20 year-old had already good results this season, winning among other things the Tour du Gévaudan and the G.P. de Vougy in France.

Tough day for Canada's elite men

The three Canadian riders in the men's elite race on Sunday at the World Road Cycling Championships Stuttgart, Germany, did not finish. Olympic champion Paolo Bettini of Italy successfully defended his title with Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia second and Stefan Schumacher of Germany third.

Dominique Rollin of Boucherville, Que., Svein Tuft of Langley, B.C., and Cameron Evans of Delta, B.C., withdrew in the 12th, 11th and 10th laps respectively. There were 14 laps in total.

"The 270-kilometre course was tough and to be honest, this was a completely different level of competition," said Canadian team manager Kris Westwood. "It's as if the guys went from junior hockey to the NHL. It was the first elite race for all three at the World Championships. We knew they wouldn't be in contention for a medal and the question was how long they could last against such a powerful field. Today nobody had a memorable day."

On the sixth lap, a 40-rider pack took-off and built a two-minute lead. The Dutch team worked hard to reel the pack back in but without success. With four laps to go, it was the Italian squad that reduced the gap and put its leader Bettini in a strong position for the finish. The frenetic pace imposed by the Italians proved to be successful but drained the Canadians.

Rollin learned many lessons. "I felt comfortable on the course except for one very steep climb [Herdweg climb]," he said. "I hadn't raced such a long distance since June so I tried to be more conservative. The reason I stopped was probably due to nutritional issues. After 200 kilometres, I started to have headaches because of a low sugar intake and dehydration. I hadn't raced the distance in four months so I wasn't used to eating for recuperating so much."

Men's under-23 race: surprise finish

In the men's under-23 road race, Peter Velits of Slovakia won in a sprint over Wesley Sulzberger of Australia in second and Jonathan Bellis of Britain in third. The top Canadian in the 171.9-kilometre race was Christian Meier of Sussex, N.B., in 37th, who finished with the main pack. David Veilleux of Cap-Rouge, Que., was 62nd (1'59" behind) while Keven Lacombe of Amos, Que., was 84th (9'41" behind). Brad Fairall of North Vancouver and Ryan Anderson of Spruce Grove, Alta., did not finish.

Westwood said the Canadian riders tried to set Meier up for a strong finish. "The goal was to have him up front when the attacks started before moving into a breakaway. We were in the mix but the race didn't unfold to our advantage. It became a defensive race and finished in a sprint."

"I had cramps on the last climb in the final lap and I fell behind the pack about 100 metres from the top of the hill. At that point, the lead pack was chasing a breakaway rider and the pace was very fast. I felt good in the pack but I'm disappointed not to finish with the first group,'' said Veilleux who was pleased with his improvement from last year's Worlds. "I still have two years to ride in this category and I'll get better."

Kiesanowski eyes Beijing medal

Bike NZ road coach Jacques Landry believes New Zealand could figure in the medals on the road in next year's Beijing Olympics. This follows the great performance from Christchurch cyclist Jo Kiesanowski, who finished 15th in the UCI World Road Cycling Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. The professional from the Raleigh Life Force team was in a select 18-strong breakaway group on the final lap of the demanding course at Stuttgart, finishing in the pack sprint just six seconds behind the winner Marta Bastianelli (Italy).

It is understood to be the best finish from a New Zealand female cyclist at world championships. Landry said Kiesanowski was slightly disappointed she could not figure more strongly in the sprint but she "didn't have much left in the tank."

Landry continued that "Jo raced brilliantly and rode strongly up in the elite group in the peloton all day. It bodes well for Beijing because we have an athlete capable of competing against the best in the world." Things may have been different for the New Zealanders if Wellington's Rosara Joseph wouldn't have dropped her chain, unable to rejoin the peloton late in the race.

"Rosara looked really strong at that stage up in the peloton and it was a mechanical problem that no-one could have envisaged. Had she been with the peloton it could well have meant an even better outcome for New Zealand as she could have really helped Jo. The good thing now is we have six or seven strong female riders who will push for the three spots we are likely to have in the road team for Beijing."

Auckland's Toni Bradshaw was brought down on the wet surface in the first lap and was unable to catch the peloton. The hilly seven lap course over 134 kilometres took its toll on the field as riders continued to drop off the peloton until an elite group of 20 formed with two laps remaining.

Kiesanowski decided to take the wheel of highly rated Trixie Worrack for the run-in to the line but the German ran out of gas to leave the kiwi to sprint without cover. "Jo gambled on what she thought was the wheel to follow. It didn't quite turn out but it was an exceptionally good ride," revealed Landry.

Italian Bastianelli broke clear with 15 kilometres to go and won the race solo. Defending world champion Marianne Vos (Netherlands) got up in that sprint for the silver medal and another Italian Georgia Bronzoni was third.

It was a tough race, with overnight rain making the wet surface treacherous while freshening winds caused havoc, blowing barriers in to the path of the cyclists, causing two crashes on the final two laps.

Rotorua rider Clinton Avery is recovering after a heavy crash in the men's under-23 race. He came down after touching wheels and has a hairline fracture at the top of his arm. New Plymouth rider Michael Torckler was the best of the young New Zealand team in 98th place, just ahead of Auckland's Alex Meenhorst.

"This is a young group and really they were here for the experience, to understand the pace and aggression of the filed. They will be two years away from their peak in this grade," said Landry. "It is very aggressive and fast. Clinton got caught up in that and crashed very heavily." Clinton required hospital treatment but was released later.

Münsterland Giro coming up

Martens was excited
Photo ©: Florian & Susanne Schaaf
(Click for larger image)

Racing in Germany did not stop Sunday with the end of the World Championships in Stuttgart. The next race is the Münsterland Giro, which will be held Wednesday, Oct. 3, the Day of German Unity, a national holiday. The Giro premiered last year and has a UCI ranking of 1.1. The races winds 210 km, starting in Steinfurt and going up and down a number of hills -- but no ranked climbs -- before ending up with three laps of a circuit course in downtown Münster.

Last year's winner Paul Martens of Team Skil-Shimano will be there to defend his title, but he will face some strong competition, as five ProTour teams will be represented: CSC, Gerolsteiner, Milram, Predictor-Lotto and T-Mobile. They will be bringing some of their big guns, too. According to the start list, the race will feature two local boys: Linus Gerdemann of T-Mobile and Fabian Wegmann of Gerolsteiner. CSC will have both Andy and Fränk Schleck, both fresh from the World's race, while Milram is sending super sprinter Alessandro Petacchi. who will be supported by Christian Knees and Marcel Sieberg.

All in all 25 teams of eight riders will be at the start Wednesday.

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