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Super Jan wins Olympic Gold
By Jeff Jones, online editor
Germany's Jan Ullrich rode himself into the gold medal today in the men's individual road race, after a punishing attack with one and a half laps to go. With compatriot Andreas Klöden and trade teammate, Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz), he rode away from a select group containing the likes of Paolo Bettini, Michele Bartoli, George Hincapie and Laurent Jalabert, before attacking for the solo victory with 3 km left.
Ullrich's win was a little surprise, as many thought that he would save himself for the time trial. However, an Olympic gold in the road race is even more prized and the 1997 Tour de France winner and former world number one will certainly savour it. He was in super form today, managing to keep his legs intact after the battering they received in the Vuelta.
The race that has been hyped all year lived up to its expectations, much to the delight of the crowds that lined the route. Apart from the first few laps that were raced at moderate speed in wet conditions, the remainder of the race was quite fast. The climb was, as predicted, a lot more selective than it looked on paper. And, thankfully, the sun came out in full force and most were able to enjoy a great day in and out of the saddle.
The German team, along with the French and Italians were the main aggressors early in the race, with Andreas Kloden, Paolo Bettini, Laurent Brochard, and Richard Virenque prominent. However, there were only a couple of real breaks made in the first half: Orlando Rodrigues (Por) and Eugene Wacker (Kgz) attacked on lap 4, and were later joined by Piotr Wadecki (Pol) and Remigijus Lupeikis (Ltu). The quartet were strong but were caught shortly after halfway, as the speed lifted and the wind turned into the riders' faces up the climb.
The second half of the race was far quicker, with the peloton turning in 45+ km/h laps. Under the pressure, the bunch continually shattered and regrouped, and a break containing Voigt (Ger), Marc Wauters (Bel), Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) managed to gain some ground on the 9th lap. These three stayed in the lead until the 11th lap, when the peloton caught them and there was pressure put on by Ullrich, Kloden and Bartoli up the Bronte climb. The strong riders were clearly coming to the fore, and a group of 12 formed including Vogels and O'Grady (Aus), Olano (Spa), Bettini (Ita), Jalabert (Fra), Rodriguez (USA), Tonkov (Rus) and Merckx (Bel).
The Dutch had missed it and were trying in vain to regain the group as the riders passed through the finish line with two laps to go. Then, on the penultimate climb of Bronte, the critical move came: Jan Ullrich, Andreas Kloden and Alexandre Vinokourov attacked; Bartoli and Bettini followed but were unable to gain the trio over the top. Perfect teamwork from the leading trio kept the charging Italians at bay, and by the end of the lap they had 37 seconds on the chasers and the gap was growing.
Bettini and Bartoli were re-caught by the others who had made the final selection, that now included Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Frank Hoj, Dimitri Konychev, Laurent Jalabert, Pior Wadecki, Danilo Di Luca and Axel Merckx. However, on the final descent into Bronte, the 'Telekom' trio had 1:30 and were clearly not going to be caught.
There was only one person that could win, and it was clearly Ullrich after a discussion with Kloden and Vinokourov with 3 kilometres to go. The three ride for the same team after all. Vinokourov was rewarded with silver, while the impressive Kloden snagged the bronze.
Further beinhd in the chasing group, Axel Merckx tried a solo move in vain for fourth, but he was caught in the final straight. Instead, Michele Bartoli took the sprint from Laurent Jalabert and Frank Hoj.
Afterwards, Ullrich recalled his tactics, "I attacked according to my plan, and when I saw Kloden and Vinokourov coming in the background, I waited for them. I'm glad they have both a medal too. I'm in good shape, so I hope I can ride a good time trial."
The race was, as predicted, quite fast with a final average speed of 43.64 km/h. With the reduced number per team, it became clear that trade team alliegences were important, and that did not just apply to the top three. Michele Bartoli and Paolo Bettini ride for Mapei, and although they received support from Di Luca (Cantina Tollo), Marco Pantani and Francesco Casagrande were nowhere to be found. Jalabert had a great ride as well, and was supported for much of the race, but did not have the legs on the penultimate climb.
1 Jan Ullrich (Ger) 5.29.08 (43.64 km/h) 2 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) 0.09 3 Andreas Kloeden (Ger) 0.12 4 Michele Bartoli (Ita) 1.26 5 Laurent Jalabert (Fra) 6 Frank Hoj (Den) 7 Piotr Wadecki (Pol) 8 George Hincapie (USA) 9 Paolo Bettini (Ita) 10 Dmitri Konychev (Rus) 11 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) 1.29 12 Axel Merckx (Bel) 13 Lance Armstrong (USA) 14 Erik Zabel (Ger) 1.38 15 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) 16 Gordon Fraser (Can) 17 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) 18 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) 19 Robbie McEwen (Aus) 20 Zbigniew Spruch (Pol) 21 Markus Zberg (Swi) 22 Arvis Piziks (Lat) 23 Peter Wrolich (Aut) 24 Rolf Aldag (Ger) 25 Leon Van Bon (Ned) 26 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) 27 Volodymyr Duma (Ukr) 28 Glenn Magnusson (Swe) 29 Pavel Tonkov (Rus) 30 Henk Vogels (Aus) 31 Ruber Marin (Col) 32 Uros Murn (Slo) 33 Nico Mattan (Bel) 34 Fred Rodriguez (USA) 35 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr) 36 Serguei Ivanov (Rus) 37 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) 38 John Tanner (GBr) 39 Serguei Outschakov (Ukr) 40 Nicki Sorensen (Den) 41 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) 42 Olexandr Fedenko (Ukr) 43 David Mccann (Irl) 44 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu) 45 Laurent Brochard (Fra) 46 Andrei Teteriouk (Kaz) 47 Chris Jenner (NZl) 48 Zbigniew Piatek (Pol) 49 Tyler Hamilton (USA) 50 Omar Enrique Pumar (Ven) 51 Matthias Buxhofer (Aut) 52 Antonio Cruz (USA) 53 Alexandr Shefer (Kaz) 54 Mauro Gianetti (Swi) 55 Erki Putsep (Est) 56 Jens Voigt (Ger) 57 Sergey Yakovlev (Kaz) 58 Piotr Przydzial (Pol) 59 Rolf Sorensen (Den) 60 Abraham Olano (Spa) 61 Julian Dean (NZl) 62 Christophe Moreau (Fra) 63 Richard Virenque (Fra) 64 Laurent Dufaux (Swi) 65 Volodimir Gustov (Ukr) 66 Francesco Casagrande (Ita) 67 Marc Wauters (Bel) 68 Alex Zuelle (Swi) 69 Marco Pantani (Ita) 70 Pavel Padrnos (Cze) 71 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) 72 Eric Wohlberg (Can) 73 Andrei Kivilev (Kaz) 74 Ciaran Power (Irl) 5.50 75 Viacheslav Ekimov (Rus) 76 Tomas Konecny (Cze) 77 Stuart O'grady (Aus) 7.06 78 Bjoernar Vestoel (Nor) 79 Peter Van Peteghem (Bel) 80 Tristan Hoffman (Ned) 81 Andris Reiss (Lat) 12.53 82 Jose Medina (Chi) 12.54 83 Manuel Enrique Guevara (Ven) 13.35 84 Carlos Alberto Maya (Ven) 85 Scott Guyton (NZl) 14.13 86 David George (RSA) 16.43 87 Milan Dvorscik (Svk) 22.45 88 Alexis Omar Mendez (Ven) 23.39 89 Murilo Fischer (Bra) 90 Martin Riska (Svk) 91 Oscar Pineda Mendez (Gua) 92 Pedro Pablo Perez (Cub) 23.40 DNF Scott Mcgrory (Aus) DNF Matt White (Aus) DNF Rene Haselbacher (Aut) DNF Thomas Muehlbacher (Aut) DNF Czeslaw Lukaszewicz (Can) DNF Brian Walton (Can) DNF Luis Sepulveda (Chi) DNF Santiago Botero (Col) DNF John Fredy Garcia (Col) DNF Fredy Gonzalez (Col) DNF Victor Hugo Pena (Col) DNF Radim Korinek (Cze) DNF Jan Svorada (Cze) DNF Lars Michaelsen (Den) DNF Michael Sandstod (Den) DNF Mahmoud Abbas (Egy) DNF Mohamed Abdel Fattan (Egy) DNF Mohamed Kholafy (Egy) DNF Amr El Nady (Egy) DNF Lauri Aus (Est) DNF Innar Mandoja (Est) DNF Janek Tombak (Est) DNF Christophe Capelle (Fra) DNF Rob Hayles (GBr) DNF Jeremy Hunt (GBr) DNF Nick Craig (GBr) DNF Jazy Fernandez Garcia (Gum) DNF Hossein Askari (Iri) DNF Ahad Kazemi Sarai (Iri) DNF Yoshiyuki Abe (Jpn) DNF Evgeny Wacker (Kgz) DNF Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat) DNF Andris Nauduzs (Lat) DNF Dainis Ozols (Lat) DNF Arturas Kasputis (Ltu) DNF Remigijus Lupeikis (Ltu) DNF Saulius Sarkauskas (Ltu) DNF Erik Dekker (Ned) DNF Koos Moerenhout (Ned) DNF Glen Mitchell (NZl) DNF Kurt Asle Arvesen (Nor) DNF Svein Gaute Holestoel (Nor) DNF Thor Hushovd (Nor) DNF Piotr Chmielewski (Pol) DNF Jose Azevedo (Por) DNF Bruno Castanheira (Por) DNF Vitor Gamito (Por) DNF Orlando Rodrigues (Por) DNF Evgueni Petrov (Rus) DNF Romas Bronis (Svk) DNF Robert Nagy (Svk) DNF Martin Hvastija (Slo) DNF Tadej Valjavec (Slo) DNF Robert Owen Hunter (RSA) DNF Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) DNF Santos Gonzalez Capilla (Spa) DNF Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) DNF Magnus Baeckstedt (Swe) DNF Michel Lafis (Swe) DNF Martin Rittsel (Swe) DNF Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) DNF Gregorio Bare (Uru)
Gold Silver Bronze Total France 5 2 0 7 Germany 3 3 3 9 Netherlands 2 1 0 3