Reports from the Worlds

Worlds Road Race

The attempt by some teams to have Sunday's (October 8) worlds road race
reduced by two laps has not succeeded. Floated by the Italians and the
Colombians the scheme never gained the support of many teams. French team
manager Patrick Cluzard commented: "It's clear the Colombians fear the
distance." He continued: "A chance for our leader, Richard Virenque,
definitely depends on the race going its full distance. Far better to wear
down the Colombians and the others over 265km than 230km".

Miguel Indurain had earlier commented on the attempt to shorten the race:
"It wouldn't be fair to trim the race by what amounts to an hour. I've been
working for a month on the basis of 280km (sic), doing the amount of work
appropriate for this." On the circuit Indurain said: "It's the most
challenging of any world championships I've ridden. It climbs to almost
3,000 metres and the climb is technically very difficult. At the top, at
the point where it gets steepest, the climb will break up the peloton
within two laps." Allowing himself a flicker of a smile, Indurain
continued: "Everybody's saying that the Colombians intend to sprint up the
climb on the first two laps. All the better -- the fewer riders there are
up front the better it will be." Indurain was cautious about suggestions
that he was the super-favourite for the race: "The course favours Pantani
more than me. When I arrived in Colorado in September I was also surprised
to find Erik Breukink and Pascal Richard already there. They will be
dangerous on Sunday. And then I know nothing of the form of Rincon, the
French and those who have come from the Vuelta."

A visit to the Italian camp finds Claudio Chiappucci "as thin as a nail
[maigre comme un clou]"...
His response to a remark about his sparse frame: "I'm eating, but I'm
riding and riding." He was just back from a six-and-a-half hour training
ride covering 220km with only Leonardo Piepoli as company. Maurizio
Fondriest still had doubts whether he would ride: "Because the circuit is
very difficult for me." Italian team selector Alfredo Martini said: "We
aren't going to ride to make the Spaniard [Indurain] lose but to win
ourselves. The great power of the Italian squadra is to have perhaps more
top-class riders than the others." Martini said of his riders: "The Pantini
of Alpe d'Huez could win here. The only question is whether he is the
Pantani of Alpe d'Huez". Bugno, he said "is a great artist. When he does
ten paintings, he can produce two Picassos." Chiappucci: "Senses that it is
a very great occasion. He's bound to be one of the major protagonists, but
it's always more difficult for him to actually win."

Colombian climbing hero Luis "Lucho" Herrera was also asked about the race.
Lucho says he hasn't been on a bike since retiring in 1992, is 18 kilos
heavier and is a successful farmer with 500 hectares, 30,000 chickens and
3,000 cows. But he still has his views: "In the province of Boyaca [where
the worlds circuit is situated] there aren't any big climbs like la Linea
[42kms and 4,000m], la Pintada [35km and 3,800 m] or Minas [25km and 3500m]
but the climbs are very sharp. The climb on the worlds route was only a
track a month ago. I've never climbed it but I know it's like the others --
a killer [mortelle]." He recognizes the circuit favours the Colombians but
takes a subtle view of their chances. "This will be a unique occasion to
relaunch cycling here. The problem is that our riders don't know how to
ride one-day races. If I was in Fabio Parra's [the team selector's] shoes I
would instruct the team to go hard at the very beginning to get heart rates
really high. The Europeans would detest that. [If they did] I'm sure that
at the end of two laps, half the peloton would be at five minutes." Herrera
doesn't feel that the race can be won except by someone who is perfectly
adapted to the altitude. "If I had raced on this circuit, only Hinault
could have caused me any worries."