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2002 Road World Championships - CM
Hasselt-Zolder, Belgium, October 8-13, 2002
Day 2 - October 9: Elite Women Time Trial, 23.2 km
More gold for Russia as Zabirova wins in Zolder
By Jeff Jones in Zolder
Day 2 of the World Championships was a golden day for Russia, with Zoulfia Zabirova winning the country's second gold medal in the Elite Women's time trial following on from Mikhail Ignatiev's success in the Junior Men's this morning. Zabirova started sixth last, with 23.2 kilometres of fast but windy terrain to cover, and came across the line just over 30 minutes later to record the best time.
"I told myself I absolutely had to win after I learned that my young compatriot Mikhail Ignatiev was world champion in the juniors this morning," Zabirova commented at the finish. Those after her could not match her time, with Swiss Nicole Brändli displacing her relatively unknown compatriot Karin Thürig to take the silver medal.
The Elite Women's field was stacked with favourites, and all would depend on who had the best ride on the day. With the strong cross/tailwinds blowing the riders along the canal, it was a matter of trying to maintain a strong rhythm, but saving enough strength for the climb with 3 km to go.
The early time to beat was set by Swiss unknown Karin Thürig, who finished in 30'18.30 after starting second. Thürig is a new convert to road cycling, having switched from her normal discipline of duathlon a few months ago. She wants to ride in the Olympics, and duathlon is not an Olympic sport, so she decided to focus on cycling.
Her time turned out to be good enough for a bronze medal, despite the incredible depth of this field. With riders such as Joane Somarriba (Spa), Olga Slioussareva (Rus), Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu), Lyne Bessette (Can), Sara Carrigan (Aus), Zinaida Stahurskaia (Blr), Leontien-Van Moorsel (Ned), Susanne Ljungskog (Swe), Judith Arndt (Ger), Nicole Brandli (Swi) and Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (Fra), surely her time would be beaten.
Incredibly, Thürig's time withstood the challenge as the better credentialed riders struggled to come to terms with the windy conditions. When the big favourite Leontien Van Moorsel came through the 10.8 km check in 5th place, it was clear that it wasn't going to be her day.
Russian Zoulfia Zabirova had started as the next rider behind her, and she was in a much better groove. The 1996 Olympic Champion who has taken a little time off from top competition in the last couple of years was in full flight today. She was 10 seconds off the pace at 10.8 km, but had timed her run well and had reversed the deficit by 20.8 km at the top of the hill. She stormed home on the Zolder circuit to post the new best time, putting Thürig into second place. "Everything came together for me to finally succeed," she said, "the course, flat with with long straight roads which suited me, and then the weather. In the rain, I wouldn't have won."
What could the others do? Of the top five, only Nicole Brändli looked like a challenger, but she was always 10 seconds behind Zabirova at all the time checks. The Swiss rider who was also runner up last year came home strongly to beat her compatriot Thürig by less than a second, earning the silver medal for her efforts. The last rider to finish was defending champion Jeannie Longo, who had to be content with 7th place, although she admittedly doesn't perform well in cold conditions.
Zabirova's overall palmares are extremely impressive, but a look at her results this year shows that she has not been hiding. In addition to winning the World Time Trial Championships, Zabirova won the Russian TT Championship, two stages in La Grande Boucle Feminine, the International Thüringen Rundfahrt der Frauen, Chrono Champenois, and the GP Carnevale d'Europa. The 28 year old has plenty more ahead of her if she so chooses.
Also see: Zoulfia Zabirova interview
Images by Jeff Tsefirstname.lastname@example.org
Images by AFP
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.com
Images by Cyclingnews.com/Jeff Jones
1 Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) 30.02.62 (46.33 km/h) 2 Nicole Brändli (Swi) 0.14.70 3 Karin Thürig (Swi) 0.15.65 4 Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spa) 0.15.68 5 Sara Carrigan (Aus) 0.20.39 6 Olga Slyuussareva (Rus) 0.32.66 7 Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (Fra) 0.42.18 8 Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu) 0.44.85 9 Judith Arndt (Ger) 0.48.35 10 Leontien Zijlaard - Van Moorsel (Ned) 0.51.26 11 Teodora Ruano Sanchon (Spa) 1.06.58 12 Catherine Marsal (Fra) 1.07.11 13 Alison Wright (Aus) 1.09.84 14 Geneviève Jeanson (Can) 1.16.13 15 Amber Neben (USA) 1.20.62 16 Kimberly Bruckner (USA) 1.21.13 17 Melissa Holt (NZl) 1.25.12 18 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) 1.25.65 19 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) 1.29.43 20 Olga Zabelinskaia (Rus) 1.34.59 21 Giovanna Troldi (Ita) 1.35.35 22 Lyne Bessette (Can) 1.35.99 23 Jenny Algelid-Bengtsson (Swe) 1.37.41 24 Mirjam Melchers (Ned) 1.40.48 25 Bogumila Matusiak (Pol) 1.41.69 26 Zinaida Stahurskaya (Blr) 1.44.39 27 Anita Valen (Nor) 1.45.23 28 Lada Kozlikova (Cze) 1.54.76 29 Evy Van Damme (Bel) 2.00.02 30 Tanya Andryuschenko (Ukr) 2.01.52 31 Edwige Pitel (Fra) 2.01.75 32 Frances Newstead (GBr) 2.12.68 33 Kirsty Nicole Robb (NZl) 2.14.80 34 Iryna Chuzhynova (Ukr) 2.21.86 35 Maria Luisa Calle (Col) 2.22.12 36 Tina Liebig (Ger) 2.25.29 37 Solrun Flataas (Nor) 2.26.99 38 Cindy Pieters (Bel) 3.02.41 39 Doris Posch (Aut) 3.05.75 40 Geraldine Gill (Irl) 3.49.31 41 Evelyn Garcia (ESA) 4.21.45 42 Chalime Giourbouz (Gre) 4.44.89