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2002 Road World Championships - CM

Hasselt-Zolder, Belgium, October 8-13, 2002

World Championships news for October 11, 2002

Edited by Jeff Jones & Chris Henry

Day 3 wrap up

The Elite Men's Time Trial concluded the first half of the World Championships in Zolder today, being run in blustery conditions similar to yesterday. The man who best overcame the wind was Colombia's Santiago Botero, one of the top favourites for the race despite recent patchy form. He finished 8 seconds clear of German TT monster Michael Rich (also second in Plouay) and 17 seconds ahead of Spain's Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano, who won his first World Championship medal.

Full results & report,
Live report
Photos from Day 3

Comments from the course

Santiago Botero (Col, 1st)

Santiago Botero
Photo: © Bettini
Click for larger image

The first ever Colombian World Champion on the road, Santiago Botero, mashed his 55x11 gear to victory in Zolder today, beating 56 other contenders for the title. "The conditions were ideal for me: a flat circuit and with wind. It was perfect," he said afterwards.

"I began with good speed, and I went progressively faster to reach the final kilometres with the best time," said Botero, who moved up from third place at the first two intermediate time checks to first place at the last two.

"This was a World Championship and the competition was very strong. This gold medal finishes a very good season," he concluded.

Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano (Spa, 3rd)

Igor Gonzalez
Photo: © CN
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"I have demonstrated that I deserved to be here. I dedicate this medal to Paco Antequera because he had faith in me."

"My idea was to start very focussed, with a steady pace, but at kilometre 20 the radio connection with the car starting cutting off, so I didn't have references. Perhaps I would have been able to get silver."

David Millar (GBr, 6th)

David Millar has had by his own admission "four days on the bike" since his abandonment of the Vuelta two and a half weeks ago. He was thus was "quite surprised" with his high finish today.

"I didn't feel great, my legs weren't spinning well," he said. "I expected in all honesty to be worse. I didn't save anything for the end though."

Aitor Gonzalez (Spa, 7th)

Aitor Gonzalez
Photo: © CN
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"I'm a little disappointed not to have had a better result," said Gonzalez who finished 1'04 off the pace of Santiago Botero. "Perhaps the efforts at the end of the Vuelta and the celebrations after have meant that things were not perfect. I'm very happy about Igor's medal, and especially Botero's victory, since he was an important part of my victory in the Vuelta a España."


Michael Rogers (Aus, 8th)

Mick Rogers
Photo: © CN
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Michael Rogers had a good ride today to finish 8th in the Elite Men's Time Trial. The young Mapei-Quick Step rider who will make the step to Quick Step-Davitamon next season, was watched by none other than five time Tour winner Miguel Indurain, who hopped in the Australian team car just as it was leaving.

"I'm really satisfied," said Rogers just after finished. "It was a really hard course and really windy. I drove the course a lot to research it and as I lay down to sleep last night I must have ridden it in my head ten times. When you study that much and have some form on the day it augurs well for a good result."

"The wind was really blustering and it was always going to be hard but it's the type of course that suits me. I just drove out of every corner, didn't make too many mistakes and knew I was having a good ride."

Rogers also sang the praises of his current team. "We've got a good program at Mapei and I'm sorry it's ending. Hopefully in a few years we'll all get back together again."

Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus, 15th)

Viatcheslav Ekimov, the Olympic Champion, had just finished his ride and recorded the best time when he was interviewed. "The race is far from finished yet. I have the best time at the moment," he said.

"I think this is a good course. I couldn't open up in the first 10 km though. I like this kind of weather, the wind. It's perfect for me. If I could ride this every day I'd be happy."

Eric Wohlberg (Can, 19th)

"There was a fair bit of wind. Roland [Green] and I pre rode the course this morning so we knew what to expect. The course was gently rolling and I rode a gear one lighter that I normally would. I rode has hard as I could."

"I've had pretty good preparation and I felt I was ahead of the game coming into it."

Dylan Casey (USA, 29th)

Casey and Horner
Photo: © CN
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"A time trial is such a mental focus. I hate making excuses - I rode as hard as I could. But I train with a heart rate monitor, wattage meter, speedo, and I didn't have those today. Not even a radio. The hardest part was the little hill coming home," said Casey afterwards.

"Time trialling is all about watts/aerodynamics, or in a hilly course it's watts/kg. That's why the specialists will be on top of the podium today."

"In a 40 km time trial you have to gauge your effort. If you're doing 45 km/h into a headwind then that can motivate you to lift your speed."

"I won the national's in July, but I'm normally never good in October. I had a good lead in - Ronde van Nederland and San Fran GP. That gave me good morale."

Victor Hugo Peña (Col, 34th)

Victor Hugo Peña
Photo: © CN
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Victor Hugo Peña could enjoy the glory of his compatriot Santiago Botero's gold medal performance in the World's Time Trial. Cyclingnews spoke to him about his own ride as Botero was out on the course.

"It was a good time trial," Peña. "I feel much better than in the Vuelta but I've been racing since Lagueglia in February and it's a long time. You feel it."

"I've raced in two professional World Championships - I was 7th in Lugano [1996]," said Peña, who is looking forward to Sunday's road race.

Next year, Peña will start racing in the Tour of Murcia, with a long range view to the Tour de France in July. "I will try and be part of the dream team," said the US Postal rider, who could well be there in the bid for Lance Armstrong's fifth consecutive Tour de France.

On his own ambitions, "I would like to win a big race, like Paris-Nice or the Dauphiné Libéré," he said.

Nathan O'Neill (35th)

Nathan O'Neill
Photo: © CN
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Reigning Australian time trial champion, Nathan O'Neill was let down by his lack of race fitness and finished 35th, 2'44.65 behind Botero.

"I've had so little racing this year that I'm amazed I'm even here," said O'Neill. "But I suppose my reputation in this event gave me the opportunity."

"I never really got going today and had to fight really hard to get a workable rhythm going. I never felt right. Despite not racing much I think if I had put in a super ride I could have managed top ten but the ride was far from super."

"I don't think the course suited me. It was totally different to last year. Like two ends of the spectrum."

O'Neill did say he was looking forward to the road race on Sunday, "It will be good to be part of the team."

Chris Horner (USA, 37th)

Chris Horner
Photo: © CN
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Horner came into this race in a very positive frame of mind, after being ranked the number one US rider this year, despite a broken foot and collarbone at various points in the season. "I'm out to win," he said. "If you'd told be I'd be top 10 I wouldn't have even got on the plane. I really wanted a top 3."

About his preparation, Horner said that he has been doing "550 km week on the time trial bike" although he admitted to a lack of racing. He flew in to Belgium on Monday

On the USA team's chances for the road race, Horner believes that their best hope is to get one of their sprinters in a break. "[Tony] Cruz has some speed, Fred [Rodriguez] has won in Europe. It's Belgium, and I haven't seen too many mass sprints in Belgium. If the circumstances are right, we'll win."

One man Horner isn't looking to for assistance is teammate Guido Trenti, who is a member of Cipollini's Acqua e Sapone team but says that he will be riding for the USA on Sunday. "I can't imagine that he wouldn't work for Cipo," said Horner frankly. "If he's extending his contract with them there's no doubt about it. His trade team pays him 12 months of the year. It might be different if he's not getting a new contract though."

It looks as though Horner will be racing in the US next year, as he has had no serious interest from European teams, despite being the top ranked rider in his country. "I'm not going to race for $30,000 in Europe when I can get a much better offer in the States," said the Prime Alliance rider. "It looks as though I'll be changing teams. Saturn has the money but it's in Prime Alliance's court. PA is a good squad but I don't think they will match Saturn's offer."

Erik Zabel: No mass sprint

The UCI's number one ranked rider, German sprinter Erik Zabel is without a doubt one of the best one day riders of his generation. But despite his impressive palmares and finishing speed, his best placing in a World Championship is the fifth spot he obtained last year in Lisbon.

In a recent interview with Het Nieuwsblad, a few days before his big appointment on Sunday, Zabel said that the race will not necessarily end in a bunch sprint, as so many predict.

"The parcours is not easy. Until last week Erik Dekker was my favourite. As far as I know he is not a top sprinter. I don't see things coming to a mass sprint, no," said the man who hopes that it will indeed finish in a bunch sprint.

"Who is going to get a complete team to ride for one fast man? I only see Spain capable of doing that. Not even Italy. Bettini is too strong. Cipollini is going to have a hard day, everybody will be looking at him, he's the absolute favourite. Julien Stevens, my mechanic with Telekom finished second on this circuit. He warned me for a new surprise. I think only fifty to sixty guys will go into the last lap."

Zabel based his comments on what he's seen of the course so far. In April this year he went with Jan Schaffrath and Olaf Ludwig to ride it, however it was closed off for motorcycle racing at that time.

Zabel's best placing as fifth can be explained by the fact that he's only competed in four World's road races. "Don't forget that I haven't ridden many World Championships yet. I thought it was too late for me, October...On top of that I think you can't compare the battle for the rainbow jersey to anything else. Besides good form, there's a lot of luck involved."

"Look at last year, with one kilometre to go I still had good legs. I thought I had a chance of winning. Ten seconds later I felt all power flow away, suddenly I had no strength left."

Zabel says that he feels fresher this year, after finishing the Vuelta not completely exhauster. "And last year I went well in Paris-Tours and the World's, even though I went to Lisbon to help Ullrich. I thought the parcours there would be way to hard for me; so I was surprised that I was still there sprinting for the medals."

He warned that the race could be a surprise. "Don't overlook Johan Museeuw though. Before a home crowd he will be even stronger and more determined. And those Dutch riders, they nearly all live in the area! I call them the second Belgian team."

Finally, Zabel believes that it could be "the most interesting race of the year; heck, even of the last ten years!"

A big bed for Cipo

Snow leopard
Photo: © CN
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Mario Cipollini arrived in Herderen, Belgium, on Wednesday evening, where he will be staying at Hove Malpertus, the hotel of ex-cyclist Ivo Molenaers. Cipo was picked up from the airport by Ivo's Italian son-in-law Valerio Pica, another ex-pro. A few minutes later, the rest of the Italian squad arrived by bus.

"It is not the first time I've stayed here, so I know what everything looks like." laughed the man who would be World Champion. "This hotel has very peaceful surroundings, just what I need for Sunday. I am really looking forward to the race, it is going to be a very special day for me."

Special demands weren't made by Cipollini. "He only asked for a big bed," said hotel owner Ivo. "He doesn't sleep comfortably in a single bed, that's why. It's not at all hard to please him. The Italian team brought their own cook, and everything will be prepared in our kitchen."

On Thursday morning, Cipollini and the rest of the Italian team trained together over the World's parcours, making note of every climb and every corner, as there will be no room for error on Sunday.

21,000 tickets sold so far

The organisation in Zolder reports that 21,000 tickets for the World Championships have been sold in advance already. That means another 4000-5000 will have to be sold before the organisers can balance the costs.

Day 4 preview

Tomorrow will see the first two road races of the Championships being held on the 12.8 kilometre circuit. The Junior Women will set off at 9:30 am for 6 laps, a total of 76.8 km. Their race should finish at approximately 11:45 am, and will be followed by the U23 Men's race which starts at 12:30 pm. The U23's cover 13 laps of the course for a total of 166.4 km.

Weather conditions are predicted to be a few degrees cooler tomorrow (11 maximum) but with less wind. The forecast at the moment is for rain and wind on the weekend.

Join us at 9:30 CEST (00:30 PDT/03:30 EDT/17:30 Aust. EST) for full live coverage of the Junior Women's Road Race followed by the U23 Men's Road Race (at 12:30 CEST).

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