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2002 Road World Championships - CM
Hasselt-Zolder, Belgium, October 8-13, 2002
Day 4 - October 11: Espoirs Men Road Race, 166.4 km
Chicchi wins in crash marred finale
By Jeff Jones in Zolder
Italian sprinter Francesco Chicchi has won the U23 Men's Road Race in a bunch sprint, which was marred by a massive pileup 150m from the line. Chicchi, a winner of two stages in the Baby Giro d'Italia this year, came the long way around the Swiss lead out, sprinting down the left hand side of the road to take the win. He beat Dutch rider Hans Dekkers, who was later disqualified for "irregular sprinting" i.e. causing the crash, meaning that Spain's Francisco Gutierrez took silver in front of Switzerland's David Loosli.
Chicchi hails from Camaiore in the province of Lucca. He is 21 years old and rides for the Trevigiani Mapei team based out of Treviso. He's known as a powerful sprinter, and this win will open up a number of possibilities for him in future.
Over 170 riders started in the U23 race, which is usually raced flat out from the gun, in contrast to the professionals who tend to take it easy for the first few laps. The first attack of the day came from Sweden's Jonas Olsson, who rode the first two laps solo before he was caught by two groups of three on the third and fourth laps. The breakaway now contained Olsson as well as Christian Knees (Ger), Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Jorge Garcia Marin and Unai Elorriaga Zubiaur (Spa), Gene Bates (Aus) and Andrey Pchelkin (Rus).
The group obtained a maximum lead of 45 seconds, but couldn't withstand a strong chase from the Irish team, who were working for favourite Mark Scanlon. The septet were brought back after five laps, and the pace continued to lift with attacks being the order of the day. The Italian team were noticeably absent from the front, and given their record in this category, probably indicated team instructions rather than any particular weakness.
It wasn't until the ninth of thirteen laps that the Italians started to pay more attention to the breaks, chasing down a move by Francisco Gutierrez (Spain) and Ruslan Gryschenko (Ukraine, last year's bronze medalist). After they were caught, Slovenian Jure Zrimsek attacked with Arnaud Coyot (France) just before the Sterrewacht climb, gaining a 10 second gap on the flying peloton. On the 10th lap they were caught by Christian Knees (Germany), Volodymyr Zagorodny (Ukraine) and Ioannis Tamouridis (Greece), putting two Ukrainian riders in the break of five.
It was dangerous but they could never get more than 15 seconds to the peloton, as more riders bridged up to them and finally the whole peloton. The gaps were starting to appear in the bunch at this stage due to the high average speed, which was now in the mid to high 40's.
With just over two laps to go, what looked like a potentially race winning break went with 15 riders in it. It included Russian Mikhail Timochine, Slovenian Jure Zrimsek, Lithuanian Thomas Vaitkus, Australians Gene Bates and Simon Gerrans, Ukrainian Volodymr Starchyck, Polish Mariusz Wiesak and Jacek Morajko, Spaniard Pablo de Pedro Garcia, Swede Jonas Holmqvist, Italians Ivan Ravaioli and Antonio Bucciero, Portuguese Sergio Paulinho, Estonian Andrei Lebedev, Greek Ioannis Tamouridis, and Belgian Nick Nuyens.
With so many countries represented, it had a good chance of staying clear, but the British, German and Dutch teams chased hard and brought it back for the bell lap. Those teams with good sprinters were thinking of the finish now, trying to keep things together of the final fast and furious lap.
Still the attacks continued, with De Pedro, Zrimsek, Scanlon, Nuyens, Gryshenko and Chavanel trying their luck with 7 km to go. But staying off the front of a bunch that's moving at 50 km/h proved to be too hard, and the peloton hit the Sterrenwacht climb for the last time.
A crash at the front of the bunch at the base of the climb caused chaos, allowing Italian Antonio Bucciero to jump clear over the top of the climb in a bid for a solo win. However, Mikhail Timochine led a strong chase down the other side and recaptured the Italian with 1 km to go. The Swiss had managed to get two riders in front to start the sprint lead out, although it proved to be too far as they went before the straight flattened out with 200m to go.
The nervousness of the sprint was painful to watch as a small movement caused a big pileup with 150m to go. Those few who made it through the crash had their sights on the finish, with Hans Dekkers (Ned) and Francisco Gutierrez (Spa) looking like the top two. However behind them to the right hand side was Francesco Chicchi, who decided he liked the left hand side better and launched himself on a diagonal to the line. "At 300 m I had no idea where to go. I saw a little gap on the left and went there," recalled Chicchi afterwards.
Fortunately there were no riders behind him at this point and he came around a surprised David Loosli (Swi) to take the win with a clear margin to Dekkers and Gutierrez, with Loosli ending as fourth. The commissaires decided later that Dekkers should be disqualified for irregular sprinting, promoting Gutierrez and Loosli by one podium spot.
The average speed of the race - 46.123 km/h - was the fastest World Championship of all time, in any category, a testament to the fast surface of the Zolder circuit as well as the strength of the field. If it's anything like that on Sunday, then a big bunch sprint is still the favoured outcome.
Images by Miwako Sasaki / Japanese Cycle Sports
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.com
Images by AFP
Images by Jeff Tse
Images by Lucy Poweremail@example.com
1 Francesco Chicchi (Ita) 3.36.28 (46.123 km/h) 2 Francisco Gutierrez (Spa) 3 David Loosli (Swi) 4 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) 5 Geoffroy Lequatre (Fra) 6 Gregory Rast (Swi) 7 SÚbastien Chavanel (Fra) 8 Jorge Torre (Por) 9 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) 10 Eric Berthou (Fra) 11 Jean-Frantois Laroche (Can) 12 Yanto Barker (GBr) 13 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) 14 Denys Yablonskyy (Ukr) 15 Vicente Reynes (Spa) 16 Leonardo Duque (Col) 17 Gusty Bausch (Lux) 18 Andreas Matzbacher (Aut) 19 Mariusz Wiesiak (Pol) 20 Mark Scanlon (Irl) 21 Tarmo Raudsepp (Est) 22 Shawn Milne (USA) 23 Clemens Grosslercher (Aut) 24 George Ninos (Gre) 25 Unai Elorriaga Zubiaur (Spa) 26 Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) 27 Alexandr Sabalin (Mda) 28 Borut Bozic (Slo) 29 Assan Bazayev (Kaz) 30 Piotr Mazur (Pol) 31 Branislav Stejskal (Svk) 32 Oliver Zaugg (Swi) 33 Michael Demin (Den) 34 Matic Strgar (Slo) 35 Dmitrii Bondari (Mda) 36 Mark Fitzgerald (USA) 37 Thomas Oredsson (Den) 38 Radovan Husar (Svk) 39 Bernhard Kohl (Aut) 40 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) 41 Ruslan Gryschenko (Ukr) 42 Matej Marin (Slo) 43 Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn) 44 Kevin De Weert (Bel) 45 Johan Van Summeren (Bel) 46 Edgar Anao (Por) 47 Alexandr Bespalov (Rus) 48 Pieter Weening (Ned) 49 Michael Albasini (Swi) 50 Michael Creed (USA) 51 Zvonimir Pokupec (Cro) 52 Marcel Sieberg (Ger) 53 Kristian Ellertsen (Nor) 54 Jonas Holmkvist (Swe) 55 Thomas Kaufmann (Ger) 56 Christian Knees (Ger) 57 Alexandr Arekeev (Rus) 58 Volodymyr Zagorodny (Ukr) 59 Ivan Sever (Cro) 60 Antonio Bucciero (Ita) 61 Mark Renshaw (Aus) 62 Ivan Ravaioli (Ita) 63 Simon Gerrans (Aus) 64 Andri Lebedev (Est) 65 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) 66 Pablo De Pedro Garcia (Spa) 67 Tom Southam (GBr) 68 Andrey Pchelkin (Rus) 69 Brian Vandborg (Den) 70 Gustav Larsson (Swe) 71 Tamas Lengyel (Hun) 72 Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) 73 Nick Nuyens (Bel) 74 Daniel Okrucinski (Pol) 75 Jan Mcleod (RSA) 76 David Pell (Aus) 77 Sergio Paulinho (Por) 78 Tomislav Danculovic (Cro) 79 Bj÷rn Schr+Der (Ger) 80 Beno´t Vaugrenard (Fra) 81 Bastiaan Giling (Ned) 82 Arne Kornegoor (Ned) 83 Rory Sutherland (Aus) 84 Hans Dekkers (Ned) 85 Jeremy Yates (NZl) 0.35 86 Martin Gilbert (Can) 0.37 87 Vjacheslav Barei (Blr) 88 Audrius Bagdonavicius (Ltu) 89 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) 90 Eric Baumann (Ger) 0.39 91 Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat) 92 Caspar Austa (Est) 93 Mauricio Ortega Ramirez (Col) 94 Erik Hoffmann (Nam) 95 Harald Berger (Aut) 96 Heath Blackgrove (NZl) 97 Viktor Shestakov (Kaz) 98 Zoltan Madaras (Hun) 0.41 99 Muradjan Khalmuratov (Uzb) 100 Anatoli Chaburka (Blr) 101 Jure Zrimsek (Slo) 102 Ivan Chtchegolev (Rus) 103 Rasmus Dyring (Den) 104 Per Martin Lund (Nor) 105 Dermot Nally (Irl) 106 Peter Van Agtmaal (Ned) 0.44 107 Arturs Lagzdins (Lat) 0.58 108 Jacek Morajko (Pol) 109 RenÚ Marxer (Lie) 1.38 110 Michel Wolter (Lux) 1.40 111 Gene Bates (Aus) 112 Adriaan De Beer (RSA) 113 Jorge Garcia Marin (Spa) 114 Volodymyr Starchyk (Ukr) 1.55 115 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) 116 Olegs Melehs (Lat) 117 Fredrik Kessiakoff (Swe) 2.51 118 Glenn Bak (Den) 119 Mikhail Timochine (Rus) 2.56 120 Martin Mares (Cze) 3.02 121 Juan Murillo (Ven) 3.06 122 Andres Rodriguez Diaz (Col) 123 Jamie Alberts (GBr) 3.32 124 Daniel Gysling (Swi) 3.37 125 Denis Lynch (Irl) 3.38 126 Gary Mcquaid (Irl) 3.40 127 Carlos Lopez Gonzalez (Mex) 4.51 128 Philip Deignan (Irl) 5.05 129 Daniele Pietropolli (Ita) 6.30 130 Nebojsa Jovanovic (Yug) 6.31 131 Stanislav Kozubek (Cze) 132 Joan Rivas (Ven) 133 Darren Lill (RSA) 134 Alexandr Matveev (Mda) 135 Nened Prokic (Yug) 15.04 136 Tigran Kortokyan (Arm) 18.36 137 Chun Ming Tsoi (HKg) 18.39 138 Zoltan Csomor (Hun) 19.33 139 King Nin Lau (HKg) 20.16