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2002 Road World Championships - CM
Hasselt-Zolder, Belgium, October 8-13, 2002
Day 1 - October 8: U23 Men Time Trial, 33.2 km
Vaitkus powers to win Espoirs TT title
By Jeff Jones in Zolder
Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus won the U23 World Time Trial Championship in dominating fashion, beating the next best rider Alexandr Bespalov (Russia) by an impressive 41 second margin, with Sergio Paulinho (Portugal) nearly 1'30 back in third. Vaitkus, a specialist in the Pursuit on the track and the winner of this year's U23 GP des Nations, averaged 51.5 km/h on the fast Hasselt-Zolder course to claim the gold medal, setting the fastest times at every intermediate time check.
The U23 race started at 14:00 local time in sunny conditions, with the same light easterly wind blowing that accompanied the Junior Women. The early pace was set by Slovenian Jure Zrimsek, who clocked 40'54.90, an average of 48.686 km/h. It seemed like a fast time, but it was soon to be bettered as Spaniard Alberto Contador knocked 2 seconds off it, before his compatriot Francisco Gutierrez lowered the mark to 40'34.79 (49.1 km/h). Gutierrez's time didn't last long however, when Russian Alexander Arkeev, who finished third in the Junior Men's road race in 2000, came to the finish in a time of 40'20.60.
That time held until the final 10 riders started, with Portugal's Sergio Paulinho carving 11 seconds off it, before Russian Alexandr Bespalov smashed all previous times with a 39'22.50. The Russian was looking great for the gold medal, as the remaining riders one by one could not better it. Behind him was Australian Rory Sutherland, who was hoping for a good ride today but was delayed by a puncture after only 3 km. Afterwards a disappointed Sutherland said that it cost him time as well as his rhythm, and he faded to finish 34th at 3'18.
A few minutes behind Sutherland was Tomas Vaitkus, who had gone through the 17 km check 16 seconds faster than Bespalov, and was faster again at 20.8 km. Vaitkus eventually finished in 38'40.80, a long way clear of Bespalov and definitely in the gold medal position, as last starter Sebastian Rosseler (Belgium) followed him in with 40'21.47.
In the post race press conference the softly spoken Lithuanian described it as the most important win in his career, which has taken a massive leap this year after he was signed by top Italian elite team Vellutex Zoccorinese following the GP des Nations. Vaitkus, who will turn 21 next year, will remain with the Italian team next season and hopefully realise some more of his potential.
Images by Roberto Bettinifirstname.lastname@example.org
Images by AFP
Images by Miwako Sasaki/Japanese Cycle Sports
Images by Cyclingnews.com/Jeff Jones
1 Tomas Vaitkus (Ltu) 38.40.80 (51.5 km/h) 2 Alexandr Bespalov (Rus) 0.41.69 3 Sergio Paulinho (Por) 1.28.96 4 Jonas Olsson (Swe) 1.31.20 5 Marcus Fothen (Ger) 1.32.95 6 Alexandr Arekeev (Rus) 1.39.80 7 Sébastien Rosseler (Bel) 1.40.67 8 Niels Scheuneman (Ned) 1.49.09 9 Gregor Gazvoda (Slo) 1.50.07 10 Christophe Kern (Fra) 1.50.75 11 Francisco Gutierrez (Spa) 1.53.98 12 Volodymyr Starchyk (Ukr) 2.03.18 13 Mark Scanlon (Irl) 2.03.96 14 Benoït Vaugrenard (Fra) 2.05.07 15 Piotr Mazur (Pol) 2.07.61 16 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) 2.12.01 17 Michael Creed (USA) 2.12.49 18 Jure Zrimsek (Slo) 2.14.10 19 Ioannis Tamouridis (Gre) 2.14.95 20 Kevin De Weert (Bel) 2.15.96 21 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) 2.21.88 22 Rasmus Dyring (Den) 2.31.91 23 Brian Vandborg (Den) 2.36.22 24 Thomas Ziegler (Ger) 2.38.02 25 Olegs Melehs (Lat) 2.39.96 26 Stef Clement (Ned) 2.44.41 27 Andrea Liverani (Ita) 2.49.42 28 Gustav Larsson (Swe) 2.51.80 29 Kieran Page (GBr) 3.00.30 30 Blazej Janiaczyk (Pol) 3.01.90 31 Mark Fitzgerald (USA) 3.04.74 32 Dermot Nally (Irl) 3.09.74 33 Viktor Rapinski (Blr) 3.13.18 34 Rory Sutherland (Aus) 3.18.94 35 Heath Blackgrove (NZl) 3.19.56 36 Jeremy Yates (NZl) 3.21.59 37 Hernani Broco (Por) 3.21.95 38 Muradjan Khalmuratov (Uzb) 3.24.93 39 Viktor Shestakov (Kaz) 3.25.75 40 Andres Rodriguez Diaz (Col) 3.29.42 41 Jean-François Laroche (Can) 3.31.85 42 Mauricio Ortega Ramirez (Col) 3.44.62 43 Steven Cummings (GBr) 3.45.92 44 Jan Mcleod (RSA) 3.51.07 45 Ladislav Fabisovsky (Cze) 3.55.71 46 Kimmo Kananen (Fin) 4.02.20 47 Christopher D. Myhre (Nor) 4.05.89 48 Maxim Iglinskiy (Kaz) 4.11.17 49 Roman Gugger (Swi) 4.16.98 50 Lars Breiseth (Nor) 4.22.20 51 Zoltan Csomor (Hun) 4.32.28 52 George Ninos (Gre) 5.52.04 53 Andreas Dietziker (Swi) 6.05.76 54 Carlos Enrique Avalos (ESA) 7.23.02 55 Erik Hoffmann (Nam) 7.26.76 56 Jose Reinaldo Murillo (ESA) 7.34.20 57 Fein Oded (Isr) 8.13.89