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2003 Road Worlds
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2002 Worlds

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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

2003 Road World Championships - CM

Hamilton, Canada, October 7-12, 2003

Main Page    Start list    Course Map    Latest live report    Results

Day 5 - October 12: Elite Men Road Race, 260.4 km

Complete Live Report

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Tim Maloney and Mark Zalewski

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 9:00 EDT
Estimated finish: 15:30 EDT

08:49 EDT    
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the final day of the 2003 Road World Championships. Today is the granddaddy of them all, the 260.4 kilometre men's road race. The 180 riders will have to complete 21 laps of the testing 12.4 kilometre course, which features two climbs per lap: the first up Beckett Drive (summit at 3.5 km) and the second up to the top of James St. Hill (summit at 10.3 km). While not particularly steep, these climbs add up and by the end of the race the gaps will tend to open up. We haven't seen a big bunch sprint yet, although it's not out of the question with the size and depth of some of the teams here.

Favourites for today includin Paolo Bettini (Italy), who has the support of a very strong team, Erik Zabel (Germany) who is strong enough to survive as long as the peloton hangs together, Oscar Freire (Spain), who has won two World Championships already, Peter Van Petegem (Belgium) who won the two biggest one day classics of the year (Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix), and maybe Michael Boogerd (Netherlands) can continue the run of Dutch success, while Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine) could win if he has a great day.

Others include David Millar (Great Britain), who won the time trial, Aussie Mick Rogers, who finished second, Fred Rodriguez and George Hincapie (USA), who will be looking for a good showing in the finale.

The weather today is a bit cooler than the previous days. At the moment it's about 10 degrees and it's expected to get up to 19 or so in the afternoon. The dawn broke red over Ontario this morning and there is a cold front moving in. The wind is coming up from the south east and we could well get some rain in the middle of the race, but that should clear up in the afternoon.

09:02 EDT    
And they're under way in the Elite Men's World Championship. The big pack rolls out from the starting line with many riders rugged up against the cool temperatures this morning. Unlike other mornings, there is no fog.

The cold front has blown in earlier than expected and it's overcast, cool and windy and it's starting to rain. The Italian team went right to the front after the gun went off, went past their team boxes and all collected rain capes. They're focused today.

09:13 EDT    8 km/252.4 km to go
Cyclingnews spoke to USA team manager Jim Ochowicz before the start this morning. He outlined the team's plan today for us: "In the first half, we'll have John Lieswyn, Chris Baldwin and a couple of the others cover for Fred Rodriguez and George Hincapie and make sure they're in a good situation. Dave Clinger is to cover any breaks. After halfway then Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer, Mark McCormack and Chris Horner will move in to position to cover for George and Fred because it's a matter of attrition. At the end we're saving Guido Trenti for the last couple of laps to help George and Fred."

"Since the mid 90's this is the first time we've had a full roster that deserves to represent the USA," Ochowicz continued. "At the end there's still going to be about 40 riders left and there should be a lot of attacking. On the last lap I think there'll be about 15-20 riders left."

09:24 EDT    13 km/247.4 km to go
There has been a crash coming off James Mtn road coming back into Hamilton and about 20 riders found themselves off the front. Popovych crashed and the Ukraine team dropped back to help him. Fabio Sacchi (Italy) also crashed and was back getting service from the car. Coming past the start/finish at the end of lap one it was all lined out.

Riders who are in the front group include Oscar Freire (Spain), Ivan Basso and Danilo Di Luca (Italy), Fred Rodriguez and Mark McCormack (USA) and Bernhard Eisel (Austria).

Fortunately, the rain showers have cleared out a little and the weather is improving.

09:32 EDT    
Some more information about the crash that happened on Lap 1: Apparently an American rider crashed as they came off James Mtn road and turned onto James st (near to where the junior men crashed yesterday). Oscar Sevilla (Spain) went down and broke his right pedal/cleat. Tim Johnson (USA) went down as did Fabio Sacchi (Italy).

The chase was very intense as they came past for the first lap, with 25 riders holding a 12 second gap.

09:41 EDT    25 km/235.4 km to go
The peloton comes past the start/finish for the end of the second lap, and order has been restored. The group of 25 has been caught and the pace has slowed. Andrea Noe (Italy) leads them through at a steady tempo, with that lap taking around 20 minutes (37 km/h).

There was another crash in the second lap in almost the same place as the first, with Denis Menchov (Russia), Franck Renier (France), Gustav Erik Larsson (Sweden) and a few others coming off. Menchov and Renier have managed to chase back onto the peloton.

Czech rider Milan Kadlec has abandoned, as have Gustav Larsson and Oscar Sevilla. Kadlec looks to have hurt his back in one of the crashes and is now in the team box.

09:48 EDT    28.5 km/231.9 km to go
They're riding tempo now up the first climb (Beckett St) of the third lap, 20 across with Marlon Perez (Colombia leading). It's still a steady pace and there have been no real attacks yet.

10:05 EDT    37.2 km/223.2 km
The still complete (minus a few abandons) peloton rolls through for the end of the third lap with that last lap the slowest yet in 20'21. The overall average speed is 37.621 km/h. The Italians are riding tempo at the front. Franck Renier and David Moncoutie (France) were still chasing the peloton at the end of that lap, 26 seconds behind.

The weather is stable at the moment - lightly overcasst with no rain. The wind is up at around 15-20 km/h.

10:16 EDT    47 km/213.4 km
The riders are on the second climb of the fourth lap, still cruising along in a big bunch. The French team is on the front with the Italians and Colombians.

Cyclingnews spoke to the Canadian Cycling Association's Bill Kinash about the status of junior rider Kevin Lacombe, who crashed heavily yesterday during the junior men's race. The good news is that he has been upgrade from critical to serious condition. He has a feeding tube in so he can't talk at the moment, but he's been writing messages and joking around and is generally in good spirits. Doctors expect him to make a full recovery.

10:20 EDT    49.6 km/210.8 km
The pack hits the top of the James St climb, takes the U-turn and is on the descent. Speeds of 80 km/h are the norm here. The Colombians lead through the end of the fourth lap, which was ridden in 20'24.

10:23 EDT    
Bobby Julich is having problems with his front derailleur, and is 2'50 behind the bunch at the end of lap 4. He gets a bike change in the pits area but it's going to be tough to catch the peloton again.

The speed is slow enough that he might. Up Beckett drive a few riders pull off to the side for a quick nature break. Still a very steady tempo.

10:27 EDT    53 km/207.4 km to go
The first attack is made at the top of Beckett Dr by a Dutch rider - Karsten Kroon. He immediately gets the whole peloton for company, but it's lined out now and there are more attacks. It looks like Rik Reinerink (Netherlands). He too gets the whole peloton on his wheel.

10:29 EDT    55 km/205 km to go
Reinerink attacks again as they turn onto Fennell Ave, but once again can't get a gap. The peloton takes the first descent in one big group.

10:34 EDT    58 km/202 km to go
The descent is over quickly and the peloton makes its way up the 2 km climb up Claremont Access. Again a Dutch rider attacks - Koos Moerenhout. This time he gets a bit of a gap.

Erik Zabel (Germany) has a mechanical problem but is quickly back in ht peloton.

10:36 EDT    60 km/200 km to go
The peloton lets Moerenhout go and the Dutch rider gets 20 seconds at the top of the climb.

10:40 EDT    62 km/198 km to go
Moerenhout crosses the line with a 30 second gap to Fabian Cancellara (Swi), followed by a couple of other riders who are counter attacking. That last lap was much faster at 18'28, over 40 km/h.

Bobby Julich is still by himself on his old bike with the non-functional front derailleur. As they didn't have the bike ready on the last lap, he will try to get a new one this lap with Time pedals. Or he could abandon.

10:42 EDT    64 km/196 km to go
Moerenhout settles into a rhythm but looks round for support. He will hope that Cancellara can bridge the gap and maybe a few others to form a proper breakaway. He is now tackling the Beckett Dr climb.

The Italians are controlling things in the peloton, with Frigo (who was originally not going to ride the road race) notable in front.

10:44 EDT    
Bobby Julich abandons
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image
Bobby Julich, unsurprisingly, has abandoned with bike problems. That's a blow for the US team as he was one of the strongest riders.

10:46 EDT    67 km/193 km to go
Moerenhout reaches the top of Beckett Drive with 40 seconds lead on the peloton, and should be able to press his advantage further now. The Italians are still on the front along with the Spanish.

10:51 EDT    72 km/188 km to go
Koos Moerenhout is now on the second climb up Claremont Access, extending his lead all the time over the still very subdued peloton. He has over a minute now, but no support, which will make pulling this break off very difficult.

10:56 EDT    73 km/187 km to go
Moerenhout is now at the top of the Claremont Access climb with 1'35 on the peloton, and increasing all the time.

The crowds today are quite big, especially at the tops of the climbs, but also lining one side of the road all the way up.

10:58 EDT    74.4 km/185.6 km to go
End of lap 6, and Koos Moerenhout has just ridden that one in 18'37 (39.96 km/h). The peloton follows through at 1'32, still relaxed and complete.

11:03 EDT    78 km/182 km to go
On lap 7, Victor Pena (Colombia) has attacked the peloton in pursuit of Koos Moerenhout. He'll have to close a 1'40 hap by himself. A French rider - Maryan Hary sets off in pursuit with the peloton another 10 seconds back.

11:05 EDT    
Hary and Pena are caught by three riders - Lang, Szmyd and Cuesta - at the top of Beckett Drive, forming a group of five in pursuit of Moerenhout. The peloton is not far behind them though and close the gap before the descent.

11:10 EDT    83 km/177 km to go
Moerenhout is now on the second climb of lap 7, still looking strong and holding a 1'10 gap on the peloton, which is started to get edgy.

On the transfer market, Danish sources report that Michele Bartoli (Fassa) and Frank Hoj (fakta) have both signed for Team CSC.

11:16 EDT    86.8 km/173.2 km to go
Victor Pena has attacked again on the second climb, in pursuit of Moerenhout. He has a 15 second gap to the peloton at the top and is 1'10 behind the Dutchman.

Moerenhout is at the base of the descent and comes through for the end of lap 7, having ridden that one in 18'45 (39.68 km/h).

11:22 EDT    91 km/169 km to go
Victor Pena is extending his gap over the peloton on the Beckett Drive climb at the start of lap 8. It's a good 40 seconds, but he is still over a minute behind Moerenhout, who has reached the top of the climb. Moerenhout took that climb in the small chainring, possibly because he is waiting for Pena but more likely because he's getting tired.

11:27 EDT    95 km/165 km to go
Pena is now under a minute behind Koos Moerenhout, while the peloton is over 2 minutes behind the leader. Bjornar Vestol (Norway) has set off from the peloton at the top of the second climb

11:29 EDT    
Oscar Freire has had a puncture, but is back in the peloton.

11:34 EDT    98 km/162 km to go
Moerenhout reaches the top of the Claremont Access climb on Lap 8 with 55 seconds lead on Victor Pena and 1'35 on Bjornar Vestol. The peloton is at 2'35. Pena takes the U turn at the top and gets sprayed with water, which he's not happy about. It's cold today!

11:37 EDT    100 km/160 km to go
Moerenhout reaches the end of Lap 8, having ridden that one in 19'14. Pena comes through at 55 seconds, then Vestol at 1'35.

The wind has picked up a bit, and on the second climb it's a sidewind from the riders left shoulders. That will make a long slow grind even longer. There are also a lot of leaves on the road, and if it rains again this will make the descents very slippery.

11:42 EDT    102 km/158 km to go
They hit lap nine, and Pena starts to close the gap to Moerenhout on the Beckett Drive climb to 45 seconds. Bjornar Vestol in turn is closing the gap to Pena. If the three actually get together at one point, they might be able to make a good fist of it. But separately they are just burning themselves out.

The peloton is still travelling slowly, and riders are still taking the opportunity to have nature breaks. The Spanish seem to be doing most of the tempo setting, and the gap is up to 2'50 now.

11:45 EDT    
Moerenhout sits up and waits for Pena - smart move. Vestol still has to close a 10 second gap, but he should do that on this descent.

He does just before the bottom, and we now have a three man break with Moerenhout, Pena and Vestol. This should be more productive, although all three will have tired legs.

11:51 EDT    108 km/152 km to go
Vestol leads Moerenhout and Pena
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image
The three breakaways hit the second climb of Claremont Access with a lead of 2'25. The peloton is led by Italy, Spain and Germany at a controlling tempo. Belgian Peter Van Petegem is in his customary position in last wheel.

Dario Frigo has to have a bike change, but is back in the peloton now. Oscar Freire has also had another bike change, but he too is back.

11:56 EDT    112 km/148 km to go
The ninth lap has been ridden at a fairly steady pace of 20'00 (37.2 km/h), but Pena, Vestol and Moerenhout have a good three minutes lead on the peloton now.

Raivis Belohvosciks (Latvia) has abandoned.

12:05 EDT    119 km/141 km to go
Pena, Vestol and Moerenhout have crested the Beckett Drive climb now and are working together well. The peloton follows at around 3 minutes, still complete with the Spanish, Italian and German teams doing most of the work.

12:07 EDT    
Some action now in the peloton, as a Swiss rider - Cancellara - attacks at the top of the first climb. He gets Rik Reinerink for company, but the peloton is strung out in pursuit. It will start to get harder soon.

12:09 EDT    120 km/140 km to go
The three leaders are on the second climb of lap 10, watching the peloton go flying down the hill the other way. The gap is around 2'30 at the moment. Cancellara and Reinerink have been swallowed.

12:13 EDT    
The Spanish/Italian/German led peloton is still fairly calm, not worried about the three riders in front. Mick Rogers (Australia) is visible in the second row. All the other favourites (Bettini, Freire etc.) are safely in the bulk of the peloton.

12:15 EDT    124 km/136 km to go
Vestol, Pena, and Moerenhout are at the end of lap 10, with 11 laps to go. The time for that last lap was 19'18 (38.55 km/h), somewhat faster than the previous lap.

Frigo is now on the front of the peloton on the second climb, forcing the tempo somewhat. Vasseur has a problem with his pedal at the back of the bunch, but doesn't lose much time and will catch them at the top.

12:18 EDT    126 km/134 km to go
The peloton comes through at the end of lap 10 led by the entire Italian team. The pace is much higher now, and they will make inroads into this 2'45 lead. The Italians want to make the race hard now.

12:20 EDT    
The pace in the peloton is high on the climb of Beckett Drive, with Bettini very well placed near the front of the Italian train. Too early for an attack, but it's certainly better to be in front. The bunch is getting reasonably stretched, but not in a single line yet.

Riders are starting to get dropped now, including Lubor Tesar, as Cristian Moreni forces the pace on this climb. At the top the gap has been cut to 1'50 to the three tiring leaders.

12:25 EDT    131 km/129 km to go
The bunch is now very stretched at the top of Beckett Drive, with the Italian squadra doing a lot of damage. The leaders are only 1 minute in front!

Scott Sunderland (Australia) is towards the back of the peloton, trying to move up with a teammate.

12:31 EDT    133 km/127 km to go
The Italians have stepped off the gas, but the gap is now around 50 seconds to the three leaders, who are at the top of the second climb now.

Fred Rodriguez (USA) has a problem with his derailleur it looks like, and Tom Johnson drops back to help him. Also Tom Boonen is back with Wim Vansevenant, who punctured.

Fabian Cancellara (Swi) attacks the peloton near the top of the climb.

12:34 EDT    136 km/124 km to go
The leaders reach the end of lap 11, with Cancellara chasing at 0'20. A Portuguese rider - Pedro Lopes - is at 0'30 and the peloton, led by the Italians, is at 0'42.

12:36 EDT    
Cancellara closes the gap at the foot of Beckett Drive, and now there are four leaders. Lopes sits up and waits for the peloton. The gap is around 30 seconds between the two groups.

Cancellara will have to do a lot of work in this break as the other three are pretty tired. Moerenhout is sitting on the back up the climb, and not taking any turns.

Lubor Tesar (Cze) has abandoned.

12:40 EDT    138 km/120 km to go
Dario Frigo (Italy) has attacked up Beckett Dr with a US rider on his wheel. Meanwhile Fred Rodriguez is at the back of the bunch, after another mechanical problem.

Frigo and co. are caught at the top, and it's lined out with Moreni driving hard.

The sun has finally come out.

12:44 EDT    140 km/118 km to go
A group of 18 riders has extracted itself off the front of the peloton, including Moreni, Bruylandts, Igor Gonzalez, Mancebo...

Not for long - they are caught at the bottom of the first descent.

12:49 EDT    144 km/114 km to go
Cancellara drives the break on the second climb of Claremont Access, still holding a 40 second lead over the restless peloton. Ruslan Ivanov (Moldavia) is the next rider to attack the bunch, but it goes nowhere.

George Hincapie is well placed near the front.

Now Moreni puts in a hard attack, but he gets company and can't break the elastic. Renier is right on his wheel, as well as a German and a Spaniard.

12:53 EDT    147 km/111 km to go
End of lap 12, which was ridden in 18'21, and the four breakaways - Pena, Moerenhout, Vestol and Cancellara, have just under 30 seconds lead on the peloton.

12:56 EDT    149 km/109 km to go
Before the Beckett Dr climb Jurgen Van Goolen (Belgium) attacks and bridges up to the break along with Mancebo and a few others. The peloton is coming back to them though. There are many gaps.

13:01 EDT    154 km/104 km to go
There are breaks happening all the time in the peloton, but nothing is sticking. Fred Rodriguez (USA) is sitting on the front down the first descent of lap 13.

13:04 EDT    156 km/102 km to go
Floyd Landis, Fabio Sacchi, Inigo Cuesta make the tempo up the Claremont Access climb. Karsten Kroon (Netherlands attacks and a group of eight riders gets a little gap. Landis, Sacchi and Cuesta are certainly there.

A Colombian rider, Marlon Perez, is next to attack and gets Andrei Mizourov (Kaz) with him for company. Frigo chases them down and it's back together at the top of the climb. More or less - very stretched.

13:11 EDT    161 km/97 km to go
End of lap 13, which was ridden in 17'28 at over 42 km/h. The peloton is together still, but there is a lot of aggression. Karsten Kroon attacks just past the team boxes.

Pena has punctured and is 44 seconds behind, and won't get back on. Moerenhout has also been dropped, and Vestol was looking pretty ordinary.

13:14 EDT    163 km/95 km to go
Igor Gonzalez and Karsten Kroon have a small gap, but are chased down by the front riders of the peloton. Chris Horner has closed the gap and there's a small group off the front on Beckett Drive.

Luis Perez (Spain) has a small lead on Krupa, Brandt, Kroon, Landis, Horner, Scirea, Duma, Gonzalez de Galdeano, Duma and Mizourov. Kroon attacks again.

Pena and Moerenhout have abandoned.

13:16 EDT    
Luis Perez reaches the top of the climb with 12 seconds lead on the chase group behind him, which is not working well. Kroon pushes the pace all the time but it's not enough and a 20 rider peloton has caught them again.

13:19 EDT    166 km/92 km to go
The peloton gets back together on the first descent, and Luis Perez finds his 10 second gap diminishing. It's only 5 seconds at the bottom, and he sits up.

13:20 EDT    
Scott Sunderland (Australia) gets a little gap on the second climb, but is overtaken by three others. Vasseur, De Jongh, Noe, Sunderland and Mizourov now have a small lead.

The move goes nowhere, and the peloton comes back together again. Still a big bunch of well over 100 riders.

13:25 EDT    170 km/88 km to go
Tom Boonen (Bel) and Rik Reinerink (Ned) get a bit of a lead on the Claremont climb, with several riders coming across to them. It serves the purpose of hurting the peloton more, as all these attacks do. It's all together again at the top.

13:27 EDT    172 km/66 km to go
At the end of lap 14, which was also ridden in 17'28, Fabio Sacchi (Italy) leads Rik Reinerink (Ned) through. The main peloton is right on their wheels.

The crowds are big at the start/finish, enjoying the racing and the sunshine. Sunderland grabs a feed bag as they come past the boxes.

13:31 EDT    174 km/84 km to go
Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) drives hard at the foot of Beckett Dr, with Wegmann, Mancebo, Den Bakker, Rinero, Trenti, Moreni, Zberg going with him. Eight leaders in total.

13:35 EDT    176 km/82 km to go
The eight have 25 seconds at the top of Beckett Dr and there is some panic in the peloton. Noe is in front, riding solidly, but has French riders on his wheel. The Italians don't seem to think that Moreni is the man to be away.

13:40 EDT    181 km/77 km to go
The lead goes out to 40 seconds on the descent before the second climb. This is an interesting break, with nearly all the strong nations represented. Who will chase in the peloton?

They're on the Claremont Access climb now, having lost 10 seconds of their lead.

13:42 EDT    182 km/76 km to go
Italy has taken up the chase in the peloton on the Claremont climb, with Basso in front. Sunderland is right up there too in fifth wheel.

Den Bakker pushes the pace in the break and the gap goes up from 23 to 28 seconds. But no-one will roll with him.

13:45 EDT    185 km/73 km to go
The eight leaders reach the end of lap 15, with a 30 second lead on the Italian led peloton. Interesting situation with just six laps to go.

13:48 EDT    
John Lieswyn (USA) has abandoned after 15 laps.

The break is not working perfectly up Beckett Drive, and has lost 13 seconds of its lead. Scirea (Italy) is the man doing the damage in the peloton.

13:49 EDT    
Nardello puts in a strong counter on the climb, with Van Goolen going with him. This could spell the end of the break in front.

The break is brought back at the top, with Bettini doing the final gap closing. There are gaps everywhere.

13:58 EDT    194 km/64 km to go
Sylvain "allez" Chavanel leads the bunch on the descent of Claremont Access, knees tucked into the frame in an aero position. The peloton is still looking pretty big (80 plus riders), and now there are a few Australian jerseys on the front with Mick Rogers there.

The attacks start again, and Kurt Asle Arvesen (Norway) gives it some gas.

14:07 EDT    198 km/60 km to go
The peloton is together at the end of lap 16, but slowly losing rider.

Samuel Dumoulin (France) is the next rider to attack on the Beckett Drive climb on lap 17. He gets nine seconds, as Casagrande pulls the bunch along with Vasseur on his wheel.

Bettini accelerates next, as the Italians all move up to the front.

14:11 EDT    200 km/58 km to go
The peloton is breaking up on the first climb, but is essentially together and Dumoulin is back in the fold. It's going to get harder and harder now.

14:13 EDT    202 km/56 km to go
Floyd Landis
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image
There are more attacks over the top of the climb with Floyd Landis involved, but on the descent of Claremont Access it's back together again.

14:17 EDT    205 km/53 km to go
We're now on the second climb of Lap 17, with the Italians riding hard in front along with a couple of the US riders. Peloton still compact.

Van Goolen (Bel) attacks near the top of the climb. A big acceleration.

14:20 EDT    208 km/50 km to go
Van Goolen reaches the end of lap 17 with 10 seconds on the peloton, which is now becoming very active.

Tim Johnson (USA) has abandoned. We just spoke to him in the boxes: "I'm pretty happy with what I did. It's great out on the course because half of New England is here! I did my job and whenever anybody needed help - like when Freddy had mechanical problems I went back and helped him."

Johnson also was hurt from his lap 1 crash. "I went down in the first crash on the descent. I was in second wheel but the guy in the lead touched his brakes and lost it. I slid 40 yards on my back!"

Fabio Sacchi and Fabian Cancellara have abandoned. Erik Dekker has been dropped, but the peloton is still well over 100 riders.

14:22 EDT    209 km/49 km to go
Van Goolen is hunched over the bars as he approaches the Beckett Drive climb. He's chased by Beat Zberg (Swi) who is struggling to close the gap.

14:26 EDT    211 km/47 km to go
Van Goolen and Zberg reach the top of Beckett Drive with 35 seconds lead on the peloton, with Italy in front. Hincapie and Mick Rogers are well placed in the top 5.

Sergio Paulinho (Por) and Chris Baldwin (USA) have abandoned, as have Wim Vansevenant and Philippe Gilbert (Bel). Erik Dekker is riding back down the climb too - he's obviously out.

14:32 EDT    217 km/41 km to go
Van Goolen and Zberg are now up to 45 seconds as Dario Frigo drives the peloton at the foot of the Claremont Access climb. The peloton is very very big at this stage of a world championship - will Zabel and Freire get their bunch sprint?

Vasseur (France) is sitting close to the front with the Italians.

14:34 EDT    218 km/40 km to go
Frigo, Basso and Scirea lead Bettini in front of the peloton on the Claremont climb with 40 km to go. 40 seconds in front are Jurgen Van Goolen and Beat Zberg, who are doing well to stay clear.

14:37 EDT    
Basso takes over from Frigo right at the top of the climb, but the peloton is now 50 seconds behind the two leaders. And it's still around 125 strong.

14:39 EDT    221 km/37 km to go
End of lap 18, which was ridden in 18'11, and Van Goolen and Zberg have 45 seconds on the Italian led peloton.

Freire has another mechanical - derailleur problem or something. He's waiting for a spare bike and is now chasing. That's not good for him. But four of the Spanish riders drop back to help him.

14:43 EDT    
David Millar attacks aat the foot of Beckett Drive, but doesn't get a gap. Freire is back on the back.

Bettini accelerates with Vasseur, Camenzind and Boogerd on his wheel.

Matt White abandons.

14:45 EDT    224 km/34 km to go
Bettini sees he's done some damage, looks round, and attacks again. Boogerd goes with him and Van Petegem is also there. It's not caused a break though.

Astarloa crashes at the top of the climb! Somehow he slid out on the corner. He's back on the bike, having lost 100 places. Peloton is in one long line.

14:46 EDT    225 km/33 km to go
David Millar and Chris Horner are driving off the front of the peloton, just 15 seconds behind the two leaders. Interesting move...

John Lieswyn abandoned a few laps ago, and we caught up with him in the pits. "I'm a little depressed because I wanted to be in there for the meat of the race which is now, but I did my share of work and helped out Freddy and George on the front. I went for 180 km but I was only really in it for about 140 km."

14:47 EDT    
It goes nowhere though as the Italians close it down. The leaders have just 12 seconds.

14:50 EDT    
Van Goolen and Zberg are caught by the Italian train at the bottom of the Claremont climb on lap 19. It's Frigo and Moreni towing the 100 strong peloton up the 2 km climb. Casagrande, Noe and Lombardi are also there.

14:52 EDT    230 km/28 km to go
Vainsteins has abandoned, as Chris Horner puts in another attack. The American gets 10 seconds on Claremont Access.

14:53 EDT    231 km/27 km to go
Igor Astarloa is back at the front of the bunch, working for Spain. The Italians and Spanish seem to be doing most of the tempo setting today.

Horner starts to suffer at the top, and his lead is just five seconds. Karsten Kroon (Ned) attacks yet again.

Horner has just a few seconds at the top of the climb, and has a bit of plastic in his back wheel it looks like.

14:56 EDT    233 km/25 km to go
Marc Wauters (Bel) gives chase on the descent and catches Horner at the bottom. Then Mancebo, Frigo close it down. Two laps to go and that last lap was in 18'04.

Cezary Zamana (Poland) attacks the peloton.

14:59 EDT    234 km/24 km to go
Four leaders now: Chris Horner (USA), Marc Wauters (Bel), Francesco Mancebo (Spa) and Cezary Zamana (Pol), but Mancebo is not working. They hit the foot of the Beckett Dr climb and the peloton is breathing down their necks.

Moncoutie and Flickinger have been dropped.

15:01 EDT    235 km/23 km to go
Dave Bruylandts (Bel) attacks on the second last Beckett Drive climb, and gets Hincapie, Di Luca and the rest of the peloton with him. Di Luca goes again quite hard, and Millar is right up there with him. Bettini is also well placed.

15:03 EDT    238 km/20 km to go
A Swiss rider gets a small gap at the top, but lose time when he grabs a bottle. It's Oscar Camenzind himself, winner of the 1998 World's.

Frigo has been dropped. Millar, Hincapie, Van Petegem, Bettini, Hamburger are all up the front of the peloton, the place to be at this stage of the race.

Axel Merckx (Bel) attacks next, but can't get much of a gap. Peloton in one very long line, with gaps.

15:05 EDT    239 km/19 km to go
Merckx comes back but the tempo stays high. They hit the first descent and the bunch takes a long time to come around the corner.

15:06 EDT    
Andrea Noe (Ita) leads on the descent, with Mick Rogers close by him. There are just three climbs to come in the 2003 World's, and we still have a bunch of 100 plus.

15:07 EDT    241 km/17 km to go
Horner (or possibly McCormack) is now almost in last position at the foot of the climb, however he did show himself in the race.

Frank Hoj (Den) has attacked on Claremont. He looks to be riding in slow motion - this is not an easy climb.

Horner is still relatively near the front, so that must have been McCormack at the back.

15:10 EDT    242 km/16 km to go
Martin Elmiger (Swi) closes the gap to Hoj on the climb, and the pair have less than 10 seconds on the bunch.

15:12 EDT    243 km/15 km to go
At the top of the climb, the long line of the bunch is a couple of seconds behind Hoj and Elmiger. Di Luca is doing a lot of work, and now Beltran gets in front. It's 82 km/h on the descent.

It's looking like a bunch sprint, but anything can happen on the last lap. The peloton is broken in several places.

15:14 EDT    246 km/12 km to go
Last lap! Frank Hoj and Martin Elmiger have just 10 seconds lead on the big peloton. That lap was ridden in 17'12.

It looks like Van Goolen is dropped now.

15:16 EDT    247 km/11 km to go
Hoj and Elmiger hold their lead to the foot of the final Beckett Drive climb, as Nardello and Di Luca power on the front of the peloton. The gap is still 10 seconds.

15:18 EDT    248 km/10 km to go
Rogers and Sunderland(?) are second and third wheel as the peloton hits the climb. There is a big acceleration as Van Petegem goes hard. Hamburger is with him and Boogerd and Astarloa. Good move.

Hoj and Elmiger are caught and dropped.

15:18 EDT    249 km/9 km to go
Bettini, Van Petegem, Camenzind, Boogerd, Hamburger and Astarloa are the six riders at the top of the climb with 10 seconds to the peloton.

15:21 EDT    250 km/8 km to go
The group is hammering, and has put 17 seconds into the peloton. It's got to be this group or a bunch sprint. The gap is increasing all the time. Now 20 seconds. Bettini really hammers to ensure it stays away. Van Petegem looks great too.

15:21 EDT    
Boogerd does a big turn over the top of the climb, and Bettini has to chase him down. It comes together. But there's a lot of looking around.

USA and Germany are working hard in front of the peloton.

15:22 EDT    252 km/6 km to go
The gap is up to 25 seconds, even through the break is not cooperating perfectly.

15:23 EDT    253 km/5 km to go
Boogerd chats to PVP on the back. They have to work for a bit more or they'll get caught by this huge peloton. But 25 seconds is a big gap in 6 km with these riders...

They hit the very last climb.

15:24 EDT    254 km/4 km to go
It's down to 15 seconds as Horner does a big turn in front of the peloton. They'll need more than that.

Camenzind ups the tempo in front.

15:25 EDT    
The peloton is coming back quickly, as these leaders refuse to work. Astarloa attacks!

Bettini has to chase, but he can't close the gap. Astarloa has a nice lead. A good 10 seconds on Bettini's group, which will be caught by the peloton it looks like.

15:27 EDT    255 km/3 km to go
Bettini tries again, but everyone is on his wheel. Astarloa is climbing well, but only has 10 seconds. The peloton is very very close to the chasers, and closes the gap - one of the Belgians it looks like. oops...

15:28 EDT    256 km/2 km to go
Astarloa reaches the top of the climb as Michael Barry (Can) leads the peloton. Luca Paolini leads the peloton up to him. It's a group of 10 chasing 1, then a group of 100.

Astarloa has 6 seconds as he hits the final descent.

15:29 EDT    
A group of 8 or so is chasing Igor Astarloa, led by Paolini. It looks like Boogerd is in the group.

Axel Merckx has crashed at the top of the climb.

15:30 EDT    257 km/1 km to go
Astarloa takes the last corner with 10 seconds! He will win!

15:30 EDT    0 km to go
Astarloa wins!!! Valverde takes second from Van Petegem. What a finish!! Spanish 1-2. Belgium third.

A crash in the chase bunch in the final corner takes out one of the riders.

Astarloa is beside himself with emotion after winning the World's. So is Valverde, who won the sprint for second.


1 Igor Astarloa (Spain)               6.30.19
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain)    0.05
3 Peter Van Petegem (Belgium)                
4 Paolo Bettini (Italy)                      
5 Michael Boogerd (Netherlands)          0.06
6 Bo Hamburger (Denmark)                     
7 Michael Barry (Canada)                     
8 Luca Paolini (Italy)                   0.12
9 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spain)                 
10 Janek Tombak (Estonia)                    

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