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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

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Day 5 - October 11: Elite Women Road Race, 124 km

Complete Live Report

Commentary by Chris Henry, 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: 12:45 EDT
Estimated finish: 16:30 EDT

13:23 EDT    
Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the World Championships. Today is the big day for the Elite Women, with the road race covering 124 kilometres. The morning fog has burned off and the weather is once again sunny and in the mid 60s.

The surprise news of this morning was no doubt the exclusion of Canadian favourite Geneviève Jeanson, who failed a UCI blood test. The UCI tested the Dutch, German, and Canadian teams, and Jeanson was found to have a aematocrit level higher than the accepted limit.

13:26 EDT    25 km/99 km to go
At the end of two laps the peloton is all together and the average speed is 37 km/h. No major attacks yet and the big bunch is intact, with the Spanish and Russians riding at the front.

13:34 EDT    
On the third lap now several teams are starting to get anxious, and the Americans have forced the pace a bit without an outright attack.

13:44 EDT    34 km/90 km to go
Rasa Polikeviciute of Lithuania is forcing the pace now on the second climb, and for the first time some riders are finding themselves in difficulty at the back. The head of the peloton is single file now as they hit the U-turn on the descent back into downtown Hamilton.

Through the start/finish area now the bunch is still together and the pace has slowed a bit since the climb.

13:46 EDT    34 km/90 km to go
Rasa Polikeviciute of Lithuania is forcing the pace now on the second climb, and for the first time some riders are finding themselves in difficulty at the back. The head of the peloton is single file now as they hit the U-turn on the descent back into downtown Hamilton.

13:48 EDT    
An update from this morning's Junior Men's race:

Canadian rider Kevin Lacombe was transported to Hamiton General Hospital this morning following a crash during the second descent of James Mountain Road. The 18 year-old from Amos, Quebec was admitted to the hospital with head injuries. The ambulance crew was able to stablise him on the scene.

As of 12:00 noon he was listed in critical condtion. His family is with him and he is receiving the best possible treatment.

Lacombe won the 2003 Canadian Junior Time Trial Championships.

13:50 EDT    39 km/85 km to go
France's Jeannie Longo is staying attentive at the head of the peloton as the women hit the first climb on the fourth lap. Joana Somarriba of Spain, another favourite for today's race after winning the Elite Women's time trial earlier in the week, is sitting a few places back. The pace is still rather modest.

13:53 EDT    
Canada's Manon Jutras moves to the front now, not quite in an attack, but fast enough that Longo has to lift the pace to get her wheel. Jutras looks eager to increase the pace, as the pack is taking up most of the wide road after the first climb and the battle has not yet begun.

Jutras looks over her shoulder several times but nobody is too eager to take over the lead.

13:57 EDT    
It's becoming clear as the World's go on that the hills themselves are not at all difficult, but the repetition is the key to provoking the selection by the end of the race.

China's Meifang Li has a puncture on the descent but gets a quick wheel change. She'll have to put in a good chase to catch the bunch as it zips ahead down the hill.

Three women from the Netherlands have moved to the front of the peloton now to set the pace.

14:02 EDT    
Sinead Jennings of Ireland is the first abandon of the day, looking unhappy in the team pits. It's not yet clear why she's been forced to stop.

The top of the second climb is proving more difficult for some riders. The Canadian and Italian teams have set the tempo up the climb and lead into the descent.

14:08 EDT    
Four laps complete now and still no serious attacking. Italy's Vera Carrara leads the field through the start/finish area.

At last, an attack!

Several fans and friends will be pleased to know that the USA's Christine Thorburn has decided to test her legs as she tries to gain some ground on the field. Several riders follow, but they're pulled back by the peloton.

Spain now takes over the pace setting, with Eneritz Iturriaga accelerating with Somarriba on her wheel heading into the first climb of the circuit.

14:10 EDT    50 km/74 km to go
Several favourites have moved forward, keeping an eye on each other, particularly as Iturriaga and Somarriba lead the charge. Defending world champion Susanne Ljungskog is in 5th position and Rasa Polikeviciute is up there as well.

The group reaches the top of the first climb, still intact.

14:12 EDT    
The Americans are very active now, and Kristin Armstrong has jumped clear of the group just after the summit. She has a nice gap on the plateau and works hard to keep the move going. Two riders have also left the field, trying to bridge up to Armstrong.

14:14 EDT    
Tina Liebig (Germany) and Tatiana Guderzo (Italy) are the riders trying to reach Armstrong's wheel. They're 5" behind the American and 10" ahead of the field.

Armstrong is not making it easy for the two to join her, but they're just about on her wheel heading into the first descent.

14:20 EDT    
The wide, fast descent has permitting the peloton to reel in the three escapees and once more the pace eases a bit. Perfect time for a new attack from Rasa Polikeviciute to try a counter attack.

She pulls two riders with her with a small gap but the field is not letting them get away.

Several riders are accelerating though nobody can quite create the gap necessary as they near the top of the second climb.

14:22 EDT    
Nicole Cooke, a serious contender for the rainbow jersey today, is watching the moves and sitting attentively about five riders back. Spain is sending riders forward to try to break the field but into the hairpin before the second descent the peloton is still together.

Meanwhile, Guatemala has lost both of its riders: Fatma Galiullina and Maria Molina.

More riders have been dropped on this climb, and it appears each lap will get harder as riders wait to put in the serious accelerations on the second climb.

14:24 EDT    62 km/62 km to go
Cyclingnews had a brief chat with American Tina Mayolo-Pic this morning before the start.

How are you feeling?
"I'm alright... nervous."

What did you eat this morning?
"Everything!! Pasta, eggs, you name it!"

What is your plan?
"Hang on for dear life!! (kidding) It's a secret, we can't give away our plan of attack!

We're gonna look for Somarriba, and I think the Australians are going to be aggressive early."

How are Kristin and Dede after the TT?
"They are doing great, they are way on top of it. Especially Dede, she is ready for it!"

14:26 EDT    
We're at the halfway point now and the riders are starting to look more anxious. Several riders dropped on the last climb have rejoined on the descent and the pace eases again slightly on the wide roads past the start/finish.

14:34 EDT    
Australia's Katie Mactier was in a bit of trouble on the last climb but should be back in the pack. Several small attacks are forming at the front now with the Italians, Americans, and Australians all active. Six riders have opened a small gap on the field.

Oenone Wood has made the first split for Australia as they plunge down the first descent.

14:38 EDT    
Somarriba once more positions herself at the front as the peloton hits the second climb of the circuit. The group is bunched up, but more attacks will likely come each lap as they hit the hills.

The field is considerably smaller now as the number of abandons grows.

France's Longo is on the front setting the tempo on the climb.

14:40 EDT    
Longo sets the pace with three Italian women on her wheel, plus Somarriba, Rasa Polikeviciute, and Mirjam Melchers (Netherlands).

14:43 EDT    73 km/51 km to go
Vera Carrara takes over for Italy now as the field stretches out near the top of the second climb. The riders dive into the U-turn and begin the descent back to the start/finish.

There are four laps to go with this passage through the finish line. The favourites continue to watch each other and play a waiting game.

14:46 EDT    
Italy's Sylvia Parietti has a front wheel puncture but gets a quick change and begins to chase.

Jeannie Longo continues to decide the pace, which is steadily picking up.

14:48 EDT    
Manon Jutras puts in another attack for Canada but is quickly marked by Italy's Anna Zugno, who pulls through and keeps the acceleration going. This time the riders are attacking earlier on the first climb of the circuit.

Somarriba and Ljungskog are present at the front, with Nicole Cooke right on their wheels, alongside Mirjam Melchers.

14:51 EDT    
Russia's Olga Zabelinskaia tries an attack near the summit, followed by Kristen Armstrong, but they don't get a gap. The peloton is considerably more stretched out however as they round the left hand corner at the top of the climb.

Chantal Beltman (Netherlands) has abandoned.

Italy's Noemi Cantele tries a solo move now and gets a 200m gap but several riders are chasing.

14:52 EDT    
Nicole Freedman is among those who have been forced to abandon. Before the race, when asked about her prospects on the Hamilton course, she told Cyclingnews "It's a lot like putting an 800m runner in a half-marathon!"

Freedman also told us her breakfast of choice... "Ummm, bagels, oatmeal... and a chocolate shake!"

It is, as they say, the most important meal of the day.

14:55 EDT    
A new break has formed now with seven riders, including Australia's Olivia Gollan, Rasa Polikeviciute (Lithuania), Kristen Armstrong (USA), Svetlana Boubnenkova (Russia), Noemi Cantele (Italy), Maria Isabel Moreno (Spain), and Priska Doppmann (Switzerland). They have a gap of 10" and are going well.

15:01 EDT    84 km/40 km to go
The long descent has not smiled upon the breakaways, and the seven riders were pulled back by the field.

On the second climb the race was back together but the attacks are starting again. Several riders are also attacking out the back...

Russia's Zoulfia Zabirova tries an attack and immediately Somarriba tries a counter attack, hammering in the big ring with Dede Demet-Barry (USA) right on her wheel and Olivia Gollan just behind.

Demet pulls through and the pace has helped form a group of about 11 riders just slightly clear into the descent. Mid-pack there's a bigger split.

15:03 EDT    
The riders are descending at 70 km/h towards the start/finish line, but the field is coming back together once more. The attack from Somarriba and Demet worked well but came too close to the summit.

Three laps remain. The peloton has been racing for 2 hours 18 minutes now.

15:08 EDT    91 km/33 km to go
The race is entering the final phase now and the peloton remains all together. The repeated climbs are starting to test the legs of the riders and while no attacks are sticking, the women who are able to manage their efforts best will have the strongest chances in the finale.

15:13 EDT    
The favourites continue to watch each other up front as the peloton has split several times following the climb, even if it will likely regroup by the next descent.

Longo once again takes over up front with the first part of the peloton in single file behind her.

Ghita Beltman (Netherlands) has abandoned.

15:20 EDT    
The Lithuanians are taking control now and putting in several accelerations at the head of the field. Edita Pucinskaite is the latest to have a go, but she's closely marked by the Americans.

Somarriba has now tried another attack and the gaps are starting to open throughout the field. More riders are being dropped at the back on the long second climb.

Dede Demet is riding very well at the front and marking all of the moves.

15:23 EDT    
This time at the top of the climb there is a real gap between the first and second half of the peloton.

Nicole Cooke leads the first group down the descent now at 79 km/h. She's even opened up a gap, along with Russia's Olga Zabelinskaia. Will she try to keep the gap going?

Two laps remain as Zabelinskaia pulls through. Cooke looks eager to make this a real move and the race could be getting serious now.

Kristen Armstrong is slightly off the back of the first peloton.

15:30 EDT    
Cooke's first move was caught, but she's trying again on the first climb. Susanne Ljungskog is the first to chase her.

The first peloton is splitting again at the top of the climb and Cooke is attacking repeatedly to reduce the numbers up front.

Jeannie Longo attacks now and gets a huge gap as the others watch each other!

15:33 EDT    
Longo powers away with 12" on the first group, which is finally getting organized and beginning to chase. Heading into the descent it will be harder for Longo to maintain her advantage.

Canada's Susan Palmer leads the chase behind.

Somarriba may have been dropped from this group, appearing to be stuck in the big chainring on the previous climb and having difficulty maintaining a good cadence.

15:36 EDT    109 km/15 km to go
Longo is holding her gap for the moment as she reaches the bottom of the descent. The chase group is not cooperating enough to bring her back and she still has 12".

Longo's teammate Magali Le Floc'h is in second position, trying to disrupt the chase.

They're onto the second climb now. The Russians are the best represented in the lead group.

Longo has gained three more seconds.

15:39 EDT    
There are no more Spaniards in the front group, apparently having dropped back to assist Somarriba, who has yet to rejoin the leaders.

Russia is leading the chase on the second climb as Longo extends her advantage to 25".

The chasers are starting to attack now, with Russia's Zabirova going first and Melchers on her wheel, followed by Ljungskog and Demet.

Cooke counters and puts in a big acceleration.

15:41 EDT    112 km/12 km to go
Longo takes the U-turn and begins the next descent, grabbing a drink with 27" in hand.

Cooke once more leads the chasers down the hill, clearly more capable of gaining time on the descent.

Longo has one lap to go!

15:42 EDT    
At the start/finish Cooke has pulled Longo within 13".

15:48 EDT    116 km/8 km to go
The gap has gone back up to 18" and Longo is carrying on quite well. Spain does indeed have one rider in the chase group, Teodora Ruano.

On the penultimate climb of the race Longo continues to hold the others at bay as the chasers continue to attack each other rather than mount an organized chase.

Cooke accelerates once more with Melchers on her wheel.

15:52 EDT    118 km/6 km to go
Dede Demet hunches down and digs deep to lead the chase, 15" behind Longo on the plateau. The chasers are getting nervous and Cooke one more accelerates.

Zabirova attacks again into the descent but is unable to create a gap.

Longo is tiring and the gap is now 10".

15:54 EDT    
The chasers are steadily pulling Longo back but the gap is still there. They've hit the bottom of the descent and now just one climb remains to make the difference.

Melchers leads the first group into the corner with Ljungskog and Cooke still up in the front positions.

Longo has 10" as she hits the final climb. The chasers are once more watching each other, which will only help Longo!

15:57 EDT    
Olga Zabelinskaia accelerates again for Russia with Longo in sight on the climb.

Longo is out of the saddle and giving it everything to maintain her dwindling advantage.

Melchers sets the pace now with Ljungskog and Cooke on her wheel. They're almost up to Longo but it's not a done deal yet.

15:58 EDT    
Ljungskog looks more comfortable than Cooke on the climb as Melchers continues to lead the chase. Small gaps are opening behind and Demet has drifted to the back of this select group.

Longo accelerates with the chasers within 20m of her back wheel. Melchers wants help with the chase but nobody is pulling through.

15:59 EDT    
Longo knows they're not cooperating so she digs deep to accelerate once again and stay clear. She's into the U-turn with a few seconds advantage into the final descent!

16:00 EDT    
Longo has 4" as she flies down the final hill. It's coming down to the wire.

Longo's caught just before the corner at the bottom of the descent.

16:01 EDT    
The sprint is started by Melchers!

She keeps it going with Ljungskog pushing her hard right until the line. It's neck and neck but Ljungskog appears to have done the double and taken the win. Incredible finish.

16:03 EDT    
Ljungskog has given Sweden another rainbow jersey ahead of Holland's Melchers. Third place will be a photo finish between Cooke and Pucinskaite. Cooke may just have taken it.


1 Susanne Ljungskog (Sweden)      3.16.06
2 Mirjam Melchers (Netherlands)          
3 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain)           
4 Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania)          
5 Olga Zabelinskaia (Russia)             
6 Jeannie Longo Ciprelli (France)    0.04
7 Anita Valen (Norway)               0.12
8 Judith Arndt (Germany)                 
9 Bogumila Matusiak (Poland)         0.19
10 Zoulfia Zabirova (Russia)             

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