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91st Meisterschaft von ZŁrich - Championship of Zurich - CDM

Switzerland, August 22, 2004

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Commentary by Jeff Jones

Complete live report

Live coverage starts: 14:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:30 CEST

14:31 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 91st ZŁri-Metzgete/Meisterschaft von ZŁrich/Championship of Zurich, the eighth round of the World Cup and the last one before the World Championships in Verona in October. Today's race will likely be a pivotal one in determining the outcome of the World Cup. Currently Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) leads the 10 race series with 282 points, but his nearest challenger Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step-Davitamon) on 238 points is certainly in good form, having won the Olympic road race last weekend. Rebellin has enough of a buffer to hold off Bettini at the moment, but one slip by Rebellin (or Bettini for that matter) in the last three races could be costly.

There will be plenty of other riders up for the challenge in Zurich, such as World Champ Igor Astarloa (Lampre) and his teammate Francesco Casagrande. Defending Zurich champion Daniele Nardello will be hard pressed to repeat, but his T-Mobile teammates include Alexandre Vinokourov, Paolo Savoldelli and Cadel Evans, who could all play a role. Then there's Belgian Axel Merckx (Lotto-Domo), Danilo Di Luca (Saeco), Michele Bartoli (CSC), Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) and Yaroslav Popovych (Landbouwkrediet).

The course consists of one lap of a 72 km circuit followed by four laps of a testing 42.1 km lap, including the steep climbs of Forch and Pfannenstiel each lap. The last ascent of the Pfannenstiel with 18 km to go is usually where the final selection is made, but the winning move can come on the run in to town.

14:48 CEST   
The weather today is a bit cooler than usual, with heavy clouds hovering around Zurich. Temperatures are barely up around the 20 degree mark, and there is a light/moderate northeast wind blowing, which will be across and against the riders in the final part of the course.

14:50 CEST   
An update on the race so far: 172 riders started at 11:50am, and after 10 km, two riders attacked: David Zabriskie (US Postal) and Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros). After 72 km the two leaders were being chased by Christophe Mengin (FDJeux.com) at 6'30, while the peloton languished 17 minutes behind.

14:59 CEST    124km/117km to go
The peloton has just come past the finish line for the second time after completing 114 km - still three laps and 126 km to go. The gap to the two leaders decreased to 15 minutes, but then it went up again to 21 minutes. At the moment, it's 16'25 with the lone Christophe Mengin at 11 minutes behind.

15:06 CEST    130km/111km to go
Barredo and Zabriskie are looking a little tired, but they have a pretty handy lead over the peloton, which is being led by Quick.Step's Michael Rogers and T-Mobile's Giuseppe Guerini.

15:10 CEST    132km/109km to go
Landbouwkrediet has come to the front of the bunch to help T-Mobile, Quick.Step and Gerolsteiner chase the three leaders. The peloton is starting to stretch out a bit on the second 42 km lap. Zabriskie and Barredo still have a very handy lead, while Mengin will be caught soon it looks like.

15:12 CEST   
Mengin is now on the Forch climb, while Zabriskie and Barredo are flying down the other side, en route to the Pfannenstiel.

15:14 CEST   
At 109 km to go, the two leaders have an incredible 19'12 advantage over the peloton, while Mengin still has 12'17 over the bunch, so he should stay out there now. But the chase is on in earnest, and T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner, Quick.Step and Landbouwkrediet are making the tempo.

15:18 CEST    134km/107km to go
Barredo and Zabriskie are both out of the saddle at the foot of the Pfannenstiel, trying to keep a steady but hard tempo to limit their loss to the peloton. With such a big lead, they are a real chance to stay away. It depends on how they handle the 241 km with just each other as company.

15:20 CEST   
Barredo continues to set the pace as the climb steepens, while Zabriskie sits behind. Barredo is still out of the saddle, while Zabriskie is seated.

In the peloton, Guerini is once again at the front, working hard.

15:26 CEST    139km/102km to go
Zabriskie and Barredo reach the top of the Pfannenstiel, with two more ascents to come. They are now descending back into Zurich. Mengin still follows them at about 8 minutes, while the peloton has closed the gap slightly.

15:40 CEST    149km/92km to go
The two leaders are now coming back into Zurich again, pursued by Mengin and the hungry peloton. The weather has cleared up a little and there is plenty of blue sky in between the clouds - really a perfect day for racing.

15:56 CEST    159km/82km to go
The last time check between Zabriskie/Barredo and the peloton was 18'35, with Mengin still in no-man's land at 12 minutes behind the leaders. The leading duo cross the line with two 42 km laps to go, and a real chance of staying away.

16:00 CEST   
In the peloton, Lagutin (Landbouwkrediet) drops back for a bottle or three, along with several other riders. It's important before the pace gets really hard to stay hydrated.

16:03 CEST    164km/77km to go
It's still T-Mobile, Quick.Step and now Rabobank leading the peloton behind the leaders. There's a couple of Saeco riders there too.

Barredo and Zabriskie are now on the third of four laps, on the Forch climb.

16:05 CEST   
The peloton is like a dart at the moment as it heads towards the start/finish. The two leaders went through 10 minutes ago already. Guerini and Konecny are working for T-Mobile, while Rogers is still up there for Quick.Step.

16:06 CEST    167km/74km to go
The peloton passes through the feed zone just before the finish line, with most riders grabbing feed bags. Still Guerini on the front and that gap to the two leaders is 10'58 with 2 laps (84 km) to go.

Bettini is near the middle of the bunch with gold sleeves on his jersey!

16:08 CEST   
Michele Scarponi (Domina Vacanze) has abandoned. The peloton is still quite large, and most of the favourites are here.

16:09 CEST    167km/74km to go
Given that the peloton made up 9 minutes on that last lap, it looks like these two leaders will be caught with about 30 km to go. Barredo leads on the Forch, with Zabriskie looking a lot more comfortable sitting behind him. Mengin has been caught by the bunch.

16:11 CEST   
Zabriskie takes over for a turn. The pair are still looking good, but the chase behind is pretty serious with T-Mobile and Quick.Step in charge.

16:11 CEST   
Christophe Oriol (Ag2r) flats at the foot of the Forch, but is on his way again.

16:15 CEST    169km/72km to go
Konecny and Guerini drive the peloton up the Forch climb, 9'42 behind Zabriskie and Barredo, who have been away since km 10.

16:17 CEST   
Guerini drops off at last, leaving just Konecny in front followed by Rabobank's Kevin de Weert. Konecny looks back for some help, and another T-Mobile jersey comes forward.

Further down the peloton, Rebellin looks cool, calm, relaxed, tranquil and at one with the world.

16:20 CEST    172km/69km to go
After 10 km of climbing, Zabriskie and Barredo reach the top of the Forch and begin the descent that takes them to the Pfannenstiel.

16:22 CEST   
Guerini is back at the front of the bunch, working very hard with two teammates. The gap has come down to 8'30, and the two leaders are fighting a losing battle against T-Mobile.

16:25 CEST    175km/66km to go
Aitor Gonzalez (Fassa Bortolo) picks up a bottle from his team car and heads back towards the front of the bunch.

Zabriskie and Barredo pass a tram as they continue on their way to the Pfannenstiel. The gap is down to 8'08 with 66 km to go.

16:28 CEST    177km/64km to go
There are now five T-Mobile jerseys at the front of the peloton, so obviously they believe in the chances of Vinokourov (and Nardello and Evans). The tempo is very high as the bunch rides on a flat section before the descent.

Zabriskie has attacked Barredo at the foot of the Pfannenstiel.

16:29 CEST    180km/61km to go
Zabriskie reaches the steep section of the climb and already has 15 seconds. Barredo tried to react to the attack of the young American, but couldn't take his wheel.

16:30 CEST   
Barredo hasn't given up completely, and trails Zabriskie by about 15 seconds as the US Postal rider takes a left hand turn onto a steeper part of the climb.

But all the time, the peloton is getting closer: 7'24 is the last time check, and now Gerolsteiner, Quick.Step and Lampre are at the front. There's also a Prodir-Saunier Duval jersey up there too.

16:33 CEST   
Zabriskie is really motoring now, despite the steepness of the Pfannenstiel climb. He still has 15 seconds lead on his former companion, who will be feeling pretty annoyed at not getting Zabriskie's wheel when he attacked at the bottom of the climb.

16:35 CEST    181km/60km to go
Barredo continues to pursue Zabriskie at 11 seconds as they hit the final part of the climb, cheered on by a sizeable bunch of spectators, but not what you'd call huge crowds.

16:36 CEST   
Rebellin has moved right to the front of the peloton, which is being towed by Rabobank's Bram de Groot. CSC and T-Mobile are still active up front. Freire is also well placed.

16:38 CEST    183km/58km to go
The gap has come down to 6'45 with 60 km to go for the bunch, and Paolo Savoldelli is taking a turn on the front.

Meanwhile, Zabriskie is continuing with his solo effort, getting to the summit of the Pfannenstiel at last. But Barredo is still 10 seconds behind him.

16:40 CEST    184km/57km to go
Barredo has closed the gap to 5 seconds on the descent, but it's hard work. Slowly but surely, the Spaniard is getting back to the American, who perhaps attacked a little early.

16:41 CEST    185km/56km to go
It's agonisingly close between the two leaders, and Carlos Barredo is giving it everything to catch Dave Zabriskie on the descent of the Pfannenstiel. But he can't quite close the gap.

16:42 CEST   
Back in the peloton, Mick Rogers is driving the pace on the Pfannenstiel with Paolini and Bettini on his wheel. the peloton starts to break up. Hincapie is in fourth wheel.

16:43 CEST   
Casagrande, Bartoli and Van Den Broeck are towards the front of the Rogers driven peloton, which has strung out on the Pfannenstiel. Rebellin is a bit further back. There are about 30 riders in the front group, thanks to Rogers' pace.

16:44 CEST   
Rogers leads over the top of the Pfannenstiel as Casagrande attacks. A bit. Paolini hauls him back and leaves him on the front. Maybe 25 men in the front group.

16:47 CEST    190km/51km to go
Barredo has caught and passed Zabriskie on the descent of the Pfannenstiel, but the two are still essentially together.

The chase group contains: Bettini, Rogers, Paolini, Rebellin, Casagrande, Vila, Vinokourov, Nardello, Evans, Freire, Hincapie, Barry, Luis Perez and Bartoli among others - about 25 riders total.

16:50 CEST   
Quick.Step has strength in numbers in the chase group, which has grown a bit on the descent to perhaps 28 riders. Sinkewitz, Paolini, Rogers are all there for Bettini.

Mirko Celestino (Saeco) leads a larger group behind the front bunch at about 15 seconds. They should get back on.

16:52 CEST    194km/47km to go
There's now a group of 60 riders together on the short climb of Wetzwil, just before the rest of the descent into Zurich. Patxi Vila (Lampre) leads them.

The gap to Zabriskie and Barredo has come down to 4'24 with 47 km to go.

16:54 CEST   
Zabriskie and Barredo are now back together on the flat run into the start/finish. The cooperation is probably not as good as it was before the attacking, and Barredo gives Zabriskie an evil look as he comes past for his turn. He looks a bit knackered.

16:57 CEST   
Barredo languidly pulls off after his turn, and has another chat with Zabriskie.

Vila, Paolini and Hincapie have a small gap, and are joined by Sinkewitz, Guerini and a couple of others - Evans, Zberg and Freire. Markus Zberg is there, and tries to force the pace to hold the peloton off. But it doesn't work.

Rogers surges, trying to keep the pace up. A Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile rider go with him.

17:00 CEST    197km/44km to go
Vila and Savoldelli hammer on the front of the peloton, with Rogers doing a lot of work too. The gap to the lead pair is coming down rapidly.

17:02 CEST   
Barredo grabs a bidon at the feed zone just before the start/finish. Zabriskie is glued to his wheel.

17:06 CEST    201km/40km to go
The main peloton, numbering perhaps 50-60 riders, is really getting strung out by the T-Mobile/Quick.Step pace. Rogers is doing a great job for Bettini, and grabs a bidon at the feed as well. The gap at the start/finish is 2'40, as a Landbouwkrediet rider attacks. Another big group comes through at 3'00.

17:07 CEST   
The Landbouwkrediet rider is Lorenzo Bernucci. He has about a 5 second gap to the bunch.

17:09 CEST    203km/38km to go
Bernucci is caught at the foot of the Forch climb as Gerolsteiner wind up the pace to a heinous speed. The gap is 1'53 with 39 km to go, but Zabriskie and Barredo are still out there - full credit to them.

17:10 CEST   
There's a group of 10 riders split off the front of the bunch, including a US Postal rider.

Meanwhile in front, Barredo gets revenge on Zabriskie as he attacks him on the Forch. He gets a 10 second gap, and Zabriskie looks a bit cooked.

17:12 CEST    204km/37km to go
Zabriskie puts it in the 39 x 23 and relaxes. His race is done. Just one leader now while Francesco Casagrande (Lampre) and Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner) are in pursuit. A couple more are coming up to them.

17:14 CEST   
Casagrande's group of four has 20 seconds on the peloton, where Aitor Gonzalez has just attacked.

Carlos Barredo is in a spot of bother on the Forch, and is all over his bike on the steep part. He'll be caught very soon.

17:15 CEST   
Barredo sits up and takes a long drink, but his strength is just about gone. Despite this, he's still in the big chainring. He's looking back a lot, and will not make it to the top before the chasers.

17:16 CEST    205km/36km to go
Barredo sits up and stretches his back. Casagrande, Rogers, Vinokourov and Zberg blow past him at high speed. He was on the attack for 195 km.

17:17 CEST    206km/35km to go
The lead group is now Francesco Casagrande (Lampre), Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), Michael Rogers (Quick.Step) and Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile). That's a very nice looking quartet! They have 30 seconds to Joseba Albizu (Euskaltel).

17:18 CEST   
Well Quick.Step, Lampre, T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner won't be chasing the leaders. The other teams will have to do the work to get them back.

17:21 CEST   
Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo) realises he has to work, but he has Quick.Step, T-Mobile and Gerolsteiner riders on his wheel. He gives it up.

The four leaders are cooperating, more or less. They have 25 seconds to Bartoli, who is now on the counter attack. The peloton is at 30 seconds.

17:23 CEST    210km/31km to go
Rabobank now has a rider on the front of the bunch - Marc Lotz. But Wesemann (T-Mobile) and Bettini (Quick.Step) are right on his wheel, not with the intention to work. Rebellin is right behind Bettini.

The four leaders still have 30 seconds: Rogers, Vino, M.Zberg and Casagrande.

17:23 CEST   

17:24 CEST    211km/30km to go
Rogers is sitting on the back of the break, as he is probably not in with a good chance of victory against someone like Vinokourov. Casagrande attacks, but Rogers closes the gap and it's back together.

17:26 CEST    212km/29km to go
Casagrande leads the break to the top of the Forch climb, with Rogers glued to his wheel, then Markus Zberg and Alexandre Vinokourov. If this break can make it to the Pfannenstiel intact, then watch for an attack from Vinokourov.

Rogers explains to Casagrande that he is not allowed to work.

In the peloton, Lotz and Weening are working for Rabobank. Weening looks back at Wesemann, but the German isn't going to come through of course.

17:26 CEST   

17:28 CEST    213km/28km to go
They're all on the descent towards the Pfannenstiel, with the front group just 17 seconds ahead of the peloton. Bartoli has been hauled back in. The front group is not working well, and Casagrande keeps looking back at Rogers. But there's no way the Australian is going to come through with Bettini in the peloton.

17:29 CEST   
Aitor Gonzalez is leading the peloton as Philippe Gilbert (FDJeux.com) moves up to the front. There are perhaps 60 riders here.

Zberg looks back, but Rogers is maintaining last position in the break.

17:30 CEST    214km/27km to go
Vinokourov does a short turn, stretches a bit, then Zberg and Casagrande come through. Having one rider sitting on a break really kills it, because the others don't want to tow the fourth rider to the line. It's much easier sitting on than it is working in front, unless it's on a climb.

17:32 CEST    218km/23km to go
It's 11 seconds now and this break will be caught very soon. The peloton is flying on the descent.

17:33 CEST    219km/22km to go
Erik Dekker (Rabobank) makes the junction first, with the rest of the peloton on his wheel. All together right at the foot of the Pfannenstiel, and Bettini goes straight to the front with Rebellin on his wheel. Then Michael Albasini (Phonak). The three have a small gap already!

17:36 CEST    220km/21km to go
Bettini's turn has split the peloton - 25 riders left and falling. Bettini, Rebellin and Albasini are still dangling a bit in front of the thinning peloton. A Fassa Bortolo rider joins them, looks a bit like Frigo.

They slow, and Vila (Lampre) attacks. He has the front group in one long line. It's splitting everywhere and they haven't yet got to the steep parts of the climb.

17:37 CEST   
Patxi Vila continues to drive as he hits a false flat, then takes the left hander onto the narrow part of the climb. Vila is joined by three more, Vinokourov, Frigo and Albasini. Then four more.

17:39 CEST    221km/20km to go
But they don't want to work, and Vila accelerates again and is alone in front of the lead group, driving in the big ring on a flatter part of the climb.

17:40 CEST   
Vila is caught by Verbrugghe, Vinokourov, Moncoutiť and Freire, and Moncoutiť immediately lifts the pace. Georg Totschnig is trying to close the gap. Where are Rebellin and Bettini?

17:41 CEST   
Moncoutiť and Verbrugghe are together, with Vinokourov just a few metres off the back of them and struggling. Vila is further behind. They have about 10 seconds on the Bettini/Rebellin led front group.

17:43 CEST    223km/18km to go
Rebellin accelerates from the group, but of course Bettini is right on his wheel. They catch Totschnig.

In front, it's still Moncoutiť and Verbrugghe, with Vino about 15m behind at the top of the climb.

17:45 CEST   
Vinokourov is 5 seconds Verbrugghe and Moncoutiť behind at the top, and he is joined by more riders.

The front group is very strung out, but there's still a good 25 riders in contention.

17:47 CEST    225km/16km to go
Freire, Vino, Vila, Casagrande have caught Verbrugghe and Moncoutiť on the descent, but Rebellin and Bettini are also there. The 25 men are back together again!

17:49 CEST    227km/14km to go
Gentili attacks and nearly takes out a motorbike in front of him. The group hits the Wetzwil mini-climb but no-one attacks. Barry (USPS) leads, then Rebellin accelerates. Ouch. Bettini chases.

17:50 CEST    228km/13km to go
Rebellin's attack is a good one, but he gets Bettini and one other rider for company.

Vino is dropped.

17:51 CEST    230km/11km to go
Rebellin has 50m lead over Bettini on the descent, with one other rider in pursuit. The rest of the group is strung out in pursuit. Frigo and Nardello are with Bettini now. Frigo almost loses it on a corner.

17:53 CEST    232km/9km to go
Bettini has gotten rid of his companions and is closing the gap to the leader, nearly cleaning up a moto which is in the way.

Bettini catches Rebellin on the descent. This will be interesting. Will they cooperate? It's certainly good to see the World Cup leaders going on the attack!

17:55 CEST    233km/8km to go
Four riders are chasing Rebellin and Bettini on the descent into Zurich. This will be interesting. The last 8 km are flat.

Savoldelli and Frigo have caught Rebellin and Bettini and we have four leaders.

17:56 CEST   
In front we have Rebellin, Bettini, Frigo and Savoldelli, as Erik Dekker (Rabobank) sets off in solo pursuit. He gets Verbrugghe and Borghi for company.

17:57 CEST    234km/7km to go
It's an Italian quartet in front with the top two riders in the World Cup - Bettini and Rebellin, along with former Zurich winner Dario Frigo and Giro d'Italia winner Paolo Savoldelli.

Dekker's group, which is now seven strong, catches the leaders with 6 km to go.

17:59 CEST    237km/4km to go
Dekker and Verbrugghe counter attack immediately, but they are not allowed any space. The group is back together. 4 km left.

18:00 CEST    238km/3km to go
Michael Barry (USPS) attacks next, and Aitor Gonzalez chases but with Bettini and Rebellin on his wheel, he gives it up. Barry is alone. But only with a 5 second gap. The Quick.Steps chase him down.

18:00 CEST   
Sinkewitz did the damage there - this could well be a 25 rider group sprint.

18:01 CEST    239km/2km to go
Sinkewitz continues to drive the tempo with Dekker and Moncoutiť on his wheel. There is a lot of jostling in the bunch with 2 km left. Can Bettini win or will Freire do it?

18:02 CEST    240km/1km to go
Sinkewitz's turn is very strong, but Dekker tries to ride off the front. Straight away, a Fassa rider is there, but he sits up. Dekker has 20 m with 1 km to go.

18:02 CEST   
Dekker's gap isn't really big enough, but he has one. Still 20m with 800m to go.

18:04 CEST    241km/0km to go
The sprint starts with T-Mobile leading it out. Dekker is caught. Bettini goes behind Barry and Flecha, then comes round but he's too late and it's Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa) who wins!!!!! Bettini second, moving up on the World Cup. Rebellin sixth.

Results

1 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo    6.13.25
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step
3 Jerome Pineau (Fra) Brioches
4 Dmitri Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis
5 Michael Albasini (Swi) Phonak
6 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
7 Michael Barry (Can) USPS-Berry Floor
8 George Hincapie (USA) USPS-Berry Floor
9 Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Domina Vacanze
10 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank

World Cup standings after round 8

1 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner           314 pts
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step               308
3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank                  198
4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis                 150
5 Michael Boogerd  (Ned) Rabobank              146
6 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo      140
7 Erik Dekker (Ned) Rabobank                   137

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