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92nd Meisterschaft von Zürich - Championship of Zurich - ProT

Switzerland, October 2, 2005

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Fuoriclasse Bettini wins wet Zurich

Di Luca clinches ProTour with solid fourth place

By Jeff Jones

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Olympic Champion Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) was head and shoulders above the rest of the field in a cold and wet 92nd edition of the Züri-Metzgete. After bridging up to the lead group with 45 km to go together with teammate Luca Paolini, then attacking at 36 km to go, Bettini rode everyone off his wheel and out of sight, eventually crossing the line with a 2'57 lead over Frank Schleck (CSC) and Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo). Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) finished fourth, ensuring that the ProTour leader's jersey will remain on his shoulders for the rest of the season.

"I am over the moon," said Bettini, who was motivated by his frustrating World Championships last week. "This competition here in Zurich is one that I really love and already won back in 2001. The weather today was dreadful, cold and rainy, but nonetheless I decided to go for it as I wanted to win. Today I proved that I am in great shape. Normally I tend to ride better when it is warm, but today even with the rain and the cold I rode a great race."

Bettini confessed that he thought of pulling out because of the weather, but was urged on by his teammates. "I had at my disposal a fantastic team that really motivated me when I was thinking of abandoning the race - they made me react and go for it. This just goes to show how important it is to have a great team and it also shows what a difference this makes in difficult moments."

"At the finish line I had time to kiss the small medallion my wife and daughter, who has just recently had her second birthday, gave me. It really is nice to have the time to be able to soak up every minute of a win. I dedicate this win to both my wife and daughter and Davide Bramati, a great team man, even when he isn't riding."

The podium (L to R:)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Bettini will miss next week's Paris-Tours, preferring to race in Italy, but will be back in action in the Giro di Lombardia on October 15. "The Lombardia is one of the monuments in cycling. I really would love to win it; it certainly would make a great end to a season where I have often been very unlucky," finished Bettini.

CSC's Frank Schleck made it to the second spot on the podium, even though his team lost Jakob Piil to a crash, with the unlucky Piil being diagnosed with a broken hip. "I'm very satisfied with my result, even though I didn't win," said Schleck. "Bettini was untouchable today, but this is one of those second places you can be proud of. I really felt good out there and all I had to do was try. It definitely wasn't my favourite kind of weather, and I'll admit we did take some chances in the turns in order to keep our distance to our two pursuers. But we made it and it was a big thing for me to end up on the podium in a race like this."

Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi):
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Third placed Lorenzo Bernucci didn't really contest the sprint for second place, coming in on Frank Schleck's wheel. But the young Fassa Bortolo rider said he was out of gas. "I went in the break with about two laps to go," he said. "We had 10 and we all worked until Bettin and Paolini came up to us. Paolo was really strong. I tried to hold on, but in the end I really didn't have anything left and I couldn't do the sprint for second place. I'm happy because I'm the only one of the break that managed to finish in the top placings and because this means that after having done a good World Championships, my conditions is still at an optimal level."

How it unfolded

Cold, wet and grey skies greeted the peloton as it lined up on the shores of Lake Zurich for the 92nd Züri-Metzgete. In contrast to the usually hot conditions that this race has enjoyed in August, the early October weather was miserable. It didn't improve during the race either, and many riders chose to hit the showers well before the 241 km distance was up.

The race unfolded a little differently to previous years, too. An early break went after 15 km, containing Mauricio Ardila Cano (Davitamon Lotto), Karsten Kroon and Joost Posthuma (Rabobank), Jan Hruska (Liberty Seguros Würth), Gorka Verdugo (Euskaltel Euskadi) and Aurélien Clerc (Phonak). The group was not pursued at first, and by the time it reached Zurich for the end of the first big lap of 72.5 km, it had 6'30 on the peloton.

Damiano Cunego (Lampre-Caffita)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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The commencement of the four 41 km finishing circuits saw things heat up behind the break, with a 17 man group going clear on the Pfannenstiel, containing Marc Wauters (Rabobank), Jurgen Van den Broeck and Viatcheslav Ekimov (Discovery), Markus Fothen and Georg Totschnig (Gerolsteiner) and Vicente Reynes (Illes Balears). But the counter attacking group was brought back to the peloton at the completion of the first 41 km circuit, with 112 km covered in total. The attack had the effect of reducing the gap to the leaders, and after 125 km, the early break of six was caught. In the meantime, Bradley McGee (Francaise des Jeux) crashed and was taken to hospital. Jakob Piil (CSC) also crashed and broke his hip, ending what has been a very unlucky season.

The Quick.Step offensive started after 135 km when Rik Verbrugghe and his teammates Patrik Sinkewitz and Cristian Moreni attacked, taking Lorenzo Bernucci (Fassa Bortolo), the persistent Aurélien Clerc (Phonak), Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros Würth), Andrea Moletta and Heinrich Haussler (Gerolsteiner) Vladimir Miholjevic (Liquigas Bianchi) and Andriy Grivko (Domina Vacanze) with them. They opened up a 2'00 lead on the fragmenting peloton as Stijn Devolder (Discovery Channel) managed to bridge up with just over two laps (82 km) to go.

On the second last lap, Lampre-Caffita started to force the pace for Damiano Cunego, and reduced the peloton to around 30 riders. Gorazd Stangelj helped to bring the bunch back to just half a minute behind the leaders on the fourth ascent of the Pfannenstiel with 60 km to go, until the pace eased near the top and the gap went up to a minute again. Damiano Cunego then took over on the descent and Quick.Step's Paolo Bettini and Luca Paolini went with him. In set move #2, Bettini and Paolini attacked and bridged up to the 11 leaders in short order. At 45 km to go, there were 13 in front with five Quick.Steps! The chasing bunch, which contained Di Luca, Valverde, and Cunego, was already 58 seconds behind at the finish line with one 41 km lap to go.

Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step)
Photo ©: Sirotti
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Bettini got his four teammates to keep the pace high as he divested himself of his leg warmers and overshoes. The gap was 1'20 to the chasing bunch at 36 km to go when Bettini made his move, and no-one had the strength to react. Even when Bettini dropped his chain and allowed Bernucci and Miholjevic to come back to him, he was quickly off again on his own. There was no doubt from then on who would win today: Paolo Bettini was a class above the rest as he powered along through the rain, with Bernucci, Miholjevic and Moletta chasing, then the rest of the break that was gradually being mopped up by a Di Luca-led rearguard action.

At the top of the final climb of the Pfannenstiel, Bettini had 3'00 on a now solo Lorenzo Bernucci, who was caught by a flying Frank Schleck over the top. Then came a group at 3'30 containing Di Luca, Miholjevic (Liquigas Bianchi), Chavanel (Cofidis), Lövkvist (FDJ) and Sanchez (Euskaltel), followed by other bits of the peloton. Schleck and Bernucci had to work hard together to hold off Di Luca and Sanchez, who attacked on the Wetzwil climb with 13 km to go to try and get in contention for the podium. But the young pair riders were able to conserve a slender advantage until the finish, with Bernucci generously allowing Schleck the second place, as the Luxembourg rider had done the most work. Di Luca finished fourth, thereby sewing up the ProTour jersey in the process with two races to go.

The day's honours belonged to Bettini of course, who maintained his impressive three minute gap right to the line, and showed that he was by far the best rider today, making up for his disappointing World's last week.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net


1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Innergetic        6.06.22
2 Fränk Schleck (Lux) Team CSC                        2.57
3 Lorenzo Bernucci (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                    
4 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi               3.10
5 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi         
6 Steffen Wesemann (Swi) T-Mobile                     3.35
7 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner                3.39
8 Thomas Lövqvist (Swe) Française des Jeux            3.41
9 Mirko Celestino (Ita) Domina Vacanze                3.57
10 Vladimir Miholjevic (Slo) Liquigas-Bianchi             
11 Gregory Rast (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems          4.37
12 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis                     4.59
13 Andrea Moletta (Ita) Gerolsteiner                  6.43
14 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Lampre-Caffita                7.08
15 Andriy Grivko (Ukr) Domina Vacanze                     
16 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems            
17 Giampaolo Caruso (Ita) Liberty Seguros                 
18 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis                     
19 Carlos Barredo Llamazales (Spa) Liberty Seguros    7.11
20 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Illes Balears        
21 Carlos Sastre Candil (Spa) Team CSC                    
22 Alessandro Bertolini (Ita) Domina Vacanze          8.38
23 Markus Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner                    8.40
24 Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spa) Illes Balears               
25 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo) Lampre-Caffita                   
26 Bram de Groot (Ned) Rabobank                           
27 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa) Discovery Channel        
28 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel                  
29 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Saunier Duval-Prodir          
30 Michael Albasini (Swi) Liquigas-Bianchi                
31 Fabian Cancellara (Swi) Fassa Bortolo                  
32 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros                 
33 Patrik Sinkewitz (Ger) Quick.Step-Innergetic           
34 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Quick.Step-Innergetic             
35 Pieter Weening (Ned) Rabobank                          
36 José Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa) Illes Balears    18.04
37 Laurent Brochard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom           24.25
38 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems            
39 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval-Prodir                
40 Steve Zampieri (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems            
41 Grischa Niermann (Ger) Rabobank                        
42 Benoît Poilvet (Fra) Credit Agricole                   
43 Amaël Moinard (Fra) Cofidis                            
44 Philip Deignan (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance                   
45 Uros Murn (Slo) Phonak Hearing Systems                 
46 Yannick Talabardon (Fra) Credit Agricole               
47 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC                    
48 Stephane Goubert (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance                 
49 Francesco Bellotti (Ita) Credit Agricole               

ProTour standings

1 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                                229 pts
2 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step                                          171
3 Jan Ullrich (Ger) T-Mobile Team                                      140
4 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             139
5 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile Team                             136
6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner                                   131
7 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                          130
8 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team             129
9 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo                              128
10 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner                                  126

Full rankings