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World championships - CM

Madrid, Spain, September 21-25, 2005

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Race 6 - September 25: Elite men's road race, 273 km

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting from Scott Sunderland, Serge Baguet, Hernan Alvarez and Shane Stokes

Live report

Live coverage starts: 10:00 CEST
Estimated finish: 16:30 CEST

The start
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
Click for larger image

09:52 CEST   
Welcome to Cyclingnews for our live coverage of the crowning event of the 2005 World Road Cycling Championships - the Elite Men's Road Race. Held over 13 laps of the not-so-easy 21 km parcours, today's race is over 270 km long, one of the longest in recent years. Although talk has been focused on a likely bunch sprint, with Alessandro Petacchi, Robbie McEwen, and Tom Boonen as a likely podium, we saw yesterday in the U23 men's race that it can be broken open by riders, provided that there isn't too much organisation in the chase.

This being pro racing, it's likely that the combined strength of the Italian, Australian, and Belgian teams should be enough to keep things in check when they get a bit wild in the last laps. But bear in mind that the maximum team size has been reduced from 12 to 9 riders, and the race is a bit longer than usual, so it might not be possible to control it until the end. I think we'll see a very different race to Zolder 2002, where the Italians essentially controlled things on their own and led out Cipollini for a fine win.

As usual in Madrid, it's sunny and will get warmer during the day, with temperatures around the 20 degree mark at the moment. There is zero wind.

Later on today, we'll have some guest commentary from CSC director Scott Sunderland and Belgian champion Serge Baguet.

10:00 CEST   
The men's peloton is lined up on the start line, with most riders looking cheerful in the morning sun. The Spanish team is on the front row, and are the first to leave as the gun goes off.

10:00 CEST   
The Italians share the front row with the Spanish, and the pace at the start is quite steady.

10:03 CEST    2km/271km to go
The bunch rides past the team boxes for the first time and up towards the Kio Towers, turning left and hitting the first light descent.

10:04 CEST    2km/271km to go
The first attack comes from Krasimir Vasilev (Bulgaria), who gets a withering look from the Italians as he takes off after 2 km.

10:06 CEST    4km/269km to go
No-one is interested in chasing Vasilev, and the Bulgarian gets 20 seconds quickly.

10:09 CEST    6km/267km to go
Vasilev reaches the foot of the first climb with a minute, as the speed picks up slightly in the peloton, courtesy of the blue jerseyed Italians.

10:10 CEST   
Another rider attacks in pursuit of Vasilev, as the hill starts.

10:11 CEST    7km/266km to go
Vasilev rides up in the big chainring, as Juan Carlos Lopez Martin (Colombia) gives chase.

10:14 CEST    9km/264km to go
In the peloton, it's Jens Voigt and Sebastian Lang (Germany) sharing the front row with a Spanish and Italian.

Lopez Martin is 57 seconds behind the leader, with the peloton another 25 seconds back.

10:18 CEST   
Vasilev is on the second climb, the steeper one, where Grabovskyy attacked so strongly yesterday. The Bulgarian is still 55 seconds ahead of his Colombian chaser.

10:20 CEST    14km/259km to go
Vasilev is actually putting time into Lopez Martin, who's now at 1'05. The peloton is another minute back, taking this lap very easy.

10:24 CEST    17km/256km to go
Vasilev continues to work hard at the front. He's not the smoothest rider on the bike, but whatever he's doing, it's working. The course is continually up and down, and it's difficult to get into a rhythm.

10:28 CEST    20km/253km to go
Vasilev rides past the team boxes on the other side of the finishing straight. He's nearly at the end of the first lap. Lopez Martin is just coming onto the Paseo de Castellana.

In the peloton, the Italians take advantage of the slow pace to commune with nature.

10:30 CEST    21km/252km to go
Vasilev takes the final corner and rides up to the start/finish, going quite strongly. The Colombian is still at 1'01, while the peloton is 3'17 behind.

The first lap is completed in 30'13, an average speed of 41.7 km/h.

10:35 CEST    24km/249km to go
There were two non-starters today: Christian Vandevelde (USA) and Michael Barry (Canada). Bulgaria only started with two riders, Evgeni Gerganov being the other. Earlier this week, Bulgarians Ivaïlo Gabrovski and Bogdan Stoytchev were both declared "unfit to start" the road race, after their blood values were too high.

Guido Trenti (USA) chats to Italians Pozzato and Lombardi as the peloton crosses the line at the end of lap one 3'47 behind the leader.

10:39 CEST    27km/246km to go
Vasilev is not waiting around for the Colombian, who is still 1'04 behind the leader. The peloton is falling further behind, and is now at 4'12.

10:43 CEST    29km/244km to go
Vasilev tackles the first climb for the second time, mashing his big chainring and asking his team soigneur for a drink on the next lap. The Colombian Lopez Martin is at 1'15, with the peloton still over 4 minutes back.

10:47 CEST    31km/242km to go
We have our third attacker from the peloton, just before the bunch hits the climb. It's Dmitry Muravyev (Kazakhstan). Also, Saul Raisin (USA) is on the attack. He is joined by Muravyev near the top of the climb, but they're 4'30 behind the leader.

10:53 CEST    35km/238km to go
The situation on lap 2: Krasimir Vasilev (Bulgaria) leads by a minute over Juan Carlos Lopez Martin (Colombia), with Saul Raisin (USA) and Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan) chasing at 4'30, and the peloton at 5'42. It's the Belarusian team at the front of the peloton at the moment, as it rides up the second climb.

10:56 CEST    37km/236km to go
Raisin and Muravyev have pegged the leader back to 4'14 as the peloton drops back to 6'00, still lazy in the early morning sun.

11:00 CEST    42km/231km to go
Vasilev isn't waiting around for anyone, as he drives down the Paseo de Castellana, towards the final corner. He takes it at about 35 km/h and winds up again. He comes up to the start/finish having completed the second lap in 30'36, at 41.176 km/h.

11:02 CEST   
Lopez Martin is next across the line, riding at almost the same speed as Vasilev during that lap. Together, they would be faster. The gap is 1'14 to the Colombian.

11:05 CEST    45km/228km to go
Raisin and Muravyev have made up a bit more time on the leader, and are 3'45 behind the Bulgarian as they cross the line. The peloton is now at 7'00 as it rolls along at 37-38 km/h average.

11:07 CEST    47km/226km to go
Some info on our leader, Krasimir Vasilev. He was born on April 6, 1974, which makes him 31 at the moment. He currently rides for the Portuguese team Duja-CC Tavira. His victories include a stage in the Volta ao Alentejo and a stage in the GP MR Cortez, both in Portugal.

11:10 CEST    48km/225km to go
The bunch crosses the start/finish 8'10 behind the lone leader, led by Britain's Tom Southam. Everyone's still chatting as the race hasn't really got going yet. Don't worry, it will.

11:13 CEST    49km/224km to go
Vasilev gets a bottle from his soigneur at the top of the Dehesa de la Villa climb, which he's now completed three times. He's still looking strong, still riding in that big gear.

11:16 CEST    51km/222km to go
Lopez Martin is 1'40 behind the leader at the top. He'd be best off waiting for Raisin and Muravyev. The Kazakhstani and the American are 2'54 behind - really making up ground on the leader.

11:18 CEST   
The British team leads the peloton up to the climb, as Sebastian Lang gets a bit of a gap, but not in the interests of attacking. It was more seeing how fast he could descend.

11:23 CEST    57km/216km to go
The bunch rolls up the Dehesa de la Villa climb as a solid block, with Jan Hruska and Sebastian Lang sharing the front row with several others. It's still a very steady pace, and no-one is really suffering. Peter van Petegem is towards the back, as is his wont.

Raisin and Muravyev have caught Lopez Martin now.

11:25 CEST    59km/214km to go
By the way, both Raisin and Muravyev may be riding in different jersey today, but for 99.72 percent of the year, they ride in the same team: Credit Agricole. There is understanding. They have combined with Lopez Martin to reduce the gap to Vasilev to 2'02.

11:27 CEST   
The peloton falls to 10'10 back, and one of the Slovenian riders gets on the front: looks like Gorazd Stangelj.

11:29 CEST    62km/211km to go
A little more on Saul Raisin, a very talented 22 year-old rider from the USA. As mentioned already, he rides for Credit Agricole, after being with their development team last year. In 2003, he rode for Ofoto/Lombardi Sports. This year, Raisin has won the mountains competition in the Tour de l'Avenir and finished a solid ninth in the Deutschland Tour. One of these years, he has to win the Druivenkoers in Belgium ;-)

11:32 CEST    63km/210km to go
Vasilev rides up the right hand side of the road to the start/finish, completing the lap in 30'50 for 40.865 km/h. The average speed so far has been 41.2 km/h. 10 laps to go.

Saul Raisin (USA)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

11:35 CEST    66km/207km to go
The chasing trio comes up to the start/finish, led by Raisin, 1'55 behind the leader. They're not picking him up much on the flat, but on the climbs there is a difference behind made.

the peloton is more strung out now - we should see some action in the next two laps, otherwise a bunch sprint is going to be extremely probable. With the extended "warm up" that they've had, the race has been reduced from 273 to about 210 km. Well, you've still got to ride the distance, but Milan-San Remo is longer, and it tends to take a while to get going, so a bunch sprint is common.

11:38 CEST   
The bunch is nearly 11 minutes back as last year's U23 champion Kanstantsin Siutsou lifts the tempo. He's a Fassa Bortolo rider for 99.72 percent of the year, and is probably not riding for his own chances today.

11:42 CEST    71km/202km to go
Siutsou strings out the peloton as it enters the long, tree-lined Paseo de Castallana. He's effectively a Petacchi man today, that's clear. It's also quite understandable, given who pays his wages.

The gap seems to have topped out at 11'44. We'll see at the start/finish.

11:44 CEST    72km/201km to go
One of the Argentinean riders - time trialist Matias Medici - leads the bunch past the start/finish with 10 laps to go, 11'43 behind the leader Krasimir Vasilev. The pace is less relaxed now, as Roger Hammond (GBR) gets some assistance from his team car.

11:45 CEST    73km/200km to go
Vasilev is now at the top of the Dehesa de la Villa climb, getting another bidon from his soigneur on the fourth lap.

Muravyev leads Lopez Martin and Raisin up, putting the pressure on on the climb. They've reduced the gap to only 43 seconds.

11:46 CEST   
Medici, Siutsou, and Hruska lead the bunch now, setting a pretty stiff tempo on this fourth lap.

11:48 CEST    75km/198km to go
Medici looks for Siutsou to take over, which he does. Two British riders follow - looks like Wegelius is one of them.

11:50 CEST   
Vasilev is on the second climb, the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria. He looks back to see where his chasers are. They're getting closer. The four should get together soon.

11:52 CEST    77km/196km to go
The Brits pick up the pace, courtesy of Wegelius and Southam (?), just before the Dehesa de la Villa climb. They'll want to make it hard because they don't really have a top sprinter. Good to see!

Vasilev is caught by Muravyev, Lopez Martin, and Raisin. He hooks onto the back.

11:55 CEST    78km/195km to go
The situation after 78 km: We have four leaders: Krasimir Vasilev (Bulgaria), Juan Carlos Lopez Martin (Colombia), Saul Raisin (USA), and Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan). They have 10'19 on the chasing peloton led by Brits Tom Southam and Charly Wegelius. Matias Medici is in third wheel and Bettini in fourth.

Muravyev and Vasilev shake hands and get to know each other a bit better. It's quite a friendly breakaway.

11:57 CEST   
By the way, Tom Southam is riding in memory of his countryman Tom Simpson today. Simpson won the World Championship in Lasarte, Spain, 40 years ago. Southam showed up at the start of the world's in Madrid, Spain, with a piece of textile around his wrist, which was actually Simpson's undershirt the day he became the world champion and it was given to Southam by Simpson's nephew Chris Sidwells.

(Thanks to Jean-Francois Quenet for this)

11:59 CEST    80km/193km to go
Vasilev might have spent his bikkies today. He's sitting on the back of the break at the moment, eating and drinking. The other three make the tempo. They ride up to the Kio Towers with a larger crowd of people gathering to cheer them on.

12:02 CEST    83km/190km to go
Medici and his teammate Martin Garrido help out the Brits in the peloton as they peg back the gap to 9'33. Bettini and Bernucci laugh and chat to each other, obviously not finding the pace on the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria particularly hard.

Vasilev is now working in the break again, as it reaches the 1 km to go banner. The wind is picking up a bit, but it looks like a tailwind sprint.

12:04 CEST    84km/189km to go
At the end of four laps, the four man break is keeping the average speed at the 41 km/h mark. That lap was completed in 31'30 - 40 km/h. But remember, Muravyev, Raisin and Lopez Martin were two minutes quicker, so they averaged 42.7 km/h.

12:09 CEST    88km/185km to go
Siutsou (Belarus/Fassa Bortolo) strings out the bunch with the Argentineans and Brits also helping. The Swiss riders are moving up too. The peloton is in a fairly long line at the moment as it heads down the Paseo de Castellana at the end of lap four.

12:14 CEST    91km/182km to go
At the start/finish, the peloton rides through led by Siutsou at 9'24 behind the break. A quick and dirty calculation reveals that the bunch rode that lap in 29'10, at an average of 43.2 km/h.

Belgians Nuyens and Gilbert are at the back of the bunch, sorting out a problem with their radios. Either that or playing on their Gameboys.

12:15 CEST    92km/181km to go
The break is at the top of the first climb again, all working together as Vasilev takes on more food. The chase is on though now, courtesy of Britain, Argentina and Belarus/Fassa Bortolo.

12:18 CEST    93km/180km to go
The bunch continues to rumble along with Thomas Dekker (Netherlands) in last wheel with some Belgians for company. Greg Henderson (New Zealand) is also back here.

12:25 CEST    100km/173km to go
The peloton is at the top of the Dehesa de la Villa climb 9'16 behind the four leaders, who have done well to hold their gap as the bunch is not hanging around. Dekker, T. is still in last wheel.

12:31 CEST    104km/169km to go
The bunch hits the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria climb with Petacchi's teammate Siutsou lead the way. The Argentinean pair of Garrido and Medici are also doing their share of chasing. They have Ruben Bongiorno and Alejandro Borrajo as their sprinters.

12:33 CEST    105km/168km to go
The four leaders head down the start/finish straight into the wind, then take the corner at the bottom and ride back up to the start/finish. The average after five laps is 41.194 km/h, having ridden that lap in 29'47 (42.3 km/h). That's the quickest lap of the race.

12:35 CEST    106km/167km to go
The four leaders grab feed bags from the team boxes as they pass them for the sixth time.

12:37 CEST   
A little more on Dmitriy Muravyev. The Kazakhstani was born on November 1, 1979, which makes him 25 at the moment. He turned pro in 2001 with Domo-Farm Frites, and rode for Mapei-Quick.Step in 2002, and Quick.Step-Davitamon in 2003. In 2004, he switched to Credit Agricole. He's won the Kazakhstan time trial championships twice (2003 and 2005) and the road championship once (2002). He's also got a stage win in the Vuelta a Navarra to his credit.

12:40 CEST   
The Colombian, Juan Carlos Lopez Martin, is the most inexperienced rider in this break. He's been a stagiaire with Saunier Duval this year, but hasn't ridden professionally before now.

The Spanish team is taking Valverde back to the bunch after a mechanical. He's done one race since the Tour, so he's a bit of an unknown.

12:42 CEST    111km/162km to go
The Spanish team makes contact with the bunch just on the last corner. They take him up towards the front of the peloton.

The Australians have been fairly quiet so far, although they should be happy with this scenario as Robbie McEwen is their man.

The gap at the start/finish is 9'04. The four leaders have done very well.

12:46 CEST    113km/160km to go
Anibal Andres Borrajo is the other Argentinean working with Medici on the front. Not to be confused with Alejandro Borrajo, who is a better sprinter. Also, in the GP Citta' Di Misano Adriatico last week, Argentinean Guillermo Ruben Bongiorno led a Panaria 1-2-3 home in a bunch sprint.

Saul Raisin drives the break up the Dehesa de la Villa climb again. The sun is warmer now.

12:49 CEST    114km/159km to go
Cadel Evans (Australia) chases onto the peloton after a trip to the team car.

Greg Henderson (NZl) has abandoned, the first rider to do so. He won the Grafton to Inverell last week in Australia over 232 km, but that's a bit different to a World Championship.

12:52 CEST    115km/158km to go
Siutsou leads the bunch onto the climb, with two Argentineans and two Brits in tow. Slowly, they're pulling back the four leaders with this five man chase.

12:54 CEST   
At the top of the climb, the bunch is 8'28 behind the five leaders. It's a fast pace, but not too hard yet.

12:59 CEST    120km/153km to go
So far, this race has got "bunch sprint" written all over it. None of the big guns in the other teams have tried to attack yet, and they'll have to do that in order to create stress among the other other teams that want a sprint. The current chase is falling into the hands of the Italians, Belgians, Australians, and anyone else who has a good sprinter in their ranks.

Siutsou leads on the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria.

13:02 CEST    125km/148km to go
Raisin continues to pedal hard on the front of the break, as it heads down the Paseo de Castellana for the end of the sixth lap. He has done most of the work in this break, although the others are certainly contributing.

13:03 CEST    126km/147km to go
At the end of lap 6, the leaders have an average of 41.21 km/h. The last lap was ridden in 30'31, a bit slower than the previous one.

13:06 CEST    127km/146km to go
Raisin's pace is pretty strong, as he gets on the front again past the team boxes. Muravyev takes his wheel, then Vasilev and Lopez Martin.

13:10 CEST   
The bunch races down the downhill section of the Paseo de Castellana, stringing out at 50 km/h. The wind seems to have died a bit. Siutsou leads into the U-corner again.

13:11 CEST    131km/142km to go
At the end of lap 6, the peloton is 7'49 behind the four man break, which is at the foot of the first climb again.

13:14 CEST   
The peloton at large grabs feed bags as Southam and Wegelius lead past the team boxes.

13:16 CEST    132km/141km to go
Lopez Martin has been dropped on the climb, and now there are three leaders. The Colombian is outta gas. Raisin and Muravyev lead over the top, 27 seconds ahead of Lopez Martin.

13:17 CEST    133km/140km to go
Vasilev is also looking a big ragged as he sits on the two Credit Agricole/USA/Kazakhstan riders. The peloton is 7'35 behind them.

13:21 CEST    135km/138km to go
Tom Boonen (Belgium) is sitting in the last 20 riders of the peloton as it tackles the early part of the seventh lap. David McCann (Ireland) is now bringing up the rear.

13:22 CEST   
Robbie McEwen and Henk Vogels are in the top 15 of the peloton as it crests the first climb, led by Medici again. The gap is 7'25 at the top.

13:26 CEST    138km/135km to go
The Colombian Lopez Martin is losing ground continuously, now 1'17 behind the leading trio. Bold prediction #3: He will not finish this race.

Thomas Dekker is now having his turn at the rear of the bike, as McCann relieves himself on a descent.

We're at the halfway point!

13:30 CEST    144km/129km to go
The bunch rides up the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria for the seventh time, the pace solid but still not too painful for most. Van Petegem is fifth last, his preferred position until he decides to do something.

13:30 CEST   
Someone is stirring it up in front, as the peloton strings out a bit more to one or two riders wide.

13:32 CEST    146km/127km to go
Raisin leads again as the breakaway trio rides down the start/finish straight with 1 km to go.

13:34 CEST    147km/126km to go
At the end of lap seven, Raisin, Muravyev and Vasilev have 7'15 on the bunch and 3'03 on Juan Carlos Lopez Martin. That lap was completed in 29'53 (42.165 km/h). The overall average is 41.3 km/h.

13:35 CEST    148km/125km to go
Muravyev grabs a feed back, as does Vasilev as they pass the team boxes on lap 8. Raisin opts to grab a bidon.

13:38 CEST    150km/123km to go
Lopez Martin crosses the line 4'04 behind the leaders, having lost that in about 15 km. The peloton is now on the Paseo de Castellana, nearing the kilometre to go banner.

13:40 CEST    152km/121km to go
On the line at the end of lap 7, the gap is 7'06, with exactly the same riders leading it across: Medici, Southam, Wegelius, Borrajo and Siutsou.

13:43 CEST    153km/120km to go
There is the usual scramble for feed bags through the team boxes, but it's pretty well organised. There haven't been many (any?) crashes so far during this race, which has been fairly tame.

13:45 CEST    154km/119km to go
Muravyev and Raisin keep forcing the pace on the climb, as the Bulgarian Vasilev hangs on grimly, going for bidons on each lap.

13:49 CEST    156km/117km to go
Leon Van Bon (Netherlands) drops back to consult with the team car. "What's da plan, boss?" "Just win!!"

13:51 CEST    158km/115km to go
Peter Van Petegem (Belgium) is consulting with his team car, chatting to Jose de Cauwer.

The first attack of the day, Krasimir Vasilev is gone from the lead break on the second climb. Lopez Martin is nearly caught by the bunch too.

13:53 CEST    160km/113km to go
Lopez Martin is caught just before the top of the climb, as Wegelius leads the bunch over at 6'39. Karsten Kroon (Ned) also shows himself near the front of the bunch.

So we have two leaders now: Saul Raisin and Dmitry Muravyev. Krasimir Vasilev has done his dash, having been in front for over 150 km.

13:57 CEST    163km/110km to go
Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus) leads the bunch up the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria on lap 8, with Wegelius on his wheel.

14:00 CEST    164km/109km to go
Vasilev has fallen to 1'18 behind the leading pair, with the peloton now at 5'59. None of the big teams have had to do a tap of work all day.

14:04 CEST    168km/105km to go
Raisin and Muravyev ride up to the start/finish at the end of lap 8, riding that last lap in 30'23. The overall average speed is still 41.36 km/h.

14:06 CEST    169km/104km to go
Vasilev looks very, very tired as he rounds the last corner, getting out of the saddle and cruising up to the line. He's already at 2'29 and looks on the verge of pulling out.

14:07 CEST    170km/103km to go
The peloton, led by Liquigas's Charly Wegelius (Britain) and Fassa's Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus), heads down the Paseo de Castellana once more. The Argentineans Borrajo and Medici are also still contributing.

14:10 CEST    172km/101km to go
At the end of the lap, the bunch is 5'59 behind the leading trio. Just over 100 km to go, and the peloton is essentially intact.

14:12 CEST   
Andreas Klier (Germany) grabs a few cans of coke from the team car and prepares to give them to his teammates. The bunch passes the team box zone, grabbing feed bags as usual.

14:14 CEST    174km/99km to go
Lopez Martin (Colombia) has abandoned, together with Tom Southam (GBr). They've done a hell of a lot of work today, so it's not surprising.

So have Saul Raisin and Dmitry Muravyev, who are on the Dehesa de la Villa climb, with both in the big ring, pedaling smoothly.

14:16 CEST    175km/98km to go
Muravyev leads Raisin to the top of the climb, clearly working a bit harder.

14:21 CEST    178km/95km to go
The peloton hits the climb, led as always by the same riders. Things will have to start happening soon or the bunch sprint is a certainty.

Vasilev is near the top of the climb, looking a bit stuffed. He's caught by the peloton right at the top. He still grabs a bidon. The gap is 5'28 at the top, with a Spaniard in front for the first time.

14:25 CEST    180km/93km to go
The peloton hits the descent with three South Africans towards the rear of the bunch. Plenty of riders are trying to unpack their feedbags as they hurtle down the hill. The gap is 5'17, as the Spanish gets stuck into things, courtesy of Zaballa, Blanco. Bettini and Paolini are up there. Two teams in front. It's all Italians and Spanish in the first 15!

14:26 CEST    181km/92km to go
Blanco and Zaballa really force the pace on the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria climb, cutting the gap down to 4'52. A gap is created with some 30 riders hanging onto the Spanish train. This is when it starts to hurt.

14:28 CEST    182km/91km to go
Blanco's turn is very hard as Zaballa takes over. It's doing plenty of damage behind, splitting the bunch. Maybe 50 riders in front. The Italians have to chase, as Petacchi is in the second group. Oops.

14:28 CEST   
McEwen is on the back of the front group, and has a few teammates there. Maybe only 30 riders in front, including a number of Italians (who are slowing it a bit to allow Petacchi to get back on) and the strong Spanish team.

14:29 CEST    183km/90km to go
The peloton regroups as the three Italians in front keep the tempo up, but not too much. Now the Spanish come back and lift it.

14:30 CEST   
An attack! It's Joost Posthuma (Netherlands) flying off the front. Now the race has really begun!

14:33 CEST    187km/86km to go
Posthuma is caught by five riders, including Mancebo (Spain), Pozzato (Italy), Efimkin (Rus), and Murillo Fischer (Brazil). But the peloton is right behind.

14:34 CEST    189km/84km to go
The two leaders are at the end of lap 8, having ridden that one in 30'23, same as the previous lap. The average is still 41.3 km/h. The bunch is already flying down the finish straight on the other side.

14:36 CEST    190km/83km to go
The peloton regroups a bit as it races towards the last corner. Ivanov and Voigt are near the front, as is Zaballa.

14:37 CEST    191km/82km to go
Zaballa and Tosatto lead the bunch up to the line, then Voigt takes over with Wesemann and Nuyens close behind. The gap is 3'25.

14:38 CEST   
That's been the quickest lap for the bunch so far, around 27'45 (over 45 km/h).

14:40 CEST    193km/80km to go
Wegelius and Cummings have abandoned, the Brits losing two more riders. Evgeny Petrov has also pulled the pin.

In front, Muravyev and Raisin are heading towards the climb.

14:46 CEST    196km/77km to go
It's 2'49 as the Italians set a hard tempo to the foot of the Dehesa de la Villa climb. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) has had enough, it looks like.

Krasimir Vasilev has abandoned on lap 9. No surprises there, but he did play an active role in the race.

14:46 CEST   
Muravyev and Raisin are at the top of the climb, with the bunch in hot pursuit. Ivanov and Tosatto are leading the charge.

14:47 CEST    197km/76km to go
Vino is sitting last wheel on the climb with Philip Zajicek (USA). He doesn't look interested today.

14:49 CEST    198km/75km to go
Ivanov and five Italians lead over the climb, 2'09 behind the two leaders, who are not going to be out there for much longer. The bunch is still intact though. It's the second climb that really hurts.

14:53 CEST    200km/73km to go
The Italians continue to dictate the pace on the second climb, riding pretty hard with Sergey Ivanov (Russia) also up there. No mass attack by the Spanish this time.

14:53 CEST   
Stijn Devolder (Belgium) moves to the front, sitting out in the wind.

14:55 CEST    201km/72km to go
Efimkin attacks again with one of the Spanish. But Bettini is there, as are several others. Now is that Devolder countering? Not really. He stops pedaling. Then a Russian rider comes up and the pair get a gap. There is some chasing behind, and the gap is closed.

The two leaders have just 1'08 left.

14:56 CEST   
They're at the top of the hill now, and it's strung out, but there are no breaks.

14:56 CEST    203km/70km to go
In front, Muravyev encourages Raisin to keep going. They've only got a minute, but they can hold out for a bit longer.

14:58 CEST    204km/69km to go
Another attack goes from the peloton, a Spaniard and a Belgian. They get a five second gap, as a third rider - a Frenchman - gives chase.

14:59 CEST    205km/68km to go
It's Zaballa, Devolder and Anthony Geslin(?) But they are caught by the bunch again. Bettini forces the pace.

15:02 CEST    209km/64km to go
The attacks continue to rain, with Denis Shkarpeta (Uzbekistan) getting a small gap. He's nearly onto the two leaders. The pair look at each other and realise that it's over.

The final corner
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
Click for larger image

15:04 CEST   
They take the corner for the 10th time, with Shkarpeta leading Raisin and Muravyev, and the peloton 10 seconds back, led by Matt Hayman (Australia).

15:05 CEST    210km/63km to go
Raisin is cooked, and has to let go of Muravyev and Shkarpeta, who reach the end of the 10th lap. That lap time was 30'55.

The Australians lead the bunch over the line at 7 seconds.

15:06 CEST    211km/62km to go
The peloton completed that lap in roughly 27'30 - 45.8 km/h, the fastest to date.

Shkarpeta is now solo, with Muravyev gone. He has 10 seconds over the bunch, which will get him, surely.

15:09 CEST    212km/61km to go
Jaan Kirsipuu (Estonia) has abandoned, as has François Parisien (Canada).

The Australian jerseys tow the bunch behind Shkarpeta. It's going to be very very difficult to get away in the last three laps.

Zajicek (USA) has pulled the pin, too.

15:09 CEST    214km/59km to go
The Uzbek is caught as a French rider counters - looks like Chris Kern.

15:11 CEST    215km/58km to go
Shane Stokes spoke to Sean Kelly a few laps ago, and the Irish legend gave us his opinion of the race so far: "I think that at this moment with six laps to go it is the time for the action from the teams who need to try and form a break and make the race more difficult. It has to be done in the next couple of laps because if we get to 3 or 4 laps from the finish and it is altogether, then it is going to be a a bunch sprint. The sprinters’ teams like the Italians and the Belgians will start controlling it.

"If it is a bunch sprint, then Petacchi is the big favourite. McEwen, of course, with this corner - it gives him a little bit more of a chance, but I think Petacchi is the big favourite. But you never know with this corner - I think it will be a big group of riders, 60 riders it comes to the finish, and when you that many so many things can happen in the final corner. There is a lot of riders waiting and hoping for that kind of opportunity, second row sprinters like Hushovd, Nazon and Jimmy Casper - guys like that will be hoping that something can happen to the main sprinters and they can come into position where they can contest the win. Otherwise they are always sprinting for fifth or tenth place."

15:12 CEST    216km/57km to go
Kern takes the first descent at a most excellent speed, holding 10-15 seconds over the chasing peloton. Australia and Italy are leading.

15:14 CEST    216km/57km to go
Pagliarini (Brazil) has abandoned. Kern can't get much more than six seconds over the peloton, where Cadel Evans is on the front. Constantino Zaballa attacks again, with one of the Danes on his wheel. Wesemann and a Belgian close the gap, along with the rest of the bunch. Kern is caught.

15:15 CEST    217km/56km to go
Oscar Pereiro counters, to a huge cheer. He gets company from the same Dane, it looks like. Jakob Piil.

15:16 CEST   
Piil and Pereiro try to make their escape count, but they'll need a lot of speed to get away from the bunch. 5 seconds.

15:18 CEST    219km/54km to go
The two leaders hammer on the descent, with one of the Dutch leading the peloton. A Polish rider is up there, but doesn't want to work. Neither does the Spaniard on his wheel, of course.

15:19 CEST    220km/53km to go
The gap is up 18 seconds as the Italians get to the front to control things, along with a couple of the Aussies. That's McEwen himself!

15:21 CEST   
Pereiro and Piil hit the second climb up the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria with the Italians keeping things in check. Pieter Weening (Netherlands) attacks, looking back many times. He has Calcagni and seven others for company. It's one of the Spaniards driving it, with Bettini also there. Interesting.

15:22 CEST    221km/52km to go
The climb is doing a lot of damage: Bettini, Gilbert, Calcagni, Lagutin, Allan Davis, and Perdiguero are chasing Piil and Pereiro. They have a nice gap over the broken peloton.

15:24 CEST   
Piil and Pereiro are caught by Bettini, and a front group forms with Oscar Pereiro, Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spain), Jakob Piil (Denmark), Paolo Bettini (Italy), Allan Davis (Aus), Sergey Lagutin (Uzb), Philippe Gilbert (Bel), Luis Laverde (Col), Fabian Wegmann (Ger), Patrick Calcagni (Swi).

15:25 CEST    224km/49km to go
Andriy Grivko (Ukraine) sets off in pursuit of the leaders, who are working together now. This is an interesting looking group. Valverde and Devolder are also up there!

15:27 CEST    225km/48km to go
The pace reduces in the peloton, as most of the top countries have a man in front. The cooperation in front is poor, though. 39 seconds.

15:28 CEST   
The break: Oscar Pereiro, Alejandro Valverde, Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spain), Jakob Piil (Denmark), Paolo Bettini (Italy), Allan Davis (Aus), Sergey Lagutin (Uzb), Philippe Gilbert, Stijn Devolder (Bel), Fabian Wegmann (Ger), Patrick Calcagni (Swi)

15:29 CEST    227km/46km to go
Laverde is not there - Valverde is.

The bunch is now 52 seconds back. This is looking like an interesting move. Kolobnev (Rus) attacks in pursuit.

15:31 CEST   
Piil is interested in keeping the break going, and keeps the tempo high. Davis is not doing much, and Bettini is keeping an eye on him. The Spanish and Belgians are also driving the break.

15:32 CEST    231km/42km to go
Wegmann does short turn, followed by Pereiro. Lagutin comes through next. They reach the end of the lap 11. 27'12, an average of 46.3 km/h. It's getting quicker.

15:34 CEST    232km/41km to go
Valverde in front now, doing a strong turn. The next three across the line at 58 seconds are Andriy Grivko (Ukraine), Alexander Kolobnev, Patrick Calcagni (Swi), the latter being dropped from the break.

The peloton is led by the French, who have missed it totally, at 1'14.

15:36 CEST    234km/39km to go
Max Van Heeswijk has abandoned. That's probably the biggest hope for the Dutch gone.

The break is now cooperating, including Allan Davis. They have a minute on the chasing three, and 1'12 on the peloton.

15:38 CEST    235km/38km to go
The French are forced to chase, as they don't have anyone in the break. Neither do the Dutch, so we might see them in a bit too.

The three chasers have been swallowed, and the gap is down to 1'03.

15:39 CEST    236km/37km to go
The leaders continue to ride together, hitting the foot of the climb on lap 12. Valverde looks good.

15:41 CEST    237km/36km to go
The break numbers 10 riders, and has some good names in it: Bettini, Davis, Wegmann, Valverde, Perdi, Pereiro, Piil, Lagutin, Gilbert, Devolder.

The bunch has pegged the gap back to 52 seconds, courtesy of the French.

15:42 CEST   
Valverde looks strong as he does a long turn on the front. Perdiguero comes through next with Bettini on his wheel. The pace on the climb is very hard. Lagutin is having problems following.

15:42 CEST   
The chase has run out of gas, with the French team disappearing off the front. Well, there's one left, who tries to attack.

15:44 CEST    239km/34km to go
Pereiro leads the break over the top as the peloton splits a little in pursuit. But all the countries with riders up front are near the front of the bunch. The gap is just 28 seconds as Koos Moerenhout does a big turn.

15:45 CEST    240km/33km to go
Moerenhout has a bit of a gap over the bunch, with a couple of riders on his wheel on the descent. Mancebo and Pozzato are there, along with a couple of others.

15:46 CEST   
The chasers are making big inroads into the leaders. Marek Rutkiewicz (Poland) and Murillo Fischer (Brazil) are the other two.

15:48 CEST    242km/31km to go
The chasers are caught by the bunch, and the pace slows a bit until Zaballa attacks at the foot of the climb.

In front, Pereiro and Davis are dropped as Bettini attacks! Wegmann can close the gap.

15:50 CEST   
Wegmann and Bettini are working together, forcing the pace on the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria. Bettini looks great. They are chased by five riders: Piil, Devolder, Gilbert, Valverde, and Perdiguero. The seven are together.

15:52 CEST    244km/29km to go
Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan) is chasing the seven leaders, as is Denis Menchov. In front, Wegmann has his jersey flapping.

15:54 CEST    245km/28km to go
Kashechkin and Menchov are now together. They're 27 seconds behind the lead group, with the peloton at 35 seconds. The French are in front. Well, one of them is. Pozzato is in second wheel, not going through hard of course. Moerenhout attacks again, with Rogers and another Russian on his wheel. The bunch follows.

15:56 CEST    247km/26km to go
Kashechkin and Menchov are caught, as Rogers does a strong turn in front of the bunch. A break forms, and it looks like Fraser MacMaster (NZl) has made it to the front there.

The seven leaders are nervous, but working together. Perdi comes through for another turn.

15:58 CEST    251km/22km to go
Valverde and Bettini get a small gap in the front group, but it comes back together. The bunch is charging, 20 seconds behind. Rogers is strong. The break is disintegrating as Piil attacks.

15:59 CEST   
In the heat of the battle now, and Scott Sunderland (Team director CSC) and Belgian National Champion Serge Baguet (Davitamon-Lotto) have joined us for the last hour of the race.

Serge Baguet: Fabian Wegmann is in very good shape...exceptional what he is doing.

Scott: Wegmann is a very good rider; it's a big gap they've made but it won't be enough; twenty seconds. The poker game really starts now.

Serge: The Belgians aren't looking to good. Bettini is the strongest. According to me it's going to end up in a mass sprint.

16:00 CEST    252km/21km to go
The leaders reach the end of the 12th lap. One to go. That lap was in 27'31 (45.79 km/h). Elmiger is at 14 seconds, then the Aussies lead the big bunch through.

Piil tried to attack towards the end of the lap, but he was brought back. They're all working together now, but only with 13 seconds.

16:01 CEST    253km/20km to go
Perdiguero attacks the break, but Bettini counters him like he was standing still! That can't be good for you.

16:02 CEST    254km/19km to go
Bettini's counter was just to show them who's boss, I think. All together in front, with 15 seconds as they ride past the boxes for the last time.

Piil attacks again - impressive. Gilbert goes with him.

16:03 CEST   
Piil and Gilbert continue to work as Wegmann gives chase alone, nearly headbutting a moto.

16:04 CEST    255km/18km to go
Wegmann is about 3-4 seconds behind Piil and Gilbert, who are going full gas. The German is catching them though. Wegmann is there now. Three leaders.

16:05 CEST    256km/17km to go
That cost Wegmann a bit of energy to get up. Behind them, the Italians and Aussies are chasing pretty hard. Vogels on the front of the bunch. They're all caught!

16:06 CEST    257km/16km to go
Vogels continues to drive hard, waving his arm at the rest of the bunch to follow him. He wants a bunch sprint for McEwen, naturally. They reach the foot of the first climb for the last time.

16:07 CEST   
Scott: Bjarne said Piil has been training very hard, and that shows today. He's doing a great race. Question is; these guys go away and Italy is left behind, then Italy will start riding in the peloton...Wegmann is a strong as Bettini as far as I can see, to be able to close that gap at this moment in the race, you simply have to be very classy. Belgium and Germany are in a beneficial position.

Serge: look at the Australians giving full blast.

16:07 CEST   
Two Aussies and one Italian string out the peloton at the foot of the Dehesa de la Villa for the last time. It's one loooooooooooooong line.

16:08 CEST   
Vogels pulls off and lets the two Italians set tempo. And a solid tempo it is, courtesy of Lorenzo Bernucci. Lars Bak (Den) is in third wheel.

16:09 CEST    258km/15km to go
No it's not Bak, it's another red jersey. Giovanni Lombardi is leading now, in any case. Several more Aussie and Italian jerseys are close behind. Paolini moves up.

16:10 CEST    259km/14km to go
The peloton is near the top of the climb, led by Paolini. Rogers is right up there with McEwen and two more Australians. There are breaks in the peloton all over the place.

16:11 CEST    260km/13km to go
Paolini takes the descent in the lead, with the Aussies going through next with three. The attacks will surely come on the last hill.

16:12 CEST   
There are perhaps 40-50 riders left in the front group, no more.

16:12 CEST   
Scott: It's nice to see Vogels working so hard for McEwen. He's surely digging deep.

Serge: This is heading for a mass sprint. There's no way an attack will get away anymore at this time. Vino looks comfortable and alert. He is the one rider who might still launch an attack. Boonen is still very well surrounded. Peter Van Petegem nicely in the front. It looks ok.

16:13 CEST    261km/12km to go
Rogers now takes over as the peloton grows again. The sprinters are all here: Petacchi, McEwen, Boonen. The Belgians are up in front too. They'll surely work for Boonen.

16:13 CEST   
Serge: with three kms to go the Belgians will start riding, full blast. Boogerd is in the front too, he has been hiding in the peloton the whole day and will certainly try his luck in a little while.

16:15 CEST    262km/11km to go
It's not Boogerd, it's Karsten Kroon who attacks. Just at the foot of the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria. Bettini joins him, as does Dean. The peloton has to let them go a bit.

16:16 CEST    263km/10km to go
Bettini leads with Leukemans (Bel) in tow. Then Vinokourov attacks! Oh well, he wasn't so bad after all. Bettini and Leukemans go with him.

16:17 CEST    264km/9km to go
It looks like Julian Dean up there too - yep. The break has about 10 riders in it, as Vinokourov attacks. Not bad, but the others chase him.

16:18 CEST    265km/8km to go
A group of about 15 leads the peloton by less than 10 seconds. The peloton is not so big through - 40 riders.

Moerenhout attacks the front group.

16:19 CEST    267km/6km to go
Moerenhout has a small gap to the break, which is coming back to him. The cooperation is not so good in the chase. A Slovenian rider closes to Moerenhout, then Vino counters again...dangerous, very dangerous.

16:20 CEST    268km/5km to go
It's Moerenhout, Stangelj and Vinokourov in the lead, but they are joined by Bettini. Dean is dropped from the chase group, which has Nuyens in it. Nope. He's dropped too. Leukemans makes it to the front group.

Vino attacks again!

16:22 CEST    269km/4km to go
Boogerd and Bettini take off after Vinokourov. The gap is tiny. 3 seconds. But the peloton must be close.

16:22 CEST   
Vinokourov pounds the pedals hard, then Bettini bridges up to him. Boogerd is there, then a gap to Serrano, Moerenhout (who won't work), and Stangelj. Then the peloton.

16:23 CEST   
Scott: All the non-sprinters are trying a last time; giving 100%; Julian Dean is full gas. Vino goes again, unbelievable!

Serge: Vino would make a fantastic world champion I reckon, impressive!

16:23 CEST    271km/2km to go
Serrano powers on the Paseo de Castellana in pursuit of the three leaders. Stangelj and Moerenhout chase. The six are together.

16:24 CEST   
The front part of the peloton is 10 seconds behind with 1 km to go. Oooh, this will be close.

16:24 CEST    272km/1km to go
The six leaders are all over the place, with Boogerd hammering. Vino goes again. Nope. Bettini chases him down.

16:25 CEST   
They race towards the corner and the peloton is very very close. 6 seconds. They take the corner with 700m to go, Vino leads.

16:25 CEST   
Stangelj leads out at 500m but they are caught.

16:26 CEST    273km/0km to go
Vino waits, but it's too late. He goes at 250m then Valverde, then Boonen comes through and wins the World Championship!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Valverde silver, I think.

16:27 CEST    273km/0km to go
Tom Boonen is beside himself, jumping up and down after the line. He's swamped. What an incredible season. Geslin took the bronze ahead of Ljungqvist. Petacchi and McEwen didn't make that final group. Wow, what a finish!

16:29 CEST   
Serge: Boonen, Boonen, Boonen!!!

Scott: Ja man!!!!

16:43 CEST   
Well, it was a bunch sprint of sorts, but with only 25 riders or so. And it nearly wasn't as that six man break almost stayed away until the end. Boonen was without doubt the best sprinter there - when Valverde hit the front at about 150m out, Boonen didn't waste time and went straight around him, winning by over a bike length.

Boonen has capped off an incredible season, winning the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, as well as a host of other big races. And he's World Champion at 24! You've gotta hand it to Valverde too, as he has barely raced since the Tour and was in doubt of not starting due to his dicky knee. But he got in one of the key breakaways and finished with the silver medal. As for Geslin, that's a nice result for the French team, which did have to work quite hard to pull back the dangerous break with two laps to go.

As the Belgians go wild celebrating their young hero, we leave you in Madrid with the image of Tom Boonen wearing the rainbow stripes of World Champion. Despite the words said before the race, I think Patrick Lefevere is going to be very happy with this result.


1 Tom Boonen (Belgium)            6.26.10
2 Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
3 Anthony Geslin (France)
4 Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden)
5 Murilo Fischer (Brazil)
6 Jakob Piil (Denmark)
7 Alexandre Kolobnev (Russsia)
8 Andreas Klier (Germany)
9 Julian Dean (New Zealand)
10 Martin Elmiger (Switzerland)
11 Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia)
12 Steffen Wesemann (Switzerland)
13 Paolo Bettini (Italy)
15 Thomas Dekker (Netherlands)
21 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)

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