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World championships - CM
Madrid, Spain, September 21-25, 2005
Race 4 - September 24: Women's road race, 127.8km
Germany again: Schleicher wins
By Shane Stokes in Madrid
Regina Schleicher topped off a great team performance today to ensure Germany retained the World Championship road race title they won last year with Judith Arndt. Although the latter came into the race under par due to a virus, her team-mate was fully up to the task of taking the rainbow jersey, unleashing a strong sprint to hit the line in front of the rest of the 33-strong bunch.
Great Britain's Nicole Cooke showed her full recovery from an at-times difficult season in taking silver, while Australia's Oenone Wood scooped bronze. Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Denmark), Chantal Beltman (France) and Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) completed the top six placings.
The 126 kilometre women's race was characterised by numerous attacks, but despite efforts by many riders including home favourite Joanne Somarriba (Spain), Karin Thürig (Switzerland), Loes Gunnewijk (Netherlands) and Olivia Gollan (Australia) to get clear, the peloton stayed largely together until the end. Here the German team worked perfectly to deliver their sprinter to the final 200 metres in a good position, after which she had little trouble in galloping home in front.
"I need some time to realize what I have done today," she said after the finish. "The team worked perfect for me, they put me in a good place in the bunch sprint. We have a very good team' there's very much a sense of cooperation and understanding between the riders."
Britain's Nicole Cooke has had a hard season due to injury but she initially looked unhappy with second place. In the winners enclosure after the race she repeatedly shook her head, appearing disappointed with herself for not winning, but by the time the press conference was on she seemed satisfied. "I think overall I'm pretty happy with my silver medal," she stated. "I feel very happy with my sprint today. I think I didn't much wrong, I was beaten by a very, very fast sprinter. I'm happy with the way I rode my race, given my condition." She added that she was very grateful for her team-mates support.
2005 world cup winner Oenone Wood appeared content with her bronze. "Our team put a really good effort and used the strengths that we had. I got boxed in around the last corner, going around in about 15th place, but the finishing straight was very long and there was a stall. I was able to get myself into a very good position after that. I'm happy with the way the team rode' it was an awesome effort."
Defending champion Judith Arndt came into the race below par due to a virus and finished off the back of the peloton, but she was happy at the finish due to the German victory. "It all worked so well today. Regina is really reliable in the sprint and everybody pulled together. I am so happy with this result."
She rode strongly today in support of Schleicher, showing that she had regained some of her form after getting over her virus. "I felt pretty good today," she stated. "In the last few days I tried to rest as much as possible. I didn't give interviews or anything that worked well. I am really happy that the coaches were behind me and they let me rest when I needed it. As a result, I could then give support to the team.
"Personally, I am glad the season is over. I will rest a lot now."
Australia's Olivia Gollan attacked several times and while she didn't succeed in staying clear, she was very happy with teammate Wood's bronze medal. "The race was really hard. It's great, we've got a good result today. My team was good, excellent. I think we did well, we've got a bronze medal and as we hadn't a medal from the road from a long time, it's great."
The Dutchwoman Chantal Beltman and world TT Karin Thürig gave their reactions to the course. "The last part was tough, the final three laps had a lot of attacks," said Beltman. "It was a fast race. The climbs were not hard enough for the climbers to go away, so it was good for the sprinters. The Germans had a really strong team and they had a good control on the race."
Thürig also paid tribute to the strength of the Germans and said agreed the climbs were not hard enough. "It was a nice course. For us [the Swiss] it was a little bit too flat. Regina Schleicher had a strong team today."
How it unfolded
A total of 131 riders took to the start outside the famous Estadio Santiago Bernabeu this morning, the 126 kilometre race getting underway at 9 am. Conditions were hazy but quite warm, around 20 degrees. The bunch remained largely together for the opening lap, with Elodie Touffet (France) the first to make a real move. She was brought back soon afterwards, though, as was the subsequent attacker, Bettina Kuhn of Switzerland.
Australian Olivia Gollan had a go on the third lap and when she was reeled in, Modesta Vzesniauskaite (Lithuania) kicked clear for a while. Once more, things came back together after a couple of minutes.
Shortly after the start of the fourth lap, Great Britain's Emma Pooley had a hard fall and taken away in an ambulance. Local hero Joane Somarriba and Oenone Wood (Spain) pushed the pace on the first climb of Dehesa de la Villa, but to no avail. Marina Jaunatre (France) then went clear and was joined by Alessandra D'Ettorre (Italy) and Adrie Visser (Netherlands), but a lack of co-operation spelt curtains for that attempt. Nicole Brändli (Switzerland) tried next, unsuccessfully, and then Somarriba attempted to break things up on the second climb. When that failed, time trial winner Karin Thürig (Switzerland) used her power to drag a group clear. However the others wouldn't commit, meaning that it was all together crossing the start/finish line with two laps to go.
Eneritz Iturriaga Echevarria Mazag (Spain) attacked in the feed zone and quickly opened a 20 second lead. This looked dangerous but the collective strength behind saw her attempt come to an end after about ten minutes. Loes Gunnewijk (Netherlands) then had a shot, after which Olivia Gollan and defending champion Judith Arndt (Germany) accelerated with some 25 kilometres to go. After they were recaptured, Svetlana Bubnenkova (Russian Federation) opened a small lead and held a couple of seconds advantage as they crossed the start/finish line for the second last time. The German team rode hard to bring her back, seemingly unaware that Arndt was off the back with a puncture. She was able to rejoin, though.
Dutchwoman Gunnewijk tried again but couldn't get a good gap. Marina Jaunatre (France) and Noemi Cantele (Italy) surged and got 50 metres, but despite the reinforcement of Olga Slyusareva (Russian Federation) they were unable to fend off the bunch on the climb. Setting the pace once again was Somarriba, trying her utmost to retire in style with a gold medal. It was however peloton groupé at the top.
USA rider Christine Thorburn put in a big surge with ten kilometres to go, holding a 30 metre gap as she raced onto the second climb on the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria. Almost inevitably, Somarriba was setting a furious pace in the bunch and she dragged them back up to her. The Spaniard kicked clear immediately with Susanne Ljungskog (Sweden) and two others, but there was a regrouping right after the top. USA's Amber Neben then followed up Thorburn's effort when she surged, getting seven seconds on the stretched-out peloton and staying clear for several kilometres. Riders from Germany and Canada tried to reel her in, but she did a great job in holding her lead.
One against many was a tough ask, though, and inside the final five kilometres she was finally sucked up by the charging main bunch. Dutchwoman Chantal Beltman did a textbook-perfect counter attack but she was caught just at the peloton rounded the Plaza de Castilla turn and began the long descent down towards the finish.
A slight stall enabled Nicole Brändli (Switzerland) and Erinne Willock (Canada) to slip clear, but the German train got organised again, hauled them back and delivered Schleicher to the finish in a perfect position. She kicked for home, seeing off Wood and holding off Cooke's efforts to get back in touch. Arndt may have been slightly below strength today, but Germany's second option sure delivered in style.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Images by Hernan Alvarez/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com
Images by CJ Farquharson/WomensCycling.net
1 Regina Schleicher (Germany) 3.08.52 (40.028 km/h) 2 Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) 3 Oenone Wood (Australia) 4 Dorte Lohse Rasmussen (Denmark) 5 Chantal Beltman (Netherlands) 6 Giorgia Bronzini (Italy) 7 Susanne Ljungskog (Sweden) 8 Anita Valen (Norway) 9 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Lithuania) 10 Trixi Worrack (Germany) 11 Diana Ziliute (Lithuania) 12 Priska Doppmann (Switzerland) 13 Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Netherlands) 14 Susan Palmer-Komar (Canada) 15 Mette Fischer Andreasen (Denmark) 16 Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania) 17 Kristin Armstrong (United States Of America) 18 Christine Thorburn (United States Of America) 19 Nicole Brändli (Switzerland) 20 Maria Teodora Ruano Sanchon (Spain) 21 Erinne Willock (Canada) 22 Malgorzta Jasinska (Poland) 23 Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spain) 24 Marissa Van Der Merwe (South Africa) 25 Edwige Pitel (France) 26 Magali Le Floc'h (France) 27 Sofie Goor (Belgium) 28 Modesta Vzesniauskaite (Lithuania) 29 Olivia Gollan (Australia) 0.06 30 Zoulfia Zabirova (Kazakhstan) 31 Alison Sydor (Canada) 32 Rachel Heal (Great Britain) 33 Amber Neben (United States Of America) 34 Tatiana Guderzo (Italy) 0.13 35 Judith Arndt (Germany) 0.39 36 Theresa Senff (Germany) 0.58 37 Olga Slyusareva (Russian Federation) 1.14 38 Tina Mayolo Pic (United States Of America) 39 Sara Carrigan (Australia) 40 Loes Gunnewijk (Netherlands) 41 Linda Serup (Denmark) 42 Christiane Soeder (Austria) 43 Nathalie Bates (Australia) 1.17 44 Lise Christensen (Denmark) 45 Volha Hayeva (Belarus) 46 An Van Rie (Belgium) 47 Olga Zabelinskaya (Russian Federation) 48 Anna Zugno (Italy) 49 Zita Urbonaite (Lithuania) 50 Luise Keller (Germany) 51 Noemi Cantele (Italy) 1.20 52 Bogumila Matusiak (Poland) 2.11 53 Kori Sehafer (United States Of America) 54 Ludivine Henrion (Belgium) 55 Grete Treier (Estonia) 2.26 56 Svetlana Bubnenkova (Russian Federation) 57 Elodie Touffet (France) 58 Monika Krawczyk (Poland) 59 Michelle Hyland (New Zealand) 60 Miho Oki (Japan) 61 Eneritz Iturriaga Echevarria Mazag (Spain) 62 Giuseppina Grassi Herrera (Mexico) 63 Cindy Pieters (Belgium) 64 Joanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand) 65 Sophie Creux (France) 66 Katheryn Curi (United States Of America) 67 Katherine Bates (Australia) 68 Suzanne De Goede (Netherlands) 69 Marina Jaunatre (France) 70 Toni Bradshaw (New Zealand) 71 Maribel Moreno Allue (Spain) 72 Karin Thürig (Switzerland) 73 Charlotte Goldsmith (Great Britain) 4.00 74 Yulia Martissova (Russian Federation) 7.58 75 Audrey Lemieux (Canada) 9.46 76 Nina Ovcharenco (Ukraine) 77 Chrissie Viljoen (South Africa) 11.03 78 Svitlana Semchouk (Ukraine) 12.49 79 Helen Kelly (Australia) 13.03 80 Alessandra D'Ettorre (Italy) 81 Gessica Turato (Italy) 82 Lene Byberg (Norway) 83 Adrie Visser (Netherlands) 84 Laure Werner (Belgium) 85 Luisa Tamanini (Italy) 86 Arenda Grimberg (Netherlands) 87 Clemilda Fernandes Silva (Brazil) 88 Marta Vilajosana Andreu (Spain) 89 Andrea Graus (Austria) 90 Anna Skawinska (Poland) 91 Helen Wyman (Great Britain) 92 Pavla Havlikova (Czech Republic) 93 Amy Moore (Canada) 94 Maja Wloszczowska (Poland) 95 Magalie Finot Laivier (France) 96 Melissa Holt (New Zealand) 97 Johanna Buick (New Zealand) 98 Laura Vangilder (United States Of America) 99 Madeleine Sandig (Germany) 100 Emma Johansson (Sweden) 101 Maja Watt Adamsen (Denmark) 102 Sarah Grab (Switzerland) 13.42 103 Janildes Fernandes Silva (Brazil) 104 Felicia Greer (Canada) 105 Paulina Brzezna (Poland) 106 Miyoko Karami (Japan) 19.40 107 Elena Andreeva (Russian Federation) DNF Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Germany) DNF Annette Beutler (Switzerland) DNF Bettina Kuhn (Switzerland) DNF Yulia Razenkova (Russian Federation) DNF Erika Vilunaite (Lithuania) DNF Maria Mercedes Cagigas Amedo (Spain) DNF Tamara Boyd (New Zealand) DNF Catherine Hare (Great Britain) DNF Emma Pooley (Great Britain) DNF Katleen Vermeiren (Belgium) DNF Veronica Andrèasson (Sweden) DNF Monica Holler (Sweden) DNF Madeleine Lindberg (Sweden) DNF Kateryna Krasova (Ukraine) DNF Iryna Shpylyova (Ukraine) DNF Bernadette Schober (Austria) DNF Isabella Wieser (Austria) DNF Uenia Fernandes Souza (Brazil) DNF Verónica Leal Balderas (Mexico) DNF Veronika Sharametsyeva (Belarus) DNF Siobhan Dervan (Ireland) DNF Tiina Nieminen (Finland) DNF Camila Ayala (Argentina) DNF Agnes Kay Eppers Reynders (Bolivia) Starters: 143 Classified: 107