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World championships - CM

Madrid, Spain, September 21-25, 2005

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Race 1 - September 21: Women's individual time trial, 22km

Many candidates for one jersey

By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid

2004 winner Karin Thürig (Swi)
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The opening event of the Road World Championships in Madrid will be a very interesting fight between a number of outstanding riders like Karin Thürig (Switzerland), Joane Somarriba (Spain) and Judith Arndt (Germany).

Thürig is the defending champion after her remarkable performance last year in Verona. She will be the last to start at 10.57am (local time) wearing the number 1. The Swiss got the bronze medal in Athens in the women's TT and she had her revenge later in Italy in 2004.

Somarriba will be the third last to begin her route throughout the Casa de Campo in the capital of Spain. The Spaniard was fourth in 2004 and World Champion in Hamilton in 2003, and it may be her last World's as she has been thinking about her retirement for two years.

Arndt is always a candidate, even though she is not at her best due to a viral problem. The German was second in Verona and she will truly look for gold this time. She won the road race in the Romeo and Juliet city, so she should be seriously taken into account in the battle for the first places tomorrow, and also on Saturday for the road race.

Lithuania's Edita Pucinskaite is another big contender. She will wear the number 2 as she will be the penultimate rider to commence the race against the clock. She will know all her rivals' times but one: Thürig's number. This will be an advantage for this tremendous rider.

Aussie Oenone Wood should also be considered. Wood was fourth in the road race and sixth in the TT in Athens 2004. Another Australian, Sara Carrigan will certainly be among the top positions. Carrigan achieved the gold medal in the road race in Greece last year.

We can't discard local Dori Ruano. Together with Somarriba, they will be supported by the fans who will watch the race by the road. Ruano was bronze medallist in 2001 Lisbon and can get onto the podium.

The Netherlands' Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel, Russia's Svetlana Boubnenkova and Kazakhstan's Zoulfia Zabirova should also be mentioned to place in the top 3 positions. Therefore, there are many great names for just three medals.

Course preview

By Shane Stokes in Madrid

The tree-lined avenue
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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All three of the time trials will take place on a variation of the same course in and around Casa de Campo, a vast and picturesque park to the West of Madrid. Serviced by the city's excellent metro system, it is expected that a large crowd will attend on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd of September to watch, cheer and fiesta, Spanish style, as the under 23 men, Elite women and Elite men slug it out against the clock.

The time trial begins close to the artificial lake on the east side of the course, a few hundred metres from where the TT ends. It should therefore be possible to travel back and forward between the two, again facilitating the spectators here to see the world's best do their thing.

Once out of the park,
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The time trials get underway on the Pase de los Castaños, a sheltered, tree-lined section which stretches for about a kilometre before opening up into the slightly more exposed Paso de Los Platanos. After about 1.3 kilometres of racing the route bears gently left and then travels past the theme park and zoo, all the while dragging gradually upwards on the sluggish Carretera de los Rodajos.

Approximately 4 kilometres into the test the riders head out of the park, flick left, bear right around a roundabout and then onto an undulating dual carriageway. The road rises for about 100 metres, gaining altitude, but riders should be well able to power up this and over subsequent drags; however, this section is quite exposed, so if an unexpected wind crops up it may well play a part in the outcome.

Around the turn
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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The under 23 men and Elite women have a slightly shorter TT course, the riders looping around a roundabout 5.6 kilometres into the lap and tearing back along the other side of the dual carriageway to once again pass through the gate of the Caso del Campo. This represents for them the high point of the TT, with an altitude of 650 metres (as compared to the starting height of 580 metres).

However the Elite men continue on past the Under 23/Elite women's turn for another 1.6 kilometres, passing through two roundabouts before their own 180 degree switchback. Apart from lengthening their lap, it also sees them climb to a slightly higher altitude of 680 metres.

Past the summit,
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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Once back into the Caso de Campo the riders have a gentle downhill to the lowpoint of the course, the 570 metre base of the Teleférico climb, close to the start/finish area. The ascent up the Camino de los Pinos sees a gain of 60 metres in just under a kilometre and features the steepest part of the course, with riders powering up the hill in an effort to either make up time or to limit their losses. Once past the top, the course plateaus briefly before flicking right onto the Carretera de Garabitas and the start of a long, fast decent through a wooded section and back down towards the lake.

The riders will then head around the right hand side of the water to the finish area at the Puerta del Ángel (573 metres altitude). The Elite women end their race here after one lap, while the under 23 riders and the Elite men continue on to do a second circuit before completing their time trial and determining who are the new world champions.

Putting the final touches
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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Reaction: The course has been described by several riders as 'deceptive.' Many say that they were told it was flat but were then surprised to discover that it is quite rolling and definitely a bit tougher than they were expecting.

"It is quite a deceiving course, really," defending Elite men's TT champion Michael Rogers told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "All the reports were saying it is pretty much flat, but that is not the case. It is relatively up and down the whole way and on narrow roads, too. It is harder than people think."

Trivia: While undeniably beautiful and a big hit with cyclists, joggers, race walkers, soccer players and other sportsmen and women, the Caso de Campo is somewhat notorious amongst Madridlenos due to the high presence of "ladies of the night" there. Surprised passers by often get flashed by those keen to show off their wares, even during daytime.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

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