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World championships - CM
Madrid, Spain, September 21-25, 2005
Race 4 - September 24: Women's road race, 126km
Arndt sick, but looking for double
By Hernan Alvarez Macias in Madrid
Many of the riders who placed in the top positions in the time trial will take the start on Saturday in the women's road race in the 2005 World Championships in Madrid. Judith Arndt (Germany), who finished fourth in the TT on Wednesday, will wear the number 1 after her great victory in the road race in Verona 2004. She had a viral problem recently, and this could well affect her tomorrow. We will see how the German performs on the Madrid circuit, but she has too strong sprinting teammates in Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Regina Schleicher, either of whom could take the gold if it does come down to a bunch sprint.
Former Grande Boucle Féminin champion Joane Somarriba, who did so well in the race against the clock and got the silver medal on the Casa de Campo course, is also a candidate for the win at the Paseo de la Castellana. Somarriba wants to retire with another medal after her brilliant career, and will have a strong team behind her.
Third in the time trial, USA's Kristin Armstrong will also start the 126km road race. Amber Neben and Christine Thorburn, both in the top 10 in the time trial, and sprinter Tina Mayolo Pic will be together with Armstrong in a seven-woman team, that looks to be very versatile on paper. Germany, Italy and the U.S. are the only three outfits that will start with seven riders. The teams with six riders include Australia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Russia, Lithuania, France, Spain, New Zealand, Great Britain, Poland, Belgium and Canada. Therefore, these teams will have the greatest chances of winning, considering the number of riders on the road.
Sara Carrigan one of Australia's big hopes, as she has the potential to win another big road race like she did in Athens 2004, beating Arndt after a breakaway. In a recent Cyclingnews interview, Carrigan said, "You have to look at the strong teams - Germany is a strong team, and obviously they have got seven riders this year with Judith being the current champion. They are allowed to start with seven. I would definitely count the Aussies in, we have certainly got good form and a result is forthcoming now. So, hopefully it will go well."
Besides Carrigan, sprinter Oenone Wood should be amongst it if it comes to a bunch sprint. Wood won the World Cup for the second year in a row this year, and will be one of the marked riders in the race.
Italy's Tatiana Guderzo was second in Verona 2004 behind Arndt, and maybe this is her chance to go for the gold medal. We can't exclude Edita Pucinskaite from Lithuania who won in Verona 1999. Hamilton 2003 world champion Susanne Ljungskog will also race, and despite having only four teammates, she will be among the top favourites after winning the women's Giro della Toscana recently. So many times, the women's World Champion has been one of the place getters in this tough Italian tour.
Another brilliant rider inside the peloton will be past women's Giro champion Nicole Brändli (Switzerland). Britain's Nicole Cooke can also be considered for the title, as well as The Netherlands' super consistent Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel, and Russia's Svetlana Boubnenkova.
The big absentee tomorrow will be Jeannie Longo (France) who wasn't selected for these championships even though she was willing to compete for her country.
Road race preview: urban setting for World's
By Shane Stokes in Madrid
The city of Madrid is already well known worldwide for its energy and style, but both attributes will be boosted yet further this weekend with the hosting of the three world championship road races on its streets. An influx of thousands of spectators plus the always-vocal support of the sports-mad Spanish public should generate plenty of atmosphere for the road races for Elite women, under 23 men and Elite men.
Somewhat unusually, the course is based almost totally in urban surroundings, the riders tearing up and down the Paseo de la Castellana thoroughfare and passing Real Madrid's hallowed Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, before looping out through residential areas, passing quickly through the Dehesa de la Villa park and then returning to the start/finish area. The route takes the riders past shops and apartment blocks and while this sounds unappealing, the aesthetic nature of Madrid means that the races should work well on television. Of course one obvious benefit is accessibility for spectators; as a result, huge numbers are expected.
The riders in each race will compete on laps of a 21 kilometre course. There are two hills per circuit, the 1.5 kilometre Dehesa de la Villa climb and the 2.2 kilometre ascent up the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria. Neither of these are particularly difficult by themselves, but the combined effects of speed and distance mean they may assume greater significance towards the end of the races.
The circuit begins on the Paseo de la Castellana, a perfectly straight three-lane carriageway which rises gently uphill to the impressive leaning towers at the Plaza de Castilla. After 1.5 kilometres the riders swing left and race onto the Calle de Bravo Murillo, passing through the Tetuan district, then take a gentle right turn down the narrower, tree-lined Lope de Haro and Calle de Francos Rodriguez streets. From there the riders take a sweeping left turn at the 3.8 kilometre mark, gathering speed as they head along the downhill Camino de las Moreras and into the verdant Cuidad Universitaria district. A couple of right hand bends brings them past the Complutense University's faculty of geological science and onto the Avignida Paraninfo (5.4 kilometres). Then, after another 1.2 kilometres, they reach the narrow right hand turn at the base of the Dehesa de la Villa climb.
This twisting ascent rises 70 metres in 1.2 kilometres for an average gradient of approximately six percent, suiting big-ring power riders rather than climbing specialists. The road twists and turns through the attractive park up to the 710 metre summit (8.1 km), then returns to urban settings as it drops quickly down the Calle de Antonio Machado. A left hand bend leads the peloton onto the Calle del Doctor Ramón Castroviejo and Calle Cantalejo, bringing the riders down a narrow residential descent and to the base of the second climb.
This ascent is more exposed and longer, rising 80 metres in 2.2 kilometres. While the average gradient appears easier at just under four percent, the second half - namely the climb up the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria - features the steepest sections of the course. But, once again, these should prove to be big ring power climbs, suiting explosive riders rather than flyweights.
Once to the top (14.8 km, 680 m) the road plateaus out and heads past tall apartment blocks, before flicking right twice, looping around a roundabout and then turning left onto the Avenida Monforte de Lemos. This flat street takes them to the turn onto Ginzo de Lima and then onto the Avenida de Asturias, both fast, wide avenues which will ramp up the speed before the return to Plaza de Castilla (18 km) and the high velocity rundown towards the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. Once down to Nuevos Ministerios, the site of the spectacular Windsor tower inferno earlier this year, the peloton will collectively lock their brakes and arc hard around the final bend before beginning the 500 metre drag to the finish line.
Previously christened 'McEwen corner' by riders who felt that it would suit the Australian's excellent bike-handling skills, this final turn was modified by the race organisers on Friday. Many big names had voiced their concerns about the bend, saying that it would lead to dangerous riding and crashes. The peloton will now take a wider approach to the corner via a side road, lessening the turning arc and causing the corner to be faster and - theoretically, at least - safer.
Verdict: This World's course is unusual in that most of the 21 kilometre route is based within the suburbs of a major city, rather than the more rural settings of other years. The organisers have brought the race through a couple of attractive parkland areas and, by and large, the Madrid streets chosen look well (especially when the sun shines, as is expected).
The World's road race course has just two climbs of any significance, although both have an average gradient of less than seven percent and will certainly be ridden in the big ring. This is one of the flattest courses in recent years, appearing - as did Zolder three years ago - to be destined for a likely sprint finish. However those riding the course in recent days say that the course is harder than they thought, with those two climbs, the technical turns and some stretches of slightly uneven road all likely to have an increasing effect as the kilometres tick by. Whether this will be enough to defeat the collective might of the sprinters' teams remains to be seen.