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World Road Championships - CM

Salzburg, Austria, September 20-24, 2006

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Race 6 - September 24: Elite men's road race, 265.8km

Live report

Live Commentary by Jeff Jones and Laura Weislo, with additional reporting from Hedwig Kröner and Kristy Scrymgeour

Live coverage starts: 10:30 CEST
Estimated finish: 16:45 CEST

10:20 CEST   
G'day und willkommen auf Salzburg for Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 2006 elite men's world championship road race. The men race over 12 laps of the 22.15 km circuit for a total of 265.8 km. We've seen that the circuit is quite fast but still testing enough to extract a breakaway group out of the clutches of the peloton. The first climb up to Zilling doesn't seem to be tough enough to cause major damage, but the second climb, the Gschaiderberg, has been the key point. It comes right after a fast descent and is only 750m, but it's steep enough to break things up near the top. If you get enough of a gap, then the peloton won't come back on the descent to the finish.

The weather today is once again beautiful and sunny, with a steady breeze blowing. It's from the south east, which means it will be a head/crosswind on both climbs. Temperatures should be in the mid-20s and it will be a perfect day for racing.

The riders are now being called up to the line, with defending champion Tom Boonen looking quite happy with the state of affairs.

10:30 CEST   
Other favourites today include Vuelta stars Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan), Alejandro Valverde (Spain), Erik Zabel (Germany) and Paolo Bettini (Italy). Then there are jokers like Stefan Schumacher (Germany) and Philippe Gilbert (Belgium).

The Belgians look relaxed on the start line as the gun goes off to start the race. Let's get it on! Paolo Bettini and Luca Paolini are the last men to start, with Bettini checking his back wheel for the last time.

10:31 CEST    1km/264.8km to go
And straight away, there is an attack. It's Jose Antonio Ramos Querales (Venezuela). No-one is going to chase him.

10:33 CEST    2km/263.8km to go
There is a reaction behind the Venezuelan, as a small group forms in pursuit. Ramos has 35 seconds.

10:34 CEST    3km/262.8km to go
The speed lifts in the bunch as teams sort out their tactics. Now it bunches up again.

Martin Riska (Slovakia) signals for the neutral support.

10:35 CEST    4km/261.8km to go
Ramos works hard as he tries to get his lone breakaway to work. He's sitting right on the point of the saddle, but now has just 15 seconds to the peloton.

10:37 CEST    5km/260.8km to go
The gap starts to close down, prompting counter attacks from the bunch. Two riders go off in pursuit of Ramos.

10:38 CEST   
He is caught by a counter, but the bunch is right there. All together at the foot of the first climb. Bruseghin is up there, marking things for the Italians.

10:40 CEST    7km/258.8km to go
Maros Kovac (Slovakia) counters with an Italian - Rinaldo Nocentini (Italy), and Dutch rider - Bram de Groot. Nocentini's vest is zipped open and flapping in the breeze. The Spanish close it down.

10:42 CEST    8km/257.8km to go
Carlos Sastre (Spain) sits second last wheel, but will probably try to move up a bit. The top of the climb is reached, and the pack is still together.

10:44 CEST    9km/256.8km to go
The peloton flies down the first little descent, then up a small climb before the next, longer descent to the Gschaiderberg.

10:49 CEST    12km/253.8km to go
OVer the top of the Gschaiderberg for the first time, and it's the Italians and Colombians controlling things, but riding a hardish tempo.

Croatian Matija Kvasina crashes against a barrier, but looks to be ok. Burkina Faso's Rabaki Jeremie Ouedraogo is off the back.

10:50 CEST    15km/250.8km to go
The descent back into town is taken at a moderate pace with one of the Germans leading the bunch.

10:53 CEST    17km/248.8km to go
The peloton reaches the bottom of the descent in a blaze of colour. Two riders try to get a gap as they turn left into the narrow section up past the team boxes.

10:55 CEST    18km/247.8km to go
It's Alex Ardila Cano (Colombia) with a small gap as he rides up the last small climb. There was a reaction in the peloton, but any chance to form a chase group has been nullified.

10:57 CEST    19km/246.8km to go
The road narrows and the bunch has to funnel through, thinning out in the process. Ardila has a good half a minute.

10:58 CEST    20km/245.8km to go
Tyler Farrar (USA) is in pursuit of Cano, and is about 30 seconds behind. The bunch is another 10 seconds back, not looking too hurried.

11:00 CEST    21km/244.8km to go
Ardila reaches the final kilometre, with Farrar closing to 15 seconds. If the two can get together, they will be able to maximise their strengths.

11:01 CEST    23km/242.8km to go
Ardila crosses the line with the crowd giving him a huge cheer. Farrar is next at 32 seconds. Then the peloton at 1'18.

That first lap was completed in 30'03 (44.22 km/h).

11:05 CEST    26km/239.8km to go
Ardila is hammering along on his own, trying to increase the gap to the bunch. Once it gets big enough, he'll probably wait for Farrar, who is still 30 seconds behind him.

11:05 CEST   
Farrar's teammate Danny Pate is sitting last wheel, chatting to one of the Austrians.

11:08 CEST    27km/238.8km to go
The three man Burkina Faso team is having problems today. Abdul Wahab Sawadogo has just closed the gap to the peloton after being dropped, but Saïdou Rouamba and Rabaki Jeremie Ouedraogo are both off the back.

Ardila reaches the foot of the first climb.

11:10 CEST    29km/236.8km to go
The gap to the bunch is now 2'40, as Farrar chases Ardila up the first hill. The Colombian isn't waiting for him just yet.

Aurélien Clerc (Switzerland) drops back and signals for his team car.

11:12 CEST   
Russell Downing (Great Britain) signals for some support at the back of the bunch. The British vertical red, white and blue stripes are very striking.

11:14 CEST    31km/234.8km to go
Ardila goes over the top of the climb, then down and up the next little hill. Farrar is still 35 seconds behind. He'll need a bit of help to get up to the Colombian, who should probably wait now. He doesn't look like he wants to though.

11:16 CEST   
The peloton reaches the top of the climb, led by the Italians.

The Russian team has an interesting composition:

37 Alexander Arekeev
38 Alexandre Bazhenov
39 Alexandre Botcharov
40 Alexander Efimkin
41 Vladimir Efimkin
42 Vladimir Gusev
43 Vladimir Karpets
44 Alexandr Kolobnev
45 Alexei Markov

They seem to have two team captains: Vladimir and Alex.

11:21 CEST    37km/228.8km to go
Ardila reaches the top of the Gschaiderberg with 1'02 on Farrar. There's been a reaction in the peloton, with four riders, including Roche hammering off the front. Two Italians are up there, including Tosatto. The gap is around 2'00 at the top.

11:23 CEST    38km/227.8km to go
Ardila is already halfway down the descent, as Sawadogo (Burkina) is already a minute or two behind the peloton again. Burkina's chances of winning the rainbow jersey this year look to be slim.

11:26 CEST    40km/225.8km to go
Farra might have to wait for the 10 or so chasers as he reaches the bottom of the descent, a minute behind Ardila. Still trying to get names in this chase group.

11:28 CEST   
Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Matteo Tosatto and Rinaldo Nocentini (Italy), Jurgen Van Goolen (Belgium), Bram De Groot (Netherlands), Daniel Andonov Petrov (Bulgaria) are some of the chasers. There's a German there too, possibly Schreck.

11:29 CEST    41km/224.8km to go
Farrar sucks down an energy gel as he ponders what to do. Probably wait for a bit. He's not catching Ardila on his own.

11:29 CEST    42km/223.8km to go
The bunch is taking it very easy, with Haselbacher sitting at the back at 30 km/h with a heart rate of 125.

11:32 CEST    44.3km/221.5km to go
The full composition of the chasing break, which has absorbed Tyler Farrar (USA): Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Matteo Tosatto and Rinaldo Nocentini (Italy), Jurgen Van Goolen (Belgium), Bram De Groot (Netherlands), Daniel Andonov Petrov (Bulgaria), Luis Perez Rodriguez (Spain), Thomas Voeckler (France), Stephan Schreck (Germany), Aliaksandr Kychinski (Belarus).

Ardila reaches the finish line of lap 2, having done that in 32'01 (41.509 km/h).

11:36 CEST    47km/218.8km to go
The chasing group crosses the line 1'00 behind the Colombian. They should catch him on this lap. It's an interesting break, with Italy having two riders in it, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France and the Netherlands all one each. The big nations that are missing are Australia, Russia and Switzerland.

Robert Radosz (Poland) is trying to catch the leaders on his own, but he's got no hope. He trails the leader by 2'50. Then a Venezuelan on his own, and it's Jose Antonio Ramos Querales at 3'40. The main peloton is at 4'15, not looking in a hurry.

11:47 CEST    52km/213.8km to go
Cano reaches the top of the first climb and heads down the short descent that follows. The chase group behind is heading into the feed zone, getting a little sustenance for what could be a long ride out front. They're now only 15 seconds behind Cano. Radosz is 2'45 in arrears, and the peloton is kilometres behind.

11:54 CEST    57km/208.8km to go
And Cano is caught by the chasers just over the top of the second climb. Radosz is still in no man's land, not making much progress - actually losing ground to the leaders now. He's 3'04 behind, with Frantisek Rabon (Czech Republic) another 15" back, and Jose Antonio Ramos Querales (Venezuela) still away from the bunch another 1'40 behind Rabon.

12:04 CEST    65km/200.8km to go
As the leaders end their third lap, they've finally got the paceline rolling smoothly. This will make the chase of Radosz, Rabon and Ramos very difficult.

12:05 CEST    66km/199.8km to go
Voeckler appears to be having trouble with his pedal, and unclips and fiddles with his shoe. The group isn't going so hard that this has any ill effect for him.

12:07 CEST    68km/197.8km to go
The peloton takes a nature break before they get into the more heavily populated section of town as the leaders reach the first feed zone. Rabon and Radosz are now at the end of the lap, and losing time to the leaders. They're now at 3'44.

12:12 CEST   
The situation at the end of the third lap remains as follows:

  • Alex Ardila Cano (Colombia), Tyler Farrar (USA), Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Matteo Tosatto and Rinaldo Nocentini (Italy), Jurgen Van Goolen (Belgium), Bram De Groot (Netherlands), Daniel Andonov Petrov (Bulgaria), Luis Perez Rodriguez (Spain), Stephan Schreck (Germany), Aliaksandr Kychinski (Belarus), Thomas Voeckler (France)
  • Robert Radosz (Poland), Frantisek Rabon (Czech Republic) at 3'44
  • Jose Antonio Ramos Querales at 6'55
  • Peloton at 9'55

Lap time on that circuit was 31'49.

12:20 CEST    76km/189.8km to go
The leaders are getting another feed after the first climb. It's warm and dry today in Salzburg, so it will be important for these guys to stay hydrated if they're going to be out front all day. Voeckler had a little trouble again, and had to sprint back up to the group before they headed downhill again.

12:25 CEST    80km/185.8km to go
Stephan Schreck leads the group up to the top of the second climb, making it look pretty easy. Voeckler is again at the back, rocking his bike back and forth in his slightly erratic style... but it works for him, and they're all over the top and onto the false flat together.

Radosz and Rabon are losing more ground, way back on the first climb as the leaders start the fast descent off the Gschaiderberg.

12:28 CEST   
Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes writes in: "Young Nicolas Roche, in our lead group today, is actually the son of Stephen Roche, who won this race 19 years ago. Nicolas (Cofidis this year, Credit Agricole in 2007 and 2008) won a stage, wore yellow for two days and finished tenth overall in the Tour de l'Avenir. He is still 22, this is his first elite worlds. Ditto for Philip Deignan (AG2R), who was ninth in the under 23 world champs last year in Madrid and took second on a mountain stage in l'Avenir, showing he is back to strong form after a season hampered by glandular fever."

12:34 CEST   
Neil Stephens' Australian team has missed this break today, but we probably won't see them chasing right away. He's still considering their team a bit of an underdog, and they'll play off the bigger teams like Italy and Belgium. O'Grady is an outside hope for the team today - he gets over the hills pretty well. Robbie McEwen is sticking near the front of the bunch on the climb, as the peloton comes up more than 12 minutes behind the leaders.

12:38 CEST    88.8km/177km to go
The leaders have finished lap four, still rolling through in a tight rotation. The lap was a bit slower this time, 32'04 to complete 2.05.57 at 42 km/h. The peloton is still a bit sluggish, not showing any signs of launching a chase: they're getting close to 13' behind.

12:51 CEST   
David Millar said that he's a bit tired from the Vuelta - he rode about 80km on Tuesday, another 80km on Wednesday, took Thursday completely off. Basically a big rest to try and re-energize the legs for today.

Erik Zabel was asked if his team could be counted on to work for him today: "When you're at the world championships... it gets difficult to forget your own ambitions. But I think our team has good character... And it's good to have a little ambition."

12:56 CEST   
Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) is on great form at the moment, but dispels any thoughts of a Wallonia/Flanders conflict between himself and teammate Boonen. His ambitions for the race? "We're going to ride for Boonen, of course, because he's the big favourite. If there's a break in the final circuits, I'll try to go for it, but otherwise it's for Boonen".

13:02 CEST    107km/158.8km to go
Rabon and Radosz crest the second climb, still working together, but their gap is ever so slowly slipping away... 5'57 now, as the leaders are heading back into town. The peloton is starting to show signs of life - under a bit of an arrow shape at the moment indicating that somebody has started to work at the front.

13:09 CEST    110km/155.8km to go
The peloton has passed over the first climb, and are now single file as they cover the short descent. They've finally decided that the gap has grown too large, and the Dutch and Austrians are pushing the pace.
Bernhard Kohl (Austria) leads the bunch up the climb, as the leaders complete their fifth lap. That's a 9km stretch between the two groups.

13:10 CEST    110km/155.8km to go
That lap was still slower than the previous one, this time only 33'05. The leaders are still working well together, but not going all out. Tyler Farrar (United States) heads to the back of the group, probably so he can catch a bidon at the upcoming feedzone.

13:13 CEST    111km/154.8km to go
It's lunch time for our leaders, and they all grab musettes from their helpers. They've still got a very long way to go. Rabon and Radosz are still going hard, getting some good media time, but not much else.

13:18 CEST   
Yesterday's races showed that this course favours keen sprinters who aren't afraid to be aggressive. Women's winner Marianne Vos attacked several times coming into the finale, but still managed to win the sprint by several bike lengths. Oddly enough, Vos doesn't even have a trade team - she rides for a club. Surely she's gotten a few offers overnight!

13:24 CEST   
Joost Posthuma (Netherlands) and Bernard Kohl (Austria) are still up front leading the chase. Posthuma pulls off, letting the Austrian take over. Now, the Austrians missed the break, but the Dutch have de Groot up front... perhaps his team doesn't favour his chances.

13:30 CEST   
One of the riders whose style really suits this course is Stefan Schumacher. Cyclingnews' Hedwig Kröner asked him for his take on the race: "I hope that a group can go, that would be optimal. It wouldn't be good for me if we get to the finish with 60 or 70 guys... But with the wind today, attacking will be harder. But it could also be that the field disintegrates before that, because there will be a crosswind between the two climbs, and because the road is so narrow.

"Zabel came out of the Vuelta really strong, so he is our chance for a medal or for the victory in a sprint. If guys like Bettini have a good day, I will try to go for it with him. The Italians have the advantage that they have a lot of very strong guys. The Spaniards too, with Flecha and Sanchez.

"I feel good, I'm optimistic. I haven't raced for two weeks, so then you always have a bit of apprehension... but I felt good in training."

13:33 CEST    124km/141.8km to go
Voeckler is finding the hill a bit difficult now, and drops off the pace on the climb... but he's got a nice descent to catch back on. But he's certainly not going to enjoy the climbs later in the race if he's suffering near the halfway point.

13:35 CEST   
Fränk Schleck should have been an outside favourite for win today, but has apparently been suffering from some stomach troubles. He took the start this morning, and will be hoping to recover well enough to contend later on.

13:40 CEST    128km/137.8km to go
The gap has come down significantly as the Swiss give the Austrians a hand at the front. The peloton has just crested the Gschaiderberg. Rabon and Radosz are still dangling ahead, but will likely be pulled back to the bunch on the descent. The pack is single file again, speeding through the twisty streets - it's quite a beautiful sight from the overhead view.

13:43 CEST    132km/133.8km to go
The leaders are heading toward the end of the lap - just coming out of a nice sweeping left hand bend under a bridge. Then it's a few right/left bends and a straight and wide last 500m. If it does come down to a big bunch sprint today, it should be a safe one. It's the narrow roads leading into the final kilometres that will be the dodgy part.

33'05 for that lap.

13:45 CEST    135km/130.8km to go
Time for a second lunch for Tyler Farrar, and he grabs his musette. Jurgen Van Goolen (Belgium) misses his bottle and looks really annoyed. He reaches for a bottle from another team, but doesn't get it. He'll have another chance after the next climb.

13:49 CEST    139km/126.8km to go
Still not present at the front as the bunch swallows up the break of Rabon and Radosz are the Australians. Simon Gerrans said today "I'll hang out in the bunch as long as possible before doing anything, because it will be a very fast race, and early attacks might fade just like they did yesterday. There will be a headwind across the climbs, and maybe a bit of crosswind over the top. The stronger wind across the climb should make it a lot more difficult."

13:57 CEST    142km/123.8km to go
The entirety of the Swiss team is at the front of the race, really stringing out the bunch to close down this gap. They're being propelled by the victory of Fabian Cancellara in the time trial, and are determined to pull off a double for Switzerland.

The leaders have reached the top of the climb and are heading over the flatter part. They're working pretty hard now, being aware that the chase is on full steam behind.

14:05 CEST    146km/119.8km to go
The lead group heads over the second climb, and there are a few riders struggling with that steep bit. The bunch is still under the pressure of the Swiss team, and is closing in on the breakaway, just a few kilometres behind, descending the first hill as the leaders head down the final descent of the lap.

14:10 CEST    150km/115.8km to go
On the second climb, there is some serious action in the peloton as Bruseghin attacks. Over the top, Marlon Alirio Perez Arango (Colombia), Mart Ojavee (Estonia), Marcel Sieberg (Germany), Marzio Bruseghin and Filippo Pozzato (Italy), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine) and Nick Nuyens (Belgium) have a gap, chasing the leaders at six minutes. More riders join them.

14:11 CEST   
The break is closed down by the bunch on the descent, and Bruseghin continues to set a hard tempo. The gap to the leaders is less than 6 minutes.

14:18 CEST    158km/107.8km to go
The Austrians and Spanish keep the tempo up coming into the start finish zone. The peloton looks pretty large still - well over 100 riders.

The leaders pass through the team boxes, with Schreck grabbing a feed bag. Luis Perez drops to the back and signals for help.

14:20 CEST   
The peloton comes up to the finish, 4'40 behind the break, with Wrolich(?) on the front ahead of a string of Spaniards.

14:22 CEST   
Australian team director Scott Sunderland spoke to Cyclingnews this morning: "The course can be difficult, not so much the climb itself but the way it approaches the climb. The climb is steep but short, and you don't have to do it so many times. But the will be a lot of position fighting before that descent, otherwise you'll get an accordion effect.

"What also changes a little bit is that there are some very good bike riders who are on their own, as they changed the team participation rules. That will change the tactics of the race and the outcome, I think. It will be a very aggressive race today.

"Stuart is very confident, though. He's got the full support of the team, so we'll se what we can do. I think it will be a group sprint - something like last year, where 20 or 30 riders just came back together in the end. But it will be very difficult.

"You only have to get the right combination of guys, and there are so many: Boogerd, Valverde, Sastre, Schleck, Vinokourov etc. I think the Spanish and the Italians will make it very difficult today, until two laps to go. The problem is that all the big teams have at least one back-up leader: we have Cadel Evans, the Belgians have Gilbert, Italy's got Di Luca and Pozzato, who will be eager to show himself today. The Germans have Schumacher, and so on. If all of these guys are in front, and their sprinters in the back, what do you do then?"

14:23 CEST   
Berni Kohl (Austria) comes to the finish line on his own, looking very tired. He did a lot of work to pull back the break to something manageable. He gets a huge cheer from the home town crowd.

14:27 CEST    164km/101.8km to go
The peloton slows down as it starts the eighth lap.

Robert Radosz (Poland) is now at the finish line, his race essentially over. He missed the break and spent a lot of time in a fairly fruitless pursuit. Bernhard Kohl abandons.

14:30 CEST    165km/100.8km to go
The leaders reach the top of the first climb, with a watchful peloton now tackling it. Dutch and Italian jerseys are prominent, with Boonen well placed in the third rank. But it isn't a chasing pace.

The lead group goes through the second feed zone, with Schreck dropping his bidon.

14:32 CEST    166km/99.8km to go
Luis Perez does a hard turn over the top, then Farrar, who has had a good race so far today.

14:34 CEST    168km/97.8km to go
Tosatto leads the break on the Gschaiderberg, with Schreck and De Groot in tow. Voeckler sits last wheel, and has to close a gap over the top. Farrar, Petrov and Nocentini have to chase as well.

14:37 CEST   
The bunch winds it up on the second climb with Rujano powering away before he is swamped by the rest. Pozzato drives it to the top, and the gap is about 3'00. The bunch strings out, and there are gaps appearing. Devolder, Rogers, Boogerd, Paolini, Valverde, Gilbert are all well placed.

14:38 CEST   
Wrolich comes to the top of the climb, heart rate at 180, sitting at 20 km/h. His race is finished.

14:39 CEST    171km/94.8km to go
Boonen and Valverde follow Pozzato over the top - the favourites are already starting to show themselves, and there's still 100 km to go.

14:42 CEST    173km/92.8km to go
The leaders are now at the foot of the descent, taking the left hander into the back streets through the industrial zone.

At the head of the bunch, we see Mexican Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio for a bit. Then a Spanish and Dutch rider slow things down a little. Boonen checks around for his team.

14:45 CEST    174km/91.8km to go
The leaders ride over the railway with three km to go, still working together fairly well.

Steffen Wesemann (Switzerland) spoke to us this morning: "As we're not the favourites in this race, we have to use the tactical situations of the others. I hope we'll go into the finale with as many riders as possible, and that one of us plays his cards right in the end.

"We'll have a headwind going up to the first climb, so that will make it hard for a break to go, as the road there is so wide. It's a fast course; it hurts during training but in the race you'll roll over it. I think there's a big chance for a bunch sprint."

14:47 CEST    176km/89.8km to go
The leaders reach the 1 km to go banner for the eighth time. Farrar in front, taking the right hander under the railway, then Kychinski rolls through for his turn.

14:49 CEST    177km/88.8km to go
And it's Schreck who leads them through the start/finish for the end of lap 8. The lap time was 32'59 (40.29 km/h) with the overall average now 41.2 km/h.

There are some attacks in the peloton, with a group of six or seven trying to get clear, led by Volodymyr Zagorodniy (Ukraine) and Cyril Dessel (France).

14:50 CEST    179km/86.8km to go
One of the Russian Alexes takes over, but the peloton is right behind this counter move, led by the Dutch. It's strung out and the gap is 2'28. They erased a good two minutes from the break on that lap.

14:53 CEST    181km/84.8km to go
Boonen, Valverde and Zabel were towards the back of the bunch on that lap.

The bunch reaches the feed zone, and most riders manage to grab bottles. Rogers looks annoyed that he can't find his soigneur. Someone drops a bidon, and it rolls gently into the path of the peloton. No-one hits it, until a following car runs over it and sprays water everywhere.

14:55 CEST    183km/82.8km to go
At the back of the break, De Groot and Van Goolen have a chat. The foot of the first climb is approaching.

14:58 CEST   
The prizes awarded to the national teams for the victory at the World's this year vary greatly from nation to nation. For example, the Austrian federation promised Eisel, Totschnig & co. €8000 for keeping the rainbow jersey within the country. The Italians, on the other hand may hand out an incentive of €125,000 if they win today, while the Belgians have promised €40,000.

15:00 CEST    186km/79.8km to go
The gap goes up to 2'30 again as the pace eases in the peloton. But now things will pick up as the bunch climbs up to Zilling. Aha, now the Italians get on the front and ride a bit harder.

15:03 CEST    188km/77.8km to go
Ballan leads the bunch on the climb, as the leaders roll over the top past feed zone 2. There are big crowds up here, and it's been a very popular race.

There's an attack in the break, and Voeckler is one of two riders who try to get a gap. But it comes back together. Roche looks a bit tired in last wheel.

15:05 CEST    190km/75.8km to go
The Italians have really dropped the hammer and the peloton is 200m long as it takes the first little descent. The leaders are on the second descent, en route to the Gschaiderberg. De Groot, then Schreck set tempo, before Luis Perez takes over with a really hard turn. This hurts De Groot and Farrar.

15:06 CEST   
Perez keeps the pace up and Kychinski is blown out the back too. The break reduces.

15:07 CEST    192km/73.8km to go
In the bunch, Paolini attacks with Flecha, but it's not a massive move. He checks back and sees the bunch led by the Kazakhstani team. That would be Kashechkin. The third place getter in the Vuelta rides hard to the top, and Valverde and Boonen are close. Gaps appear in the bunch. Kash asks the others to work over the top.

15:09 CEST   
Kashechkin, Hoste, Cancellara and a few others form a group off the front of the peloton as the descent begins. There are gaps everywhere. Cance does a huge turn.

15:11 CEST    193km/72.8km to go
Paolini is near the front too, but doesn't want to work with Cancellara, who spins his way down the descent.

Farrar and de Groot are trying to get back to the leaders, who have a minute on the bunch. Kychinski is also back.

15:12 CEST   
O'Grady and Cancellara swap off in front. Cancellara wants to keep the pace up as he has about 15 riders with him.

15:14 CEST    195km/70.8km to go
For those interested, there is 233m of climbing per lap, for a total of 2,796m.

The 14 chasers (waiting for names) have about 20 seconds on the bunch, and are 45 seconds behind the break. The Spanish are working in the bunch.

15:16 CEST    197km/68.8km to go
The peloton closes the gap to the 14 chasers to 18 seconds. Cancellara is doing a lot of work up here, but isn't getting much help. Ljungqvist is there, but it's tough to pick out the rest from the current angle of the blimp.

15:20 CEST    199km/66.8km to go
The two front groups come together, and we have Gilbert (Belgium), Sastre and Sanchez (Spain) and Pozzato and Di Luca (Italy) there too. That lap was 31'51 (41.7 km/h) for an overall average of 41.27 km/h.

The Dutch are chasing hard, with the gap at 40 seconds.

15:23 CEST    202km/63.8km to go
The lead group is now: Nicolas Roche (Ireland), Matteo Tosatto, Danilo Di Luca, Filippo Pozzato and Rinaldo Nocentini (Italy), Jurgen Van Goolen, Stijn Devolder and Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Andonov Petrov (Bulgaria), Luis Perez Rodriguez, Samuel Sanchez and Carlos Sastre Candil (Spain), Stephan Schreck (Germany), Thomas Voeckler (France), Aliaksandr Kychinski (Belarus), Bram De Groot (Netherlands), Tyler Farrar (USA), Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden), Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Stuart O'Grady (Australia), Nicki Sorensen (Denmark), Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway), Raivis Belohvosciks (Latvia), Vladimir Efimkin (Russian Federation).

Some very interesting names in there! But it's too big to cooperate fully. We'll see what happens on the climb. Maybe some attacks from the Italians, who have four riders there.

15:24 CEST    203km/62.8km to go
Pozzato sets the tempo in the lead break, then Arvesen rolls over. O'Grady and Roche sit in the last positions, then Kashechkin joins them.

15:26 CEST    204km/61.8km to go
Kyrylo Pospyeyev and Ruslan Pidgornyy (Ukraine) are working in the peloton.

McEwen (Aus) has flatted at the first feed zone, where Thierry Marichal has abandoned.

In the front group, Kychinski , Tosatto, Efimkin and Ljungqvist get a bit of a gap. It looks like the rest are sitting up.

15:28 CEST   
Devolder joins the front group just at the bottom of the first climb, with the rest of the break 10 seconds back. The leaders: Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden), Matteo Tosatto (Italy), Stijn Devolder (Belgium), Vladimir Efimkin (Russian Federation), Aliaksandr Kychinski (Belarus).

15:31 CEST    206km/59.8km to go
The five come back to the main break, which rides up the first climb at a steady pace. The bunch is still 50 seconds back, with one or two riders trying to bridge up alone.

15:32 CEST   
A Spanish rider attacks in the bunch, which is odd because they have three riders in the break. The front of the bunch lines out.

15:33 CEST   
De Groot returns to the peloton, which is at the top of the first climb. Russell Downing is in last wheel. The counter attacks continue - it's really on now.

In the break, Tosatto drives it hard on the next little climb, and Farrar is dropped.

15:38 CEST    214km/51.8km to go
Kashechkin rides hard in the break on the Gschaiderberg, and the pace is high, but he doesn't produce a split. It reforms over the top.

In the bunch, all hell breaks loose with attacks going everywhere. Boonen is well placed near the front.

15:41 CEST    215km/50.8km to go
The lead break is not working that well. Ljungqvist, who is the only Swede up here (but has several of his CSC trade teammates in the break), keeps the tempo up. The peloton is less than a minute back.

15:43 CEST    216km/49.8km to go
Di Luca keeps the tempo up in the break, which is at the bottom of the descent and splitting up again. Eight riders have a gap on the rest.

15:43 CEST   
Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) spoke to us this morning. "The weather is fine, so the conditions are good. We'll see how I feel later on the bike. It's not too hot, and the breeze is ideal - I won't have any respiratory problems today."

15:46 CEST    220km/45.8km to go
The front group: Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden), Vladimir Efimkin (Russian Federation), Stuart O'Grady (Australia), Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland), Nicki Sorensen (Denmark), Jurgen Van Goolen (Belgium), Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan),Luis Perez Rodriguez (Spain). But the rest of the break comes back.

Brazilian Luca Pagliarini does a rear wheelie as he rides up the second climb, off the back of the bunch. Impressive!

15:48 CEST    221km/44.8km to go
Aha - now the Belgians are riding in the bunch. They have three in the break, but obviously Boonen is the man today. Hoste and Baguet are doing the work.

15:50 CEST    222km/43.8km to go
The leaders ride under the kilometre to go banner, all together minus one or two riders. They have 45 seconds on the bunch.

Out of interest, the CSC riders in the break are O'Grady, Cancellara, Ljungqvist, Sastre, Sorensen and Arvesen.

That lap was ridden in 29'51 (44.522 km/h) for an overall average of 41.57 km/h. The bunch comes through at 30 seconds, led by the Dutch and Belgians.

15:52 CEST    224km/41.8km to go
Devolder chats to his teammates in the break, wondering what the plan is. It doesn't look like they're giving Gilbert a free rein.

McEwen is back with the peloton, which is still quite big. Rodriguez, Zabel, Rogers, Boonen, Karpets, Schumacher, Valverde - all there. It's a big bunch.

15:53 CEST    224km/41.8km to go
The break disintegrates. It was too big, too ambitious.

15:54 CEST    225km/40.8km to go
And the counter attacks start immediately. A French rider goes, with Van Goolen chasing and a couple of others. The peloton comes back to them, courtesy of Team Suisse.

15:55 CEST   
Flecha leads the bunch at a high tempo with Evans on his wheel. He swings off, but Evans doesn't come through, so Flecha continues. The pace has to stay high now.

15:58 CEST    226km/39.8km to go
Flecha and Matt White drive the peloton hard to the foot of the first climb. Three Spaniards are in second to fourth positions.

15:59 CEST    227km/38.8km to go
Flecha's work is done, and he pulls off. Then Ballan sets off and strings out the peloton. One of the Spanish riders can't follow, and gives Devolder a hand sling to close the gap. Ballan's turn is really hurting everyone. But now he pulls off.

16:01 CEST    229km/36.8km to go
Mauricio Ardila attacks behind a race moto, but he's marked by Rebellin, Nuyens, Rogers. And everyone else, gradually. The next counter comes from Beat Zberg. Nope. And a Belarusian rider has a go.

16:03 CEST    230km/35.8km to go
The Belarusian is Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus), former U23 world champ. He has David Loosli (Switzerland) and Moises Aldape Chavez (Mexico) with him. They have a small gap over the bunch.

16:04 CEST    232km/33.8km to go
Loosli, Chavez and Siutsou start cooperating as they open up 20 seconds over the bunch, where there are more counters.

16:06 CEST    235km/30.8km to go
The three leaders hit the descent and then tackle the Gschaiderberg. Siutsou drives it on the climb. The Verona U23 champ is impressive.

In the bunch, McEwen is well placed in third wheel on the climb. They will close the gap to the breakaways. Three riders bridge up, then bits and pieces. Valverde, Vino and Boonen are in about the top 20.

16:08 CEST    236km/29.8km to go
It's Paolo Bettini (Italy) with Fabian Wegmann (Germany). One rider is trying to bridge up. This looks interesting... They have a gap over the splitting peloton. Wegmann does a turn, and Bettini leaves a gap, checking back for the reinforcement. Two riders isn't enough.

16:09 CEST    237km/28.8km to go
The chaser is about 5 seconds behind the two leaders, but the bunch is only another 5 seconds back. They start the descent. Let's see what Bettini and Wegmann can do.

Not much. They are caught.

16:10 CEST   
Two riders counter on the descent, getting a small gap over the reduced in size peloton. Maybe 80 riders left in the bike race.

16:12 CEST    239km/26.8km to go
It's Davide Rebellin (Italy) and David Loosli? (Switzerland) in front of the bunch as they take the roundabout at the bottom of the descent. They turn left into the back section.

16:13 CEST    240km/25.8km to go
Loosli and Rebellin increase their advantage to 10 seconds as they switch and turn through the back roads. A second part of the peloton is closing the gap to the first, but it's very strung out.

16:14 CEST   
The two leaders go under the motorway, then turn along the railway. Loosli isn't afraid of working with Rebellin, who reaches into his pocket for some tasty snack.

16:15 CEST    241km/24.8km to go
Sylvain Chavanel (France) is coming up to the two leaders and closes the gap easily with about 3 km before the end of the lap.

16:17 CEST    242km/23.8km to go
The bunch chases the three leaders at 10 seconds, with four of the remaining Austrians leading. Boonen, McEwen, Eisel, Bettini, Hushovd are all well placed. At the moment, it looks like a bunch sprint, but you never know what will happen on the last lap.

16:17 CEST    243km/22.8km to go
Rebellin leads past 1 km to go, then under the railway and left onto the finishing straight. Bell lap!

16:19 CEST    244km/21.8km to go
The three in front look a bit knackered, but they still have 10 seconds. That lap was ridden in 28'45 (46.226 km/h). The overall average is 41.95 km/h. It's a very big bunch now - well over 100 riders. Probably 150.

16:20 CEST   
This last lap is going to be interesting.

16:21 CEST    246km/19.8km to go
The leaders go through the team boxes with about 5 seconds. Kashechkin grabs a bidon, although he's fairly badly placed near the back. The gap is closed.

16:23 CEST    248km/17.8km to go
The Austrians have done all the work to bring it back, and now a French rider - Sylvain Calzati attacks with Guido Trenti (USA) and Alexander Efimkin (Russian Federation). We have a new trio.

16:24 CEST    249km/16.8km to go
The Italians lead the chase 5 seconds behind, as the trio tries to get to the first climb. The Spanish are massed in a block around Valverde, and Boonen and Gilbert are up there too.

16:26 CEST    250km/15.8km to go
The work of the two Italians is preventing the break form getting clear. They are caught.

Simon Gerrans looks good as he moves up the left side. Ballan and Bruseghin are doing the work. Schumacher is also up there. The Austrians are at the back now.

16:27 CEST    251km/14.8km to go
Ballan drives it hard on the first climb, with Matej Mugerli on his wheel. A Spanish rider in third wheel has to stop. Ballan has a gap with Mugerli, but the Slovenian can't follow and the Italian is alone.

16:29 CEST    252km/13.8km to go
Boogerd counters and closes the gap. Bettini is up there with Vinokourov. Gaps are appearing everywhere. Maybe 10 riders with a small lead. Valverde is up there, as is Sanchez, who is attacking and being marked by Bettini.

16:29 CEST    253km/12.8km to go
Bettini asks the rest to ride. Sanchez doesn't really want to yet. Vino attacks! Schumacher marks him.

16:30 CEST   
The peloton is strung out over the top, but still together. Boogerd follows Schumacher, then Cancellara and Sanchez take over. They are still in a long line.

16:31 CEST    254km/11.8km to go
Bettini is riding well as Sanchez hammers the front of the bunch with Cancellara. Schumacher, Bettini, Boogerd in the top five too.

16:32 CEST    255km/10.8km to go
Evans, O'Grady and Rogers are all up the front too. The peloton hits the descent before the Gschaiderberg...

16:32 CEST    256km/9.8km to go
It's all together on the descent, but fairly quick. Who has the legs to make a gap on the Gschaiderberg?

16:33 CEST   
Sanchez drives it to the foot of the descent, then Arvesen and Paolini force it.

16:34 CEST    257km/8.8km to go
Paolini leads Arvesen, Kroon, Wegmann, Sébastien Hinault.. Wegmann gives it everything with Kroon and Bettini and Boogerd on his wheel. Boogerd can't follow. Millar, Vinokourov are coming too.

16:34 CEST   
Bettini goes hard over the top and gaps Kroon and Wegmann. The Italian leader has a gap...

16:35 CEST    258km/7.8km to go
Kroon and Wegmann are joined by another rider in pursuit. Is that Boogerd? Then Vino and Millar are there. Five chasers.

16:36 CEST    259km/6.8km to go
Bettini gives it everything now, with the five chasing at 5 seconds. Where is the bunch?

16:36 CEST   
The chasers: Karsten Kroon and Michael Boogerd (Netherlands), Fabian Wegmann (Germany), Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) and David Millar (Great Britain).

Paolo Bettini is on the descent. The chasers have the advantage here. Two Dutch riders too...

16:37 CEST    259km/6.8km to go
They'll surely get Bettini as Boogerd does a strong turn. Yes, he's caught. He is still the best sprinter here.

16:38 CEST    260km/5.8km to go
But the descent spells doom for the breakaway, because the peloton is now back with them en masse. Bunch sprint? Very likely. Rogers is in third wheel behind Elmiger. Rogers takes over for a turn. All the sprinters are here, it looks like: Boonen, McEwen, Zabel(?), Valverde, Hushovd.

16:39 CEST    260.8km/5km to go
The Italians and Russians try to get something happening, but it's no go as they reach the roundabout with maybe 40 riders.

16:40 CEST   
Next attack, just before the left hander, comes from a Dutch rider, but he's heavily marked. Schumacher and Pozzato attack.

16:41 CEST    261.8km/4km to go
Schumi looks back and sees that they have the company of about 40 other riders. Haselbacher and McEwen are well placed. Rebellin attacks now!

16:41 CEST   
This is the last little hill, and Rebellin has a small lead on three riders, then the bunch.

16:42 CEST    262.8km/3km to go
Rebellin hammers and the bunch is 10 seconds back. The Italian who always wanted to represented his country at the worlds (whether that be Italy or Argentina) is trying for the rainbow jersey!

But he's caught.

16:43 CEST    263.3km/2.5km to go
Vinokourov counters, but it doesn't go anywhere. Boonen is up there in fifth wheel. Cancellara rolls through with Efimkin.

16:43 CEST    263.8km/2km to go
Haselbacher is having a great ride, he's got Eisel...

Millar attacks with 2 km to go, but no dice.

16:44 CEST   
A last km attack might win this , but it's looking like a bunch sprint.

16:44 CEST    264.3km/1.5km to go
Pozzato does a turn, locks flowing in the breeze, then Valverde in second wheel ahead of Millar.

16:44 CEST    264.8km/1km to go
There's not much of a leadout happening. 1 km to go.

16:45 CEST   
Two Spanish in front, and one of them is Valverde.

16:45 CEST   
Four riders have a gap, with Bettini, Sanchez, Valverde, and Zabel...

16:46 CEST    265.8km/0km to go
Valverde goes from a long way out, then Zabel, who gives it everything but can's stop Paolo Bettini from winning the world championship!!!!! Goooooooooooooooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllll!!!!!!

Valverde third, then McEwen, we think.

16:49 CEST   
The Italian camp goes wild! Paolo Bettini cannot believe it. He tried to do it alone, but in the end, a gap was created in the last 500m and three sprinters were led out by Sanchez and Valverde. Zabel almost had it, but Bettini was way too strong.

16:50 CEST   
Well, Paolo Bettini now has a very impressive palmares. Olympic champ, World champ, several classics. He kisses the TV camera and hugs his soigneur and then his wife in that order.

17:05 CEST   
And that ends our coverage of the 2006 road world championships in Sunny Salzburg(tm). We saw a fascinating men's road race, with the best three guys finally getting up, although not many would have predicted that the winning breakaway would go with 500m to go.

On the podium, Zabel and Valverde hoist Bettini up so at least he is taller than them. It's all in good humour, even if Valverde looks a bit disappointed to have gone too early in that sprint. Quick.Step has the world champion again.

We'll be back live next Sunday with the Championship of Zurich. Auf wiedersehen!


1 Paolo Bettini (Italy)                 6.15.36
2 Erik Zabel (Germany)
3 Alessandro Valverde (Spain)
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spain)                   0.02
5 Robbie McEwen (Australia)                
6 Stuart O'Grady (Australia)
7 Uros Murn (Slovenia)
8 Botcharov Alexandre (Russian Federation)
9 Tom Boonen (Belgium)
10 Vladimir Gusev (Russian Federation)

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