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World Championships - CM

Stuttgart, Germany, September 26-30, 2007

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Race 5 - September 29: Under 23 men's road race - 9 laps, 171.9km

Peter Velits tops Under 23 rainbow sprint

Aussie Sulzberger and Brit Bellis round out podium

By Gregor Brown in Stuttgart, with additional reporting by Bjorn Haake

Peter Velits (Slovakia)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Peter Velits of Slovakia powered to the head of the sprint to become Under 23 World Champion. The 22 year-old successfully capped off the 171.9-kilometre day that was marked by numerous escapes. Two bike lengths back at the finish were Australian Wesley Sulzberger in second and Brit Jonathan Bellis in third.

"I'm very happy," said the young Slovakian. He thanked his identical twin brother Martin. "My brother helped me a lot. He gave me a lot of support." The youngster knew what would happen at the end. "When my escape was unsuccessful, I realized that it would come down to a mass sprint, so I 'rested up' a bit to prepare for the sprint.

"It was pretty hard for everyone. The last kilometre was like a drag race; this was good," he continued. "On the last turn I got into good position."

Earlier this month he showed his form was coming by winning a French race against riders of the ProTour level. "It was a very good day for me in the Grand Prix de Fourmies. I felt it was my best day of the season. Today also, it was a good day." The wins put him in a good position to negotiate for a new team. "My manager and I were waiting until after the world champs [to sign a contract]. I think now we resolved the problem for next year."

Velits had bid his time in the peloton as an escape of five was being handled in the race's finale. Jelle Vanendert (Belgium), Bauke Mollema (Holland), Rein Taaramae (Estonia), Simon Spilak (Slovenia) and Beñat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spain) kept the chance of an escape alive as they crossed the line starting the final 19.1-kilometre circuit. The move lasted over the steep Herdweg, but it was squashed by the drive of Russia and Norway by the foot of the Birkenkopf.

Julien Simon of France was able to move clear over the top of the Birkenkopf. He was joined Russian Ivan Rovny, who was sitting up for his team's assault. Rovny's counter-attack led to the duo's demise, but behind his team-mates were waiting to rev it up. Kochetkov and Klyuev pushed for Russia's hopes.

A crash during the final drag race
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The race was nearly gruppo compatto for the final uphill kilometre of Am Kochenhof as American Craig Lewis was in third wheel following the Russia and Kazakhstan. Out of the final right hand bend, the final 200 metres was all Velits. He powered near the right side while Frenchman Biel Kadri and Swiss Martin Kohler fought for space, and eventually came crashing down to the line with Norwegian Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Sulzberger and then Bellis fought out for second spot on the right and further back of the new World Champ. The 21 year-old Aussie claimed silver but was the more frustrated of the true. 19 year-old Bellis gave a punch in the air to show his joy in medalling at his first U23 Worlds.

"There was some disbelief but I was also happy," said Sulzberger. "I was banging the bars, but I was happy with the second. This is my first Under 23 run; I am happy. It was way beyond my expectations."

Bellis was part of a small British representation for his first Worlds. "We only had three riders, so it was a race where we had to conserve a lot until the end. This allowed me to be the best for the finish. My team-mates did the best to pull the riders back who were away. In the end I had the legs to do something, so it was good."

In the last kilometre, he was in ideal place to make the push for the rainbow jersey. "I ended in that last corner [at 200 metres to go], searching for best position. I gave it my all to the line, and I was able to end up in third.

How it unfolded

The temperatures were higher than for the morning's women's race, as 169 riders from 45 nations took the start at 13:30. A three-man break with Andreas Frisch (Denmark), Esad Hasanovic (Serbia) and Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa) quickly formed. They built a lead of over four minutes, but then the peloton started to pick up the pace. In the fourth lap, Hasanovic found the pace a little too quick on the hill. He looked like he was at a standstill compared to the other two who continued at the front.

Mickael Larpe (France) and Danish rider Thomas Vedel Kvist decided to leave the peloton, but they didn't get far and were swallowed even before the dropped Serbian. Kenyan Christopher Froome started a more promising attack and about 75 kilometres into the race, he started gaing ground and closing the gap to the leaders to 2'55". As the fifth lap started, with almost 100 kilometres left, Fromme was 2'35" behind and the peloton was almost another minute back.

The feed zone was tight and Norwegian Stian Sommerseth crashed, also impeding a few other riders, including Frenchman Guillaume Levarlet. But all continued the race and started the chase back to the peloton.

About a third into the 19.1-kilometre loop on lap five, Fromme was 2'10 back", while the peloton had reduced its gap to juts under three minutes. One of the favourites, Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway, bumped shoulder with a Dutch rider, but both stayed upright.

Shortly after the halfway mark, with 82 kilometres left to race, the peloton's acceleration swallowed up the Kenyan and the gap was down to 1'30". Mikhail Ignatiev (Russia) tried to get off the front, but the time trial silver medal winner was marked immediately.

The fifth lap was ridden in 30'33" (avg 37.512 km/h), and as the two leaders Frisch and Van Rensburg crossed the line the lead was down to 43 seconds, with 76 kilometres to race.

Klyuev was the next Russian to attack, but also did not get very far. The gap was down to 25 seconds and Van Rensburg found the pace too hard on the climb and could no longer follow the Danish rider, who continued solo. But with just a little more than 100 kilometres raced, the adventure was over for Frisch as well.

Thanks to an immediate reaction, both former breakaways stayed with this move, along with Mickael Larpe (France), Stefano Pirazzi (Italy) and Simon Geschke (Germany). But the gaps were too small. As everything came together, Pirazzi attacked and gained 11 seconds quickly, with 63 kilometres to go. He doubled his lead a couple of kilometres later.

South African Jay Robert Thomson didn't want things too slow and attacked, but could only stay ahead of the peloton for a couple of kilometres and was swallowed within one kilometre of the start-finish area. Pirazzi was 18 seconds ahead with 57 kilometres to go, but quickly became company from Ignatas Konovalovas. Canadian Christian Meier also caught up with the duo in front. With 45 kilometres Meier almost crashed, as his back wheel slipped, but skillfully managed to correct his machine.

Maxim Belkov of Russia was the next to go to try to catch up with the three leaders. The seventh lap was run faster, at 28'10", as Belkov was 13 seconds behind the leaders and the peloton another 17 seconds down.

Men's U23 Road Race podium:
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Belkov never reached the front and those three were replaced with a trio of Lars Boom of the Netherlands, Simon Spilak of Slovenia and Rein Taaramae of Estonia. Mountain biker Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark was in hot pursuit and caught up just as the leaders entered the last lap. The speed increased significantly and yielded the fastest lap so far in 27'21".

Yet another change at the front saw five leaders with Spilak, Bauke Mollema (Netherlands), Benat Intaxausti Elorriaga (Spain), Kristof Vandewalle (Belgium) and Rein Taaramae (Estonia). They had about 20 seconds with 13 kilometres to go. Rui Costa of Portugal was also able to catch up later, but the six in front were chased by a peloton that had splintered in two groups. The first group managed to reach the six leaders, but the main field was close.

Frenchman Julien Simon used the confusion to get ahead. Only briefly joined by another rider, he soloed ahead strongly. He built up a ten-second lead, as only half a lap was still to be raced. Russian Rovny then attacked and made Simon feel less lonely ahead of the rest.

But with only five kilometres left it was all over and the whole peloton regrouped, getting ready for a bunch sprint. Edvald Boasson Hagen was in a good position on the left hand side, but as Swiss rider Kohler came too close to the barrier and crashed, the Norwegian also went down and lost all chances.

Peter Velits found the right moment to start the sprint and won decisively with several metres advantage.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net

Images by Cyclingnews.com

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by PhotoSport International


1 Peter Velits (Slovakia)                         4.21.22 (39.461 km/h)
2 Wesley Sulzberger (Australia)                          
3 Jonathan Bellis (Great Britain)                        
4 Tom Leezer (Netherlands)                               
5 Danilo Wyss (Switzerland)                              
6 Jonas Aaen Jörgensen (Denmark)                         
7 Domenik Klemme (Germany)                               
8 Florian Vachon (France)                                
9 Vitaliy Buts (Ukraine)                                 
10 Andrey Zeits (Kazakhstan)                             
11 Juraj Sagan (Slovakia)                                
12 Pawel Cieslik (Poland)                                
13 Simone Ponzi (Italy)                                  
14 Stefan Denifl (Austria)                               
15 Rui Costa (Portugal)                                  
16 Mickael Larpe (France)                                
17 Simon Spilak (Slovenia)                               
18 Ivan Rovny (Russian Federation)                       
19 Nikolas Maes (Belgium)                                
20 Rafai Chtioui (Tunisia)                               
21 Christopher Froome (Kenya)                            
22 Roman Kireyev (Kazakhstan)                            
23 Marco Frapporti (Italy)                               
24 José Herrada Lopez (Spain)                           
25 Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania)                       
26 Daniel Martin (Ireland)                               
27 Maciej Paterski (Poland)                              
28 Mathias Belka (Germany)                               
29 Thomas Peterson (United States Of America)            
30 Craig Lewis (United States Of America)                
31 Tanel Kangert (Estonia)                               
32 Francesco Ginanni (Italy)                             
33 Elias Schmaeh (Switzerland)                           
34 Jos Van Emden (Netherlands)                          
35 Vitor Rodrigues (Portugal)                            
36 Martin Velits (Slovakia)                              
37 Christian Meier (Canada)                              
38 Denis Cioban (Republic Of Moldova)                    
39 Branislau Samoilau (Belarus)                          
40 Tony Martin (Germany)                                 
41 Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres (Colombia)           
42 Gatis Smukulis (Latvia)                               
43 Jerome Coppel (France)                                
44 Kristjan Koren (Slovenia)                             
45 Lukasz Modzelewski (Poland)                           
46 Pavel Kochetkov (Russian Federation)                  
47 Rein Taaramae (Estonia)                               
48 Grega Bole (Slovenia)                                 
49 Alexandr Pliuschin (Republic Of Moldova)              
50 Nelson Hugo Lobo Rocha (Portugal)                     
51 Thomas Vedel Kvist (Denmark)                          
52 Jelle Vanendert (Belgium)                         0.09
53 Simon Clarke (Australia)                              
54 Francis De Greef (Belgium)                           
55 Andrey Klyuev (Russian Federation)                0.21
56 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)                     0.27
57 Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)                       0.29
58 Martin Kohler (Switzerland)                       0.30
59 Julien Simon (France)                             0.49
60 Benat Intxausti Elorriaga (Spain)                 1.00
61 Diego Milan Jimenez (Spain)                       1.20
62 Mauro Finetto (Italy)                             1.41
63 Kim Michely (Luxembourg)                          1.59
64 David Veilleux (Canada)                               
65 Marcel Wyss (Switzerland)                         2.12
66 André Steensen (Denmark)                          2.21
67 Ian Stannard (Great Britain)                          
68 Mikhail Ignatiev (Russian Federation)                 
69 Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)                          2.28
70 Mathias Frank (Switzerland)                           
71 Biel Kadri (France)                               2.51
72 Dalivier Ospina Navarro (Colombia)               3.32
73 Abdelkader Belmokhtar (Algeria)                       
74 Istvan Cziraki (Hungary)                          3.53
75 Ben Swift (Great Britain)                         4.48
76 Mark Cassidy (Ireland)                            5.29
77 César Fonte (Portugal)                            5.32
78 Kristof Vandewalle (Belgium)                          
79 Sörtveit Sondre (Norway)                              
80 Oleg Berdos (Republic Of Moldova)                     
81 Michael Morkov (Denmark)                              
82 Ben Gastauer (Luxembourg)                         6.56
83 Lars Boom (Netherlands)                           9.41
84 Kevin Lacombe (Canada)                                
85 Dennis Van Winden (Netherlands)                      
86 Stian Sommerseth (Norway)                             
87 Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kazakhstan)                     11.12
88 Viesturs Luksevics (Latvia)                           
89 Yusuke Hatanaka (Japan)                               
90 Alexander Gottfried (Germany)                         
91 Darwin Luis Urrea Vergara (Venezuela)                 
92 Simon Geschke (Germany)                               
93 Peter Stetina (United States Of America)              
94 Mauro Abel Richeze (Argentina)                        
95 Nikolay Trusov (Russian Federation)                   
96 Hossein Nateghi (Islamic Republic Of Iran)            
97 Blaz Jarc (Slovenia)                                  
98 Michael Torckler (New Zealand)                        
99 Jay Robert Thomson (South Africa)                     
100 José Mendes (Portugal)                               
101 Sergiu Cioban (Republic Of Moldova)                  
102 Pieter Vanspeybrouck (Belgium)                       
103 Stefano Pirazzi (Italy)                              
104 Jaco Venter (South Africa)                           
105 Mohammad Rajablou (Islamic Republic Of Iran)    16.24
106 Alex Meenhorst (New Zealand)                         
107 Isaac Speirs (Ireland)                               
108 Alexander Kristoff (Norway)                          
109 Andreas Frisch (Denmark)                             
110 Max Jenkins (United States Of America)               
111 Nolan Hoffman (South Africa)                         
DNF Maxim Belkov (Russian Federation)                    
DNF Andrius Buividas (Lithuania)                         
DNF Zoltan Mecseri (Hungary)                             
DNF Kazumasa Katayama (Japan)                            
DNF Farshad Salehian (Islamic Republic Of Iran)          
DNF Sam Bewley (New Zealand)                             
DNF Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)            
DNF Frederik Wilman (Norway)                             
DNF Johnnie Walker (Australia)                           
DNF Luis Pulido Naranjo (Mexico)                        
DNF Mateusz Komar (Poland)                               
DNF Eder Arenas (Mexico)                                 
DNF Siarhei Papok (Belarus)                              
DNF Roger Ferraro (Brazil)                               
DNF Emanuel Saldano (Argentina)                          
DNF Alo Jakin (Estonia)                                  
DNF Gediminas Kaupas (Lithuania)                         
DNF Federico Pagani (Argentina)                          
DNF Gasper Svab (Slovenia)                               
DNF Kleber Da Silva Ramos (Brazil)                       
DNF Zakkari Dempster (Australia)                         
DNF Bradley Fairall (Canada)                             
DNF Yong Li Ng (Malaysia)                                
DNF Maksym Averin (Ukraine)                              
DNF Victor Moreno (Venezuela)                            
DNF Gabriel Richard (Argentina)                          
DNF Jozef Palcak (Slovakia)                              
DNF Konstantin Kalinin (Uzbekistan)                      
DNF Tejay Van Garderen (United States Of America)       
DNF Martins Trautmanis (Latvia)                          
DNF Herberts Pudans (Latvia)                             
DNF Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukraine)                            
DNF Steven Kruijswijk (Netherlands)                      
DNF Milos Velickovic (Serbia)                            
DNF Alexei Tsikhanau (Belarus)                           
DNF Ryan Anderson (Canada)                               
DNF Raphael Serpa (Brazil)                               
DNF Marius-Nicolae Stoica (Romania)                      
DNF Guillaume Levarlet (France)                          
DNF Marius Kukta (Lithuania)                             
DNF Pawel Wachnik (Poland)                               
DNF Sho Hatsuyama (Japan)                                
DNF Haijun Ma (People's Republic Of China)               
DNF Kristofers Racenajs (Latvia)                         
DNF Sergei Sakavets (Belarus)                            
DNF Joze Senekovic (Slovenia)                            
DNF Istvan Molnar (Hungary)                              
DNF Esad Hasanovic (Serbia)                              
DNF Mohd Rauf Nur Nisbah (Malaysia)                      
DNF Evaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania)                      
DNF Yusuf Abrekov (Uzbekistan)                           
DNF Marko Tomic (Serbia)                                 
DNF Mohd Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Malaysia)                   
DNF Loh Sea Keong (Malaysia)                             
DNF Akos Haiszer (Hungary)                               
DNF Sander Maasing (Estonia)                             
DNF Clinton Robert Avery (New Zealand)                   
DNS Ruslan Karimov (Uzbekistan)                          

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