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World Championships - CM

Stuttgart, Germany, September 26-30, 2007

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Race 4 - September 29: Women's road race - 7 laps, 133.7km

Bastianelli solos to rainbow jersey

Vos second, with Bronzini making it two medals for Italy

By Shane Stokes in Stuttgart, with additional reporting by Bjorn Haake

Marta Bastianelli (Italy)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

The Italian men's team may have been under increased pressure this week due to the controversy surrounding Danilo di Luca and Paolo Bettini, but the female Squadra Azzurra showed the mood was still high in the camp by riding with notable aggression in the elite women's road race and taking three out of the top five places.

Three years ago, Marta Bastianelli finished as runner up to Marianne Vos in the junior worlds in Verona. This time around, the now-20 year old turned the tables on the similarly-aged Dutchwoman, attacking fifteen kilometres from the end and finishing six seconds clear.

Vos had to be content with silver, sprinting in at the head of the 16-strong chasing group. Bastianelli's compatriot Giorgia Bronzini finished just behind her, netting bronze, while Svetlana Bubnekova (Russian Federation), Noemi Cantele (Italy) and Emma Johansson (Sweden) completed the top six.

"I can't believe it," said the winner with tears in her eyes after the race. "This confirms my results from this year."

"I attacked a long way before the finish, with perhaps 15 kilometres to go," said a delighted Bastianelli. "I got a gap of 20 seconds. I only started to believe it was possible about five kilometers from line, because my team manager said then that I had to give it everything because there was a real chance [of winning]. But it was only when I saw the finishing line that I really understood and believed that the title was mine."

She had a nervous moment due to mechanical problems. However she persisted and had more than enough time in hand to recover. "When I was passing the second team pit my chain came off. It dropped once and then a second time. But I saw the group was still far behind me and they [the Italians] told me not to panic and to continue. And that's what I did."

Marianne Vos has been a great world champion, riding very strongly this season. She was determined to defend her title but fell just short. "I am disappointed, of course. I was going for the win so silver is a bit disappointing. But I think that Marta Bastianelli and the Italian team deserved the title as they were very strong. To attack 15 kilometres from the line and hold on was amazing.

Thumbs up for the Italian women
Photo ©: Sirotti
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"We had two in the chasing group, Chantale Beltman and me. That was because the finale was very difficult due to the crashes. I was too far behind and all the Dutch team had to come and bring me to the front. Deep in the final there was only the two of us. It was hard to chase because of that. Chantale was chasing but she couldn't close the gap. If I had to do it, I wouldn't be able to do a good sprint, so I made the decision to just wait and hope that the gap was going to be closed. But that didn't happen."

Italy held many of the cards today, with several of its riders - Tatiana Guderzo in particular - playing a prominent role. The Verona 2004 silver medallist went on the attack on lap four and was marked by this week's time trial winner Hanka Kupfernagel, who was riding very strongly for the German team.

Guderzo went again after 80 kilometres of racing and stayed clear until she was caught and passed by her team-mate Noemi Cantele and Amber Neben (USA). They were mopped up by the shrinking bunch with approximately 20 kilometres to go, then Cantele went again in the company of Vos. Others got across, including German hope Judith Arndt, but she crashed on the descent and lost her chance. Bastianelli made her move soon afterwards and it proved to be the winning one.

She talked about the tactics afterwards, saying that things worked out just right. "It wasn't planned that I would go at that point. The idea would be that [Noemi] Cantele would be the first to attack. She did that on the climb, but the bunch came back together again. At that moment it was decided that I should attack. The idea was to make the group smaller so that Giorgia Bronzini would have a chance to win the sprint.

"However when I attacked I got an immediate gap. I didn't believe it [was possible] myself at that time but my team manager told me to go. It was not planned beforehand to attack then, it was a surprise."

The aptly-named bronze medallist Bronzini was pleased with the country's first and third. "Of course, this it is a very good result for us," she said. "I think it is a good sign for the future as well, as we are a young team. We have been preparing ourselves very well this year to achieve this. With the world championships in Italy next year, competing on home soil with the same team there will be very good for us."

Recently crowned time trial champion Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany)
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Time trial winner Hanka Kupfernagel and Emma Pooley were also prominent today, the first riding for team leader Judith Arndt and the latter leading the British team and spending a lot of time on the front in the closing stages. Despite her tenth place, Pooley said afterwards that she was a little disappointed with how things worked out,

"I didn't feel like I was having a great race, to be honest. My positioning was not very good and the others were helping me a lot to stay in the right place. If it hadn't been for them, I would have had a very hard time.

"Rachel [Heal], Cath [Catherine Hare] and Lizzie [Elizabeth Armitstead] were great, they were basically bullying me into going to the front. The course was very hard but I wouldn't actually say it was a climber's course - it was more of a descender's course. It was windy, it is hilly, it is technical - it is a nightmare!"

Kuperfernagel cracked on the penultimate lap after doing a lot of aggressive riding. After Arndt's crash, Trixi Worrack was best German finisher in 18th. "I am really tired because I did everything," Kupfernagel said afterwards. "I am disappointed that we didn't get a medal. This was our goal and I think everybody of the team gave everything they could. Maybe the tactics were not the best, but that happens."

Her victory earlier this week - on what she describes as the best day of her life - gave a big boost to German cycling. Italy was the top squad today, however, and Bastianelli said afterwards that she was happy that the riders were able to pull together despite a stressful past few days.

"The week was very difficult for the team, and the women also, because of all of the things that were going on. There were many people in the hotel - journalists, photographers and others. It was a problem for them [elite men's team] but also for us. We decided to take it easy about everything and be very serene. Last night we had a final meeting and we said we would just to put the problems aside and just concentrate on the race.

"This was the sort of course to do that on and we hope tomorrow they [the elite men] will also win the race because they really deserve it.

"We are practicing the sport in a very clean way, even if it was said this week by some that it wasn't the case. It is not like that. It is very important for us to show what we are able to do."

How it unfolded

The Italian women
Photo ©: Sirotti
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It was an early start for the women, who had to head off at 9:00. And while the sun was out, the roads were still wet and treacherous, especially on the descents. It was also cold, as arm warmers, gloves and even vests and jackets were popular clothing choices for the riders.

The peloton started out softly, but the climbs immediately stretched out the field. And New Zealander Toni Bradshaw made the painful discovery that German asphalt is not softer than asphalt anywhere else. Event though the pace wasn't too hard, riders who were dropped on the hills or crashed had a hard time getting back. Zulfiya Zabirova was another rider who found this out in the first few kilometres.

But other than a brief attack from Rodriguez of Spain the front part of the peloton was relatively quiet. The first lap was completed just above 33 minutes, which equalled an average of 34.709 km/h.

Lap two played out very similarly, with no attacks on the front, but the hills making a difference. The only interruption of the lull was a mechanical by American Christine Thorburn, as she dropped a chain on the uphill and came to a standstill. This also impeded others, but order was quickly reinstated. The second lap was clocked in at 33'07" (average 34.604 km/h), which brought the overall time after 38.2 kilometres to 1h06'08" and an average of 34.657 km/h.

The bunch
Photo ©: Sirotti
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In the third lap, the sun finally was stronger and warmed things up. It thawed the Brazilians and Clemilda Fernandes Silva tried an attack, but all the big shot teams were attentive. Once caught, Fernandes set the pace for another few metres, trying desperately to get away, but the peloton wouldn't let her go.

At the end of the third lap, with 57.3 kilometres covered in 1h39'40", the average pace was 34.494 km/h. The lap time was a tad slower than the previous two laps, with 33'32" (average 34.494 km/h)

Lap four saw the first real action, as Italian Tatiana Guderzo attacked, immediately drawing a response from German Hanka Kupfernagel, who was marking attacks the whole race, American Katheryn Curi and Russian Oxana Kozonchuk. Kupfernagel clearly showed she was riding for the the team, having already secured a gold medal in the time trial.

But even this attack didn't last long and soon it was a geschlossenes Feld (peloton together) on the roads in Stuttgart. German Trixi Worrack had a little mishap on the climb and came to a stand still as she took her turn dropping her chain. A passing team-mate gave her a little push and she was on her way again.

Lap four completed after 2h12'19" (average 34.66 km/h). The lap time was faster now, with 32'39" (average 35.099 km/h).

Three Italians at the front.
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

In the fifth lap it was the Italians who lit up the fireworks on the hill, but they couldn't get rid of the bunch. Shortly thereafter a German rider almost crashed, as she was colliding with a Russian rider.

The first real attack came after a little more than 80 kilometres by Guderzo, as she quickly build up a lead of 10 seconds. Taking advantage of the warmer temperatures she had dropped her arm warmers down and looked like a pursuit rider as she extended her lead to 20 seconds. The German team was trying to control things on the front, but now others attacked. The Spaniards, Australians and Swiss riders tried to go for it.

The lead stabilized and no others were able to really get away, as the peloton slowly clawed its way back. But just as they had her in sight a barrier was pushed over by the wind and took out several riders, including Priska Doppmann, Maribel Moreno Allue, Regina Bruins and Edita Pucinskaite. This disrupted the peloton enough that Guderzo was able to increase her lead again.

German champion Luise Keller was one of the victims and with a bloody knee couldn't follow the pace anymore. The Italian Cantele, one of the favourites, was also impeded by the crash, but had help from some team-mates.

Marta Bastianelli (Italy)
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

Guderzo passed the two-laps to go banner in front of the peloton, with a slim lead of a dozen seconds. Her maximum never was more than 25 seconds. Cantele was 43 seconds behind across the line, with 38.2 kilometres left to race. But Cantele quickly caught up to the front again, as the Americans now started to set the pace. Then Amber Neben attacked, but Cantele was right with her. Cantele drove the break, as they closed on the still-leading Guderzo. Guderzo couldn't hold on and dropped back.

The lead reached 25 seconds, but as the the hills came up, the peloton started to reduce the gap again and with two kilometres before the lap's end, they were caught. The final 19 kilometres would decide the race. The next to last lap was the fastest so far, at 31'37" (average 36.246 km/h). The total time was now 3h15'48" (average 35.117 km/h).

Going into the final lap, Kupfernagel paid the price for her hard work and dropped back. She had been chasing down just about anything that was moving to prepare for a sprint, which would favour her team-mate Judith Arndt.

Women's podium
Photo ©: Sirotti
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At the first climb in the final lap, defending champion Marianne Vos and Cantele attacked and build up a small lead. As Arndt and two others were moving up, it was another Italian, Marta Bastianelli, who attacked strongly. There was no need for Cantele to do anything and as happens in these situations, there was a lot of looking around for who would close the gap.

With the hesitation a group of around a dozen riders was able to catch back up to the second group, which consisted of seven riders. Bastianelli's lead grew to 20 seconds, as a bit of panic stated to settle in. There were were still many teams in the mix. The Australians had Oenone Wood, New Zealand was in there. Sweden had Emma Johannson, Germany Judith Arndt and Trixi Worrack. The Dutch had also a duo with Vos and Beltman.

Bastianelli kept at it and even a brief problem with her chain which had slipped off the front ring didn't deter her. She managed to get it back on and continue her lone ride, some 15 seconds ahead of the small chase group that was around 22-riders strong. "We wanted above all to avoid a sprint with Marianne Vos," said Bastianelli to reporters immediately after the race.

With Bastianelli, the Italians managed to pull off the surprise and win the race, ahead of second-placed Vos, who won the field sprint. The Dutchwoman looked disappointed as she held off Bronzini to take silver. Cantele in fifth capped off the great Italian team's result, with three riders in the top five.


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 Fabrice Lambert

Images by John Pierce/Photosport International


1 Marta Bastianelli (Italy)                  3.46.34 (35.406 km/h)
2 Marianne Vos (Netherlands)                    0.06
3 Giorgia Bronzini (Italy)                          
4 Svetlana Bubnekova (Russian Federation)           
5 Noemi Cantele (Italy)                             
6 Emma Johansson (Sweden)                           
7 Marina Jaunatre (France)                          
8 Oenone Wood (Australia)                           
9 Alex Wrubleski (Canada)                           
10 Emma Pooley (Great Britain)                      
11 Maryline Salvetat (France)                       
12 Lieselot Decroix (Belgium)                       
13 Kristin Armstrong (United States Of America)     
14 Maribel Moreno Allue (Spain)                     
15 Joanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand)                 
16 Amber Neben (United States Of America)           
17 Erinne Willock (Canada)                          
18 Trixi Worrack (Germany)                      0.14
19 Sereina Trachsel (Switzerland)               0.53
20 Chantal Beltman (Netherlands)                0.54
21 Judith Arndt (Germany)                       0.58
22 Edwige Pitel (France)                        1.06
23 Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (France)                  
24 Rasa Polikeviciute (Lithuania)                   
25 Anita Valen De Vries (Norway)                1.09  
26 Priska Doppmann (Switzerland)                    
27 Maja Adamsen (Denmark)                           
28 Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Netherlands)         
29 Karen Steurs (Belgium)                           
30 Catherine Hare (Great Britain)                   
31 Fernandes Silva Clemilda (Brazil)                
32 Leigh Hobson (Canada)                            
33 Julia Martisova (Russian Federation)             
34 Lang Meng (People's Republic Of China)           
35 Min Gao (People's Republic Of China)             
36 Tereza Hurikova (Czech Republic)                 
37 Fei Wang (People's Republic Of China)            
38 Elodie Touffet (France)                          
39 Lorian Graham (Australia)                        
40 Grete Treier (Estonia)                           
41 Andrea Graus (Austria)                           
42 Zulfiya Zabirova (Kazakhstan)                    
43 Verónica Leal Balderas (Mexico)                  
44 Christine Thorburn (United States Of America)    
45 Mara Abbott (United States Of America)           
46 Claudia Häusler (Germany)                    2.44
47 An Van Rie (Belgium)                             
48 Lohse Rasmussen Dorte (Denmark)                  
49 Sufen Ma (People's Republic Of China)            
50 Suzanne De Goede (Netherlands)                   
51 Andrea Bosman (Netherlands)                      
52 Luisa Tamanini (Italy)                           
53 Karin Thürig (Switzerland)                       
54 Diana Ziliute (Lithuania)                        
55 Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany)                      
56 Nikki Egyed (Australia)                      3.11
57 Rachel Heal (Great Britain)                  5.36
58 Alona Andruk (Ukraine)                       5.43
59 Sofie Goor (Belgium)                         6.01
60 Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania)               10.39
61 Marta Vila Josana Andreu (Spain)                 
62 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Lithuania)                
63 Tatsiana Sharakova (Belorussia)                  
64 Rosane Kirch (Brazil)                            
65 Oxana Kashchyshyna (Ukraine)                12.04
66 Oxana Kozonchuk (Russian Federation)        12.08
67 Siobhan Dervan (Ireland)                    12.38
68 Grace Verbeke (Belgium)                          
69 Jennifer Hohl (Switzerland)                 12.40
70 Patricia Schwager (Switzerland)                  
71 Monika Schachl (Austria)                         
72 Eneritz Iturriagaechevarria Mazaga (Spain)       
73 Rosara Joseph (New Zealand)                 14.24
74 Daniela Pintarelli (Austria)                     
75 Sylwia Kapusta (Poland)                     16.56
76 Giuseppina Grassi Herrera (Mexico)               
77 Michelle Hyland (New Zealand)                    
78 Rasa Leleivyte (Lithuania)                       
79 Veronika Sprügl (Austria)                        
80 Yolandi Du Toit (South Africa)                   
81 A. Madrinan Villegas (Colombia)             20.59
DNF Olivia Gollan (Australia)                       
DNF Emma Rickards (Australia)                       
DNF Eva Lutz (Germany)                              
DNF Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)                         
DNF Monia Baccaille (Italy)                         
DNF Irene Van Den Broek (Netherlands)               
DNF Luise Keller (Germany)                          
DNF Regina Bruins (Netherlands)                     
DNF Ludivine Henrion (Belgium)                      
DNF Christine Majerus (Luxembourg)                  
DNF Miho Oki (Japan)                                
DNF Aleksandra Wnuczek (Poland)                     
DNF Alena Konecna (Czech Republic)                  
DNF Kateryna Krasova (Ukraine)                      
DNF Malgorzta Jasinska (Poland)                     
DNF Christiane Soeder (Austria)                     
DNF Katheryn Curi (United States Of America)        
DNF Lauren Franges (United States Of America)       
DNF Anne Samplonius (Canada)                        
DNF Annette Beutler (Switzerland)                   
DNF Carissa Wilkes (New Zealand)                    
DNF Magali Mocquery (France)                        
DNF Meifang Li (People's Republic Of China)         
DNF Sara Carrigan (Australia)                       
DNF Natalia Boyarskaya (Russian Federation)         
DNF Sara Mustonen (Sweden)                          
DNF Daiva Tuslaite (Lithuania)                      
DNF Rosario Rodriguez Maria (Spain)                 
DNF Iosune Murillo Elkano (Spain)                   
DNF Jarmila Machacova (Czech Republic)              
DNF Li Liu Yong (People's Republic Of China)        
DNF Yolandi Van Der (South Africa)                  
DNF Laura Lepasalu (Estonia)                        
DNF Aurelie Halbwachs (Mauritius)                  
DNF Lyubov Dombitskaya (Kazakhstan)                 
DNF Olessya Atrashkevich (Kazakhstan)               
DNF Chapookam Monrudee (Thailand)                   
DNF Nontasin Chanpeng (Thailand)                    
DNF Viena Balen (Croatia)                           
DNF Martina Ruzickova (Czech Republic)              
DNF Elizabeth Armitstead (Great Britain)            
DNF Evelyn Garcia (El Salvador)                     
DNF Elena Novikova (Russian Federation)             
DNF Elizaveta Bochkaryova (Ukraine)                 
DNF Tatiana Antoshina (Russian Federation)          
DNF Monika Grzebinoga (Poland)                      
DNF Hye Lee Min (Korea)                             
DNF Trine Schmidt (Denmark)                         
DNF Anastasia Pastourmatzi (Greece)                 
DNF Thatsani Wichana (Thailand)                     
DNF Helen Wyman (Great Britain)                     
DNF Paulina Brzezna (Poland)                        
DNF Dragana Kovacevic (Serbia)                      
DNF Tanja Slater (Great Britain)                    
DNF Susanne Ljungskog (Sweden)                      
DNF Arantzazu Azpiroz (Spain)                       
DNF Tina Mayolo Pic (United States Of America)      
DNF Fernandes Silva Janildes (Brazil)               
DNF Uenia Souza Da Fernandes (Brazil)               
DNF Nathalie Lamborelle (Luxembourg)                
DNF Toni Bradshaw (New Zealand)                     

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