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Under-23 Men's Road Race, 178.2 kms (11 laps)

Friday, 12:00 pm October 8, 1999

As it Happened

Lap 1

Our man in Verona, Tim Maloney is ready to go once again with his timely updates. Thanks Tim!

Tension among the team boxes is high just prior to the start of the U23 Mens Road Race, with riders such as Norway's Thor Hushvod staying well out of range. However, Australian manager Brian Stephens told correspondent Tim Maloney that "we've got as good a chance as anyone today. Cadel is our man today and if the race is hard and the cards fall right, we're in there."

But not all competitors and their managers are as confident. The Austrian hopeful Gerhard Trampusch said "it's a really hard course - maybe too hard for me".

They're away, and on the first lap the pace is high, but the field stays together.

Michael Mourecek from the Czech Republic has attacked and has a slight lead on the peleton through the start/finish. Very fast tempo, with Australia, Denmark and Norway setting the pace. Some splits in the bunch, as expected.

Lap time for first lap: 23:25
Average speed: 41.6 km/h
Leader: Michael Mourecek (Cze)

Lap 2

Mourecek has been caught, and there are a flurry of counterattacks. Prominent among these are Australia's Cameron McDonald, and Russian Denis Menchov. However, nothing is really solidifying.

The pace is bascially being kept high to shred the bunch.

Lap 3

The third time up the Toricelle, it is the Mexican Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio who establishes the first decent break, gaining 15 seconds on the bunch. This rider has already won 7 races in Italy this year and has a pro contract for next year. He is a good climber.

In the bunch, it's Australia, Switzerland, and Italy setting the pace.

End of lap 3:

Leader: Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mexico)

Lap 4

Perez is still away, but being pursued by three - Alexandar Nikacevic (Yugoslavia), Bjorn Leukemans (Belgium) and Steve Zampieri (Switzerland). They will catch him soon.

In the bunch, rider number 1, the European Champion Leonardo Giordani (Ita) is very active.

Average speed so far: 42 km/h

Lap 5

The break has been caught and a new one established. This time, it's Michele Gobbi (Ita), Christian Holzl (Nor), and Alexandar Nikacevic (Yug), followed by Stephan Schreck (Ger) and Jorge Capitan (Spa) who close to form a six man group.

They have a 15 sec gap on the pack, which rapidly dimishes on the climb. Australia is setting the pace still, McDonald on the front.

Now, they have all been caught except for Nikacevic (Yug), who attacked again, and he is the leader at the end of the lap.

Average speed: still high ~ 42 ish.

Lap 6

Nikacevic has been brought back and a rider from the Czech Republic has gone clear. His name is Pavet Zerzan and he has a 38 second gap to the peleton, which is riding "piano" at the moment. The Germans and Australians head the bunch.

The weather is still beautiful at the moment - cool, sunny and calm.

Zerzan has increased his lead to a minute over two chasing riders - Sandy Casar of France, and Juan Miguel Cuenca (Spain) who have a firther 15 seconds on the bunch. Who said the spanish weren't interested in the Worlds :-)

Zerzan overcooks it on the descent and nearly goes into a tree! He doesn't crash though but loses some time.

Meanwhile, the bunch is about half it's original size - 90 odd riders but with all the favourites there: Cadel Evans (Aus), Jamie Burrows (GBR), Thor Husvold (Nor) etc. No serious attempt at chasing yet.

By the end of the lap, the gap is down to 40 seconds to two different chasers - Michael Reims (Den) and Gorka Gonzalez (Spa), who have 10 seconds on the bunch. Zerzan lost about 15 secs with his "crash".

Leader at the lap 6: Pavet Zerzan (Cze)

Lap 7

At the foot of the climb, Zerzan is caught by Reims and Gonzalez. The peleton is starting to get pretty active now, especially the Italians.

Zerzan and Reims are caught up the climb, but Gonzalez stays away. He is joined by Swiss Steve Zampieri and Australian Michael Rogers. However, the peleton are not that far behind.

By the end of the lap, they have been caught and yet another break has occured, this time with last years TT champion, Thor Hushovd (Nor), along with Leonardo Giordani (Ita) and Evgueni Seniouchkine (Blr) [Giordani's teammate in Italy]. They have 10 seconds on the bunch.

End of lap 7,: 74 kms left to race
Average: 40.847 km/h

Lap 8

The three are gaining time on the bunch and now have 20 seconds. The pack are looking a bit disorganized and are down to just 35, with about that many again in a second group.

On the climb, Hushovd is dropped and Giordani and Seniouchkine forge on ahead, with about 30 seconds on the rapidly dwindling front group. Australia's Cadel Evans and Frenchman Nicholas Fritsch are prominent at the front.

Lap 9

The situation now is that Giordani and Seniouchkine are working really well together and have increased their lead to 42 secs. However, the bunch has not yet given up and Aussie Mick Rogers is really chasing hard to set something up for teammates Cadel Evans or Matthew Hayman. Brian Stephens has really got the boys fired up for this one.

Unfortunately for the Americans, their last rider, Matt DeCanio crashed and couldn't get back to the leaders.

Rogers' huge effort brings the break back to 15 seconds, but it is to no avail. As soon as he swings off, the peleton sits up and looks around.

At the top of the climb, the leaders have 52 seconds and are looking very strong. Could be the gold and silver. Although the riders are from different countries, they ride for the same amateur team in Italy.

Towards the end of the lap, the Russian Evgueni Petrov attacks on the flat, but is brought back by the Italian team, who are riding very impressively. The gap is now 1:03. Could this be Italy's first gold?

Lap 10

Rogers' effort a couple of laps ago has taken its toll and he has retired. On Italian TV, Gianni Bugno is saying that he really admired the work that Rogers did for his teammates. Will it be in vain?

Top of the climb: the gap is now down to 50 seconds - the result of a counterattack from the bunch. It's Frenchman, Nicholas Fritsch, Great Britain's Jamie Burrows and Australian MTB star, Cadel Evans on the move after the front two!

On the descent, there was a regrouping of the chasers and Schreck (Ger), Trampusch (Austria) and Paolini (Ita) joined with Fritsch. They have 10 seconds on the bunch, but Paolini is just sitting on, disrupting matters.

Lap 11

Final lap. At the base of the climb, the bunch is essentially together, with about 35 seconds to the leaders. It's do or die now.

Giordani attacked Seniouchkine on the climb, as the gap was coming down. However, he only has 15 seconds on the bunch with about 1km from the top. Bunch being led by Evans and Szmid of Poland, but there are 3 Italians sitting on.

On the descent, Giordani puts everything on the line and takes time out of bunch. Gap is up to 18 sec with 2km left. Looks like Italy's first gold.

And the winner is: rider number one, Leonardo Giordani of Italy

Final Result

1. Leonardo Giordani (Ita)        4.22.36 (40.642 km/h)
2. Luca Paolini (Ita)		     0.22
3. Matthias Kessler (Ger)	     0.34
4. Kim Kirchen (Lux)
5. Patrick Calcagni (Swi)
6. Bjorn Leukemans (Bel)
7. Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit)
8. Angelo F. Lopeboselli (Ita)