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Road - Day 1, September 26

Women's road race - 119.4 km

Live report    Results

Leontien the golden girl

Leontien Van Moorsel
Photo: © AFP

By Jeff Jones, online editor

On a cold, wet Sydney day that was probably not dissimilar to home, Dutchwoman Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel added to her Olympic medal cabinet with another gold medal at the end of the 119.7 kilometre women's road race. Van Moorsel benefitted from a strong team and a sprinter's race to pip German Hanka Kupfernagel and Lithanian Diana Ziliute on the line.

The conditions were overcast at the start, and this turned to rain fairly quickly, but this did not have a great impact on the speed of the bunch early on. The 40 km/h pace eased a little after some thinning down of the bunch, as well as a crash in Centennial Park on lap three involving three big names: Karen Kurreck (USA), Genevieve Jeanson (Can) and Suzy Pryde (NZl). Kurreck retired after this while the other two continued and rejoined the bunch. However, Pryde was involved in a later spill that saw her quite the race.

There was more bad luck for the US team, after sprinter Mari Holden suffered three punctures, and required assistance from the neutral support to correct her gears. She too abandoned the race. That left Nicole Freedman as their sole representative, and she finished well down.

Mirjam Melchers
Photo: © Tom Balks

On laps four and five, the rain started to come down harder, and more riders were dropped up the Bronte climb. Clara Hughes (Can) and Roberta Bonanomi (Ita) were casualties of the hard tempo at this point, and the peloton were reduced to 25 or so. The teams doing the work were the Dutch, Australian, Lithanian and German teams, although the latter lost Ina Yoko-Teutenberg soon after. The Dutch in particular sent Mirjam Melchers and Chantal Beltman up the road to soften up the peloton, so clearly Leontien Van Moorsel was feeling quite good.

Solo moves were then tried by Pia Sundstedt (Fin) and Joane Somarriba (Spa) but these were not going to go anywhere as there were simply too many chasers in the bunch. Other than that, the race was clearly being set up for a bunch sprint and this proved to be the case. The riders headed into Driver Avenue, and there was a little jostling for position that saw Australian hope, Anna Wilson lose the wheel slightly. It was enough to take the edge off her feared sprint as Mirjam Melchers (Ned) put in a sterling effort to lead out Leontien-Zijlaard Van Moorsel for the win. The finale saw Kupfernagel take the silver, just beating Diana Ziliute on the line, with Wilson taking fourth and Russia's Svetlana Bubnenkova fifth.

The win was Leontien's second of the Games, and going with her silver medal in the points race and gold in the individual pursuit. The question is now, can anyone stop her winning gold in the time trial on Saturday?

As for the tactics, the sprinter's teams dominated the race as they had all the strongest riders. It wasn't in their interests to let a group get away, and no-one else was really strong enough to go by themselves. The Dutch team rode as a single unit today, and the tactics were simple. Chantal Beltman started attacking on the second lap, followed by Mirjam Melchers who was riding strongly on the the climbs. Melchers helped to control the final lap, and, as planned, led out Van Moorsel.

"I don't know what is happening with me. I have had the week of my life. Mirjam was great for me in the sprint. I looked under my arm and couldn't believe I would win. But the gold medal is for Mirjam too. We did it together," said a delighted Van Moorsel after the finish.

She started the roadrace with a lack of confidence, because of the track races that were hard for her. "I was deadly tired. I even doubted whether to start, but I'm glad I did."

Tomorrow's men's event may be different with a much bigger field, but pundits are predicting a fast race. There are several strong sprinter's teams: Australia, Germany, Spain and the USA for example, and it will be interesting to see whether the rest will put the pressure on in the early laps to split the field.


1. Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel (Ned)  3.06.30 (38.51 km/h)
2. Hanka Kupfernagel (Ger)                     
3. Diana Ziliute (Ltu)                         
4. Anna Wilson (Aus) 
5. Svetlana Boubnenkova (Rus) 
6. Magali Le Floc'h (Fra) 
7. Zoulfia Zabirova (Rus) 
8. Heidi Van De Vijver (Bel) 
9. Yvonne Schnorf (Swi) 
10. Sara Symington (GBr)
11. Genevieve Jeanson (Can)
12. Mirjam Melchers (Ned)
13. Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu)
14. Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spa)
15. Alessandra Cappellotto (Ita)
16. Nicole Braendli (Swi)
17. Tetyana Stiajkina (Ukr)
18. Jacinta Coleman (NZl)
19. Oksana Saprykina (Ukr)
20. Cindy Pieters (Bel)
21. Pia Sundstedt (Fin)
22. Lyne Bessette (Can)
23. Tracey Gaudry (Aus)
24. Yvonne Mcgregor (GBr)
25. Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu)               0.06
26. Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (Fra)
27. Ceris Gilfillan (GBr)
28. Juanita Feldhahn (Aus)
29. Monica Valen (Nor)                    1.31
30. Petra Rossner (Ger)                   2.46
31. Valeria Cappellotto (Ita)             
32. Priska Doppmann (Swi)                 3.46
33. Valentyna Karpenko (Ukr)              4.02
34. Fatima Blazquez Lozano (Spa)
35. Ingunn Bollerud (Nor)
36. Roz Reekie-May (NZl)                  4.03
37. Chantal Beltman (Ned)  
38. Solrun Flataas (Nor)                  4.33
39. Catherine Marsal (Fra)                
40. Vanja Vonckx (Bel)                    6.09
41. Miho Oki (Jpn)                        
42. Olga Slioussareva (Rus)               6.46
43. Clara Hughes (Can)                   10.18
44. Claudia Saintagne (Bra)              17.48
45. Yi Chen Chiung (Tpe)                 21.29
46. Dania Perez (Cub)                    21.57
47. Nicole Freedman (USA)                
48. Mercedes Cagigas Amed (Spa)          21.58
49. Janildes Silva (Bra)                 28.41
DNF Yoanka Gonzalez (Cub)
DNF Ina Yoko Teutenberg (Ger)
DNF Deirdre Murphy (Irl)
DNF Roberta Bonanomi (Ita)
DNF Susy Pryde (NZl)
DNF Bianca Jane Netzler (Sam)
DNF Mari Holden (USA)
DNF Karen Kurreck (USA)

Cycling Medal Tally - Day 8

                      Gold   Silver  Bronze  Total
France                 5       2       0       7
Germany                2       3       2       7
Netherlands            2       1       0       3
Italy 2 0 1 3
Australia 1 2 3 6 Great Britain 1 1 2 4 Spain 1 0 1 2 USA 1 0 0 1 Russia 0 1 2 3 Ukraine 0 1 1 2
Belgium 0 2 0 2 Switzerland 0 1 1 2
Uruguay 0 1 0 1 Lithuania 0 0 1 1 China 0 0 1 1

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