Sunday 14 October- 9:30 - Elite Men's Road Race - 254.1 km (21 laps)

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Return of the prodigal son

Spaniard Freire takes second World Title In Lisbon

By Tim Maloney, correspondent
Click for larger image
Oscar Freire
Photo: © AFP

Spanish rider Oscar Freire, the popular 25 year old speed merchant from Mapei-Quick Step, took his 2nd World Pro Road title in three years with a spectacular sprint victory from a big group of 45 riders. Although most observers expected the Monsanto course to make more of a selection in this year's World Championship, in the end, the negative team tactics, a fast climb, the faster still descent and many well-prepared riders kept the pace high (41.5 km/h), with the inevitable sprint going to Freire, delighting the many Spanish fans who came to support the rapid rider from Torrelavega.

As last year in Plouay, where Freire was 3rd, the World's came down to a sprint, but this time Oscar had the speed to make the difference over Italian Paolo Bettini and Slovenian sprinter Andrej Hauptman. "I'm going to enjoy this win quite a lot; the big difference between this one and Verona is that then I was an unknown second year pro and this is a lot bigger."

Freire went on to explain that "This finish reminded me of the Gijon stage of the Vuelta; the road got narrow at the end. Plus it was the World's and I was motivated to give something extra", said Freire. "I was surprised that there were so many riders together at the finish."

Notching his third win of the season in Lisbon after only 32 races this season, Freire thanked his Spanish team for their belief in him. "Our tactics today were that everyone worked for me and the (Spanish) team did a great job."
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The sprint...
Photo: © AFP

Silver medal for runner-up was Freire's Mapei-Quick Step teammate Paolo Bettini. Nicknamed "Il Grillo", 27 year old Bettini from La California, Italy hopped on the podium in Lisbon with the best performance by an Italian rider in the World Championship since Claudio Chiappucci came second in Agrigento, Italy seven years ago. "Well, I'm really happy about the race even if I'm a little disappointed at the same time," Bettini told Cyclingnews. "After all, I only lost by 20cm!"

And once again, la squadra azzuro seemed to be rocked by controversy as Paolo Lanfranchi chased down teammate Gilberto Simoni's dramatic last lap solo break, but Lanfranchi said he simply didn't realize that Gibo was away when he made his last lap forcing on the false flat section. As for Simoni, the Giro winner told Cyclingnews that "I was hoping that I wouldn't be alone, but I decided to have a go anyway."

But it was not to be; although Lanfranchi stopped chasing Simoni after a kilometre, Spanish powerhouse Beloki took over and Simoni's effort was doomed with four kilometres to go.

Surprising Slovenian sprinter Andrei Hauptman blasted to bronze In Lisbon. "At first I was feeling tired," Hauptman told Cyclingnews after the Worlds. "But I started to feel better and better at the end. I was closed in the sprint; anyway I'm really happy about the result."

Despite the tough circuit, it wasn't tough enough as the big group Headed towards the final laps. Most observers expected German Erik Zabel to rock in the sprint, but the Deutsche Mannschaft seemed to lose focus as the inevitable sprint approached. In the last kilometre, Zabel kept looking over his left shoulder, searching for his only remaining teammate Ullrich to lead him out.
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Jan Ullrich
Photo: © AFP

"I just didn't have a lot of power left in my legs at the end - and I was looking for a leadout." But Ullrich was too far behind to help Zabel and ended up finishing 13th.

Zabel finished 5th, behind a surprising 4th place Erik Dekker, on his way to the overall World Cup victory next weekend after the Giro di Lombardia. "I have kind of a double feeling today," said Dekker after the finish. "I'm satisfied how I rode but I am disappointed that the other teams didn't make the race harder. The Italians rode like cowards..."

Pre-race favorite Jan Ullrich echoed Dekker's remarks. "Everyone was watching me and no one wanted to do anything," said an angry Ullrich in the German team box after the Worlds. "The course was hard but the other competitors just didn't make it tougher. It was a bad race for me today; perhaps there is another chance for me in the next few years."

As for Richard Virenque, he tried to make a move and got in a good break with 4 laps to go, but the French team leader lamented that the race just didn't speed up fast soon enough for him. When Fred Bessy attacked with 9 laps to go, it was Virenque who started the action for les bleus.
Click for larger image
Richard Virenque
Photo: © Tim Maloney/CN

Certain people were afraid to make 'le bataille' - but Virenque was disappointed, not angry. "I was happy to be there (up front) again with Jan Ullrich; I had forgotten that feeling. My form is actually better now than last week," said Virenque, who will announce next week where he is headed in 2002. "I have a proposition from Domo and another from an Italian team, but nothing in France."

Although the tough Monsanto course in the heart of Lisbon and the excellent field promised a dynamic, combative World's this year, the course - or perhaps the race - turned out to be not selective enough to sort out the wheat from the chaff from a too well prepared World Championship field. But if it had to come down to a bunch sprint, it was the spectacular sprint of now two-time World Champ Oscar Freire that made Lisbon 2001 An Elite World Road Championship to remember.


Paolo Bettini (Italy) - trying to impersonate a fish...
Danilo di Luca - popular as ever
Daniele Nardello - oversees the preparation of his bike
Smilin' Richard Virenque - looking forward to the challenge ahead
Polish Piotr Wadecki - resplendent in his team's colours
Handsome Danilo Hondo (Germany) - was a popular figure
Australian team manager - Brian Stephens smiles in the team box
Cadel Evans (Australia) - lays it down to Neil Stephens and Hein Verbruggen
Jan Ullrich (Germany) - looking completely focussed before the start.
The start of the race - a mass of ordered colour
Jan Ullrich - putting the pedal to the metal during the race
Richard Virenque - was a heavily marked man during the race
The end of the sprint
Oscar Freire (Spain) - throws his arms in the air as he wins
Oscar Freire - salutes the crowd on the podium after winning

Further photos provided by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Paolo Lanfranchi and Francesco Casagrande - relax prior to the race
Paolo Bettini - over his fish impressions, looks for some water
Giuliano Figueras - makes a trunk call
The Spanish team - attack
A clearly delighted Oscar Freire - crosses the finish line
A not so delighted Paolo Bettini - realises he was very very close to winning
Another shot of the finish - showing the fence, Freire used to his advantage
Oscar Freire - wins his second world title
Oscar Freire's - win certainly pleased the crowd
Oscar Freire - getting close to his medal
Gilberto Simoni - chats with Alfredo Martini
Bettini and Freire - congratulate each other


1 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa)         6.07.21 (40.504 km/h)
2 Paolo Bettini (Ita)
3 Andrej Hauptman (Slo)
4 Erik Dekker (Ned)
5 Erik Zabel (Ger)
6 Piotr Wadecki (Pol)
7 Giuliano Figueras (Ita)
8 Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus)
9 Tomas Konecny (Cze)
10 Beat Zberg (Swi)
11 Michele Bartoli (Ita)
12 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita)
13 Jan Ullrich (Ger)
14 Faat Zakirov (Rus)
15 Arkadiusz Wojtas (Pol)
16 Zbigniew Piatek (Pol)
17 Dave Bruylandts (Bel)
18 Niklas Axelsson (Swe)
19 Alexandre Botcharov (Rus)
20 Niki Aebersold (Swi)
21 Denis Bondarenko (Rus)
22 Mario Aerts (Bel)
23 Angel Vicioso Arcos (Spa)
24 Rui Miguel Sousa Barbosa (Por)
25 Chann Mcrae (USA)
26 Cadel Evans (Aus)
27 Tadej Valjavec (Slo)
28 Levi Leipheimer (USA)
29 Santiago Botero Echeverry (Col)
30 Andrei Tchmil (Bel)
31 Richard Virenque (Fra)
32 Davide Rebellin (Ita)
33 Jean-Cyril Robin (Fra)
34 Gianni Faresin (Ita)
35 Johan Museeuw (Bel)
36 Michael Rasmussen (Den)
37 Gonçalo José Amorim Valada (Por)
38 Gilberto Simoni (Ita)
39 Stéphane Heulot (Fra)
40 Francesco Casagrande (Ita)
41 Ivan Basso (Ita)
42 Angel Luis Casero Moreno (Spa)
43 Michael Boogerd (Ned)
44 Daniele Nardello (Ita)
45 Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro (Spa)
46 Laurent Brochard (Fra)             0.42
47 Nico Mattan (Bel)
48 Vladimir Duma (Ukr)
49 Geert Verheyen (Bel)
50 Mauro Gianetti (Swi)
51 Alexandre Moos (Swi)
52 Peter Luttenberger (Aut)
53 Manuel Beltran Martinez (Spa)     1.00
54 Oscar Sevilla Ribera (Spa)
55 Marc Lotz (Ned)
56 José Luis Rubiera Vigil (Spa)
57 Santiago Blanco Gil (Spa)
58 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita)
59 Maximilian Sciandri (GBr)
60 Gorazd Stangelj (Slo)              8.07
61 Tom Leaper (Aus)                  10.42
62 Marlon Alirio Perez Arango (Col)
63 Rui Lavarinhas (Por)
64 Nuno Alves (Por)
65 Ryan Cox (RSA)
66 Lukas Zumsteg (Swi)
67 Daniel Schnider (Swi)
68 Frédéric Bessy (Fra)
69 Florent Brard (Fra)
70 Pierre Bourquenoud (Swi)
71 Christophe Brandt (Bel)
72 Igor Pugaci (Mda)
73 Serguei Lelekin (Rus)
74 Raimondas Rumsas (Ltu)
75 Morten Sonne (Den)
76 Dariusz Baranowski (Pol)
77 Lauri Aus (Est)
78 Michael Barry (Can)
79 Piotr Chmielewski (Pol)
80 Piotr Przydzial (Pol)
81 Charles Wegelius (GBr)
82 Jan Hruska (Cze)
83 Karsten Kroon (Ned)
84 Dmitri Fofonov (Kaz)
85 Matthias Kessler (Ger)
86 Evgeni Petrov (Rus)
87 Ludovic Turpin (Fra)
88 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr)
89 Danilo Di Luca (Ita)
90 Maarten Den Bakker (Ned)          14.05
91 Michael Skelde (Den)
92 Martin Elmiger (Swi)
93 Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun)
94 Matthé Pronk (Ned)
DNF Romans Vainsteins (Lat)
DNF Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat)
DNF Andris Reiss (Lat)
DNF Zbigniew Spruch (Pol)
DNF Sylvester Szmyd (Pol)
DNF Iñigo Cuesta (Spa)
DNF Rafael Diaz Justo (Spa)
DNF E. Jimenez Sanchez (Spa)
DNF Aitor Osa Eizaguirre (Spa)
DNF Rolf Aldag (Ger)
DNF Danilo Hondo (Ger)
DNF Kai Hundertmark (Ger)
DNF Jörg Jaksche (Ger)
DNF Andreas Klier (Ger)
DNF Grischa Niermann (Ger)
DNF Stephan Schreck (Ger)
DNF Jens Voigt (Ger)
DNF Christian Werner (Ger)
DNF Christian Heule (Swi)
DNF Felice Puttini (Swi)
DNF Marcel Strauss (Swi)
DNF Steve Zampieri (Swi)
DNF Mathew Hayman (Aus)
DNF Patrick Jonker (Aus)
DNF Nathan O'neill (Aus)
DNF Michael Rogers (Aus)
DNF Antonio Cruz (USA)
DNF Damon Kluck (USA)
DNF Seth Pelusi (USA)
DNF Jan Boven (Ned)
DNF Bram De Groot (Ned)
DNF Steven De Jongh (Ned)
DNF Bert Hiemstra (Ned)
DNF Thorwald Veneberg (Ned)
DNF Bart Voskamp (Ned)
DNF Serge Baguet (Bel)
DNF Axel Merckx (Bel)
DNF Chris Peers (Bel)
DNF Peter Van Petegem (Bel)
DNF Marc Wauters (Bel)
DNF Martin Derganc (Slo)
DNF Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe)
DNF Mark Lovatt (GBr)
DNF David Millar (GBr)
DNF Franck Bouyer (Fra)
DNF Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)
DNF Stéphane Goubert (Fra)
DNF Patrice Halgand (Fra)
DNF Jean-Michel Tessier (Fra)
DNF Michael Blaudzun (Den)
DNF Frank Hoj (Den)
DNF Bjarke Nielsen (Den)
DNF Jorgen Bo Petersen (Den)
DNF Rolf Sorensen (Den)
DNF Innar Mandoja (Est)
DNF Arturas Trumpauskas (Ltu)
DNF Nicholas White (RSA)
DNF Dimitar Dimitrov (Bul)
DNF Morten Hegreberg (Nor)
DNF Kairat Baigudinov (Kaz)
DNF Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz)
DNF Konstantin Kuznetsov (Kaz)
DNF Andrey Mizourov (Kaz)
DNF Alexandru Sabalin (Mda)
DNF Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex)
DNF Csaba Szekeres (Hun)
DNF Harald Morscher (Aut)
DNF Gerhard Trampusch (Aut)
DNF Vladislav Borisov (Rus)
DNF Dmitri Gaynitdinov (Rus)
DNF Serguei Ivanov (Rus)
DNF Dmitri Konyshev (Rus)
DNF Kam-Po Wong (HKg)
DNF Aleksander Kliemienko (Ukr)
DNF Mark Walters (Can)
DNF Glen Mitchell (NZl)
DNF Brendon Vesty (NZl)

Starters: 171
Finishers: 94

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