Day One of the Road News

Two stars discuss the World Championships road circuit at Duitama

Gianni Bugno and Richard Virenque have both given their views of the World
Championship road race circuit at Duitama. "There's no doubt this is a
course that will suit climbers," Bugno said. "There's a climb of 2.8km
followed by 1.2km of false-flat going over the top. At least a kilometre of
th climb itself is really hard. I've been riding it on a 19 or a 21
sprocket. It reminds me a lot of the Chambery circuit in 1989, except that
because it isn't at sea-level it's really hard to breathe and I reckon that
light riders will be at an advantage. I've recovered from the jet-lag
alright, but I'm still having a hard time getting used to the altitude."

By Tuesday [26 September 95] the French national team was ensconsed in
Duitama too, but were being instructed to only take light rides on the flat
and certainly not to attempt the circuit for a few days. Richard Virenque
did, however, assess the circuit by car and gave his views to L'Equipe's
reporter. The mist had hardly lifted when they set off at 8am but the
llamas, more numerous than cows at nearly 3000 metres, were long awake.
After Luc Leblanc's experience earlier in the year on the circuit, when it
was little more than a track, Virenque was pleased to find a good, recently
tarred surface bordered by little white houses that had been repainted in
the Colombian national colours or those of sponsors.

Virenque said little during the first two kilometres of the circuit which
he described as "very flat and capable of being ridden at high speed." Then
around a corner loomed up an impressive climb. The road here runs through
equatorial vegetation, with the eucalyptus the king. After a long false
flat the slope stiffens very rapidly for 4.6 interminable kilometres.
Varying between 5.8% and 8.5%, there's no moment of respite. "It's by no
means certain," Virenque said, "that the peloton will be complete after the
first lap." The main climb is not the end of the matter, because the
descent into the centre of Duitama is divided into several portions, which
include stretches of false flat. The true descent is about a kilometre
further on, after 2830m has been reached. The descent lasts about another 4
km. "It's an extremely rapid descent," Virenque said. "If one of the guys
is let loose off the front at the top of the climb, nobody will be able to
catch him on the descent. That's certainly more to my taste than the way it
was at Agrigento last year. There the peloton could go faster than a single
escaper, that's not the case here."

There are then just 2km of slight descent to the finish line. "There's
practically no flat portion on this circuit," said Virenque. "When one
isn't climbing, one is descending. All that is to my taste. But only a
rider in the peak of form can do well on this course. If between now and
the race [on 8 October 95] I adapt well to the altitude, it's going to be a
feast of a ride."