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2002 Road World Championships - CM

Hasselt-Zolder, Belgium, October 8-13, 2002

Main Page    Start list    Course Map    Results    Latest live report

Day 6 - October 13: Elite Men Road Race, 256km

Complete Live Report

Start time: 10:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 16:00 CEST

10:30 CEST
Welcome to Cyclingnews' coverage of the final event of the 2002 World Road Championships, the Elite Men's Road Race held over 20 laps of the 12.8 kilometre Zolder circuit. That's a total of 256 kilometres, and if the average speeds of the other races are anything to go by, the pro's will cover the distance in well under 6 hours.

The weather conditions today are a little warmer than yesterday, due to the overcast, slightly misty conditions. A big crowd is out to watch the race as expected, and they should be in for a thriller on this super fast but tough circuit.

Today we'll be joined by Australians Scott Sunderland and Allan Peiper, who will provide their expert commentary on the race.

10:36 CEST - 5 km
The start gun is fired and almost straight away the pace is high. Jacky Durand (Fra) tries to sneak off the front but the peloton is rather attentive to that.

The roads are slightly damp due to the early morning fog, and one rider has already slipped on a corner. The wind has turned from the east to the south west.

Dmitri Muravyev (Kaz) and Andy Flickinger (Fra) attack on the Terlaemenlaan, with Chris Horner (USA) bridging up to them.

10:41 CEST - 9 km/247 km to go
The trio are caught on the Bolderberg climb and immediately there is counter attack. The pace is very high on this first lap, with the French trying to get a man away. This is a remarkably fast start for a world road championship, as normally the peloton takes it easy for the first few laps. But this is not a course where you can let a break go.

10:43 CEST - 11 km/245 km to go
Durand leads the peloton on the first ascent of the Pitshelling, the 400m climb that can play an important role in the finale. The Spaniards are very watchful though, and there is no break in the peloton. Laurent Jalabert is prominent near the front - it's his last ever race today.

10:46 CEST - 13 km/243 km to go
The first lap is completed in 16'12, an average of 47.4 km/h. Not quite as quick as the U23's last lap the other day, but not bad considering the damp conditions. Jacky Durand attacks before the finish line to steal a small gap over the peloton. But they won't let him go at all.

10:53 CEST - 18 km/238 km to go
Christophe Moreau (Fra) has got a small gap on Westlaan, riding alone about 15 seconds in front of the peloton. No-one has started chasing just yet, with the Spaniards at the front alongside the French.

10:58 CEST - 23 km/233 km to go
Karsten Kroon (Ned) puts a big attack on the Bolderberg hill, but is chased down. Moreau keeps his 15 second lead as he approaches the Pitshelling for the second time. He is now being chased by the Kazakh Dmitri Muravyev.

There is a fall at the back of the peloton, with a lot of riders involved but no-one hurt seriously. Bortolami, Lombardi, Van Petegem were in it, with Bortolami not coming off too well.

11:03 CEST - 26 km/230 km to go
Moreau waits for Muravyev on the finishing circuit, and the two get together after the completion of the second lap.

Van Petegem is back with the peloton, but Vicente Garcia Acosta (Spa), Diaz Justo (Spa) and Bortolami (Ita) are still chasing. Bortolami gets back on before the team box area.

Time for the second lap: 16.45 (45.85 km/h)
Total time after two laps: 32.57 (46.62 km/h)

11:07 CEST - 30 km/226 km to go
Johan Museeuw gets a rear wheel change near the exit of the circuit, but there is no panic. He is paced back onto the peloton by Jurgen Van Goolen. An Irish rider and a US rider who have been dropped tag on.

Muravyev and Moreau have 23 seconds.

11:11 CEST - 33 km/223 km to go
Museeuw gets onto the back of the peloton with no problems, but then has to get some mechanical work done on his rear brake. The peloton is finally taking it easy, taking off rain jackets as the roads start to dry up.

Moreau and Muravyev have a minute's lead, prompting Victor Hugo Pena (Col) to attack.

Cyclingnews spoke with several team directors before the start of today's race, to get their predictions. Claudio Corti (Saeco-Longoni Sport) said that "It’s a very open race today; there are a lot of candidates for the win and it’s most likely that the race will end in a sprint. So sprinters like Cipo, McEwen, Zabel and Freire are the favourites. But the race happens the way it happens so…I hope even a Saeco rider can win today. Danilo Di Luca has his own space on the Italian national team and of course, I hope an Italian wins."

11:17 CEST - 36 km/220 km to go
On the Pitshelling climb for the third time, Moreau and Muravyev have 1'28 lead on Pena, who is trying to chase them down solo. The peloton is at 2'04.

11:19 CEST - 39 km/218 km to go
The completion of the third lap sees Christophe Moreau (Fra) and Dmitri Muravyev (Kaz) with a 1.40 lead on Victor Pena (Col) and 2'01 on the peloton.

Igor Astarloa (Spa) gets a bike change, and Beloki, Gutierrez and Garcia Acosta wait for him.

Time for the third lap: 16.41 (46.03 km/h)
Total time after two laps: 49.38 (46.42 km/h)

11:24 CEST - 43 km/214 km to go
The leaders are now on Kerkstraat having exited the circuit. They still have around 2 minutes lead on the peloton. Astarloa should get back on after his bike change, assisted by three teammates.

Victor Hugo Pena gets caught, as Bobbie Traksel counter attacks.

Gianni Savio, Colombian National Coach told Cyclingnews "It will be very hard to make a prediction for today’s race. Even an 'outsider' might win and so I'm hoping for a win from one of my (Colombian) riders like Santi Botero. Otherwise, I’d like to see a Cipollini win; he’s a friend and a great personality for cycling. Another outsider to watch is Marc Wauters…"

11:30 CEST - 47 km/210 km to go
Jacky Durand puts in an attack on the Terlaemenlaan, to try and break up the rhythm. He succeeds in doing so, as the two leaders make their way over the Bolderberg and the Pitshelling/Sterrenwacht climb for the fourth time.

Astarloa is still having problems with his bike.

11:35 CEST - 49 km/207 km to go
Nicolas Jalabert leads up the Pitshelling climb, and the gap is still 2 minutes at the top. The French want to make the race as hard as possible it seems.

11:36 CEST - 51 km/205 km to go
The two leaders, Christophe Moreau (Fra) and Dmitri Muravyev (Kaz), cross the finish line for the fourth time. Laurent Jalabert is prominent at the front of the peloton. The gap is 1'48 across the line.

Vincent Lavenu (AG2R director) told Cyclingnews today that "I think on a twisting circuit like this, especially in the final kilometre, I’d chose as a favourite a rider who is fast, nervous and a little bit crazy…who can avoid the crashes too. So my #1 favourite is McEwen. I’ll also put Jaan Kirsipuu on the podium; he’s in great shape and is fast. Another rider to watch is Bettini; he’s fast and a real opportunist and that’s the type of rider who will win today. I’m not entirely convinced that Cipollini can win this sprint because it’s too twisty."

Time for Lap 4: 16.53 (45.48 km/h)
Total time after Lap 4: 1.06.31 (46.18 km/h)

11:43 CEST - 56 km/200 km to go
The French are still trying to break things up but the peloton doesn't want to let any more riders get away at the moment - two is enough. Karsten Kroon does a big turn on Westlaan, stringing things out and creating a small gap.

Jeff Louder (USA) is marshalling the rear of the peloton in the company of a teammate.

11:49 CEST - 60 km/196 km to go
Peter Van Petegem gets a flat tyre on the Bolderberg climb, but gets a quick change. Meanwhile, Christophe Moreau and Dmitri Muravyev are making their way up Pitshelling/Sterrenwacht for the fifth time.

Jairo Perez (Col) attacks the peloton on Galgeneinde in the lead up to the climb.

11:54 CEST - 64 km/192 km to go
Moreau and Muravyev cross the finish line with a 2 minute gap to Jairo Perez, with the peloton breathing right down his neck. The Spaniards and French are trying to make it hard.

Van Petegem got back on at the foot of the Pitshelling.

Richard Virenque (Fra) attacks around the back of the course, getting Di Luca (Ita) with him. However the peloton is right there.

Time for Lap 5: 17.05 (44.956 km/h)
Total time after Lap 5: 1.23.36 (45.9 km/h)

11:59 CEST - 68 km/188 km to go
Mauricio Ardilla (Col) is the next Colombian to try a solo attack. Interesting tactics, but they keep getting caught.

Jeff Louder (USA) signals for a bike change.

Jef Braeckvelt (Lotto-Adecco) told Cyclingnews this morning that "Freire, Bortolami or McEwen…I think there will be a bunch sprint today."

12:03 CEST - 71 km/185 km to go
The gaps to the leaders: Moreau and Muravyev are 1'45 in front of Mauricio Ardilla, and 2'20 in front of the peloton. Benoit Joachim (Lux) has attacked the peloton, which is not moving very quickly at the moment. However they react quickly. Mathew Hayman (Aus) has been prominent at the front for the Aussies, and chases the Luxembourger down.

Harald Morscher (Aut) has abandoned.

12:11 CEST - 77 km/179 km to go
Moreau and Muravyev have extended their lead to 2'23 over Ardilla and 3'20 over the peloton as they complete 6 laps. Ardilla is losing ground though, and is basically committing suicide behind the break.

No team is really trying to chase at the moment.

The sun is starting to make an appearance, and the roads are drying up a little. However it's still damp enough for caution to be exercised.

Time for Lap 6: 16.58 (45.26 km/h)
Total time after Lap 6: 1.40.35 (45.8 km/h)

12:20 CEST - 84 km/172 km to go
The leaders maintain their 3'25 advantage on the peloton, which is still calm with Spaniards, Australians and Poles at the front. The Dutch are trying to stir things up though, as Bobbie Traksel attacks on Westlaan. No-one chases immediately, and he should pick up Mauricio Ardilla (Col).

Nothing doing, as the Spanish and German riders close it down.

12:24 CEST - 87 km/169 km to go
The leaders are now on the Pitshelling climb as the peloton crosses the Bolderberg. The gap is around 3'25 to Ardilla and 3'45 to the peloton.

12:28 CEST - 90 km/166 km to go
Aart Vierhouten (Ned) attacks on the Pitshelling, and crosses 3'30 behind Moreau and Muravyev. He can see Ardilla over the top.

The two leaders have finished the 7th lap, still maintaining a 45.6 km/h average. Ardilla is caught with 1 km to go before the finish line, and the peloton is complete again. No-one is chasing yet. Cipollini and Bettini are well placed near the front.

Time for Lap 7: 17:07 (44.86 km/h)
Total time after Lap 7: 1.57.41 (45.681 km/h)

12:32 CEST - 93 km/163 km to go

McEwen's bike
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

More director's prognostics: Shane Bannan (Australian coach) told Cyclingnews this morning that he thought the winner would be (of course) "Robbie McEwen…and we have the other bases covered also. Everyone’s committed to Robbie and we still have some other options with sprinters or breakaways."

Tom Boonen (Bel) puts in a massive attack round the back of the circuit, succeeding in hurting the peloton but only stringing them out. A group of 15 gets a small gap to the peloton.

12:38 CEST - 99 km/157 km to go
There are several breaks in the peloton as the speed increases on Kerkstraat/Westlaan. The attacks are constant now, as this is an important stage in the race. Zulle attacks before Terlaemenlaan but Diaz Justo (Spa) chases him down. The gap is down to 3 minutes.

The Italians get to the front and call for "piano". The sun is making a full appearance now.

Marius Sabaliauskas (Ltu) attacks on the Bolderberg, as Moreau and Muravyev make their way up the Pitshelling.

12:45 CEST - 102 km/154 km to go
Sabaliauskas crosses the top of the Pitshelling 2'45 behind the two leaders. He is caught on the descent however. The Germans and Italians are amassing near the front. Cipollini is always well placed and quite noticeable in his white leg warmers to go with his blue team kit.

The gap to the peloton at the end of lap 8 is 2'53.

Time for Lap 8: 17'24 (44.1 km/h)
Total time after Lap 8: 2.15.05 (45.48 km/h)

12:51 CEST - 107 km/149 km to go
Around the back of the circuit Servais Knaven (Ned) lifts the tempo, taking a 10 others with him. However the peloton is alert and exit a few seconds behind them. There are about 15 riders in the lead, including Bettini and Scirea (Ita). Knaven sees the peloton coming back and launches another attack.

Christophe Moreau and Dmitri Muravyev still have 2'40 on the peloton.

12:56 CEST - 110 km/146 km to go
The attacking continues onto Terlaemenlaan, but no-one can break clear. The Italians and Spaniards are keeping things together well, while the Dutch and Danish teams want to try and break things up. The gap falls to 2'30 to Moreau and Muravyev.

12:59 CEST - 113 km/143 km to go
Moreau powers up the Pitshelling for the 9th time, and Muravyev is dropped. The Khazakh couldn't hold Moreau's wheel that time, and the Frenchman has to continue on his own.

Australian jerseys appear at the front of the peloton at the base of the climb - Michael Rogers is leading. The gap at the top is 2'30.

13:03 CEST - 115 km/141 km to go
Moreau crosses alone at the end of 9 laps, with Muravyev trailing at 26 seconds. Erik Zabel appears at the front of the peloton, and he's looking quite happy. The gap over the finish line is 2'45.

Time for Lap 9: 17'29 (43.9 km/h)
Total time after 9 laps: 2.32.34 (45.304 km/h)

13:11 CEST - 120 km/136 km to go
We're into the 10th lap of the 20 lap race, and the peloton still appears to be playing the waiting game. Christophe Moreau, who attacked after 17 km, is alone in the lead with 2'40 to the peloton. His erstwhile companion Dmitri Muravyev looks to have sat up completely and may well have abandoned on that lap.

The Germans, with Voigt and Zabel, are chatting at the front of the peloton, with Mathew Hayman (Aus) close by. Stuart O'Grady is also up there for the Aussies.

The roads are pretty dry now with this weak Belgian sunshine.

13:15 CEST - 124 km/132 km to go
Benoit Joachim (Lux) attacks on Terlaemenlaan, and gets a gap before the Bolderberg climb. Bram Schmitz (Ned) bridges up to him. Moreau is on the Pitshelling climb, with a 3 minute gap.

Danilo Di Luca is having problems with his bike again at the back.

13:19 CEST - 127 km/129 km to go
Serge Baguet (Bel) attacks hard on the Pitshelling, and gets a gap. Bettini is right at the front of the peloton, always alert. He is caught on the descent, and there is a counter by Eeckhout. No dice though. The Germans and Spaniards are very attentive.

13:22 CEST - 130 km/126 km to go
Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) leads the peloton through at halfway. The gap to Moreau is just 2 minutes, as the tempo increased on that lap. The attacks continue with a Danish rider, Allan Johansen, attacking through the team box zone.

Time for lap 10: 17'54 (42.9 km/h)
Total time after Lap 10: 2.50.28 (45.05 km/h)

13:26 CEST - 132 km/124 km to go
Johansen exits the circuit with a 1'34 deficit to Moreau, with the peloton following at 10 seconds. We'll shortly be joined by Scott Sunderland and Allan Peiper for their expert commentary. By the way, Johansen is one of Scott's EDS-fakta teammates, and recently won Paris-Bourges. However, he can't hold off the peloton for long and he is caught on Kerkstraat.

Marc Wauters does a big turn, taking Jan Boven (Ned), Jose Gutierrez (Spa) and Rafael Schweda (Ger) with him.

13:30 CEST - 135 km/121 km to go
The Italians chase the break down as they turn onto Terlaemenlaan. Moreau's lead has really shrunk, and it's down to a minute now as he takes the roundabout at Bolderberg.

Plamen Kolev (Bulgaria) has crashed. He is out of the race.

Scott Sunderland: "We're halfway, with 10 laps to go. We're starting to see some of the team tactics coming out now. E.g, the Belgian team, which waited until now to lift the tempo of the peloton, trying to split things up and take the speed out of the sprinters' legs. The race is not going to slow down anymore now. Marc Wauters is going for it with assistance of Jan Boven. The Dutch team is in the same position as the Belgian team, with no pure sprinter. They are trying to make the race as hard as possible."

13:33 CEST - 137 km/119 km to go
Ludo Dierckxsens attacks on Galgeneinde, and he gets Michael Rogers (Aus) on his wheel. Moreau takes the turn onto Regenbooglaan and hits the Pitshelling for the 11th time, with a 30 second lead to Oscar Camenzind (Swi) who has a small gap to the peloton.

There are a lot of blue Italian and French jerseys at the front of the pack as they go over the top of the climb.

Scott Sunderland "Another crash. The road is still wet and although the race is less nervous than yesterday, it's dangerous on the circuit. Especially the radar fencing is something I don't like. If you want to get to the front of the peloton you need to pass on the sides; the barriers are making it tricky."

13:37 CEST - 141 km/115 km to go
Moreau's 10 lap breakaway is over at the end of Lap 11, as the complete peloton catches him across the finish line.

Scott Sunderland "Moreau has done a good job in animating the race. He is getting caught now after 10 laps in the front. My teammate Alan Johansen was caught back just before. Serge is alert too, he attacked before but wasn't successful either.

"There are only certain spots along the parcours where you can pass safely; of course it lessens your chances to get to the front. It is very hard to break things up! There are some very good bike riders who are trying to start a small group, e.g. Oscar Camenzind at the moment. Jo Planckaert go with him and so does Nicolas Jalabert. The big guns are definitely interested in getting a break started"

Time for Lap 11: 17.46 (43.2 km/h)
Total time after lap 11: 3.08.14 (44.88 km/h)

13:41 CEST - 144 km/112 km to go
Vasseur attacks round the back of the motor racing circuit, taking Tom Boonen with him. However the peloton is right on their wheels.

German Sven Teutenberg is having more mechanical problems, although not as bad as his sister Ina yesterday.

The attacks are continuous now on Westlaan.

13:45 CEST - 148 km/108 km to go
A group of seven riders gets clear on Westlaan, including Italian Fabio Sacchi. But the peloton is in one long line chasing them and it comes together.

Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) punctures just before the Bolderberg as David Millar (GBr) attacks on the climb. He takes Mathew Hayman with him.

Scott Sunderland "The Italians, five of them, were on the front now trying to calm things down and ride a tempo. The Belgian have taken over though and are trying to stir it up, with the Frenchies and the Dutch."

13:49 CEST - 151 km/105 km to go
Millar is caught by Oscar Camenzind (Swi) and a Kazakh on the Pitshelling. An Austrian rider is also up there.

Plamen Kolev (Bul) has abandoned, unsurprisingly, after his fall. Julian Winn (GBr) has also abandoned. There is only one other British rider left in the race.

The commentary team
Photo: © Sabine Sunderland
Click for larger image

Scott Sunderland "Allan has arrived and we're now on the couch in front of the tele, with some cakes and coffee -which will soon be replaced by a few beers I think!"

Allan Peiper "Average speed just under 45 now; fireworks are going of, six riders trying to break away"

13:51 CEST - 152 km/104 km to go
Millar, Camenzind and Wrolich are the three riders away, with a 10 second gap to the peloton as they enter the circuit for the 12th time.

13:53 CEST - 154 km/102 km to go
The time for that lap was an incredible 15.16, over 50 km/h. Millar, Wrolich and Camenzind are trying to hold off the peloton. They are helped by the fact that the bunch slows down to take on food and water in the team box area. The gap is 20 seconds.

Moreau abandons.

Time for Lap 12: 15.16 (50.3 km/h)
Total time after Lap 12: 3.23.30 (45.29 km/h)

13:56 CEST - 157 km/99 km to go
At the exit of the circuit, a Swiss rider leads the peloton in pursuit of the breakaways (one of whom is Swiss...). Hayman is up at the front of the peloton for the Australians.

14:00 CEST - 160 km/96 km to go
Bobbie Traksel (Ned) and Sebastian Lang (Ger) attack on Westlaan, but Lang doesn't want to roll through too hard, as he's thinking of Erik Zabel. Traksel will have to close the gap mainly by himself.

The gap between the leaders, Millar, Wrolich and Camenzind and the peloton is 41 seconds.

Scott Sunderland "I just received a professional shoulder shiatsu treatment from Allan, to get rid of some late-season stress...bloody nice, and a hell less painful than riding my lungs out on that World's circuit. The speed is incredible, I reckon, with the tendon in the knee still sensitive, I wouldn't have lasted too long. Matt Hayman is feeling good though, he's covering every move."

14:03 CEST - 162 km/94 km to go
The Millar trio has 1 minute on the peloton as they head up the Bolderberg climb. Traksel an Lang are at 40 seconds.

Scott Sunderland "I still put money on Peter Van Petegem."

Allan Peiper "Yep, he was looking sharp last time I saw him out training. He dropped weight, from 72 to 68, very fresh and razor sharp he looked."

14:05 CEST - 164 km/92 km to go
David Millar (GBr), Oscar Camenzind (Swi) and Peter Wrolich (Aut) storm up the Pitshelling for the 13th time. They are going harder than Traksel and Lang, who are at 1'07. The peloton is another 15 seconds back, led by the Poles and Italians.

Oscar Sevilla (Spa) punctures.

14:08 CEST - 166 km/90 km to go
The trio drive hard over the finishing circuit to push their advantage as much as possible. Traksel and Lang are at 1'14, and the peloton at 1'23.

Sevilla is back on with the help of three teammates.

Time for Lap 13: 15.51 (48.45 km/h)
Total time after Lap 13: 3.39.21 (45.51 km/h)

14:13 CEST - 170 km/86 km to go
Millar, Camenzind and Wrolich are being pursued by a Polish/Italian led peloton at 1'23. The leading three are really working hard as they exit the circuit and head down Kerkstraat.

Lombardi (Ita) is at the back of the peloton, looking for his team box for something to eat.

14:17 CEST - 173 km/83 km to go
The Polish led chase is having an effect, and has stabilised the gap at 1'20. There are a couple of Italians and a couple of Germans also assisting in the chase. Millar, Camenzind and Wrolich are good riders, and too dangerous to let get too far.

14:22 CEST - 177 km/79 km to go
The three leaders climb the Pitshelling for the 14th time with a 1 minute gap to the Polish/Italian led peloton, which is chasing properly now. Ludo Dierckxsens (Bel) attacks on the climb, with Vasseur going with him. Michael Rogers is also there, and Bettini is bridging up.

Readers asked why Millar and co. attacked so early? Scott and Allan reply: "They are hoping another 5 to 6 guys are going to come across and form a group."

14:25 CEST - 179 km/77 km to go
Millar, Wrolich and Camenzind cross the line for the end of Lap 14, holding a 1 minute lead on the peloton, which has come back together on the descent.

The peloton crosses 51 seconds behind the trio, with the squadra azzuro to the fore. Museeuw is right near the front, as is Robbie Hunter (RSA).

Allan Peiper "Do you think it should be like McEwen said, ride the World's with trade teams?"

Scott Sunderland "No, it has to remain a National Team's race I think, it gives the race a certain charm, even if you would get more top riders there when trade teams would make the selection."

Allan Peiper "Museeuw sitting right behind the two Italians at the front. He looks good, staying out of trouble. Looking very concentrated. Henk Vogels is there too."

Time for Lap 14: 16.39 (46.1 km/h)
Total time after Lap 14: 3.56.00 (45.56 km/h)

14:31 CEST - 184 km/72 km to go
Camenzind downs a Red Bull from the can, but he's going to need more than that to hold off the peloton, which is getting closer. The gap is down to 42 seconds as they exit the circuit.

14:35 CEST - 187 km/69 km to go
Matthew White (Aus) does a turn onto the Terlaemenlaan, as the chase is now manned by the Italians and the Australians. Millar, Wrolich and Camenzind are still away.

Jeff Louder (USA), who had a bike problem earlier, is spotted at the front.

14:37 CEST - 188 km/68 km to go
The leading three take the Bolderberg roundabout 37 seconds clear of the peloton, which has seven Australians and six Italians at the front. McEwen is right up there.

Scott Sunderland "Matt White and Henk Vogels on the front with Scinto and Bramati. Mc Ewen and O'Grady moving up now too."

14:40 CEST - 190 km/66 km to go
Millar leads the charge on the Pitshelling for the 15th time, with the peloton slowly getting closer. Joachim (Lux) attacks on the climb and crosses 27 seconds behind Millar and co.

Allan Peiper "Millar is the driving force in the break."

Joachim is caught on the descent. It's Italians, Poles and Australians at the front.

14:43 CEST - 192 km/64 km to go
The trio cross the finish line for the 15th time with 29 seconds lead on the still complete peloton.

Scott Sunderland "The three boys at the front are not going to last. Their faces look fatigued and they are giving it all as the bunch is closing in on them"

Allan Peiper "Robbie sitting in the front of the peloton, tucked away behind a couple of the other Aussies"

Time for Lap 15: 16.54 (45.44 km/h)
Total time after Lap 15: 4.12.54 (45.55 km/h)

14:46 CEST - 195 km/61 km to go
Millar, Wrolich and Camenzind exit the motor racing circuit and head down Kerkstraat. Millar is looking smooth, and may well be using this race for training for next week's Italian races (at least that's what he told us on Thursday)

Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) has abandoned.

Scott Sunderland "It's nice to see such an Australian block this year. Other year's the parcours were too hard to have such a motivated team. 10 Australians at the front now!"

"It looks like Millar has understood the break is not going to last"

14:51 CEST - 198 km/58 km to go

Zabel's bike
Photo: © CN
Click for larger image

Jens Voigt (Ger) has a puncture and gets a quick change. He is back onto the peloton.

The constant pressure by the Poles, Australians and Italians in the peloton has brought the gap back to 24 seconds as they enter Terlaemenlaan.

Scott Sunderland "Still the Polish, Australians Matt White and McGee, Bramati and Scinto on the front. I think the Germans are hiding, keeping themselves fresh for the last laps"

Allan to Scott "Does it hurt mate, not being there?"

Scott Sunderland "Nope, not now, last year it did. Because I was so good and the parcours suited me so well, getting sick then was the last thing I needed. The way it looks now it's going to be a bunch sprint; with 5 laps to go."

"All the other teams seems to be quite happy to let the Italians, Australian and Polish riders control the race. The Belgians are very quiet now. The Dutchies out of sight."

14:54 CEST - 200 km/56 km to go
It's finally over on Galgeneinde on Lap 16, as the leading trio sit up. Karsten Kroon (Ned) immediately counter attacks. But the peloton doesn't want to let him go.

Scott Sunderland "Outsiders like Pill sitting in the tail of the peloton; just tapping along, looking very relaxed, only 5 laps to go guys. The peloton is letting the guys in the break swim at 15 seconds. Millar is sitting up now, looking around. The Dutchies attacking right away now"

14:57 CEST - 203 km/53 km to go
Eeckhout and Astarloa attack on Pitshelling, getting a small gap over the top. But it's very small.

Scott Sunderland "Eeckhout is reacting. Attacks are happening now. Van Petegem well positioned."

Allan Peiper "Spanish attacking now too. Astarloa is going. Tactics are changing for that team!"

They get caught, and Laurent Brochard (Fra) attacks, taking a Latvian rider with him - Arvis Piziks. But Boogerd (Ned) brings the peloton back.

14:59 CEST - 205 km/51 km to go
The peloton is together at the end of Lap 16, but attacks continue all round the circuit.

Allan Peiper "The break doesn't succeed. A new attack by a Frenchie, Brochard. Piziks is with him"

Scott Sunderland "Tom Boonen reacting. Danish rider Lars Michaelsen always sitting in 10th position; he's a dangerous guy for another attack. The race is now getting more nervous, 50 kms to go. Looking like it's going to be a mass sprint!"

Time for Lap 16: 16.39 (46.1 km/h)
Total time after Lap 16: 4.29.33 (45.58 km/h)

15:02 CEST - 108 km/48 km to go
Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) and Fabian Cancellara (Swi) attack round the back of the Zolder circuit. The Italians are organising a chase.

Jens Voigt has abandoned.

Allan Peiper "Cancellara is flying! He went across quick."

Scott Sunderland "The big guns need to start loading their ammunition if they don't want a bunch sprint!"

15:07 CEST - 211 km/45 km to go
Allan Davis and Matt White (Aus) are helping the Italians chase Cancellara and Nicolas Jalabert on Terlaemenlaan. The gap is 10 seconds.

Scott Sunderland "Jens Voigt is not having a good day, had enough of it and he stepped off. "

Allan Peiper "Scinto and Bramati are driving the peloton along. Allan Davis on the front too."

Dierckxsens attacks the peloton and tries to bridge the gap.

Scott Sunderland "Crowd going mad now, Ludo Dierckxsens is going! 54/11 and he's giving gas. Don't know if he's getting across or just doing a crowd pleaser. He took the hairs of his left arm taking a corner there!"

Allan Peiper "Italians moving to the front again now. Everything for Cipo."

15:11 CEST - 214 km/42 km to go
The peloton catch Dierckxsens, but Cancellara and N. Jalabert still have 12 seconds as they head up Pitshelling for the 17th time. Boogerd, Astarloa Eeckhout and Bettini lead the bunch over the climb. The leaders are caught on the descent.

15:14 CEST - 217 km/39 km to go
Astarloa attacks again on the finishing circuit, but goes nowhere as Knaven chases him down. Eeckhout and Vinokourov attack before the line, getting a small gap.

Scott Sunderland "Three laps to go and Vinokourov and Eeckhout attacking!"

It comes together round the back. Robbie Hunter (RSA) is near the front. Brochard counters in the team box area, but he can't escape the grip of the peloton. Van Petegem follows an attack of Voskamp.

Time for Lap 17: 15.24 (49.87 km/h)
Total time after Lap 17: 4.44.58 (45.815 km/h)

15:17 CEST - 220 km/36 km to go
A small group forms at the front, as Van Heeswijk and Petacchi are joined by Baden Cooke.

Scott Sunderland: "Some more of the favourites moving to the front. Especially the sprinter's teams. Zabel, O'Grady, Cooke, Freire, etc all keeping their face out off the wind. Not sure how the wind is at the finish line, if it's a head wind, it's McEwen or Zabel. But my money is on Cipo"

Allan Peiper "I'll put my pennies on McEwen."

15:20 CEST - 222 km/34 km to go
The group is recaptured by the peloton, which has gaps in it everywhere as they turn onto Westlaan. Bettini, Boonen, Cooke, Traksel, Clerc, Bettini, Michaelsen, Astarloa, and Popovych are all at the front.

Allan is starting to get goose bumps and sweaty hands here! "Man, I wish I was there racing!! Petacchi is one to look out for. Zabel could do nothing against him in the Tour of Spain; dangerous guy here!"

Scott Sunderland: "Bettini riding across to Max Van Heeswijk with two others. He's staying in the wheels though, not doing any work .A head wind at the finish line; this bunch sprint is one for McEwen!"

Scott Sunderland: "Cookie showing his face now. 10 riders in the front group and Baden's with them. Tom Boonen has gone off the front though with Petacchi in his wheel. Very fast now, attacks at 55 to 60 per hour. Attacks everywhere but within seconds there's reaction from the peloton, no-one is getting more than 50 to 100 metres."

15:23 CEST - 225 km/31 km to go
Allan Johansen (Den) attacks again on the Terlaemenlaan. The Italians are on the front though, and it's brought back.

Scott Sunderland" My team mate Allan Johansen is having a third go at it. The Italians are organizing things again, taking control of the tempo. Allan is not getting any help."

Eeckhout attacks on the Bolderberg, chased by the Italians

15:25 CEST - 227 km/29 km to go
Scott Sunderland "Eeckhout is powering away. Big chainring in 11! He's not getting enough room though."

Allan Peiper "He's keeping the legs still now as the Italians are really well organized, constantly four or five on the front. Museeuw not to be seen yet; wonder how he's going."

Eeckhout is caught by the Italian train on Galgeneinde. Museeuw is right near the front at the base of Pitshelling. So is Van Petegem. Museeuw attacks, with Bettini and Guido Trenti on his wheel.

Scott Sunderland "He heard you Allan : Museeuw has moved up now in the first fifteen. He's going now with Bettini in his wheel!! Van Heeswijk is chasing him!!!!"

15:30 CEST - 230 km/26 km to go
It comes together again, as Popovych drives down the finishing straight with Cooke on his wheel. Van Goolen counters, with a Swiss rider (Bertogliati) on his wheel and Kurt Asle Arvesen (Nor). It comes together though.

Tomas Konecny (Cze) attacks, and gets a small gap. But the Italians are there in force. Alexandre Moos (Swi) misses a corner and crashes. He's out of the race.

Time for Lap 18: 15.01 (51.1 km/h)
Total time after lap 18: 4.59.58 (46.1 km/h)

15:33 CEST - 233 km/23 km to go
Konecny exits the circuit with a 5 second lead on the massive peloton.

Allan Peiper "Average speed 46/h. Last lap at 51 average! Unbelievably fast"

Scott Sunderland "Cookie still constantly in the front five! Two laps to go and the peloton is looking less organized now.Italians still on the front. "

Allan Peiper "They really need another team to help them now though!"

15:36 CEST - 235 km/21 km to go
The peloton is bearing down on Konecny as they enter Westlaan. It's still the Italians on the front, with the Germans now moving up.

Scott Sunderland "21 km and the peloton still intact. Konecny is riding 20 metres in front... not going anywhere though. The Italians don't give him one metre too much"

15:39 CEST - 238 km/18 km to go
The Italians are riding hard tempo on the Terlaemenlaan, preventing attacks by the others. Scinto, Nardello and Bramati are doing a lot of work.

Scott Sunderland "Tension growing along the parcours. People are putting up banners for Museeuw. All Aussies sitting together in 20th position"

Allan Peiper "Two of Zabel's boys have moved up; giving the Italians a hand"

15:41 CEST - 240 km/16 km to go
Scinto is still on the front as they hit Pitshelling for the second last time. Fred Rodriguez and Tom Steels are well placed, as are Zabel, McEwen...

Allan Peiper "A wall of Italians. El Rey sitting somewhere comfortably waiting for the bunch sprint. Germans behind the Italians. This is going to be an awesome mass sprint!!"

15:43 CEST - 242 km/14 km to go
They enter the circuit with a German/Italian train controlling the race. Just over one lap to go...

Canadian fans: Charles Dionne is in 7th wheel.

15:45 CEST - 243 km/13 km to go
One lap to go, and it's the Italians leading a peloton of at least 100 through the finish. Prominent at the front are the Germans and some of the Aussies, with Baden Cooke and Robbie McEwen.

Scott Sunderland "If he's smart Cipo will put Petacchi on his wheel because this is looking really fantastic for McEwen! The hill is just not long enough to make a big enough gap. There's no more 'beg your pardon' now, it's just kicking and gouging "

13 km to go. We are going into the last lap. This is the fastest World Championship ever. Lombardi is negotiating. Cipo in the front now. The pressure must be intense now."

Time of Lap 19: 15.27 (49.7 km/h)
Total time after Lap 19: 5.15.25 (46.26 km/h)

15:48 CEST - 246 km/10 km to go
They exit the circuit with 10 km to go, with Italians, Germans, Spaniards and Australians at the front. Italians mainly. Watch out for Freire - this is a really good sprint for him.

Scott Sunderland "To narrow things down : everybody who has a chance of getting Gold is in the front! (ha) Three Aussies there with McEwen! Cipo, Bortolami, Zabel, etc"

15:50 CEST - 248 km/8 km to go
The peloton head down Kerkstraat for the last time, and turn onto Westlaan.

Allan Peiper "They are riding that fast now they are nearly in a line. Eleven Italians in the front."

Scott Sunderland "This is a blue print of a flat stage in the Tour.... The Italians are driving the peloton along at 50 km/h. Another 8 km to go. My training partner Andreas Klier in fourth position!"

15:52 CEST - 249 km/7 km to go
More Italians are near the front, with Cipo in 10th wheel. The pace stays high as they turn onto Terlaemenlaan for the final time. There are four Australian jerseys right behind the Italians, with Hayman taking over from Sacchi.

New Zealand fans: A Julian Dean sighting near the front.

15:54 CEST - 251 km/5 km to go
Scott Sunderland "Belgian Tom Steels is positioning himself behind the other top sprinters. A lot of pushing and shoving now. There are a lot of big names there."

Allan Peiper"I've never seen the Italians this organized."

Scott Sunderland "Well Cipo is the man at the moment. Other years they all had a chance and there was little unity in the team, this year it is completely different .There's no way anyone is going to get away at this speed. On the left, against the barriers Steels is to be seen, he's getting full confidence of the Belgian team."

15:55 CEST - 252 km/4 km to go
Scirea moves towards the front and picks up the tempo, with Di Luca and Sacchi riding really hard towards the Pitshelling. A fall at the back - Clerc.

Big fall in the middle. 25 riders make it though.

15:57 CEST - 254 km/2 km to go
McEwen is in fifth wheel over the Pitshelling. Steels, Cipo, Rodriguez are all there. As is Zabel.

15:58 CEST - 255 km/1 km to go
Zabel is in third wheel with 1 km to go. Freire hasn't made it through, although most of the top sprinters have.

Allan Peiper" Belgians moving up now. This is going to be a strong train too. We are going to look at the biggest sprint ever; all the big sprinters are there! This is better than any sprint in the Tour de France!"

16:00 CEST - 256 km/0 km to go
Petacchi leads with 500m to go, Lombardi gets ready to lead out. He does, with Cipo on his wheel. McEwen is right there. Cipollini goes early and wins in front of McEwen and Zabel. Fantastically strong sprint, and fantastic teamwork by the Italians. All of them salute as they see Cipollini cross the line with his arms raised.

Scott Sunderland "This was THE all time sprint of SPRINTS. Of all the Giro's, the Tour of France!!! Cipollini is the greatest world champion! He was going away from McEwen! He was absolutely SUPER."

Allan Peiper "A fantastic sprint; awesome, to big for words really. The strongest man in the peloton has won. Cipollini has stated his absolute supremacy, his 180th win! 35 years old! Bettini already had his arms in the air 150 metres away from the finish."

Time of Lap 20: 14.38 (52.48 km/h)
Total time after Lap 20: 5.30.03 (46.53 km/h)


1 Mario Cipollini (Ita)         5.30.03 (46.53 km/h)
2 Robbie McEwen (Aus) 
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) 
4 Andrej Hauptman (Slo) 
5 Zoran Klemencic (Slo) 
6 Jimmy Casper (Fra) 
7 Jaan Kirsipuu (Est) 
8 Sven Teutenberg (Ger) 
9 Baden Cooke (Aus) 
10 Julian Dean (NZl) 

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