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90th Meisterschaft von Zürich - Championship of Zurich - CDM

Switzerland, August 17, 2003

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Complete Live Report

Commentary by Jeff Jones, with additional reporting by Chris Henry

Time conversion guide: GMT = CEST - 2 hrs, AEST = CEST + 8 hrs, EDT = CEST - 6 hrs, PDT = CEST - 9 hrs

Start time: 11:30 CEST
Estimated finish time: 17:00 CEST

08:51 CEST    
2002 winner Dario Frigo
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 90th Meisterschaft von Zürich/Züri-Metzgete/Championship of Zurich, which takes place today over an unrelenting 236.6 kilometre parcours. The race starts southeast of Zürich and winds its way through the rolling hills for 71 km before returning and starting on the four 41 km finishing circuits. On each of these there are several climbs, with the 672m ascent of Forch (10.6 km into the lap) and the steeper 729m ascent of the Pfannenstiel (24.2 km into the lap) the main obstacles.

Riders to watch today include last year's winner Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo), who has been out of form of late; World Cup leader Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step), who finished second in this race last year and is in top form at the moment, winning the last two World Cups; Jan Ullrich (Bianchi), who has finished second in this race three times, and would dearly like a win; Alexandre Vinokourov (Telekom), who finished third in the Tour; Tyler Hamilton (CSC), who is now recovered from his broken collarbone and is a real danger man on a course like this; 1997 winner Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), who seems to be back to his best form; and Laurent Dufaux (Alessio), who won this race in 2000 and is probably the home favorite.

13:08 CEST    67 km/169.6 km to go
The riders are just coming to the end of the first 71 km lap, and the situation is that we have four riders in a break: Eddy Ratti (Lampre), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Phonak), Laurent Lefevre (Jean Delatour) with 2'37" to the peloton.

The weather is good today too. It's sunny and will be reasonably hot, approaching 30 degrees with a little bit of wind.

13:44 CEST    80 km/156.6 km to go
Lefevre leads Wegmann at the start of lap 1
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
The four man break went past the start/finish line with 6 minute lead, so it's obvious that the peloton is letting them get a bit of a lead, as is usual in these types of races. However with four tough 41 km laps in front of them and warm conditions, it's going to be hard to stay out in front.

Cyclingnews spoke to ex-World Cup leader (now in second place) Peter van Petegem about his main rival, Paolo Bettini. "We've seen how Bettini is riding, so... we'll have to wait and see what happens."

From what we know of Bettini's sprinting ability, the odds are strong that if Bettini is in the front group at the end, the others will be racing for second place.

14:02 CEST    98 km/138.6 km to go
As the break makes its way around the first 41 km lap, Team Bianchi and Saeco have put men on the front to chase, and have kept the gap at a fairly manageable 6'16. The weather is getting hotter, and this will certainly tell in the later laps.

14:13 CEST    105 km/131.6 km to go
The break with Eddy Ratti (Lampre), Fabian Wegmann (Gerolsteiner), Martin Elmiger (Phonak) and Laurent Lefevre (Jean Delatour) has increased its lead to 10 minutes now, so obviously the chase is not too serious yet.

The peloton has just crossed the Pfannenstiel for the first time, and race radio says "the riders are benefiting from the applause from thousands of spectators on the Pfannestiel."

We note that plenty of riders getting dropped too.

14:41 CEST    125 km/111.6 km to go
The break comes past at the end of lap 1
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
The leaders are now well into the second of four 41 km laps, with still a healthy advantage over the peloton, which is starting to pick up the pace. The gap is now down to 9'20. Alexandre Vinokourov (who downed a coke just at the start/finish line) and Paolo Bettini are three quarters of the way back in the field.

We spoke to Cyclingnews diarist Scott Sunderland this morning before the start. The Aussie fakta rider told Cyclingnews that he hasn't had the ideal preparation for this race this year. "Normally I would have ridden Burgos or some of the other races just prior," he said. "Team fakta doesn't have a specific game plan, we'll wait to see what happens and see what the big teams like Saeco, Bianchi, and Quick-Step do."

14:53 CEST    136 km/100.6 km to go
The break is on the third climb (of five) of the Pfannenstiel now, and their gap has been carved back to 7'19 as the peloton gathers pace.

We also spoke to US Postal's George Hincapie today, who admitted "I'm tired, man! I've got three weeks off to get ready for the Vuelta."

We asked Hincapie who the team leader is today: "We'll just see what happens. We're just riding today..."

15:12 CEST    153 km/83.6 km to go
Saeco is still leading the chase of the four man breakaway group (Ratti, Wegmann, Elmiger, Lefevre), bringing the gap down all the time as they approach the last two laps. The Pfannenstiel is behind them now for the third time.

15:42 CEST    167 km/69 km to go
The peloton chases
Photo: © C.Henry/CN
The four leaders have passed the start/finish line again at the end of the second lap, and are now into the second last of the 41.4 km circuits. They are still working well together, and are getting a lot of water bottles from the neutral Mavic car.

The gap has sunk to 2'40 now, with most of Saeco on the front of the peloton still, accompanied by a couple of Team Bianchi riders. Jan Ullrich is well placed near the front of the bunch, near his teammates.

15:52 CEST    169.6 km/67 km to go
The break is on the descent into Egg, as the hard riding peloton gradually pulls them back. The gap is now down to 2'22, and these four leaders will be lucky to survive until the end of the lap.

15:56 CEST    170.6 km/66 km to go
A couple of Rabobank riders move to the front of the peloton, continuing to drive the pace as the bunch rushes towards the Pfannenstiel. The gap to Ratti, Lefevre, Wegmann and Elmiger is now just 1'50 as they hit the bottom of the steep climb.

Ratti is dropped straight away.

A Bianchi rider leads the peloton - Schweda - at the foot of the climb, now just 1'14 behind the break. Freire, Rasmussen, Kessler, and Boogerd are all near the front.

Fabian Wegmann is dropped from the break, leaving Elmiger and Lefevre in the lead. He somehow gets back on, after getting a drink from a car. However the three are history anyway. Ratti is caught by the bunch.

16:02 CEST    173.6 km/63 km to go
Bobby Julich (Telekom) and Igor Astarloa (Saeco) get small gap to the peloton, but they are caught just as the climb hits its steepest part.

Wegmann is now definitively dropped from the break.

16:05 CEST    
Gorazd Stangelj (Fassa Bortolo) is next to leave the peloton, catching and passing Wegmann, who is trying to hang on to the top of the climb. The peloton is less than 10 seconds behind Stangelj, who may be pacing the way for a Frigo/Bartoli attack.

The two leaders, Lefevre and Elmiger, are almost caught now by the Slovenian, who is in his big chainring and not pedalling that quick.

16:09 CEST    178.6 km/58 km to go
Stangelj catches the two leaders just at the top, which is good timing as the three should go faster on the descent. The peloton, led by Garcia Casas (Bianchi), Di Luca (Saeco) and Julich (Telekom), is just 10 seconds behind. It's still quite a large group.

16:13 CEST    184.6 km/52 km to go
Stangelj is not getting a lot of help from Lefevre and Elmiger, who have been out in front all day. He will have to drive this break mostly by himself on the descent back into Zurich.

The peloton is not panicking yet though. There are quite a few US Postal jerseys near the front, along with Virenque.

16:15 CEST    185.6 km/51 km to go
Paolini does a strong turn at the front of the bunch on a short pinch just before the main descent, and catches Elmiger and Lefevre. Freire and Julich are also there. The peloton is thinning down a little, but there are still 70-80 riders there.

16:19 CEST    188 km/48.6 km to go
Stangelj is descending nicely, hitting 75 km/h on the non-technical sections, tucked low over his handlebars. He keeps his 10 second lead to the peloton, which is a little disorganised at the moment.

George Hincapie and Oscar Freire make a little counter attack. It doesn't last long, as Thorsten Hiekmann comes through hard for Telekom. Stangelj is still dangling out in front.

16:23 CEST    190.6 km/46 km to go
Stangelj suddenly sits up, and the peloton swallows him. It was a tough move to pull off, with so many teams interested in keeping it together until the last climb.

16:28 CEST    195.6 km/41 km to go
It's now a compact peloton racing alongside the Zurichsee in preparation for the final 41 km lap. Gerolsteiner, Telekom, Fassa Bortolo and US Postal all have men on the front, keeping the pace high. Some riders grab a drink as they head through the feed zone Ullrich is in eighth wheel, followed by other favourites such as Boogerd and Vinokourov

One lap to go. Quick.Step's Andrey Kashechkin attacks, and gets a small gap.

16:32 CEST    197.6 km/39 km to go
Kashechkin's move is a nice one, forcing the other teams on the defensive. The Kazakh has 10 seconds lead, as Gianni Faresin leads the chase for Gerolsteiner.

16:35 CEST    200.6 km/36 km to go
Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner) counter attacks the peloton, jersey flapping in the breeze. He'll try and close the 15 second gap to Kashechkin, thus giving Rebellin and Bettini two men in front.

16:37 CEST    200.6 km/36 km to go
Zberg catches Kashechkin and drops him immediately, as the road ascends through the forest. The gap between the two is about 5 seconds, with the peloton another 10 seconds back. Zberg doesn't wait - his job is to try and be in front for Rebellin.

16:39 CEST    201.6 km/35 km to go
Sylvain Chavanel (Brioches) closes the gap to Zberg, as does Virenque. However the peloton is at full speed now, and they are all caught.

Chavanel attacks again!

16:42 CEST    203.6 km/33 km to go
Chavanel is joined by Cristian Moreni (Alessio) and Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto-Domo), and the three have an 8 second gap on the peloton. Now Bianchi has got on the front, with Ullrich himself in second wheel, looking very strong. He is followed by Bettini and Vinokourov

Hincapie attacks again...

16:47 CEST    206 km/30.6 km to go
Hincapie gets across, but Jan Ullrich is right there with him! Telekom's Nardello bridges up too. The peloton will surely not let this move get clear. They are nearing the top of the Forch climb.

Verbrugghe and Nardello have a little gap now, with Moreni. The peloton, in bits, is breathing down their necks. Ullrich closes the gap again. Then Beneteau and Nardello go away, as the descent starts.

Beneteau is now on his own, tackling the long, straight descent off the Forch climb. The peloton is only 5 seconds behind though, and resistance is useless.

16:51 CEST    209.6 km/27 km to go
It's now a very strung out peloton of maybe 50 riders, with a Bianchi rider in front leading Andrey Kashechkin (Quick.Step). It's all going to happen on the Pfannenstiel, it looks like.

16:53 CEST    212.6 km/24 km to go
Garcia Casas is the man leading the bunch, doing a good job for Ullrich who has now moved into third wheel, followed by Bettini. Scarponi and Boogerd are also near the head of the group.

16:56 CEST    213.6 km/23 km to go
Ullrich gets a big leadout from his teammates at the foot of the Pfannenstiel, and goes hard. Of course everyone is right on his wheel. He looks back and realises that he'll have to take a slightly different tactic. Freire, Celestino, Rebellin, Boogerd are all up there with him.

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) attacks with Celestino trying to go with him, but failing.

16:58 CEST    215.6 km/21 km to go
Rasmussen has a nice little gap as Nardello, Celestino and Flecha try to chase him. The main bunch is a few seconds back.

16:59 CEST    216.6 km/20 km to go
Rasmussen hits the steep part of the Pfannenstiel with 8 seconds lead on the three chasers. The Dane is climbing well, as he did last week in San Sebastian.

17:01 CEST    
Nardello and co. are caught by the bunch, and Scarponi is the next rider to go on the attack. The Domina Vacanze makes the left hander some 12 seconds behind Rasmussen, who is still in front on his own.

17:04 CEST    218.6 km/18 km to go
The now small peloton is still waiting, as Scarponi pursues Rasmussen on the Pfannenstiel. He is looking behind a lot, and doesn't look like getting the Dane.

17:06 CEST    219.6 km/17 km to go
Moncoutie has caught Scarponi just before the top, with Rasmussen going over in front. The field is splitting now, with Bettini, Boogerd and Bartoli getting a little gap.

Rasmussen is now on the descent.

17:08 CEST    221.6 km/15 km to go
Moncoutie and Scarponi are caught on the descent, as the peloton regroups a bit. Rous does a strong turn on the front - there are about 15-20 riders in the group. But Rasmussen has 24 seconds lead.

17:10 CEST    223.6 km/13 km to go
Virenque attacks the group, which is not going fast enough to catch Rasmussen. But it doesn't last long, as Scarponi, Basso and Moncoutie come by. There is a lot of looking around and not much working.

17:11 CEST    
Rasmussen hits the next steep pinch with a 21 second gap to the bunch, climbing in his small ring. He loses time on this climb though.

17:13 CEST    225.6 km/11 km to go
Casagrande leads Basso and Boogerd up to Rasmussen, and a group of six forms at the front. It looks as though a Telekom rider - Nardello - has got across to them. Bettini is in the second group.

17:16 CEST    227.6 km/9 km to go
Eladio Jimenez (ibanesto) is the sixth rider in the front group, but he is dropped on the descent. There are now five in front: Basso, Casagrande, Boogerd, Rasmussen and Nardello.

17:17 CEST    228.6 km/8 km to go
The group is caught by Ullrich and the second group. Nardello counters immediately.

17:19 CEST    230.6 km/6 km to go
Nardello has an 8 second lead with 6 km to go, as the bunch is being towed by a reluctant Richard Virenque. Ivan Basso and Didier Rous attack, joined by Rodriguez. Rous goes alone. He is joined by Javier Pascual Rodriguez and David Moncoutie, who is having a good day.

17:21 CEST    232.6 km/4 km to go
Moncoutie, Jimenez, Rasmussen and Moreni are now chasing Nardello, who has 4 km to go. Ullrich closes the gap, yet again. The bunch is happy with that.

17:23 CEST    234.6 km/2 km to go
Nardello doesn't care about the disorganisation behind him (or maybe he does) as he has 15 seconds with 2 km to go. Moncoutie tries again. The bunch catches him, courtesy of Kashechkin. It looks like Nardello's race.

Ullrich attacks!

17:24 CEST    235.6 km/1 km to go
Ullrich gives a lot of gas, and gaps the chasers. Nardello hits the last km with 9 seconds lead to Der Jan.

17:26 CEST    
Nardello looks round and sees Ullrich coming. He realises he needs to put it up another gear. He does, and has a comfortable six second gap as he takes the win. Ullrich is second - for the fourth time. Bettini beats Boogerd in the sprint for third, and increases his World Cup lead.

A great ride by Nardello, who took advantage of the cat and mouse tactics in the peloton in the finale. It looked like Bettini was interested in keeping it together for the sprint, while Ullrich didn't really have the strength to make a decisive move on the Pfannenstiel. Still, he acquitted himself well but must be getting tired of second place.

Paolo Bettini now has 350 points in the World Cup competition, with Michael Boogerd sneaking in front of Peter van Petegem today with 204 points. With only two rounds left, Bettini is all but assured of winning his second World Cup title in succession..

Thanks for following our live coverage of the Championship of Zurich. Our next live appointment will (more than likely) be the Vuelta Espana, which starts on September 6.


1 Daniele Nardello (Ita) Telekom         5.55.31
2 Jan Ullrich (Ger) Team Bianchi            0.06
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step            0.11
4 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank
5 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
6 Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Spa) iBanesto
7 Oscar Camenzind (Swi) Phonak
8 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis
9 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Domina Vacanze
10 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio

World Cup standings after round 8

1 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick.Step-Davitamon   350 pts
2 Michael Boogerd (Ned) Rabobank             204
3 Peter Van Petegem (Bel) Lotto-Domo         203  
4 Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner         187

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