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World Championships - CM

Verona, Italy, September 27-October 3, 2004

World's returns to Verona

Oscar Freire parties like it's 1999
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No sooner does the Vuelta finish than the cycling world turns its attention to Verona, Italy. The focus isn't Bill Shakespeare's pair of star-crossed lovers, though, but the world road championships, which returns to fair Verona, scene of the 1999 world's as well as the classic tale of ancient grudge.

While we'll hopefully see no fearful passages in Verona, you can expect plenty of on-the-bike strife as defending champions such as Igor Astarloa, Michael Rogers and Joane Somarriba attempt to hang on to their rainbow jerseys, and in-form contenders like Olympic champion Paolo Bettini, Jan Ullrich and Oenone Wood try to take them home.

When Verona last hosted the world's the then-unknown Oscar Freire stole victory in the men's race with a blistering sprint from 500m out while the other eight riders in a final selection that included 1998 champion Oscar Camenzind, Jan Ullrich and Frank Vandenbroucke were all looking at each other. Marcus Zberg and Jean-Cyril Robin were second and third, respectively. Ullrich, however, had the time trial title for consolation and went on to win in that discipline at the following year's Olympics.

Eventual 1999 winner Edita Pucinskaite leads
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The women's road race saw Lithuania's Edita Pucinskaite take the rainbow jersey ahead of Australian Anna Wilson who had also placed second in the time trial, behind Leontien Zijlaard Van Moorsel.

Spotters of emerging talent would have loved the junior races at Verona in 1999. The men's race was taken out by a young Italian called Damiano Cunego, while a skinny Canadian called Genevieve Jeanson was junior women's road race champion. Against the clock there was promise of future greatness too as Fabian Cancellara took his second junior world title and Jeanson made it a sweep in the women's races. Where are they now? Still winning!

Jan Ullrich leads Oscar Freire
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With 18 laps of the Verona circuit to negotiate (9 for the women's race), this year's will be a world championships that favours tough riders with deep, strong team support. Italian cycling demi-god Francesco Moser says, "The course of the 2004 world championships is not the same as the 1999 edition: the climb is the same and so is the descent, but a pair of kilometres of flat land have been shortened. The laps will be 18, with two more passages on the climb that will become more demanding. It will be a wearing track, with less recuperation in each lap. It won't be as tough as the Sallanches world's, but if the riders attack, the end of the race will be different from the last edition."

Racing starts on September 27 with the junior women's and under-23 men's time trials, kicking off three days of races against the clock on a variety of circuits that all have in common a stretch along the Lake Garda shore between Bardolino and Lazise. The junior women race 15.75km, the junior men and elite women cover 24.05km while the courses for the under-23 and elite men are 36.75km and 46.75km respectively.

After the time trials, the 14.75km road race circuit in Verona beckons with 220m of climbing every lap as riders ascend the Torricelle. Junior women will take the loop five times, junior men and elite women do nine laps and under 23 men execute 12 circuits. On the final day of the championships the senior men cover the course 18 times for a gruelling 265.5km test.

Cyclingnews will be there, with live coverage of each event along with full results, reports, photos and all the news from Verona.

For previews of each individual event, click on the following:

Monday, September 27: Junior Women TT, U23 Men TT
Tuesday, September 28: Junior Men TT, Elite Women TT
Wednesday, September 29: Elite Men TT
Friday, October 1: Junior Women RR, U23 Men RR
Saturday, October 2: Junior Men RR, Elite Women RR
Sunday, October 3: Elite Men RR