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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

World championships - CM

Madrid, Spain, September 21-25, 2005

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Race 6 - September 25: Elite men's road race, 273km

Trčs bon Boonen

Belgian superstar takes third top one day title of 2005 season

By Shane Stokes and Hernan Alvarez in Madrid

Tom Boonen (Belgium)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Tom Boonen completed the remarkable treble of a World Championship, Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders in the same season today when he sprinted to victory in the Elite Men's road race on Madrid's Paseo de la Castellana. The 24 year old Belgian thundered home ahead of Spaniard Alejandro Valverde and French surprise Anthony Geslin, beating these and 20 others in the uphill drag to the line.

Olympic champion Paolo Bettini (Italy), Tour de France stage winner Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan), Michael Boogerd, Koos Moerenhout (both Netherlands), Marcus Serrano (Spain), and Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia) were the main aggressors towards the end and were clear heading into the final kilometre. However, hesitation on their part allowed a group of chasers to rejoin contact just as they entered the finishing straight, 600 metres from the line. That was enough for Boonen to surge home for victory.

Top sprinters Alessandro Petacchi (Italy) and Robbie McEwen (Australia) had both been highly tipped as possible winners today but they and fellow sprinter Erik Zabel (Germany) finished in the second group on the road, 25 seconds back. In the end it was Boonen - equally fast, but a bit more resilient on tough one day courses - who triumphed, becoming the first Belgian winner since his Mentor Johan Museeuw took the world title in Lugano in 1996.

Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Boonen was, as expected, delighted with his win. "This tops everything I have done," he said. "At the start of the season my goal was to take the double of Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders. I also wanted to try to win the green jersey in the Tour de France. My Tour wasn't too successful as I had my biggest bad luck. It was hard getting back in shape for the World's after that, but I was very motivated. I was very focused for this one day."

He was asked if he had known that his Italian rival was under pressure on the climbs before the finish. "I didn't know where Petacchi was because I wasn't watching him," he said. "I don't think you should spend your race following someone else, staying on their wheel. If you do that, all that happens is that you lose. I rode my own race and it worked out very well in the end.

"It is not important to win a load of stages in the Vuelta," he continued, referring to the fact that Petacchi took five wins on his way to finishing the Tour of Spain, while he pulled out halfway through with none. "The only thing that matters is winning here today."

Like Boonen, second-placed Alejandro Valverde also withdrew from the Tour due to injury. He had only one day of competition before the World's. "I didn't race since the Tour [de France]," he said. "The idea was to do the World's and then do the three classics that are left this season. There are two that I think that are pretty hard and now, in my condition, I can try to do them as best as I can."

Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
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Valverde says that his time away from competition did have some benefits. "To compete you get a very good condition, but training you can do what you want. You can train for five, six, seven hours; with intensity, without intensity. I think you could train very well."

He said that it would have been very difficult to win once it came down to a sprint against his Belgian rival. "Boonen is so very fast and very strong for these kind of races. I started the sprint very early, he caught me and he could pass me pretty easily."

Frenchman Anthony Geslin was the surprise of the podium. He said that his bronze medal will give him more confidence for the future. "It's true that the today's favourites were McEwen, Boonen and Petacchi. In the end I am here. From now on, I will start believing in myself. The last lap was very hard, but I did pretty well on the last climbs of the race. In the end, the strongest riders were the those who fought it out for the sprint, and I was able to be there."

How it unfolded

Lining up
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192 riders lined up for the beginning of the 273 kilometre race, facing slightly cooler temperatures than pervious days. It was approximately 20 degrees at the ten o'clock start, but this would gradually rise to about 28 degrees later in the day. The mood was definitely relaxed before new UCI supremo Pat McQuaid fired the start gun, with most of the big riders chatting to each other and showing no trace of nerves.

Krasimir Vasilev (Bulgaria) got things under way early on when he attacked just two kilometres into the race, quickly opening up a minute's gap by the time he started the first climb. Once onto the slopes, Juan Carlos Lopez Martin set off in pursuit, but the Colombian was unable to make any inroads into Vasilev's lead. At the end of the first lap Lopez was 1'01 second back, with the peloton 3'47 behind.

Dmitry Muravyev (Kazakhstan) and Saul Raisin (USA), who normally ride together in the Credit Agricole squad, set off in pursuit on the second ascent of the Dehesa de la Villa climb, joining forces to try to reduce their 4'30 deficit to the lone leader. Lopez was still stuck in no-man's land but he was scooped up a lap later by the chasing pair. The gap to Vasilev was by this stage 2 minutes, with the main bunch 10'10 back. This then rose to 11'43 by the time they completed three laps of racing.

Saul Raisin (USA)
Photo ©: Shane Stokes
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The co-operation of the three chasers saw them draw closer and closer to the leader, and they finally caught him on the second, steeper climb of the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria on the fourth lap.

Behind, Great Britain riders such as Charly Wegelius and Tom Southam were driving the pace, presumably to keep their team leader Roger Hammond in contact, although Hammond himself was unsure why they were burying themselves, as he told Cyclingnews, "I don't know why they took the initiative to ride. It wasn't our team plan and I still don't think it was up to us to do that. We didn't have enough riders as it was, and I don't know...we will find out later on."

The bunch was over ten minutes down at this point and the GB riders kept tabs on the break, playing into the hands of the teams with strong sprinters, such as Italy, Australia, and Belgium. With the assistance of others, including Argentina's Matias Medici and Martin Garrido (who did have a couple of in form sprinters in their squad), they started to bring it back down. At the end of lap five the four leaders were 9'04 ahead and this had dropped to 7'49 one lap later.

The peloton
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Lopez Martin cracked and went south on the Dehesa de la Villa climb, with Vasilev also starting to look rough. However, Raisin and Muravyev were still strong and under their impetus, the break had retained 7'06 of their lead at the end of lap seven. Medici, Southam, Wegelius, Anibal Andres Borrajo and Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus) - who looked to be working as much for his trade teammate Alessandro Petacchi as much as his national teammate Alexandre Usov - were leading the bunch.

Vasilev finally cracked on the eighth ascent of the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria while, over six minutes later, Lopez Martin was finally hoovered up by the peloton. One lap later, the two leaders were 1'18 ahead of Vasilev and 5'59 up on the main field, clearly living on borrowed time.

The speed behind ramped up further with 92 kilometres remaining when Spanish riders David Blanco and Zaballa hit the gas on the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria climb, cutting the gap down to 4'52. This split the bunch, stranding Petacchi temporarily, until his Italian teammates closed things down.

Just inside 90 kilometres to go, Joost Posthuma (Netherlands) lit the fuse when he scorched off the front. He was chased and caught by five others, including Francisco Mancebo (Spain), Filippo Pozzato (Italy), Vladimir Efimkin (Russia), and Murillo Fischer (Brazil). This short-lived break and the subsequent pace driving by Spanish and German riders ensured that this was the quickest lap yet and, crucially, that the break's lead was further reduced. Raisin and Muravyev had just 2'49 at the foot of the Dehesa de la Villa climb and, by the summit, this was down to 2'09 thanks to the pace set by Sergey Ivanov (Russia), Matteo Tosatto and four other Italians. These same riders also led the charge up the second climb.

Filippo Pozzato (Italy)
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It looked likely that the two leaders might hold off the chase until they got some way into the eleventh lap, but a flurry of attacks scuppered things somewhat. Efimkin, Paolo Bettini (Italy), Stijn Devolder (Belgium), Zaballa, Geslin plus several others tried to break the elastic but the only one able to get clear of the peloton was Denis Shkarpeta (Uzbekistan). He bridged across to Raisin and Muravyev before the final corner, shedding the former, and continued past the line with an advantage of just seven seconds.

A solo Shkarpeta got the gap up to ten seconds but the Australian-led chase caught him soon afterwards. Frenchman Chris Kern then took a flyer, got a maximum lead of 15 seconds but came back through the efforts of Cadel Evans (Australia) and the attacks of Constantino Zaballa (Spain), Steffen Wesemann (Switzerland) and Jakob Piil (Denmark). Spain's Oscar Pereiro then countered and was joined by a persistent Piil, the two getting eighteen seconds.

This was clearly a dangerous move and prompted more aggression behind on the climb up the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria. Pieter Weening (Netherlands) surged and drew eight riders clear, namely Bettini, Patrick Calcagni (Switzerland), Philippe Gilbert (Belgium), Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan), Allan Davis (Australia), Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Spain), Fabian Wegmann (Germany) and Alejandro Valverde (Spain). Stijn Devolder also got into the move and, helped by the fact that the bunch backed off, they got a 52 second lead.

Bettini and Valverde
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Although the cooperation between the leaders was patchy, with some riders doing much more driving than others, they continued to pull away. When crossing the start finish line to end the eleventh lap the break was 58 seconds up on three riders - Alexander Kolobnev (Russia), Andriy Grivko (Ukraine) and Calcagni, who had been dropped from the move. The French-led peloton was a further 16 seconds back.

Valverde, Perdiguero, Bettini and Pereiro sensed it was time to go, and they drove the break up the first climb. Yet, somehow, the peloton was coming back again, prompting Dutchman Koos Moerenhout to get away and chase with Mancebo, Pozzato, Marek Rutkiewicz (Poland) and Murillo Fischer (Brazil) for a while before being caught. Bettini was having none of it, though, and jumped hard on the steep section of the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria climb. Wegmann quickly closed, and these two were then joined by Piil, Devolder, Gilbert, Valverde, and Perdiguero.

With 29 kilometres to go Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan) and Vuelta star Denis Menchov (Russia) set off in pursuit, but they were soon caught by the Michael Rogers-led peloton. The gap continued to fall, prompting Valverde and Bettini to try to go clear again. While they were brought back, Piil countered but he too was caught. They had just 14 seconds on Martin Elmiger at the end of the penultimate lap, with the peloton close behind.

The proximity of the main bunch and the fast-approaching finish prompted a succession of attacks in the break. Perdiguero and Bettini both jumped away, but it was Piil and Gilbert who got the gap. They were joined by Wegmann, only for the Henk Vogels-driven bunch to finally get back on terms.

Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
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Bettini's aggression made it seem that the Olympic champion had shot his bolt, but he had - unbelievably - more left to give. Karsten Kroon (Netherlands) surged clear at the foot of the Avenida del Cardenal Herrera Oria climb, and the Italian jumped across with Julian Dean (New Zealand). Bjorn Leukemans (Belgium) joined as did Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) and several others.

Moerenhout was one of these and he attacked the front group. Vinokourov countered, being joined by the Dutchman and Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia), then Leukemans, while behind, Nick Nuyens (Belgium) and Dean were shed. Michael Boogerd and Bettini got across and took off to follow yet another Vinokourov attack. They got across, only for Marcos Serrano, Stangelj and Moerenhout to close up on the final downhill run towards the last bend.

Tom Boonen (Belgium)
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With one kilometre to go the six had 10 seconds, making it look possible. But despite Vinokourov's best efforts to go clear, Bettini and the others marked him and the break then stalled, giving the Belgian-driven chasing group just enough of a chance to latch onto the back of the move with 600 metres to go. Vinokourov jumped with 250 metres to go, hoping to hold off the fresher riders, but he had no answer to Boonen, Valverde, Geslin and a wave of riders, who swept by to fight it out for the win.

The Belgian was clearly strongest, hurtling towards the line and the biggest victory of his career, while Valverde took second to repeat his silver medal of Hamilton two years ago. Geslin, Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden), Fischer, Piil, Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) and Andreas Klier (Germany) completed the top eight.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net

Images by Shane Stokes/Cyclingnews.com

Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti

Images by Hernan Alvarez/Cyclingnews.com


1 Tom Boonen (Belgium)                              6.26.10 (42.417 km/h)
2 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain)                      
3 Anthony Geslin (France)                                  
4 Marcus Ljungqvist (Sweden)                               
5 Murilo Fischer (Brazil)                                  
6 Jakob Piil (Denmark)                                     
7 Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation)                   
8 Andreas Klier (Germany)                                  
9 Julian Dean (New Zealand)                                
10 Martin Elmiger (Switzerland)                            
11 Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia)                              
12 Steffen Wesemann (Switzerland)                          
13 Paolo Bettini (Italy)                                   
14 Grégory Rast (Switzerland)                              
15 Thomas Dekker (Netherlands)                             
16 Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Spain)                   
17 Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands)                           
18 Michael Boogerd (Netherlands)                           
19 Laurent Brochard (France)                               
20 Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia)                              
21 Alexandr Vinokourov (Kazakhstan)                        
22 Marcos Antonio Serrano Rodriguez (Spain)                
23 Guido Trenti (United States Of America)                 
24 Denis Menchov (Russian Federation)                  0.10
25 Mario Aerts (Belgium)                               0.11
26 Nick Nuyens (Belgium)                               0.21
27 Björn Leukemans (Belgium)                           0.23
28 Alexandre Usov (Belarus)                            0.25
29 Erik Zabel (Germany)                                    
30 Robbie Mcewen (Australia)                               
31 Uros Murn (Slovenia)                                    
32 Rene Haselbacher (Austria)                              
33 Aurélien Clerc (Switzerland)                            
34 Peter Van Petegem (Belgium)                             
35 Alessandro Petacchi (Italy)                             
36 Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Argentina)                   
37 Matija Kvasina (Croatia)                                
38 Sergey Lagutin (Uzbekistan)                             
39 Lars Ytting Bak (Denmark)                               
40 Jan Hruska (Czech Republic)                             
41 Roger Hammond (Great Britain)                           
42 Mykhailo Khalilov (Ukraine)                             
43 Jan Valach (Slovakia)                                   
44 Piotr Wadecki (Poland)                                  
45 Marek Rutkiewicz (Poland)                               
46 Vladimir Gusev (Russian Federation)                     
47 Christophe Le Mevel (France)                            
48 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spain)                  
49 Bram Tankink (Netherlands)                              
50 Oscar Pereiro Sio (Spain)                               
51 Jean-Patrick Nazon (France)                             
52 Karsten Kroon (Netherlands)                             
53 Denys Kostyuk (Ukraine)                                 
54 Filippo Pozzato (Italy)                                 
55 George David (South Africa)                             
56 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spain)                    
57 Devolder Stijn (Belgium)                                
58 Andrey Kashechkin (Kazakhstan)                          
59 Freddie Rodriguez (United States Of America)            
60 Joost Posthuma (Netherlands)                            
61 Serguei Ivanov (Russian Federation)                     
62 Igor Astarloa Askasibar (Spain)                         
63 Marco Velo (Italy)                                      
64 Rolf Aldag (Germany)                                    
65 Pieter Weening (Netherlands)                            
66 Matteo Tosatto (Italy)                                  
67 Sylvain Chavanel (France)                               
68 Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spain)                     0.36
69 David Blanco Rodriguez (Spain)                          
70 Peter Wrolich (Austria)                             0.43
71 Leon Van Bon (Netherlands)                          0.47
72 Allan Davis (Australia)                             1.12
73 Luca Paolini (Italy)                                1.16
74 Vladimir Efimkin (Russian Federation)               1.46
75 Mark Scanlon (Ireland)                              2.37
76 Thomas Lövkvist (Sweden)                            2.45
77 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)                              
78 Ryder Hesjedal (Canada)                             4.18
79 Pedro Soeiro (Portugal)                             4.50
80 James Lewis Perry (South Africa)                    4.57
81 Marc Wauters (Belgium)                                  
82 Patrick Calcagni (Switzerland)                      5.04
83 Michael Rogers (Australia)                          5.06
84 Giovanni Lombardi (Italy)                               
85 Martin Prazdnovsky (Slovakia)                       5.19
86 John Lieswyn (United States Of America)                 
87 Simon Gerrans (Australia)                           5.25
88 Baden Cooke (Australia)                                 
89 Maxim Gourov (Kazakhstan)                               
90 Rafael Nuritdinov (Uzbekistan)                          
91 Jörg Jaksche (Germany)                                  
92 Cédric Vasseur (France)                                 
93 Leonardo Fabio Duque (Colombia)                     6.01
94 Henk Vogels (Australia)                                 
95 Jaroslaw Zarebski (Poland)                              
96 Bartosz Huzarski (Poland)                               
97 Fabian Wegmann (Germany)                                
98 Markus Zberg (Switzerland)                              
99 Jan Svorada (Czech Republic)                            
100 Petr Bencik (Czech Republic)                           
101 Mathew Hayman (Australia)                              
102 Andrey Mizourov (Kazakhstan)                           
103 Ryan Cox (South Africa)                                
104 Ian Mcleod (South Africa)                              
105 Daniele Bennati (Italy)                                
106 Roger Beuchat (Switzerland)                            
107 Matej Mugerli (Slovenia)                               
108 Guillermo Ruben Bongiorno (Argentina)                  
109 Lorenzo Bernucci (Italy)                               
110 Bernhard Eisel (Austria)                               
111 Magnus Bäckstedt (Sweden)                              
112 Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)                        
113 Carlos Da Cruz (France)                                
114 Jimmy Casper (France)                                  
115 Thor Hushovd (Norway)                                  
116 Markus Fothen (Germany)                            7.03
117 Matthias Kessler (Germany)                             
118 Sergey Yakovlev (Kazakhstan)                           
119 Christophe Kern (France)                           7.05
120 Raivis Belohvosciks (Latvia)                       9.50
121 Luis Felipe Laverde (Colombia)                     9.51
122 Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg)                          10.43
123 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)                   10.45
124 Robert Radosz (Poland)                            12.51
125 Shinichi Fukushima (Japan)                        12.56
126 Martin Riska (Slovakia)                           14.45
127 Hugo Sabido (Portugal)                            14.47
128 Buno Neves (Portugal)                                  
129 Martin Garrido (Argentina)                        14.51
130 Peter Mazur (Poland)                              14.55
131 Mitja Mahoric (Slovenia)                          17.27
132 Marcio May (Brazil)                               19.19
133 Aleksejs Saramotins (Latvia)                      25.40
134 Rodney Green (South Africa)                       27.10
135 Makoto Iijima (Japan)                             27.12
136 Mahdi Sohrabi (Islamic Republic of Iran)          27.13
DNF Cadel Evans (Australia)                                
DNF Jonathan Patrick Mccarty (United States Of America)    
DNF Jason Mccartney (United States Of America)             
DNF Assan Bazayev (Kazakhstan)                             
DNF David McCann (Ireland)                                 
DNF David O'Loughlin (Ireland)                             
DNF Denis Shkarpeta (Uzbekistan)                           
DNF Dominique Perras (Canada)                              
DNF Sebastian Lang (Germany)                               
DNF Jens Voigt (Germany)                                   
DNF Lars Michaelsen (Denmark)                              
DNF Michael Albasini (Switzerland)                         
DNF Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)                                
DNF Wilfried Cretskens (Belgium)                           
DNF Robin Sharman (Great Britain)                          
DNF Ondrej Sosenka (Czech Republic)                        
DNF Bruno Pires (Portugal)                                 
DNF Saeiditanha Abbas (Islamic Republic of Iran)           
DNF Koji Fukushima (Japan)                                 
DNF Honorio Machado Perez (Venezuela)                      
DNF Brett Lancaster (Australia)                            
DNF Max Van Heeswijk (Netherlands)                         
DNF Saul Raisin (United States Of America)                 
DNF Philip Zajicek (United States Of America)              
DNF Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan)                           
DNF Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan)                          
DNF Gerardo Fernandez (Argentina)                          
DNF Mac Donald Fernandes (Brazil)                          
DNF Pedro Nicacio (Brazil)                                 
DNF Luciano André Pagliarini (Brazil)                      
DNF Helder Miranda (Portugal)                              
DNF Linas Balciunas (Lithuania)                            
DNF Aliaksandr Kychinski (Belarus)                         
DNF Kanstantsin Siutsou (Belarus)                          
DNF Evgeni Gerganov (Bulgaria)                             
DNF Fraser Macmaster (New Zealand)                         
DNF Evgeni Petrov (Russian Federation)                     
DNF Jaan Kirsipuu (Estonia)                                
DNF Anibal Andres Borrajo (Argentina)                      
DNF Matias Medici (Argentina)                              
DNF Stephen Cummings (Great Britain)                       
DNF René Andrle (Czech Republic)                           
DNF Francois Parisien (Canada)                             
DNF Krasimir Vasilev (Bulgaria)                            
DNF Juan Carlos Lopez Martin (Colombia)                    
DNF Andrej Hauptman (Slovenia)                             
DNF Charly Wegelius (Great Britain)                        
DNF Antonio Xavier Nascimento (Brazil)                     
DNF Amir Zargary (Islamic Republic of Iran)                
DNF Tomas Vaitkus (Lithuania)                              
DNF Tom Southam (Great Britain)                            
DNF Greg Henderson (New Zealand)                           
DNS Michael Barry (Canada)                                 
DNS Hossein Askari (Islamic Republic of Iran)              
DNS Ahad Kazemisarai (Islamic Republic of Iran)            
DNS Ghader Mizbani Iranagh (Islamic Republic of Iran)      
DNS Mindaugas Goncaras (Lithuania)                         
DNS Christian Vandevelde (United States Of America)        

Starters: 188
Classified: 136

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