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Tour de Berne - CDM

Switzerland, May 4, 2008

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Ljungskog Bernes in solo style

Swede takes race, Arndt leads World Cup

By Ben Atkins in Lyss

Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini) celebrates
Photo ©: WomensCycling.net
(Click for larger image)

Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini-Selle Italia) has spoiled the Swiss party by winning the Tour de Berne with a solo attack in the closing stages. The former two-time World champion attacked from a group of 18 favourites with less than 15 kilometres to go and built a lead of up to 25 seconds with two kilometres remaining. Judith Arndt (High Road) led in the remainder of the chasers eight seconds back, and Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Flexpoint) took third.

The race – over four laps of a 33.95-kilometre circuit around the town of Lyss – began fast, with pressure from the local teams of Bigla and Cervelo Lifeforce on the first lap splitting the field and ending the chances of more than one favourite. The field came back together soon afterwards and the race saw numerous solo attacks, most notably from Karin Thürig (Cervelo Lifeforce), but this only had the effect of whittling down the front group to those eighteen riders. Ultimately, Ljungskog's attack in the final lap was the one that proved decisive.

"Yeah, it was a really small group," she laughed, referring to a conversation with Cyclingnews before the race, when she said she'd like to arrive at the finish in a group. "I'm happy with that. It's much easier to be alone, you know!"

"I think it was 15 kilometres to the finish," she continued. "I had to attack the course; I didn't think I will win the sprint. I though 'I have to attack', and I attacked and nobody followed me."

Ljungskog had tried to escape the rest of the favourites a few kilometres earlier, but was not allowed to get more than a few metres. "I had [attacked on the climb] but they caught me; I thought I had good legs so I had to try."

Second placed Judith Arndt paid her usual tribute to her High Road team-mates after she found herself caught out by the early high pace, set by the home teams. "I was not in a good position the first time it went up the climb," she told Cyclingnews, "so the others had to chase to bring the breakaway back for the whole first lap, which was not good."

Like many others, Arndt was taken by surprise by the ferocity of Ljungskog's final-lap attack, but believed that other factors also came to the Swede's aid. "I think she was strong but also lucky," she said, "because you need a lot of luck to sit in the right breakaway, to go away solo and nobody feels responsible to chase and then you have 30 seconds and then you make it. Cervelo tried to chase her down and we came closer but then again nobody felt responsible to make the last ten seconds. So she was gone."

The bunch climbs away from the roofs of Baggwil through the trees.
Photo ©: WomensCycling.net
(Click for larger image)

With more than one rider from some other teams present, Arndt – as the sole High Road representative – felt no pressure to be the one trying to chase down the lone escapee. "Well, I was alone in this breakaway at that time," she continued, "and other teams had two riders, and you have to have luck also to get away. I thought about [getting] across – one time when it was pretty close – but then I hesitated because I thought that maybe Soeder was going to chase. But I think she was also tired – hopefully, because I was very tired."

Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel finished a close third behind Arndt, but was upbeat about her personal result after such a fast race. "It was very hard from the start I think," she told Cyclingnews. "I didn't expect that it would explode on the first time up the hill, but it did. Bigla did a great effort together with [Cervelo Lifeforce], they blew up the whole peloton in the first hill. There were a few favourites also, who were too far in the back. You can move up during the race, but now everybody had to race from the start. It makes it really uncertain, and you saw in the last lap that everybody was really tired; nobody had something extra.

"So I was thinking: I have to survive the hill the last time and go for the sprint, and that's what I did."

"Not right away," she said, when asked if she'd though about chasing down the lone Swede, "but I was keeping an eye on Judith and she did go, but Susanne had a hard pace and the group closed it in and you have to be smart and not waste your energy – you have to be cool – but Susanne did a fantastic race. But I'm pretty happy with this result."

Karin Thürig was one of the few riders to escape the fast leading group, and at one point, in the middle of the race, held a lead of more than thirty seconds, but it was to no avail and she was reeled in as the race approached the climb for the fourth and last time. "We wanted to race very aggressively," the Swiss time trial champion said afterwards, "and it was just a good moment to attack because I came from behind and I had more speed.

"Sometimes, at the end," she continued, "after the race you would do things different. We tried our best today."

In the absence of World Cup leader Marianne Vos (DSB Bank), Arndt took the lead in the season-long competition. Surprisingly, an honour that the former World champion has previously not had. "I never had this jersey before and my career has been pretty long already," she said, "it's nice to wear, but it's not the main goal for the season of the team. Because this year is the Olympics and everybody tries to be in the best shape for Olympics."

When asked if she would look to defend her lead in the next round in Montreal – a race she has professed a liking to in the past – Arndt was once again keen to stress the importance of a High Road, rather than personal, success. "We always try to win the race," she replied, "but it can be with another rider of the team. So we don't go for the overall, we always try to win the race."

How it unfolded

161 riders from 28 teams took the start under cloudless skies and in high temperatures in the town of Lyss, to the north east of Bern in Switzerland. The pace was immediately high, set by local teams Bigla – whose team headquarters is literally on the course, 200 metres after the start/finish line – and Cervelo Lifeforce.

The high pace on the first lap, particularly on the first ascent of the main climb, caused the peloton to split into pieces. A group of eighteen riders crossed the finish line two minutes ahead of a large group of around fifty riders and a further three ahead of the rest – whose race was effectively over.

Menikini's Miho Oki and
Photo ©: WomensCycling.net
(Click for larger image)

On the second lap, Karin Thürig escaped in a solo attack. The Swiss time trial champion managed to build a lead of up to 25 seconds before being reeled in as they approached the climb for the second time.

There was further pressure applied by Bigla, especially from Andrea Thürig and Jennifer Hohl, allowing team captains Nicole Brändli and Noemi Cantele to briefly escape with Judith Arndt (High Road). By the lap's halfway point however, the race was once again back together.

The second peloton was, by this time, two minutes behind and contained last year's third place Oenone Wood (High Road) and current World Cup second place Suzanne De Goede. This effectively ended the Dutchwoman's chances of retaking the jersey this weekend.

The front group stayed together for the remainder of the lap and the first part of the third, but after the penultimate ascent of the main climb Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo Lifeforce) managed to get away briefly, but was recaptured on the fast roads on the approach to the finish – mainly due to pressure from Kazakh champion Zoufila Zabirova (Bigla).

Before the bunch reached the finish however, Karin Thürig put in another attack, managing to open up 30 seconds once again, but as the climb started for the final time the speeding group caught and dropped her.

As the main group of favourites started the climb the pace continued to rise and riders were rapidly shelled out of the back. First to go were Andrea Thürig and Hohl, who'd done so much work early on, but many others followed as the relentless pace of the race began to tell.

An attack came quickly from Susanne Ljungskog who managed to gain a 50-metre lead. This was countered by World champion Marta Bastianelli, but the speeding group was not allowing anyone to escape and the pair was reeled in just after the top.

The pace of the climb had whittled the group down to just nineteen riders: last year's winner Edita Pucinskaite and Claudia Hausler (Both Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung), Judith Arndt (High Road), Susanne Ljungskog (Menikini-Selle Italia), Nicole Brändli (Bigla), Kristin Armstrong, Priska Doppmann and Christiane Soeder (all Cervelo Lifeforce), Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel and Amber Neben (both Flexpoint), Emma Johansson (AA-Drink), Lorien Graham (Vrienden van et Platteland), Jolanta Polikeviciute (USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo), Alexandra Wrubleski (Webcor Builders), Sofie Goor (Lotto-Belisol), Daiva Tuslaite (SC Michela Fanini Record Box), Marta Bastianelli (Italian National Team), and Carla Ryan and Vicki Whitelaw (both Australian National Team).

For a while it looked as though these nineteen would ride to the finish and contest the sprint together, but with 15 kilometres to go Ljungskog accelerated and quickly pulled out a gap on her tiring companions.

At first there was no reaction, but Doppmann countered and made some impression on the flying Swede's advantage. She was reeled in by the others, but there was no catching Ljungskog and the former two-time World champion soloed away to finish eight seconds clear.

Judith Arndt took the sprint for second ahead of Melchers-Van Poppel and with it 50 World Cup points and the lead in the season-long competition.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by WomensCycling.net/WomensCycling.net

Results

1 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Menikini - Selle Italia               3.31.08 (38.591 km/h)

2 Judith Arndt (Ger) Team High Road Women                          0.08
3 Mirjam Melchers- Van Poppel (Ned) Team Flexpoint                     
4 Alex Wrubleski (Can) Webcor                                          
5 Chantal Beltman (Ned) Team High Road Women                           
6 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo                 
7 Sara Mustonen (Swe) Team Cmax Dila                                   
8 Nikki Egyed (Aus) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                        
9 Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Italian National Team                        
10 Emma Johansson (Swe) AA-Drink Cycling Team                          
11 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung              
12 Zulfiya Zabirova (Kaz) Bigla Cycling Team                           
13 Claudia Häusler (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung                
14 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team            
15 Nicole Brändli (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                             
16 Maryline Salvetat (Fra) French National Team                        
17 Carla Ryan (Aus) Australian National Team                           
18 Monia Baccaille (Ita) Fenixs                                        
19 Edwige Pitel (Fra) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                      
20 Amber Neben (USA) Team Flexpoint                                    
21 Vicki Whitelaw (Aus) Australian National Team                       
22 Lorian Graham (Aus) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                     
23 Sofie Goor (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                           
24 Erinne Willock (Can) Webcor Builders Cycling Team                   
25 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team      0.14
26 Kristin Armstrong (USA) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team      0.22
27 Grete Treier (Est) Gauss RDZ Ormu                               1.18
28 Erika Vilunaite (Ltu) Lithuanian National Team                      
29 Elodie Touffet (Fra) Gauss RDZ Ormu                                 
30 Christine Thorburn (USA) Webcor Builders Cycling Team               
31 Kimberly Anderson (USA) Team High Road Women                        
32 Daiva Tuslaite (Ltu) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox             1.33
33 Sophie Creux (Fra) French National Team                         4.17
34 Bianca Knöpfle (Ger) Team Flexpoint                                 
35 Noemi Cantele (Ita) Bigla Cycling Team                          5.29
36 Giorgia Bronzini (Ita) Italian National Team                        
37 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung                  
38 Jennifer Hohl (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                          6.49
39 Andrea Thürig (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                              
40 Nadia Triquet-Claude (Fra) French National Team                     
41 Katharine Carroll (USA) USA National Team                           
42 Karin Thürig (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team               
43 Mirjam Hauser-Senn (Swi) Team Specialized Designs For Women     9.18
44 Emma Pooley (GBr) Team Specialized Designs For Women                
45 Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team                       10.22
46 Anita Valen- De Vries (Nor) Team Flexpoint                          
47 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team               
48 Miho Oki (Jpn) Menikini - Selle Italia                              
49 Martine Bras (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                      
50 Grace Verbeke (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                        
51 Elke Gebhardt (Ger) German National Team                            
52 Andrea Bosman (Ned) Team DSB Bank                                   
53 Angela Brodtka-Hennig (Ger) Team DSB Bank                           
54 Marina Romoli (Ita) Menikini - Selle Italia                         
55 Regina Bruins (Ned) Dutch National Team                             
56 Alessandra D'Ettore (Ita) Italian National Team                     
57 Fanny Riberot (Fra) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                     
58 Suzanne De Goede (Ned) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung               
59 Iosune Murillo Elkano (Spa) Bizkaia - Durango                       
60 Oenone Wood (Aus) Team High Road Women                              
61 Paulina Brzezna (Pol) AA-Drink Cycling Team                         
62 Carissa Wilkes (NZl) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                    
63 Carmen McNellis (USA) USA National Team                             
64 Lauren Franges (USA) USA National Team                              
65 Sara Carrigan (Aus) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                        
66 Noortje Tabak (Ned) Team DSB Bank                                   
67 Sarah Grab (Swi) Team Specialized Designs For Women                 
68 Liesbeth De Vocht (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                 
69 Suzanne Van Veen (Ned) Team Flexpoint                               
70 Eugenie Merillod (Fra) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                  
71 Inge Van Den Broeck (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                     
72 Monika Schachl (Aut) Austrian National Team                         
73 Jocelyn Loane (Aus) Australian National Team                        
74 Daniela Pintarelli (Aut) Austrian National Team                     
75 Corine Hierckens (Bel) Vienne Futuroscope                           
76 Amelie Rivat (Fra) French National Team                             
77 Chantal Blaak (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team                           
78 Romy Kasper (Ger) German National Team                              
79 Nathalie Bates (Aus) Menikini - Selle Italia                        
80 An Van Rie (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                        
81 Alona Andruk (Ukr) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo                         
82 Catherine Delfosse (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                   
83 Tatiana Antoshina (Rus) Fenixs                                      
84 Rebecca Much (USA) Webcor Builders Cycling Team                     
85 Karine Gautard (Fra) Vienne Futuroscope                             
86 Serena Danesi (Ita) Italian National Team                           
87 Magalie Finot-Laivier (Fra) French National Team                    
88 Loes Gunnewijk (Ned) Team Flexpoint                                 
89 Monika Furrer (Swi) Team Specialized Designs For Women              
90 Laura Bozzolo (Ita) S.C. Michela Fanini Record Rox                  
91 Ana Garcia Antequera (Spa) Bizkaia - Durango                        
92 Tania Belvederesi (Ita) Gauss RDZ Ormu                              
93 Rasa Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo                   
94 Brei Gudsell (NZl) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                      
95 Catrine Josefsson (Swe) Bizkaia - Durango                           
96 Eva Lutz (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung                       
97 Sigrid Corneo (Ita) Menikini - Selle Italia                         
98 Marta Vilajosana Andreu (Spa) Team Cmax Dila                        
99 Vera Carrara (Ita) Team Cmax Dila                                   
100 Alison Powers (USA) USA National Team                              
101 Silvia Parietti (Ita) Gauss RDZ Ormu                               
102 Kristen La Sasso (USA) Team Specialized Designs For Women          
103 Andrea Grauss (Aut) Bigla Cycling Team                             
104 Regina Schleicher (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung             
105 Tatiana Guderzo (Ita) Gauss RDZ Ormu                               
106 Inge Van Den Broeck (Bel) AA-Drink Cycling Team                    
DNF Siobhan Dervan (Irl) Fenixs                                        
HD Gloria Presti (Ita) Menikini - Selle Italia                         
HD Urte Juodvalkyte (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo                     
HD Alice Donadoni (Ita) Team Cmax Dila                                 
World Cup rankings
1 Judith Arndt (Ger) Team High Road Women                       167 pts
2 Marianne Vos (Ned) Team DSB Bank                              152
3 Suzanne De Goede (Ned) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung         133
4 Chantal Beltman (Ned) Team High Road Women                    108
5 Marta Bastianelli (Ita) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan           101
6 Emma Pooley (GBr) Team Specialized Designs For Women           99
7 Alex Wrubleski (Can) Webcor Builders Cycling Team              84
8 Susanne Ljungskog (Swe) Menikini - Selle Italia                75
9 Katheryn Curi Mattis (USA) Webcor Builders Cycling Team        75
10 Ina Teutenberg (Ger) Team High Road Women                     70
11 Kristin Armstrong (USA) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team    61
12 Oenone Wood (Aus) Team High Road Women                        61
13 Julia Martisova (Rus) Gauss RDZ Ormu                          60
14 Rochelle Gilmore (Aus) Menikini - Selle Italia                57
15 Emma Johansson (Swe) AA-Drink Cycling Team                    56
16 Emma Rickards (Aus) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team        53
17 Kirsten Wild (Ned) AA-Drink Cycling Team                      53
18 Nicole Brändli (Swi) Bigla Cycling Team                       46
19 Miho Oki (Jpn) Menikini - Selle Italia                        40
20 Mirjam Melchers-Van Poppel (Ned) Team Flexpoint               35
21 Diana Ziliute (Ltu) Safi - Pasta Zara Manhattan               35
22 Jolanta Polikeviciute (Ltu) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo          34
23 Amber Neben (USA) Team Flexpoint                              28
24 Regina Schleicher (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung        27
25 Nicole Cooke (GBr) Team Halfords Bikehut                      24
26 Edita Pucinskaite (Ltu) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung        22
27 Sara Mustonen (Swe) Team Cmax Dila                            21
28 Liesbeth De Vocht (Bel) Vrienden Van Het Platteland           21
29 Tiffany Cromwell (Aus) Australian National Team               21
30 Grete Treier (Est) Gauss RDZ Ormu                             20
31 Priska Doppmann (Swi) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team      20
32 Nikki Egyed (Aus) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                 18
33 Charlotte Becker (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung         18
34 Christiane Soeder (Aut) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team    18
35 Sarah Düster (Ger) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team         18
36 Sofie Goor (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam                     17
37 Noemi Cantele (Ita) Bigla Cycling Team                        17
38 Regina Bruins (Ned) Netherlands                               17
39 Lorian Graham (Aus) Vrienden Van Het Platteland               15
40 Gina Grain (Can) Webcor Builders Cycling Team                 15
41 Angela Brodtka (Ger) Team DSB Bank                            13
42 Trixi Worrack (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung            11
43 Lieselot Decroix (Bel) Lotto-Belisol Ladiesteam               11
44 Zulfiya Zabirova (Kaz) Bigla Cycling Team                      9
45 Sophie Creux (Fra) ESGL 93 - GSD Gestion                       9
46 Joanne Kiesanowski (NZl) Cervelo Lifeforce Pro Cycling Team    9
47 Peta Mullens (Aus) Australian National Team                    9
48 Claudia Häusler (Ger) Equipe Nürnberger Versicherung           8
49 Carly Hibberd (Aus) Australian National Team                   8
50 Vicki Whitelaw (Aus) Australian National Team                  6
51 Anita Valen De Vries (Nor) Team Flexpoint                      6
52 Tatiana Stiajkina (Ukr) USC Chirio Forno d'Asolo               6
53 Maryline Salvetat (Fra) France                                 5
54 Alison Powers (USA) US National Team                           5
55 Linda Villumsen Serup (Den) Team High Road Women               5
56 Lang Meng (Chn) Giant Pro Cycling                              5
57 Carla Ryan (Aus) Australian National Team                      4
58 Carissa Wilkes (NZl) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz               4
59 Monika Schachl (Aut) Team Uniqa                                4
60 Monica Holler (Swe) Bigla Cycling Team                         4
61 Monia Baccaille (Ita) Fenixs                                   3
62 Carlee Taylor (Aus) Australian National Team                   3
63 Edwige Pitel (Fra) Team Pro Feminin Les Carroz                 2
64 Tina Mayolo Pic (USA) Vrienden Van Het Platteland              2
65 Martine Bras (Ned) Vrienden Van Het Platteland                 1
66 Oxana Kozonchuk (Rus) Menikini - Selle Italia                  1
67 Yong Li Liu (Chn) Giant Pro Cycling                            1