Posted by Editoress on 09/19/06
|2006 Road Worlds - ITT Preview|
The Road World Championships begin tomorrow in Salzburg, Austria with the Elite Women's time trial and Espoir Men's time trial. The Elite Women start things off with their 26.12 kilometer competition at Noon local time (6:00 am EDT), followed by the Espoir Men at 2:00 pm (8:00 am EDT). The Elite Men go on Thursday (13:30 pm local, 7:30 am EDT) for 50.83 kilometers.
The first and last portion of the circuit is a loop that starts and finishes in the middle of Salzburg (the ITT start is a few hundred meters away from the finish) - this is a somewhat modified version of the loop that will be used for the road races on Saturday and Sunday.
There are three climbs on the circuit, of which the women do the first two - the Sollheimer Berg, which tops out at 530 meters at 8.30 kilometers and the Tiefenbach-Gschaiderberg (10.28 kilometers, 542 meters). The climbs are power climbs; not long enough for the real climbers to have an advantage, and the tight turns through the city will certainly disrupt the riders' rhythm. After the second climb the road ascends slightly further to the highest point of 580 meters where the women make their turnaround. On the way back they take the other half of the loop, which is mostly downhill (with some fairly steep bits).
The Espoir Men go past the Women's turnaround to the third climb - the Obertrumerberg. They descend the Obertrumerberg and almost immediately turn around and climb it again (572 meters). The Elite Men continue past the Espoir turnaround to do an 11 kilometer loop around the Obertrumer See (Lake) before their climb up the Obertrumerberg on the way back.
The consensus is that this circuit will be both hard and technically demanding, meaning that it is unlikely that a time trial specialist (such as American David Zabriskie) will have much of an advantage. Alexandre Vinokouroz (Kazakhstan) will definitely be a strong contender for the Elite Men's title, after his strong performances in the time trials at the Vuelta. Canada has two riders in the Elite Men - Ryder Hesjedal and national champion Svein Tuft. The course suits Tuft, who is going very well, according to national coach Houshang Amiri, so we could see a good result there.
In the Espoir Men Canada has David Veilleux and Brad Fairall, both of whom have recorded very strong time trial performances in the last 10 days in France, with Veilleux finishing second in a TT a few days ago against some of the top Espoir favourites. For the Women it will be a mixture of the old and the new - national champion Alex Wrubleski, a relative newcomer to the sport, and Anne Samplonius, the TT silver medalist at the 1994 Worlds, who is (in her words) "riding the best of my career". The Americans will also be strong, with Kristin Armstrong, Christine Thorburn and Pan Am champion Amber Neben.
- The extremely long circuits require enormous numbers of volunteers, with one organization official saying that there will be 700 marshals on the course. The organization, so far, has been extremely efficient, with most barricades in place two days before the first event.
- It has been raining for the past week - at times quite heavily. This is expected to clear up over the next 24-36 hours, with riders praying that it happens sooner rather than later - before they hit the twisty city streets tomorrow on TT bikes.
- Amy Moore has confirmed that she will not be returning to T-Mobile next year - her choice. "I told them that I didn't want to spend another whole year in Europe." At this point she has not signed with another team: "I'll figure it out when I get home."
- It looks like Calyon-Litespeed will be launching a women's squad for next year.
- The daily newsletter is very slick and well done. One unusual item is the ads for local "Gentlemen's Clubs" (30 Girls!, Non-Stop!) - something that is attracting great excitement in the press room...
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