September 8/02 1:11 am - Grand Prix Suisse Feminin: Women's Road World Cup
Posted by Editoress on 09/8/02
Grand Prix Suisse Feminin - World Cup #8 Embrach, Switzerland
Courtesy Team Saturn
Italians Dominate World Cup Stop Number Eight
Boubnenkova takes the win, Melchers reclaims World Cup Lead
The eighth stop of the nine event World Cup Series was held today in the quaint town of Embrach, Switzerland. The race drew a substantial field, with the roster looking like the who's who of women's cycling. Although the course did not particularly compliment World Cup Leader Petra Rossner but more so second place holder Mirjam Melchers, the focus of the fans was clearly on both women. With only six points separating the two from the World Cup Title, tension was high and the stage was set for a great event.
Changed from previous years, the 10.8 kilometer course for 2002 featured narrow roads and two main climbs, neither longer than a kilometer but each of an average gradient of 7%. With the high stakes duel between Melchers and Rossner, the race to keep the jersey made the tactics for Rossner's Saturn Team and Melcher's Farm Frites Team interesting, while at the same time allowing many to find this to their advantage to race for the win.
The first four laps of the challenging course saw many riders come off the back of the bunch never to make contact again. While there were some fierce attacks that would reshuffle the front, the three sprints each lap kept the bunch together in the front, with Svetlana Boubnenkova and Zinaida Stahurskaia each showing good form as they collected points and money for the final sprint and mountain competitions. Melchers always had a strong teammate in Madeleine Lindbergh, quick to assist whenever it was needed, and Rossner's teammates kept a watchful eye on her, eager to see her stay within reach of the rainbow jersey. Both Melchers and Rossner had a continued presence in the front of the group, while others looked for the opportunity to scoop a World Cup victory.
While Melchers and Rossner kept a wary eye on each other, Joulia Martinsova escaped and then held off the front for two laps before she finally succumbed to the front group of remaining riders. This gave the peloton a respite from the pace and severity before the last four laps when the pressure was again put on the front group, this time by the Italian Team. With three laps to go Susanne Lunjskog gave it a go, but was reeled back in, and then it was Zoufia Zabirova giving it a try.
However, coming across the finish for the bell lap, an unexpectedly large group remained. On the final mountain sprint, the group finally shattered, giving away to a front group of four chased by a group of eight. Melchers was in the group of eight, with Rossner and two of her teammates Arndt Bruckner fighting to bring her back to within contact of Melchers and precious World Cup points.
In the final kilometer it was Boubnenkova and her Edilsavino teammate, Simona Parente coming into the finish with a gap on a chasing group which contained Melchers. Boubnenkova claimed the win, Parente was second. In third was Priska Doppmann, in a photo finish over Melchers. Rossner finished in tenth. Melchers collected 30 points, Rossner 11. Melchers now leads the World Cup Series by 13 points over the Saturn rider.
Next and final stop in the World Cup Series is in Rotterdam next Sunday. With the World Cup Jersey switching between Melchers and Rossner several times throughout the nine race series, the upcoming final race promises a battle to the end.
1. Svetlana Boubnenkova - Edilsavino
2. Simona Parente - Edilsavino
3. Priska Doppmann - Switzerland
4. Mirjam Melchers - Farm Frites