Posted by Editoress on 10/12/02
Road Cycling World Championships 2002 Zolder, Belgium
Junior Men Road Race - 128km
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Crashes were the order of the day for the Junior men's road race. According to top Canadian finisher Cam Evans "It was tough, there were crashes every couple of minutes." That may seem like an exaggeration, but Andrew Davidson went down 4 times himself, that last 5 kilometres from the line, and there was a crash in the pack on the line.
This race was the first not to end in a field sprint, with Arnaud Gerard of France easily outsprinting 5 breakaway companions to take the world title. By lap 6 of the 10 lap race a group had formed at the front that would eventually grow to 13 riders with 3 laps to go. The group stayed about 12 to 15 seconds in front of the peloton, and never gained more then 26 seconds. In the group was the following riders: Patryk Bonda (Pol), Dumitru Creciun (Mda), Vincenzo Nibali (Ita), Dmitry Kozantchouk (Rus), Joost Van Leijen (Ned), Mickael Delage (Fra), Jurgen Roelandts (Bel), Jesper Ingevaldsson (Swe), Nicholas Roche (Irl), Matthias Schroger (Aut), Thomas Frei (Sui), Iban Iriondo Uranga (Esp) and Tyler Farrar (USA). Farrar was probably working the hardest to make the group succeed, but it would be to no avail, as they were brought back with less then 2 laps remaining.
Things looked set for yet another field sprint, but then a crash allowed a small group of 6 to open a gap as the last lap got underway. Besides Gerard, the riders at the front were Tom Veelers (Ned), Nicolas Sanderson (Aus), Jukka Vastaranta (Fin), Matej Jurco (Svk) and Joost van Leijnen (Ned). Sanderson tried a last lap attack, but the others were having none of it. They came into the finish with the peloton hot on their heels, but managed to hold on until the end, with Vastaranta taking silver and Sanderson bronze.
Behind, James Meadley (Aus) came in a few seconds in front of the field, with Italians taking the first three spots in the bunch sprint, led by Mauro Santambrogio. Approximately 15 riders back, a Spanish rider went down in the middle of the road, causing a chain reaction. One of those injured more seriously was Australian Ryan Sullivan, who was carted off with possible neck injuries. Evans was off to the side for this crash, and managed to squeak by in 52nd place.
"I just kept trying to stay near the front, to avoid stuff. I went with a break at about the middle of the race, but we just couldn't take any time on the bunch, because it was so fast."
Andrew Davidson managed to get back on after he "went down 5 kilometres into the race. I chased for 10 kilometres but caught on. I was doing fine until 5 kilometres to go when a guy went into the guardrail and a whole bunch of us went down again. They were just going too fast for us to get back then.
Other Canadians had similar problems. Marsh Cooper went down with two laps remaining, and eventually dropped out. "When you crash and you are on your own, it is really impossible to get back on." Maxime Vives crashed in the third lap, and chased back, only to get caught behind another one with 2 laps remaining, and Cabrel Boucher crashed on the second lap and eventually dropped out.
Race Note: Nicholas Roche, the Irish rider in the main breakaway is Stephen Roche's son. Stephen Roche performed the rare triple of winning the Tour, Giro and Vuelta all in the same year.
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