Posted by Editor on 09/22/05
The Road World Championships opened on Wednesday with the women's and espoir men's time trials. For the women, Karin Thurig (Switzerland) repeated as champion, while Mikhail Ignatiev (Russia) took the men's title - to go along with his two Junior titles and Olympic gold in the Points race.
Conditions were calm, but hot - over 30 C, with the sun baking the riders on the main climb, out in the open. The women did one 21.9 kilometre loop, while the Espoirs did two slightly shorter loops for a total of 37.9 kilometres.
Both riders were the class of their respective fields, with Thurig recording all the fastest intermediate splits, and Ignatiev the same for all but the second split, when he was 2.34 seconds slower than defending champion and eventually silver medalist Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukraine).
The Canadian team did not fare as well as hoped for, with national champion Sue Palmer-Komar only able to manage 19th place, with first time Worlds attendee Felicia Greer 28th.
"I didn't feel good today, my legs just felt blocked." commented Palmer-Komar afterwards. "It was cold when I started, and I don't do as well in the cold. Unfortunately, I just didn't have my best day today, hopefully, things will improve in time for the road race on Saturday."
Greer, third at the nationals, was also disappointed, but happy to have had a first crack at the world championships. "It was hard out there, but a good learning experience. This was my first international competition at this level. I'm a little disappointed with my result, definitely, but I did the best I could.
I couldn't get into a rhythm; I felt rushed at the beginning and took a while to get myself settled. Hopefully I'll be back."
Thurig, after getting false information which put her into the lead in Athens last year, was more cautious this year. "I heard the best time (at the split), but there was no information on how much time, so I was not sure if it was the truth - in the Olympics I received wrong information. So, I just concentrated on my racing; I was concentrating on trying to gain time on the downhill and the flats.
I'm happy with my race and very satisfied to have done well on a very different course from last year. This course was not so much to my liking - there was not so much space (on the road); I like big (wide) roads, so I wasn't sure that I could do well here."
Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spain) finished a close second, only five seconds in arrears. Somarriba will retire after these world championships.
"I'm very happy with my silver, it feels like gold to me since I didn't have an idea that I could be on the podium. I felt the course wasn't really suited to me, so I'm just very pleased to be on the podium.
People have asked me if I will still retire after this, but I said at the beginning of the year that this would be my last year. in my head it is time to retire. I have had a good year, with a silver in the Giro and a silver here, but it is time to retire."
American Kristin Armstrong was a strong third, one of three American women who finished in the top-10. "It would have been great to have an all-American sweep," commented Armstrong, "but I think that this shows how strong the Americans are."
Armstrong was an early rider off, so spent much of the session in the "Hot Seat" before being finally displaced by Somarriba and Thurig.
"Most of the time in a time trial I look back and I say 'you know, I could have done this there and this there', but today was one of those days where I gave it my all and there's not a spot I feel like I could have changed anything. I knew that by not having the best start time that I was going to have to make the fastest time because a lot of great riders were following me and so I just pushed myself as hard as I could.
I think that Karin beat (silver medalist) Judith (Arndt) last year by almost a minute. I feel like being within 30 seconds of Karin means I'm getting closer."
Judith Arndt (Germany), who was almost a non-starter due to a virus, finished fourth.
In the men's race, Ignatiev was only the second rider to start in the second of four waves. He blasted around the course to finish 34.62 seconds ahead of Grabovskyy. Peter Latham (New Zealand) was a surprise third, and also started in the second wave. Canadians did not fare so well, with Ryan Roth best placed in 31st and national champion Christian Meier back in 44th.
Ignatiev wore a huge smile throughout the awards ceremony and press conference. "I knew it was a really good time at the finish, so I had a strong feeling that I could win. The only bad part was on the second lap - I was tired on the hill so I was worried about keeping my speed up for a good time."
- The post-race activities did not go as planned for the men. First, the organizers started the wrong national anthem three times before finally giving up. Then, at the press conference, the translator for Ignatiev and Grabovskyy spoke very bad English (and no other languages), so could understand questions or translate answers, and ended up repeated over and over "how hard cycling is" Yeah, we think we got that...
- Sue Palmer-Komar discovered, as she was packing her TT bike for Madrid that the frame as cracked. When she arrived the team scrambled and got her a frame from the pro Chocolade Jacques team, which rides the same Eddy Merckx bikes as she does. National team mechanic Chad Grochawina then spent a few hours building up the new machine.
- Fan support is almost non-existent, numbering in the hundreds only (and many of those foreigners).
- Karin Thurig has had an interesting season: she raced the Swiss Ironman in July to qualify for the Hawaii Ironman. "I did the qualifier in mid-July, which is not easy to do mid-season because it is very different from road. Then I went to the Alps for three weeks for altitude training; it is the first time I have done this, and I came away feeling very strong, so i will definitiely do more of that in the future I think."
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