September 25/05 4:48 am - Women & Espoir Road Race Reports
Posted by Editor on 09/25/05
The road races began on Saturday with the elite women, and Germany proved to be the dominant team, putting Regina Schleicher in the rainbow jersey as she outsprinted Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) and Oenone Wood (Australia). Sue Palmer-Komar was the top Canadian in 14th place. She was joined by two others in the main field - Erinne Willock (21st) and Alison Sydor (31st).
The 21 kilometre circuit proved to be more difficult then many had expected, with Sydor liking it to "a really long hilly crit" course. The sharp corners forced constant braking and accelerations, which wore riders down.
For the first three laps the peloton took it fairly easy, with Germany and the U.S. doing a lot to control the tempo and discourage breakaways. The pace would pick up each time on the two climbs, shedding a few more riders, but it was on the fourth lap of the six lap race that the race finally began to heat up.
The field split on first climb of the lap, with 72 of the the 132 riders making the cut. Among those not getting across were two Canadians - Amy Moore and Felicia Greer.
"My legs have just been dead the last month, so I had nothing when it really picked up." said Moore. "This race is hard, a lot harder then anyone thought it would be."
Amber Neben (USA), Joana Somarriba (Spain) and Christine Thorburn (USA) took turns trying to negate the sprinters by attacking, with Neben going on the second climb in the final lap and gaining 7 seconds, but Germany reeled her back in before the final run down the Paseo de la Castellana. The riders head south on this broad tree-lined boulevard before the final controversial turn 600 metres from the line that sends them back uphill on the other side of Castellana.
Arndt led the German team through the corner and then Trixi Worrack took over to deliver Schleicher to the line. Edita Pucinskaite (Lithuania) tried to attack out of the corner, and Cooke made a late charge up the right side, but they were no match for the Germans.
"The team worked very hard for me and did it perfectly; they put me in a perfect situation, which made it easy for me to win." commented Schleiter. "For the last two kilometres there was always a team mate in front, so I only had to go to the front in the final 200 metres."
Wood agreed that the Germans rode a tactically perfect race. "Arndt took them through the corner and Edita tried to attack, but Trixi was there to set up Regina. I got boxed in and had nowhere to go in the corner."
- Sydor was competing in her first Road Worlds since 1999, and her first road race since Nationals. She was a late substitution for Genevieve Jeanson. "It was hard in the middle (part) of the race; after that I was suffering. You had to be in good position all the time - after the descents there were sharp turns, then it would string out, so you were always sprinting. There was nowhere to coast or cruise. Germany had a lot of cards to play; they were definitely the most stacked team and took control of the race."
- Palmer-Komar agreed with Sydor: "It was a hard course, harder that it appears. No real flats, lots of ups and downs. The last 5 km after the 2nd climb the hardest - I wasn't able to get a rhythm and struggled all day. I felt like I was pedalling through sand. The Germans seemed to be in control of it and they never panicked. Even on the last lap when the American went, they just reeled her back in. It was a much more aggressive worlds than the last 2 (Verona and Hamilton). Those were both a parade. This was a much better RACE.
The team tried. Amy and Audrey spend a lot of time and energy working for us. Keeping an eye on things. It may not show in their results but they were an integral part of the effort.
Alison (Sydor) and I tried to get it going in the last lap.Â I got on her wheel, but that last turn was tough and I was fighting for position all the way along the uphill to the finish ... in your biggest gear! I had nothing left. Melchers (Netherlands) had me into the barriers, so I had to back off and come around her, and I lost some momentum.
This is my 12th Worlds. I have been 10, 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th. I would have liked it to go the OTHER way (laughs)"
- The change to the final corner - making it a wide sweeping corner rather than a U-turn - appears to have been effective, since the front riders were able to keep most of their speed. This is welcome news for the pro men, since the Italians and others will be able to use their trains more effectively.
- Canadian trivia from the Worlds: Canada had the oldest man in the elite time trial (Eric Wohlberg), the oldest woman in the road race (Alison Sydor) and the second oldest woman in the time trial (Sue Palmer-Komar). If Eric Wohlberg had started the men's road race (instead of Dominique Perras), we would have had the oldest man in the road race as well...
The Espoir men faced eight laps, starting in the heat of the afternoon. They began with the obligatory first lap breakaway when two riders attacked: Ivan Castillo (Venezuel) and Vladimir Tuychiev (Uzbekistan). The pair were still ahead after the first lap, but a sizable group was heading up to catch and drop them before the end of the second lap.
The front group numbered some 25, including Canada's Brandon Crichton. This group quickly established a two minute gap, but it was too dangerous, and the Italians pulled it back to approximately a minute, at which point two top riders from the time trial - Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukraine) and Tiziano Dell'Antonia (Italy) set off to bridge up.
While they were coming up, three riders attacked off the front of the lead group - Venezuela's Arthur Garcia Ricon, Tiago Machado (Portugal) and Aliaksei Polushkin (Belarus). Grabovskyy and Del'Antonia bridged, but the break was slowly disintegrating while the front trio rode steadily together. Crichton came off during this period and eventually abandoned, joining Will Routley.
By the fifth lap the situation had changed - Grabovskyy, Dell'Antonia, Polushkin and Jean Marc Marino (France) were in the lead, with the remains of the break at one minute and the peloton at a minute and a half. Stefan Trafelet (Switzerland), Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) and Lucas Persson (Sweden) joined the lead the next lap and the remnants of the break were gradually swept up by the peloton, down to approximately 50 riders, including Ryan Roth, Kevin Lacombe and Christian Meier for Canada.
Dell'Antonia attacked his rivals in the penultimate lap, but Grabovskyy was able to bridge up. The Italian was cramping; often stopping pedalling to stretch his legs, while Grabovskyy looked fairly fresh. Kevin Lacombe came off the back of the peloton on the climb this lap, leaving just Roth and Meier in the race.
A group of 14 was chasing - some from the original break, some from the peloton. Ignacio Sarabia (Mexico), Steve Morabito (Switzerland), Lars Boom (Netherlands) and Pieter Jacobs (Belgium) caught the two leaders in the final lap, but Grabovskyy simply rode them all off his wheel on the second climb. While Grabovskyy soloed in for the win, the peloton was catching the others. William Walker (Australia) and Evgeny Popov (Russia) managed to get clear by a handful of seconds in the final couple of kilometres, with Walker taking silver and Popov bronze just ahead of the field.
Grabovskyy was motivated by his loss earlier in the week at the time trial, when he finished second to Mikhail Ignatiev (Russia). "I so wanted to make up for not winning the time trial because I was sick earlier in the week. I tried to save my strength for the last two laps when I knew it would be the most difficult."
- Ryan Roth: "I'm pretty pleased, I guess. One of my goals for the year was to have a good race at the world championships, and finishing in the main field here is as good as I could have hoped for. I was in a small move in the middle of the race, but I didn't have the legs to attack, so I just tried to follow any moves that happened.
I was having trouble with my chain falling off - it came off four or five times - so I was worried in case it happened in a bad spot, like on the climbs. There were lots of crashes, but I was lucky and managed to avoid them."
- Christian Meier: "I knew that this was going to be a race of attrition, so I just sat in (the field) and conserved my energy, so I could still be there at the end. This was my first time (in the Under 23 category), and it was so aggressive out there - one minute you were at the front of the field, and then before you knew it you were at the back, fighting to stay in contact. I got caught in one crash and narrowly avoided two others in the last kilometre."
- American Tyler Farrar wasn't so lucky, going down hard in the last two kilometres.
- Neither Grabovskyy or Walker will sign with ProTour teams for 2006, preferring to stay as Espoirs so that they can race again for the world title. "I would rather start better prepared in 2007, so that I can start winning (as an elite) right away" explained Walker.