Canadian Cyclist


October 1/07 4:05 am - Bettini Pulls Off Dramatic Win

Posted by Editor on 10/1/07

Road World Championships Stuttgart, Germany

Coverage sponsored by Norco


Bettini Pulls Off Dramatic Win

As a piece of Intalian opera, it couldn't have gotten any better: Paolo Bettini, the defending world champion who the Stuttgart organizers tried by every conceivable means to stop from participating in the elite men's road race, wins the world title. As the final piece of irony, the Lord Mayor of Stuttgart had to grit his teeth, present the flowers to Bettini and shake his hand before the assembled media and fans.

The 14 lap, 267 kilometre race was held on one of the most difficult courses in recent memory - harder than Hamilton in 2003 said Bettini. With a first climb of 13%, a second longer climb averaging 8%, and the final two kilometres uphill to the finish, this was a race that would see few finish among the leaders.

After a race of attrition, where the Italians masterfully controlled the pace, it came down to approximately 60 riders with two laps to go (out of 198 starters). The peloton did split on the fifth lap, with a group of 50 getting away. This group further split on the seventh lap, with some falling back to the Dutch-led field, and 24 riding off the front.

This was the first serious move, containing such notables as Bobby Julich (USA), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Norway), Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg), Jens Voigt (Germany), Juan Antonio Flecha (Spain), Stijn Devolder (Belgium), Alessandro Ballan, Alessandro Bertolini and Damiano Cunego (all Italy), Robert Gesink and Karsten Kroon (Netherlands), and Simon Gerrans (Australia), Sandy Casar (France).

Although the Dutch had two riders in the group, it obviously wasn't the right two, and they chased hard for over three laps before the frontrunners were caught. The pace shelled many riders in both groups, and the race was down to less than 80 riders. It was too much for the three Canadians, with Cam Evans going out on the eighth lap and Svein Tuft on the tenth. Dominique Rollin hung in until lap 12, and was actually quite active in the front 20, but finally cracked.

"I just got a cycling lesson," commented Rollin. "The circuit suited me and I felt good and even followed some moves, but it was the steep wall of the first climb each lap got into me. I'm not quite ready to race in Europe ... I just realized what the level is."

"A course like this, with 5600 metres of climbing [vertical altitude gain], it was go from the start," said Tuft. "It was back-to-back climbs, sketchy corners, sprinting ... it was endless. I don't know how you're supposed to physically do a race like this - I was at 5000 calories when I pulled over ... it's pretty ironic when they say they are anti-doping. The Dutch were riding tempo on the climbs at 450-500 watts! There's a point where you hit that wall and you snap."

"You know it's hard when you look over and Cadel Evans is hunched over and suffering," agreed Cam Evans. "I agree with Svein that Stuttgart says they're anti-doping, but then they have a course that's: 1. 270 kilometres, and 2. Super hard."

Back at the front of the race, the attacks were starting, with Davide Rebellin looking to soften up the other squads . Only Russian Alexandr Kolobnev could go with him, and the pair quickly took built up a lead of 35 seconds with a little over a lap remaining.

This forced both the Spaniards to chase for their captain Oscar Freire, and the Germans for hometown favourite Stefan Schumacher. The chase split the remainder of the field again on the final lap, and then there were only 13 at the front as the two leaders were scooped up. It was down to Bettini, Kolobnev, Rebellin, Schumacher, Cadel Evans (Australia), Frank Schleck (Luxembourg), Samuel Sanchez (Spain), Philippe Gilbert and Bjorn Leukemans (both Belgium), Fabian Wegmann (Germany), Martin Elmiger (Switzerland), Thomas Dekker and Michael Boogerd (both Netherlands).

Significantly, sprinters such as Freire, Erik Zabel (Germany), Thor Hushovd (Norway) and George Hincapie (USA) didn't make the split. But Bettini wasn't content to be the fastest in this group, and attacked to split it further, taking four riders with him: Kolobnev, Schumacher, Evans and Schleck.

This was the final selection, but they were still only dangling a a few seconds off the next 8 riders, with the remnants of the peloton also less than a minute back - so there was no time to mess about with cat-and-mouse games.

Evans tried a final attack in the last 500 metres, but only got a couple of metres because of the ferocious speed the leaders were carrying. Schumacher led out of the final corner with a little over 200 metres to go on a slight uphill, but then Bettini exploded to the front, coming in a bike length ahead of Kolobnev, with Schumacher salvaging local pride with the bronze.

As he came across the line, Bettini mimiced firing a machine gun, and then punched the air. "Everyone was shooting at me all week, so I wanted to shoot back at them. It was not directed at anyone person in particular, it as not directed at [UCI President] Pat McQuaid or [the UCI], it is directed at the people who know nothing about cycling, but make declarations for economic reasons."

"Italians are a very proud people. In a difficult situation, we can transform the pressure into a drive to win. We [the Italian team] were trying during the week to work with tranquility, despite the pressure. But I feel angry [after the race], the same as I did at the start of the race. I will not let anyone damage my career, after all the sacrifices I have made. If people have proof against me, then show it, otherwise they have to pay. Now I will think about how to proceed."

Race Notes

- McQuaid presented Bettini with the rainbow jersey and gold medal, while the Lord Mayor gave the flowers. While Bttini shook McQuaid's hand, it was obviously slightly strained. When it came time for the Lord Mayor to present the flowers, he and Bettini shook hands, but Bettini barely looked at him, and the Lord Mayor made a quick exit from the stage.

- Afterwards, at the press conference, McQuaid took the unprecedented step of offering remarks before the riders were introduced. McQuaid, despite his obvious annoyance over Bettini's refusal to sign the Anti-doping Declaration, has stood steadfast all week over Bettini's right to participate in the championship, and was actually quite pleased to ee this poke in the eye to the organizers.

"Veni Vidi Vici. Paolo Bettini came, saw and conquered today. It was classic, magnificent. To win under this pressure is incredible. For the UCI's point of view, we are very happy to have Paolo Bettini as the world champion."

Bettini then commented about the 'shooting' gesture he made at the finish and on the podium, and reached over to firmly shake McQuaid's hand.

- The headaches aren't over for McQuaid: the Stuttgart organization reportedly said to local media that they will not pay a final fee to the UCI of some 600,000 Euros (a little less than $1 million Canadian) due to the ongoing dispute over Bettini's entry and the disagreement over the requirement of riders to sign the Anti-doping Declaration.

- Among fans, the sentiment was clearly on the side of the riders and the UCI, with Stuttgart's Sports and Culture Minister Susanne Eisemann taking the brunt of the scorn in signs carried by spectators and painted on the roads. It could be a long, long time before any major cycling event returns to Stuttgart...

Elite Men - 14 laps - 267.4 km
1. Paolo Bettini (Ita)6:44:43
2. Alexandr Kolobnev (Rus)
3. Stefan Schumacher (Ger)
4. Frank Schleck (Lux)
5. Cadel Evans (Aus)all s.t.
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita)0:06
7. S. Sanchez Gonzalez (Esp)0:08
8. Philippe Gilbert (Bel)
9. Fabian Wegmann (Ger)
10. Martin Elmiger (Sui)
11. Thomas Dekker (Ned)all s.t.
12. Michael Boogerd (Ned)0:14
13. Björn Leukemans (Bel)0:15
14. Oscar Freire Gomez (Esp)0:49
15. Aleksandr Kuschynski (Blr)
16. Alexandre Usov (Blr)
17. Beat Zberg (Sui)
18. Erik Zabel (Ger)
19. Thor Hushovd (Nor)
20. Radoslav Rogina (Cro)
21. Murilo Antonio Fischer (Bra)
22. Matej Mugerli (Slo)
23. George Hincapie (USA)
24. Marcus Ljungqvist (Swe)
25. Chris Sörensen (Den)
26. Jurgen Van Goolen (Bel)
27. Leonardo Duque (Col)
28. Rene Mandri (Est)
29. Gustav Larsson (Swe)
30. Pierrick Fedrigo (Fra)
31. Thomas Lövkvist (Swe)
32. Alexander Efimkin (Rus)
33. Tomasz Marczynski (Pol)
34. Jan Valach (Svk)
35. Sebastian Langeveld (Ned)
36. Christian Vandevelde (USA)
37. Nuno Ribeiro (Por)
38. Christian Pfannberger (Aut)
39. Unai Etxebarria Arana (Ven)
40. David George (RSA)
41. Ludovic Turpin (Fra)
42. Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor)
43. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus)
44. Sergey Lagutin (Uzb)
45. Mario Aerts (Bel)
46. Vladimir Karpets (Rus)
47. Denis Menchov (Rus)
48. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol)
49. Manuel Beltran Martinez (Esp)all s.t.
50. Damiano Cunego (Ita)0:57
51. Filippo Pozzato (Ita)
52. Alessandro Ballan (Ita)both s.t.
53. Allan Davis (Aus)1:05
54. David Millar (GBr)s.t.
55. Matthew Lloyd (Aus1:10
56. Karsten Kroon (Ned)1:24
57. A. Valverde Belmonte (Esp)2:47
58. Matija Kvasina (Cro)3:10
59. Kristjan Fajt (Slo)3:38
60. Gorazd Stangelj (Slo)3:41
61. Kanstantsin Siutsou (Blr)5:17
62. Alessandro Bertolini (Ita)6:01
63. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel)6:34
64. Maxime Monfort (Bel)6:52
65. J. Rodriguez Oliver (Esp)7:52
66. Simon Gerrans (Aus)8:09
67. Sylvain Chavanel (Fra)s.t.
68. Thomas Voeckler (Fra)15:51
69. Erki Pütsep (Est)s.t.
70. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun)17:10
71. Vladimir Tuychiev (Uzb)21:57
72. Hossein Askari (Iri)s.t.
DNF. Carlos Sastre Candil (Esp)
DNF. Stéphane Goubert (Fra)
DNF. Robert Gesink (Ned)
DNF. C. Barredo Llamazales (Esp)
DNF. Serguei Yakovlev (Kaz)
DNF. Hernani Broco (Por)
DNF. Marcus Burghardt (Ger)
DNF. Fabian Cancellara (Sui)
DNF. Andy Schleck (Lux)
DNF. Philip Deignan (Irl)
DNF. Jens Voigt (Ger)
DNF. Gerald Ciolek (Ger)
DNF. Amaël Moinard (Fra)
DNF. Volodymyr Zagorodny (Ukr)
DNF. Laurens Ten Dam (Ned)
DNF. Bobby Julich (USA)
DNF. Jason Mccartney (USA)
DNF. Christian Knees (Ger)
DNF. Johan Van Summeren (Bel)
DNF. Dominique Rollin (Can)
DNF. Andriy Grivko (Ukr)
DNF. Evgeny Petrov (Rus)
DNF. Assan Bazayev (Kaz)
DNF. James Lewis Perry (RSA)
DNF. Matti Breschel (Den)
DNF. Juan A. Flecha Giannoni (Esp)
DNF. Xavier Florencio Cabre (Esp)
DNF. Tomislav Danculovic (Cro)
DNF. Jure Golcer (Slo)
DNF. Romain Feillu (Fra)
DNF. Sandy Casar (Fra)
DNF. Hrvoje Miholjevic (Cro)
DNF. Martin Mares (Cze)
DNF. Andrea Tonti (Ita)
DNF. Matteo Tosatto (Ita)
DNF. William Walker (Aus)
DNF. Piotr Zielinski (Pol)
DNF. Fuyu Li (Chn)
DNF. Petr Bencik (Cze)
DNF. Maros Kovac (Svk)
DNF. Glen Alan Chadwick (NZl)
DNF. Matej Jurco (Svk)
DNF. Yukiya Arashiro (Jpn)
DNF. Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn)
DNF. Vladislav Borisov (Rus)
DNF. Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz)
DNF. Bruno Neves (Por)
DNF. Marcin Sapa (Pol)
DNF. Roman Kreuziger (Cze)
DNF. Kim Kirchen (Lux)
DNF. Robert Kiserlovski (Cro)
DNF. Michael Rogers (Aus)
DNF. Luis F. Laverde Jimenez (Col)
DNF. Krzysztof Szczawinski (Pol)
DNF. Romas Sinicinas (Ltu)
DNF. Matej Stare (Slo)
DNF. Hugo Sabido (Por)
DNF. Martin Garrido Mayorga (Arg)
DNF. Frederik Willems (Bel)
DNF. Danail Petrov (Bul)
DNF. Vladimir Gusev (Rus)
DNF. Roger Hammond (GBr)
DNF. John Devine (USA)
DNF. Tyler Farrar (USA)
DNF. Ronny Scholz (Ger)
DNF. David Kopp (Ger)
DNF. Volodymyr Bileka (Ukr)
DNF. Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr)
DNF. Scott Davis (Aus)
DNF. Jacek Morajko (Pol)
DNF. Hayden Roulston (NZl)
DNF. Maarten Den Bakker (Ned)
DNF. Richard Ochoa Quintero (Ven)
DNF. Jose Rodolfo Serpa Perez (Col)
DNF. Martin Riska (Svk)
DNF. Svein Tuft (Can)
DNF. Stéphane Auge (Fra)
DNF. Bram Tankink (Ned)
DNF. Matias Medici (Arg)
DNF. Nebojsa Jovanovic (Srb)
DNF. Stijn Devolder (Bel)
DNF. Juan Pablo Dotti (Arg)
DNF. Muradjan Khalmuratov (Uzb)
DNF. Darren Lill (RSA)
DNF. Bernhard Kohl (Aut)
DNF. Mauricio A. Ardila Cano (Col)
DNF. Mathew Hayman (Aus)
DNF. Luis Ministro Moyano (Arg)
DNF. Ariel Maximiliano Richeze (Arg)
DNF. Borut Bozic (Slo)
DNF. Mark Cavendish (GBr)
DNF. Daryl Impey (RSA)
DNF. Fumiyuki Beppu (Jpn)
DNF. Roman Bronis (Svk)
DNF. Andris José Hernandez (Ven)
DNF. Koos Moerenhout (Ned)
DNF. Trent Lowe (Aus)
DNF. Dainius Kairelis (Ltu)
DNF. Mehdi Sohrabi (Iri)
DNF. Jeremy Vennell (NZl)
DNF. Cameron Evans (Can)
DNF. Christian Poos (Lux)
DNF. Kristijan Durasek (Cro)
DNF. Lars Ytting Bak (Den)
DNF. Ruslan Podgornyy (Ukr)
DNF. Sergey Kolesnikov (Rus)
DNF. Juan José Haedo (Arg)
DNF. Gerrit Glomser (Aut)
DNF. Marlon A. Perez Arango (Col)
DNF. Zolt Der (Srb)
DNF. Mads Kaggestad (Nor)
DNF. Laurent Didier (Lux)
DNF. S. Seyed Rezaei Khormizi (Iri)
DNF. Alex Cano Ardila (Col)
DNF. David Zabriskie (USA)
DNF. Renato Seabra (Bra)
DNF. Ricardo Martins (Por)
DNF. Aleksejs Saramotins (Lat)
DNF. Medhi Fahridi Kovij (Iri)
DNF. Jan Sipeky (Svk)
DNF. Dragan Spasic (Srb)
DNF. L. Pagliarini Mendonca (Bra)
DNF. Robert Hunter (RSA)
DNF. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr)
DSQ. Marzio Bruseghin (Ita)
DNS. José Rodrigues (Por)


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