Monday 27th September - Sunday 3rd October
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Elite Road Race
Saturday 2 October 2004, 13:30hrs, 132.8km - 9 laps
Following the typical format for a race at this level, in the opening laps, the leaders tested their legs for a few hundred metres at the front every now and then, whilst lesser-known names were dropped off the back of the race. There was a wave of retirements at around half distance, including 2 of the riders from Belarussia, Louise Moriarty (Ireland) and Olga Slyusareva (Russia).
The first main move occurred on lap 6 of 9, on the descent from the main climb, Swiss rider, Sara Grab rode away from the field, followed by Canadian rider Erin Wilcock and then the main bunch. Riding hard on the descent, Wilcock managed to catch Grab.
As the pair turned hard right about 5km from the start / finish area, they had a lead of about 12 seconds. This was where Dori Ruano Sanchon of Spain jumped and managed to close the gap at the feed station around 2km from the line. By the time they passed the start/finish line, they were 35 seconds ahead.
A small crash at the back of the bunch during the seventh lap delayed three riders, including Thorburn from Canada. The pace was obviously higher on this lap; the field was clearly strung out on the climb. The gap was 32 seconds at the top, with an Italian rider trying to steal back some of the deficit on the way up, but the move was countered by the Swiss, working well to protect the lead and slow the bunch.
Longo-Ciprelli, in her usual fashion was yo-yoing between the front and
the back of the main bunch. At the bottom of the climb on Lap 7, she was
to be seen at the front. The gap was down to 18 seconds and it looked as
if Grab and
The race was well and truly split apart by the Russian's move. The bunch was strung out and riders in ones and twos were trying to cross the gap between the two groups which had formed. Few were successful, though and as the first bunch took the bell for the last lap, the deficit to the second group was 1minute 14 seconds.
Chantelle Beltman of the Netherlands made a brave solo move as the first group crossed the river. She was chased by the Russian Svetlana Bubnenkova, who caught her quite quickly and rode straight past. As the two wound their way out of Verona and towards the climb, the pair had 24 seconds, whilst another Russian controlled the pace of the bunch. The pace was too fierce for Beltman as the pair climbed the 3km hill for the final time. Bubnenkova went forwards whilst Beltman went backwards and back into the bunch. The effort was obvious in the manner in which Bubnenkovsa was climbing, hunched over the bars and rocking from side to side to push her bike up faster. Tatiana Guderzo stretched her legs off the front of the chasers and with her much faster cadence, she danced on the pedals up towards Bubnenkova and caught her just before the summit. Bubnenkova strained to hang on to the Italian's wheel, looking behind to see if there was anyone behind in sight.
Behind the two leaders, Judith Arndt was leading the chase. With her Nicole Brandli, Worrack, Guderzo, Edita Puckinskaite (LTU) and Joane Somarriba Arrola (Spain). The leaders were caught on the descent, which meant the formation of a group of 6, who had 12 seconds advantage at the time check on the way down over a second group of 6, led by Mirjam Melchers. Bubnenkova missed a corner and dropped off the front group on the descent, but fought her way back to the leaders.
Judith Arndt jumped as the race returned to the city streets. She was chased by the Italian, Guderzo, but managed to stay away and increase the gap. With only a couple of kilometres to go, it looked like the race would be for the bronze medal, Arndt and Guderzo assured of their places. Arndt was riding hard, pedalling a big gear and forcing her bike forwards in time trial style. With 500m to go, Arndt was 100m ahead, the Italian's gap was not so clear-cut, but as she too powered down the finishing straight, she made certain of her medal. The sprint for third place was won by Anita Valen (Norway), Arndt's team-mate Worrack was fourth, Pukinskaite was fifth. Jeannie Longo led-in the large group sprint, ahead of Cooke.
At the line, Arndt was clearly elated at her win and who wouldn't be? This finished a superb year for her, with the silver medal in the Olympic road race also in her collection.
1 Judith Arndt Germany
2 Tatiana Guderzo Italy
3 Anita Valen Norway
4 Trixi Worrack Germany
5 Edita Pukinskaite Lithuania
Full result courtesy Union Cycliste Internationale
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