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UCI World Cup 2005

 

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Race 11

Nürnberg

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Race Preview - Race 11 / Final World Cup race 2005

The final race of the 2005 road World Cup takes place in about 18 hours time. The weather here in Nürnberg, Germany is warm and humid - 'muggy' as some would say. The temperature is around 20'C and the forecast is for similar weather tomorrow, although there is a danger of rain....... Race distance will be 9 laps of a 12.9km circuit (116km). The circuit is around the historic town of Nürnberg, with a 'loop' out to the Corporate HQ of the women's team sponsors Nürnberger Versicherung  insurance group. 

A quick stroll around the centre of Nürnberg reveals a city preparing for the race - the 'permanence', where the riders will collect their numbers is at the historic Opera House. Adorning the walls of the building which look down upon Richard Wagner Platz at the Opera House are reminders that both the current World Champion and the World Cup leader going into this final race are team members who are going to be riding their 'home' race. Nürnberger Versicherung sponsor the team which contains Judith Arndt and Oenone Wood and huge banners bearing their smiling faces and the smiles of their team-mates hang from the walls of the Opera House. The streets around the Opera House contain many hotels which are being used by the teams who are to be competing in the events tomorrow - the Women's World Cup and the elite men's race. Whilst groups of riders in identical kit on identical bikes loosen their legs after the drive to Nürnberg on the main roads, the side streets have filled gradually all day with team cars, vans and camper vans. In this hotel alone are the Vlaanderen team and Buitenpoort-Flexpoint. Across the road are the men's Gerolsteiner and T-Mobile teams. Further up the main road, another side street gives away its secret - more teams, given away by the team cars outside.

There are, numerically-speaking, only 4 riders who can win the World Cup this year - despite 150 points available for the winner of this final race, as opposed to the usual 75 points throughout the remainder of the season. Leader Oenone Wood (Équipe Nürnberger) has a slender lead of 25 points over second-placed Susanne Ljungskog (Buitenpoort-Flexpoint) and Wood is 73 points ahead of Ljungskog's team leader, Mirjam Melchers van Poppel. The only other rider within 150 points of Wood is her team-mate, Judith Arndt, who trails by 124 points. Next placed rider is Susanne de Goede (Van Bemmelen-AA Drinks) and she is 183 points behind Wood - too many even if de Goede were to win and Wood to finish outside the points. Also on 183 points in 6th place is Team Safi's Nicole Cooke - the RR British Champion. 

So, the chase for the UCI World Cup winner's jersey 2005 is far from sewn up, but it is also something which will tax the strategic brains of just two teams - Nürnberg and Buitenpoort. Expect a battle, with some interesting attacks and counter attacks. It is just too tight for Wood to allow Ljungskog off the front, or for that matter for Wood to want to sprint against Ljungskog at the front of the race. If the pair happen to finish in a group behind a breakaway of only 2 riders, then Wood will need to finish within a couple of places of Ljungskog to ensure the overall win. If they finish behind a group of 10 or more riders, then Wood cannot lose the jersey she has worn for the past month.

Such a situation opens the race up for other teams and other riders - those perhaps who have not yet taken a World Cup win yet this year - who perhaps could benefit from the TV exposure that the race will bring to their team's sponsor(s). In that sense, then, it will be up to the Buitenpoort-Flexpoint team to do the chasing and bring breaks back, or to get Ljungskog into a break. The twist in the tale, though, is that the Nürnberger team are on home ground. The team's goal each time they go out is for one of them to win the race - the goal takes on more importance when the race location is added to the equation. They may not be willing for any breaks to go without them after all.......

Sunday looms and it should be a very entertaining day of racing!!!!!!

 

 

 

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