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Road Race

Salzburg, Austria,  132.9km


Race Writeup

The 2006 Women’s World Road Race Championships started in the beautiful city of Saltzburg with 136 riders representing 35 nations. This race was probably one of the most open races in years. The Women’s peleton has grown tremendously and it’s prominence in the world of cycling and has gained in strength every year. With the top riders from the 2005 championships showing good form again this year, the race proved to be very exciting.

As the bunch rolled out on the warm sunny day, this in itself was in complete contrast to last year where the women started in the early hours on a cold Madrid morning. Early nerves showed though when Evgeniva Visockaya (Ukraine) crashed into the barriers, she and the other riders who were involved in this chased back to the group. 

After the first 8km, the first attack came from the Russian Natalia Boyarskaya, her attempt was thwarted though as the teams rallied to close her down. The second climb at 11km was the hardest on the course and the first time over caused the bunch to string out. Not too excessively though that it caused any breaks. The bunch rolled through the next 8km when after 19km a minor mechanical problem forced Italy’s Noemi Cantele to change bikes.

As the bunch approached the end of the first lap, an attack from the Russians saw a small group including the oldest rider in the peleton at 47, Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (France) form. At they crossed the start/finish line with 23km completed, a small group of riders had cleared the bunch. By the time they reached the climb, only two remained - Anne Samplonius (Canada) and Natalia Boyarskaya (Russian Federation), they were away thanks to a counter attack to a Swedish move by Anna Samplonius (CAN). Boyarskaya (RUS) was the only rider to react to close the gap and the two gained their lead. As they went under the start/finish banner to start their third lap they had a 20’ gap on the chasing peleton. The two managed to increase their gap and by 50km completed they had a 50’ gap.

The chasing peleton had two riders prepared to put in the work to bring the leaders back. Tanja Slater (Great Britain) and Linda Villumsen (Denmark) managed to bring the gap down to 32’. Patricia Schwager (Switzerland) took up the chase on the decent of the second climb and managed to reduce the gap to 25’.

At the half way point in the race, the teams seemed to be getting serious about the chase, although the leaders had managed to increase the gap again. Monica Holler (Sweden) managed to break away from the chasing bunch and created a 20’ gap. With 60km to go, the peleton were keeping tempo with the three leaders dangling out there. They caught Holler and as a result reduced the gap to 35’.  With 53km to go the leaders had 30’ on the peleton. As the peleton increased its pace, it caught the leaders just 2km out side Saltzburg.

With the bunch together Vera Carrara (Italy) decided to attack and she managed to get a small lead. Tetyana Stiajkina (Ukraine) was the only rider to bridge the gap to Carrara and attacked again gaining valuable second on the peleton who caught Carrara. Stiajkina’s team closed ranks at the front to try to block a chase. This did not last long however as Zoulfia Zabirova (Kazakhstan) brought the group back together and counter attacked gaining 15 seconds very quickly.

The big teams saw the danger and reacted to this attack, rapidly reducing the time to 11 seconds. This increase in speed did however have an effect on the ability of some riders to keep pace, with a number of riders dropping off the back of the group. On the ascent of the climb, two of the favourites attacked, Nicole Cooke (Great Britain) and Nicole Brändli (Switzerland). A number of riders reacted, but struggled to keep pace with the two riders. A small group of 15 riders formed and settled into a steady pace.

The group included some of the top riders from this season, including local riders, Christiane Soeder and Andrea Graus (Austria). The other key riders were Judith Arndt, Theresa Senff and Trixi Worrack (Germany), Nicole Cooke (Great Britain), Oenone Wood (Australia), Chantal Beltman and Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Noemi Cantele (Italy), Nicole Brändli, Priska Doppmann and Annette Beutler (Switzerland), Amber Neben (USA), Svetlana Bubnenkova (Russia).

As the leaders started the last lap, Arndt (GER) and Vos (NED) led, followed by the group of 13. The average speed for the last lap was 41 km/, nearly 3 km/h faster than previous laps, an indicator that they meant business.

With 13km to go, Priska Doppman (Switzerland) attacked, forcing the group to chase. On the descent, the gap to the main peleton had increased to 1 minute 40 seconds, they seemed to have stopped working, probably because most of the favourite nations had riders in the leading group.

As the leaders approached 10km to go, three leaders took over, Cooke (Great Britain), Marianne Vos (Netherlands) and Brändli, who gained a small gap on the chasing group. Brändli attempted to break away from Vos and Cooke but this did not work. The chasing group, led by Judith Arndt bridged the gap to the leaders as they approached the 4km to go. Counter attack, after counter attack occurred in the last few km as the riders tested each other. In the final meters though, Marianne Vos attacked to take a clear win, ahead of Trixi Worrack and Nicole Cooke.

Vos took the victory by several lengths. The 19 year old has had a terrific 12 months – she is also World Cyclo Cross Champions and European Champion. (In addition to Junior titles she held). She honed her speed for the sprint in last week’s Giro della Toscana, sprinting well towards the front of the bunch all week. Trixi Worrack took her first World Championship medal at senior level and was clearly very happy with it, whilst Nicole Cooke once again worked on her own in the closing kilometers of a major race; Great Britain unable to put riders around her of the quality to assist in the sprint. Cooke seemed happy with the bronze medal.


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Post Race Comments

Marianne Vos

"It was a hard race, especially in the last two laps. There was a small group away and I hoped it wouldn't stay away. I thought I would have a chance in the sprint, but you can't let them go on the climbs. So in the last two laps it was hard to stay with Nicole Brändli and Nicole Cooke, but we got tem back on the descent. The sprint was hard but I took the line. With 150m to go, I saw Oenone Wood and I just sprinted as hard as I could until the finish and I did it, no-one came over me, so I knew I had won."

On being double World Champion (Cyclo Cross and now Road Race)

"In four weeks the cyclo cross season starts, for the winter season, I will also wear the 'rainbow jersey', so its strange for me, but nice! I will get three weeks rest before the cyclo cross season and then start racing again and then I will take some rest before the road season.

This means a lot for me, but I don't think I really believe it yet. That will come in the next few days. Tonight, I'm going to party with the National team; they worked hard today and they did a good job."

Trixi Worrack

On bringing back the late break of Cooke, Vos and Brändli.

"My team was working pretty hard; Theresa [Senff] and Judith [Arndt], they were closing the gap to the three of them and then it came to the sprint.

This medal means a lot to me because I was World Champion at junior level, but you cannot compare that seniors. I think its great. I'm a bit sad because we've had the title for the last two years, but I think we can be happy."

Had there been pressure on Trixi in the closing kilometres?

"We can't say it was pressure on me because I was named as the sprinter, we had our meeting the night before to decide tactics, but it was not pressure. It was up to Judith and Theresa Senff to hold the small bunch together and then up to me to do the sprint."

Nicole Cooke

"I think Marianne and I were working very hard but I don't think we had the strength as three riders against the strong German team, the group behind us. I'm very happy with my ride today because I felt very strong out there and I'm happy to be on the podium again."


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Results - Top 10 

1   Marianne Vos  (Ned)

2   Trixi Worrack  (Ger)

3   Nicole Cooke (Gbr)

4   Noemi Cantele (Ita)

5   Priska Doppmann (Sui)

6   Oenone Wood (Aus)

7   Annette Beutler (Sui)

8   Nicole Brändli (Sui)

9   Svetlana Bubnenkova (Rus)

10  Andrea Graus (Aut)

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Photos   Click on any image to enlarge >>

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