Road World Cup 2008
Tour de Berne, Switzerland
Ljungskog escaped from an elite group of breakaway companions to win the
Tour of Berne / Berner Rundfahrt by eight seconds ahead of the sprinting
group. Winner of the sprint for second was Judith Arndt, which gave her
enough points to take over the World Cup series lead. Perhaps
surprisingly, the German former World Champion and multiple previous World
Cup round winner has never worn the Leader’s jersey before in her
change to the course used in previous years presented riders with a much
tougher parcours. A long, five kilometre climb, almost immediately out of
host town, Lyss, shattered the field in the first of four laps. The
conditions were hot and sunny, with little wind. The race was marked by
attacks from the rival Swiss teams in this, their ‘home’ World Cup.
Team Bigla and Cervélo Lifeforce were active all day, sending riders on
the attack. Notably, sisters Andrea (Bigla) and Karin Thürig (Cervelo)
were in the front part of the race. Elder sibling, Karin was particularly
active, gaining time solo in front of the chase group both early in the
race and on the penultimate lap, through the start / finish area heading
into the final 33 kilometres of the event.
front group carved out a lead over the following bunch after the first
climb which was unassailable, meaning that the winner would come from
within this selection of less than half the starters. Within this group,
there were multiple representatives from several teams, including Cervelo
Lifeforce; Kristin Armstrong, Karin Thürig, Priska Doppmann, Équipe
Nurnberger; (2007 winner) Edita Puckinskaite, Claudia Hausler, Team Bigla;
Nicole Brändli, Noemi Cantele, Zoulfia Zabirova, and Team Flexpoint;
Mirjam Melchers van Poppel and Amber Neben. A notable lone, but
potentially dangerous rider, was Judith Arndt (Team High Road), who
admitted it was partly her fault that she was alone. She had been in poor
position early in the race and effectively ‘spent’ the assistance of
her team-mates early in the day in order to move into the break.
the final lap, Susanne Ljungskog (Manikin Selle Italia) made an attempt to
break away on the climb. She gained a 15 second lead, but was brought back
by World Champion, Marta Bastianelli (Italian National). The Italian
effectively towed the group back to Ljungskog, who regained her breath and
sat in the group on the descent. Then, with about 15 kilometres to go, the
Swede whose last World Cup win was the inaugural World Cup in Vårgarda
(Sweden) in 2006, attacked again. This time she was able to make the
advantage stick, especially on the technical run-in through Lyss. The
bunch were not able to bring her back, attempts came close, but were not
able to close the final few seconds to the leader.
the closing kilometres, it became clear that this race would once again be
taken by a solo rider just ahead of the psrinting bunch. Ljungskog held on
to her slender lead and was able to celebrate in the final 50 metres with
several happy punches into the air before a double-handed victory salute.
The bunch sprint was fast and furious and at full pace straight out of the
tight right-handed corner at 500m to go. The riders in the centre of the
road clearly had the advantage and it was Judith Arndt who emerged three
or four riders from the barriers as the fastest. Outside of her, Mirjam
Melchers van Poppel was working hard to keep third, whilst on the barriers
was a fading Erinne Willock (Webcor). Chantal Beltman followed her
team-mate, Arndt, to the line for fourth and Jolanta Polikeviciute (Chirio
Forno d’Asolo) was fifth.
win was sweet for Ljungskog, who pronounced herself “very happy” and
who had enjoyed her day racing in front of large crowds in Lyss and on the
Second place in Berne took Judith Arndt into the World Cup series lead on 167 points, leapfrogging absentee leader going into this round, Marianne Vos, who is now second on 152 points. Suzanne De Goede (Equipe Nurnberger) is third, 133 points.
Coupe du Monde Cycliste Féminine de Montréal takes place on 31st May.
Susanne Ljungskog explained the closing kilometres of her race. “My plan was to attack on the hill. I had a gap there, but they caught me, I felt good, but the others were also good. I waited, let the others do some attacks, then I thought ‘okay, I’ll wait.’ Then it slowed with about 15 kilometres to go and I thought ‘now I have to go’ and I did, I didn’t look back and it was a long way, but when you have good legs that doesn’t matter,” she smiled. ”It was a good course, nice climbs, hard climbs. There were a lot of people on the climbs and it felt good to be a woman bike rider today. I’m proud and I appreciated them.”
Judith Arndt was pleased to take over the World Cup series lead; “I’ve never had the jersey before and my career has been pretty long already. Its nice to wear it, but its not the main goal for the season of the team because this year it’s the Olympics and everybody tries to be in the best shape for the Olympics,” Arndt has previously professed a sweet spot for the World Cup in Montréal, which is the next round of the series at the end of the month. She would not commit herself to protecting the Leader’s jersey at all costs however. “We always try to win the race, but it can with another rider from the team.” She stressed the importance of the team in High Road’s culture “We don’t go for the overall, we always try to win the race."
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