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World Road Championships 2008

 

 

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Road Race

Varese -Varese   138.8km 

 

Race Writeup

Nicole Cooke, the recently crowned Olympic champion, added the World Championship title in an incredible three up sprint to the line ahead of former World Champions, Dutch star Marianne Vos and the experienced German, Judith Arndt. In the break which formed in the last lap the three riders must have realised that one of them would be crowned champion. The other riders in the break included the Swedish Olympic medallist, Emma Johansson and a compatriot of Judith Arndt; Trixi Worrack. 

Six riders escaped after a surge from Vos on the steep climb of Via Montello split the field. The Swedish team would have had real strength in numbers like the Germans, if Susanne Ljungskog, had not ended her chances with a puncture at the foot of the final climb. It initially looked like Vos would had made the winning move on the final climb to the top of Via Ronchi but this was covered by Johansson. Johansson then tried a late attack, trying to catch the others napping. The Germans, Arndt and Worrack, knowing that they could not sprint to match Cooke or Vos, attacked and counterattacked as the race returned to the Mapei Cycling Stadium, but in the end it came down to a sprint and the Olympic Champion was the fastest. She was still accelerating as she reached the line. Vos, on the other hand, seemed to have run out of steam after an early 'go' when she virtually sat up with just metres to travel.

The course stretched out along a 17.35 km circuit that has a small climb out the start/finish area before dropping down to the south of Varese and close to Lake Di Varese before turning north again, back to the cycling stadium for the finish. The first of two climb was over the Montello, at 1,150 m and an average gradient of 6.5%, it was enough to test the legs of the riders. This climb was followed by a quite technical descent. The second climb was up to the highest point of the Ronchi climb and was at the 4 km to go point on each circuit. At 3,130m this climb was not as steep as the first and only averaged a gradient of 4.5% although it did have some technical and short steep sections.

Lap-by-Lap
The women started the day in overcast conditions to complete the 138.8 km, 8 laps of the course. The road conditions were mixed with some damp patches that caught out the bunch early into the first lap. Luckily this was on the uphill section to the first climb and no one was injured.

British rider Lizzie Armistead moved to the front in an attempt to inject some early pace. She was joined by the USA teamís Kori Seehafer. She had shown some good late form in the season and was the worker in the USA team. Australia's Rochelle Gilmore was quick to cover the gap and the pace strung the bunch out.

Another crash involving a number of riders caused a temporary break in the field. Mariya Slokotovich of Kazakhstan went down as did the Estonian Laura Lepasalu. As the bunch approached the second climb to Ronchi an attack by Kristin Armstrong of the USA created a gap in the bunch. Armstrong was joined by the Germany trio of Charlotte Becker, Luise Keller and Angela Brodtka. Becker was the replacement for the sick Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, who due to a heavy cold was unable to start. The other riders who managed to get onto the attack were Armistead, Monia Baccaillle of Italy and the Australian Nikki Egyed and Lithuanians Diana Ziliute, Jolanta Polikeviciute, Grace Verbeke (Belgium), Maryline Salvetat (France), Anna Sanchis Chafer (Spain) and Laura Lorenza Morfin Macouzet (Mexico).

Armstrong's pace setting pulled the group off the front and they quickly gained 14 seconds over the rest to the top of the climb. In the chase behind the lead group, Lithuanian Diana Zilute led the break up the Salita di Via Montello as Regina Bruins of the Netherlands leads the peloton with Sweden, who were working on the front to try to close the gap as the peloton approach the finish line for the first time. The women completed the first of eight laps in 27 minutes 1second, with the chasing peloton 35 seconds behind.    

By the time the leaders reached the bottom of the first climb they had a 49 second lead over the peloton, which was led by Regina Bruins of the Netherlands. By the time they reached the second climb however the Swedish team had moved to the front to bring the break back. Monica Holler led the chase. In the back of the bunch, Sharon Laws of Great Britain went down and struggled to get back on her bike due to a mechanical. The bunch managed to go round her and maintain momentum. By the time the chasers reached the Salita dei Ronchi for the second time the break was down a little but the leading group had worked together well. As they crossed the start/finish area to start the third lap the gap had gone out again. Brodtka had dropped out of the lead group but they looked strong as they rode the down the finish straight led by Armstrong and Baccaille.

The peloton crossed the line 1 minute 17 seconds behind the leaders but looked comfortable. German Judith Arndt and the Dutch sensation Marianne Vos, two of the medal hopefuls looked calm as they crossed the line. The leaders held the chasing bunch out to 1 minute 14 seconds for a while, the majority of the work being done by the American Armstrong and the Lithuanians.  Armstrong was very disappointed with her performance in the time trial and looked motivated at the start of the race.

With 52.05km of the race completed and 86.75km to go, the breakaway of 12 crossed the start/finish line with race time covered 1 hour 21.5 minutes. In the chasing peloton, the Dutch were on the front again, but their efforts were being spoilt by the French and the Americans. The gap was out to 2 minutes.

Swiss rider Andrea ThŁrig tried to attack in the finishing straight, but she was latched on to by the American Seehafer and two French riders. The Australianís Oenone Wood and Carla Ryan were visible on the front on the climb of via Montello with newly crowned time trial champion Amber Neben following.

A number of riders tried to move to the front, notably Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli of France who is either on the front or the back was shadowed by Emma Pooley of Great Britain, who took over the pace.

Armstrong led again on the climb and looked strong as the leaders took the corners through the streets of Varese on route to the stadium to start the 5th lap with 69.4km to go.  Leading the chasing group was the Canadian Erinne Willock. They had closed the gap on the leaders. By the time the chasing group crossed the start/finish line the gap was down to 1 minute 11 seconds. The injection of pace had splintered the peloton but the majority of riders managed to get back into the bunch in the decent of the first climb.

The Dutch worked hard on the front of the peloton to try to bring the break back but Trixi Worrack (Germany) and Lithuania were quick to respond to make it difficult to gain any advantage, the gap to the leaders had gone out a little to 1 minute 20 seconds.  

As the leaders approached the end of lap 5, Egyed was on the front. With 86.75km of the raced completed and 52.05km to go, the leaders started three laps to go. The chasing peloton, were 1 minute 14 seconds behind and were led by the Italian Fabiana Luperini, who put the pressure on up the Via Ronchi climb, but the bunch stuck to her, Worrack was on her back wheel as the pace injected by Luperini put pressure on the riders at the back of the bunch.

Having missed the move, the Dutch team of Marianne Vos were evident on the front of the bunch in an attempt to a minimum not let the gap blow out but to try to bring it back. The Dutch, the Canadians and Emma Pooley of Great Britain worked tirelessly to bring the break away group back to within striking distance and they were joined by several of the race favourites, including Cooke, Johansson, Vos and Arndt.

As the groups were forming on the penultimate lap, Egyed attacked and managed to build a solo lead. She crossed the start/finish line to start the final lap alone, but the leaders did not allow her to stay away for long. On the first climb of the final lap an attack from Vos pulled a new group of six riders clear.

The lead group comprised of Vos, Cooke, Arndt, Worrack, Johansson and Susanne Ljungskog (both Sweden). Local favourite from Varese Noemi Cantele missed as did the Lithuanian and Americans.

Ljungskog punctured almost as soon as the break had formed and did not manage to get a quick change to enable her to get back to the leaders.

On the final climb a hard attack from Vos saw her escape the others and looked to have won the race, but persistence from the other four reeled her in just as she rode over the top.

In the final few kilometres a series of attacks failed to get away. Worrack was delivering a strong support role to protect the opportunity of a win for teammate Arndt. With less than two km to go, Johansson caught the group napping and escaped on her own. The Swede passed under the last kilometre banner alone but was reeled back in, again by Worrack.

Vos was the first to launch her sprint but Cooke quickly got her wheel and came round in the final metres to take the victory. Arndt was unable to match the sprint of the other two and finished third to take the bronze medal, with Johansson and Worrack following.

Ziliute led the peloton home 1:47 behind.  

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Results - Top 10 - click here to see full result

Position Name Team Time / Gap
1 Nicole Cooke  Great Britain 3.42.11
2 Marianne Vos  Netherlands 
3 Judith Arndt  Germany 
4 Emma Johansson  Sweden  0.05
5 Trixi Worrack  Germany  0.11
6 Diana Ziliute  Lithuania  1.47
7 Marta Vilajosana Andreu  Spain 
8 Joanne Kiesanowski  New Zealand
9 Alex Wrubleski  Canada 
10 Julia Martisova  Russian Federation

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Photos   Click on any image to enlarge >>

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WC1_6380 WC2_4697 WC2_4705 WC2_4780 WC2_4818
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