World Road Championships 2008
Varese -Varese 138.8km
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
led the peloton home 1:47 behind.
Photos Click on any image to enlarge >>
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