September 21/06 5:56 am - Elite Women & Espoir Men ITT Story
Posted by Editor on 09/21/06
2006 Road Worlds - Women and Espoir Men ITT
U23 Men's Photos
The 2006 Road Worlds opened with the Elite Women's and Espoir Men's time trials, on what is considered by many riders to be one of the most technically and physically demanding courses of the past few years (see our Preview in Daily News - September 19/06 9:20 am EDT). Belgium's Dominique Cornu and American Kristin Armstrong took top honours, with Anne Samplonius the top Canadian of the day in a disappointing 20th place in the women's event.
After rain for the preceding week, the first day of competition began with dry and grey conditions, which improved to near-perfect blue skies and 20+ Celcius temperatures by the time racing began.
Lada Kozlikova (Czech Republic) was the early leader in the women's 26.12 kilometer event. Fourth off the start ramp (out of 39 starters), she would hold the hot seat spot until Priska Doppman (Switzerland), the fifteenth rider from the end, knocked ten and a half seconds off her time of 36:10.59 . Doppmann held the lead only until the next rider, American Christine Thorburn, came in, with Thorburn taking a twenty five and a half seconds advantage. Thorburn would hold the lead until her team mate Armstrong, starting fifth from the end, slashed nearly 30 seconds off the previous best time, despite dropping her chain on the second climb.
"When I got to the first climb, I kept a nice rhythm," Armstrong recalled, "but going up the second climb, I put just a little too much pressure on the pedals when I shifted down into my little chainring and dropped in on the inside. It's just a mistake you make sometimes when you're going too hard. I actually went over that scenario in my mind yesterday after training, but for the third hill. On the second hill, I thought there was no way that would happen."
"Our mechanic was great. He ran out, calmed me down, pushed me, and I was back in. (Team Director) Jim Miller was behind me in the car and got me refocused and told me we were still on track. I didn't know if he was lying to me or not. If you have a mechanical, as an athlete, you can either go one way or the other. You can give up because you just lost ten seconds, or you can use it to get a little bit of an adrenalin rush. I think I used it to my advantage. It was pretty early in the race, maybe 11 or 12 minutes into it, so I just had to refocus and do what I can. When he (Miller) said 'you can win if you go hard, if you give it everything you have,' I knew that he wouldn't out that winning idea in my head unless I really could."
Remaining riders such as Nicole Cooke (Great Britain), and Zulfiya Zabirova (Russia) couldn't come close to either Armstrong or Thorburn, ensuring that the the U.S.would have two riders on the podium. Defending champion Karin Thurig (Switzerland), starting last, couldn't come close to Armstrong, but did manage to squeak by Thorburn (by just under four seconds) to take the silver medal.
Samplonius finished 20th, a disappointing time for the former Worlds silver medalist, who is having an extremely strong season.
"I'm not really too happy with my ride." Samplonius admitted. "I knew in the first two kilometers of the race that I had dead legs today, and on this course you had to bring your best legs. The course suited me, I just didn't have it today."
Canadian national time trial champion Alex Wrubleski, at her first Worlds, crashed in the final few kilometers when she misjudged a corner in the technical and twisty city streets.
"Five kilometers to the finish, I didn't realize that the course was entering a more technical section and I had my head down. I looked up too late into a corner, and just went straight into a fence. Before that, I felt solid, and I think I would have been top-15 for sure."
"I'm not sure exactly how I hit the fence, but it was pretty much straight on - I don't think the marshal expected me to come straight at him! It bent the front wheel, and I banged up my (left) knee; but I think it should be okay for Saturday (road race)."
- Kristin Armstrong was asked in the press conference if she was related to Lance Armstrong: "No, I'm not related to Lance at all! He's someone I look up to in cycling and I don't mind sharing the name. Now that he's retired I hope he continues to promote the sport. We are both very determined athletes who strive for the highest and both come from a triathlon background prior to cycling, but that's it."
The Espoir men's 39.54 kilometer race saw a similar pattern unfold, with Russian Filippov, the 14th rider off setting a superb time of 50:19.94, which would hold up until eventual winner Dominque Cornu (Belgium) eclipsed it after starting 11th from the end (of 61 riders). Only two other riders would surpass Filippov, just knocking him off the podium - defending champion Mikhail Ignatiev (Russia) took the silver, a whopping 37 seconds behind Cornu, and France's Jerome Coppel took the bronze.
"It was a difficult race" agreed Cornu. "I had to work hard from the start all the way to the finish, with no rest. The beginning was very painful for me, and I thought 'Oh, this is no good!'. But, after the first two hills my legs started to feel better, and not so heavy anymore. But in the final kilometers my legs were very bad."
"It is so amazing (to win); it's a feeling so great. I have been two times fourth, which is not so nice, so this year (his last as an Espoir) I wanted to be on the stage. I thought Ignatiev, (Dmytro) Grabovskky (Ukraine) and Coppel would be the biggest competition, but this is a race on your own, and it comes down to who is the best to finish."
Ignatiev, the Olympic pursuit champion is in the process of making the transition from track to road, and revealed that he has made considerable changes in his preparation this year, which may have hurt his chances.
"Because I go to a pro team next year and I want to race on the road and track, I am making some changes. This year I raced more on the track, preparing for the World Championships (in Bordeaux, France). My trainer (Alexandre Christophe) has a very old training program. I think I want more new training as I moved to my new team and Directeur Sportif, so this is a big switch for me."
The Canadian men struggled on the course, with the top finisher, Brad Fairall 43rd, five minutes behind Cornu. National champion David Veilleux, who had finished second a week earlier at the Chrono de Tauxigny in France, finished 50th, and suffered back spasms as he rode the longest time trial of his career.
"I went out very good, and felt pretty strong on the climbs. But when I got to the false flat section on the top of the climbs I started to have back problems, so I had to stand up and stretch a lot, which is where I lost all my time. I've never done a time trial that long before, so I think that was the problem."
- The UCI performed 18 blood controls on Wednesday morning for teams from Brazil, Argentina, Switzerland, Australia and USA. The UCI medical inspector (Marc Vandevyvere) declared three riders unfit to start (due to high hematocrit levels): Martin Garrido and Matias Medici (both Argentina) and Magno Nazaret (Brazil).
- Maxim Belkov (Russia) was on course for a good result, when he ran into mechanical problems on the second climb, forcing him to stop and get off the bike, with the mechanic coming forward from the following car to fiddle with his pedals and then push him up the hill. Despite the delay, Belkov finished 13th.