October 12/97 13:05 pm - Road Worlds
Posted by Editor on 10/12/97
Road World Championships, San Sebastian, Spain
Today was the premier event of the Road Worlds - the Elite Menâ€šs 262 km (19 lap) road race - 163 riders from 75 countries took part. French rider Laurent Brochard won the sprint, ahead of Bo Hamburger (DEN) and Leon Van Bon (NED) during a race that our correspondent Ed Schum called one of the most exciting he has seen in recent years. Both Canadian entrants - Eric Wohlberg and Mat Anand - abandoned, but only after strong rides that saw them at the front of the pack for much of the race.
The weather the night before the race was terrible - pouring rain and very windy. It did improve much for the race. Riders faced showers, and at one point hail, plus extremely strong winds. Anand decided before the race: â€žI wanted to be aggressive, I didnâ€št just want to sit in the pack.â€° This he accomplished, often appearing in the top 20 for lap-by-lap results. However, the distance, and constant attacks, took their toll on a rider used to races over 200 km, and when his legs started to get heavy after 4 hours of racing, Anand knew he would be gone before long. The Alberta rider did abandon shortly after, with 4 laps to go. He was: â€žpleased with my race, I put in a good effort, and I was riding wit the big guns - Museeuw, etc.â€°.
Canadaâ€šs other entry - National ITT champion Eric Wohlberg - started his race a little slower, and gradually worked his way up through the field, reaching the front group during laps 10/11. Wohlberg appeared to be riding strongly during the 15th lap, but in the 16th he â€žhit the wallâ€°, and was out shortly after. Wohlberg traced part of his troubles to a lack of racing since early September. â€žI did a lot of motorpacing, but that canâ€št compete with the Europeans racing (up to the Worldâ€šs).â€° Eric pointed to the false flat leading into the main climb as the toughest part of the race. A cross-wind meant that once you were on your own there was no chance of rejoining the group in front. When Anand and Wohlberg dropped out there were only about 50 riders left in that front group, and many other big names, including Tony Rominger had already abandoned.
Now the winning moves: On laps 15 and 16 a group of about 20 formed, containing Axel Merckx, Gianni Bugno, Mauro Gianetti, Laurent Jalabert, Udo Bolts, Bo Hamburger, Leon Van Bon and eventual winner Brochard. Multiple attacks within this group did not succeed throughout the 17th and 18th laps. It wasnâ€št until the final downhill that a group of 6 broke clear, containing the eventual podium winners. In the final sprint, Udo Bolts was forced to the front for the early going. Brochard then jumped at about 400 meters - earlier than most expected. Fatigue, surprise and hesitation by the others meant that he had a clear run into the rainbow jersey.
Note: In yesterdayâ€šs Womenâ€šs race, Annie Gariepy finished 82nd (at 20:04), and Anne Samplonius abandoned.
1. Laurent Brochard (Fra) 6:16:48
2. Bo Hamburger (Den) s.t.
3. Leon Van Bon (Ned) s.t.
4. Udo Bolts (Ger) s.t.
5. Melchior Mauri (Spa) s.t.
6. Laurent Dufaux (Swi) s.t.
7. Lauri Aus (Est) at 0:09
8. Johan Museeuw (Bel) 0:16
9. Glenn Magnusson (Swe) s.t.
10. Michele Bartoli (Ita) s.t.
11. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) s.t.
12. Mauro Gianetti (Swi) s.t.
13. Francesco Casagrande (Ita) s.t.
14. Davide Rebellin (Ita) s.t.
15. Aart Vierhouten (Ned) 0:49
16. Jens Zemke (Ger) 0:50
17. Henk Vogels (Aus) 0:57
18. Andrei Tchmil (Ukr) s.t.
19. Cedric Vasseur (Fra) s.t.
20. Andrea Tafi (Ita) 0:58