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UCI World Championships - Men's Road Race Live Coverage
By Staff
Date: 9/30/2007
UCI World Championships - Men's Road Race Live Coverage

 UCI World Championships - Men's Elite Road Race Live Coverage
Bettini... or not?

Men’s Elite Road Race  30/9/2007)
14 laps - 19.1 circuits - 267.4 km
Altitude gain: 5679.8 meters
An early break of Stephane Augé (France) and Perez Arango (Colombia) took a quick lead of 1:20 on the peloton with 230 km to go. 20 km later Sergey Kolesnikov of Russia bridged up to the duo, the brave, and likely futile effort of the group soon increased their lead to 2:30, while the Italian/German led peloton seemed unconcerned at the gap at this early stage of the race.

As the trio crossed the start/finish line after four laps (ten remaining) they had over five minutes in hand over the peloton with 190 km left. 5 km later a counter attack led by Andrea Tonti, Marcus Burghardt and Kim Kirchen gapped the peloton and a group of 15 riders left the comfort of the peloton on a chase for our three adventurers. The gap to the three leaders quickly came down to under three minutes as the counter attack split the peloton spitting riders off the back.

Paolo Bettini, can he win his second rainbow jersey?
Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti

 With 165 km to go the group of 40 caught the trio and gained 2:40 gap on the peloton. Some of the combatants in this group: our original three, Perez Arango, Sergey Kolesnikov, Stéphane Auge joined by Kirchen, Tonti, Burghardt, Mauricio Ardila, George Hincapie, Carlos Sastre, Damiano Cunego, Laszlo Bodrogi Juan Antonio Flecha, Thor Hushovd, Jens Voigt, Andriy Grivko, Bram Tankink, Konstantin Siutsou and Stijn Devolder... Certainly a group with fast enough legs to challenge the peloton for the victory. Ukraine's Ruslan Podgornyy was the first to test the legs of his breakmates with a flyer.

Neither the attack group nor the peloton were organised at first, after a bit of chatting on both ends the lead group started working on chasing Podgornyy while the peloton was led by a wave of orange jerseys of the Netherlands squad. With 150 km to go the Dutch riders had the gap under control at just over 2 minutes and the escape had Podgornny in their sight for capture.

Having passed the halfway mark in the race with 129 km to go, the efforts of the orange riders brought the lead group back, as Sergey Podgornny drifted half a minute ahead of the now fast moving peloton with counterattacks sure to begin soon. As Sergey is caught, Efimkin and Voigt press the pace at the front of the peloton a gap and ensues; and almost organically a large group including Alessandro Ballan, Devolder, Burghardt separate from the peloton, once the gap is gotten the thirty or so riders increase their pace.

Six laps and 120 km to go and the group has a bit over one minute on the peloton, again the chasing duties fall on the riders in orange. Over 4 hours on the road for the riders and the lead group has 1:48 on the chase. Some of the riders in the lead group are Bobby Julich, Jens Voit, Karsten Kroon, Damiano Cunego, Juan Antonio Flecha, Alessandro Ballan, Sandy Casar, Kim Kirchen, Marcus Burghardt, Robert Gesink and Philippe Gilbert

1505 CET - 5 laps to go the lead group is at 2:00 with 94 km to go as the riders roll midway into their 5th hour the pace for the last lap was at 38.4 km/h as both the peloton and the lead group play out their strategy. This is still anyone's race as the Aussies take to the front of the peloton to lead the chase. The race will likely come down to the two final circuits a 2 minute gap can't be considered definitive of victory at this stage of the race.

83 km to go, 1:20 gap. The lead group has thinned a bit in the last laps to 24; group roll call: Bobby Julich (USA), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (NOR), Kim Kirchen (LUX), Jens Voigt (GER), Carlos Barredo Llamazales (ESP) Rene Mandri (EST), Matej Stare (SLO), Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (ESP), Joaquin Rodriguez Oliver (ESP), Alessandro Ballan (ITA), Vladimir Efimkin (RUS), Damiano Cunego (ITA), Alessandro Bertolini (ITA), Robert Gesink (NED), Karsten Kroon (NED), Marcus Burghardt (GER), Simon Gerrans (AUS), Sandy Casar (FRA), Christian Pfannberger (AUT), Ruslan Podgornyy (UKR), Andriy Grivko (UKR), Johan Van Summeren (BEL), Stijn Devolder (BEL), Philippe Gilbert (BEL) und Luis Felipe Laverde Jimenez (COL).

The Australian team lead the peloton with the azzuri team of Ballerini tucked in at the front; riders continue to fall off the lead group and the peloton the latest victim to the attrition of the race being Britain's rising young star Mark Cavendish. 78 km to go and the gap is :50 seconds. The favorites moving to the front of the race as the gap comes down to half a minute. Andrea Tonti is the first to attack then Alessandro Bertolini; each attack puts pressure on the escape with Kim Kirchen the main animator driving the pace.

74 km to go. Kartsen Kroon launches an attack on Herdweg. Bruseghin has a broken chain and loses contact! Stijn Devolder falls off the back of the lead group, he looks fried, gap at 40 seconds as we finish the tenth lap.

68 km to go. Efimkin attacks out of the peloton causing a reaction that closes the gap a bit more as the Pfannberger urges his breakmates to continue working together. Spain comes to the front as they absorb the peloton and Kroon attacks takes Bertolini with him off the front in a final gasp to stay away. The peloton is stretched out as riders snap off the back and the last escapees are reeled in. Average speed for this last lap was 39 km/ph.

Alessandro Bertolini Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti

36 year old Alessandro Bertolini leads the now peloton reduced to half by the five hours of racing about to enter the last 3 laps. Bertolini will sacrifice himself to keep the pace high and burn himself out for the Italian team to discourage attacks.

1611 CET - 50 km to go and the peloton has made another selection. Alessandro Ballan has just gone off the front; Barredo and a Frenchman covered it, unwilling to work with the Classics star.Looks like Fabian Cancellara is really having to fight to stay in contact; any failings today can be placated by his time-trial triumph a few days ago. The Frenchman was Ludovic Turpin, and he's forged ahead on his own.

47 km to go - Turpin looks back - the peloton have him pegged, but he's still pressing on about 80 metres in front. With one Frenchman in front, there's another at the rear - Thomas Voeckler, battling to hold the wheel in front. Now Turpin has sat up, as the squadra azzura resume their work on the front. Cunego looks back as he does his turn and sees some Spaniards on his wheel. With still over an hour of racing to go, there will be more riders dropped.

1618 CET - Now a lot more German riders are visible - they will be super-motivated to do well today. Bertolini is still dictating the pace on the front, using his fine Autumn form and burying himself for the good of his leader. Any Brits watching, David Millar is still in there. If it comes to a sprint of 30, he has the power to be in the top ten purely thanks to his time-trialing ability.

Ciolek and Voigt are still in there - I think it's fair to say no U23 road race champion has gone on to take the senior title the year after. The peloton are about to start their penultimate lap as they ride through a wall of noise, a hotchpotch of national colours. All the favourites are still hanging tough in there. Sixty riders in the main group at this point after the selection of 200 km of and 5 hours of racing.

1625 CET - Bertolini finally comes off the front, replaced by Marcus Burghardt (Germany) at the head of affairs. But no sooner than the Selle Italia man comes away then two more men replace him for Italy... but there's a surge on the left led by Holland. Everyone wants to be as close to the front as possible, yet sheltered, in the approach to the climbs. Some good rides coming in from lesser lights like Croatian Rogina and Pole Marczynski, still in with a shot in the bunch.

Hushovd lights it up on the front up the climb! But he only has about 30 metres. Freire and Bettini are side by side, Zabel and Wegmann are there too. Hushovd has been reprised and is gritting his teeth, Millar is by him at the front. No split yet though folks... but in front, it's Matija Kvasina (Croatia) who has soloed away, in that recognisable "tablecloth" national strip.

1630 CET - Now Denis Menchov shoots past Kvasina and tries to get away. This is the Vuelta champion, he is in great spirits and form. But within a minute, it's come back together. If just a couple of people aren't willing to give it their all, it hasn't got much hope. Now a Dutchman gives it some gas on the front, but he's brought back.

Kanstantin Siutsou (Belarus) takes off now - he enjoyed a fine first Tour de France and is a former U23 road race champion to boot. Quite a pedigree there for the Barloworld man. He's taken about 5 seconds on the bunch, which is more than anyone else has done recently.

1635 CET - approximately 33 km to go... Davide Rebellin looks focused on the front as he accelerates: he's broken things up a bit! He has 10 metres on a small group led by a Spaniard. Alexandr Kolobnev now comes past him to make it a leading duo. More riders slip off the back as the riders react to the attack. Gesink is just going off the back of the peloton now, but he could well be battling it out with the stars in a few years time.

David Rebellin Photo © Fotoreporter Sirotti

So, we have two leaders in blue - the veteran Italian Rebellin and Kolobnev of Russia. It's Spanish super domestique Joaquin Rodriguez trying to bridge the gap across to this pair; they've got about 10 seconds on the bunch as CSC rider Kolobnev cranks it up on the front. Germany and Spain have to react, because these are two classy, canny riders chancing their luck now. That said, 10 seconds isn't going to worry them overly yet.

1642 CET - A lull in the pace of the bunch, and an Cadel Evans capitalizes by attacking. Now George Hincapie (who could mistake him?) closes the gap to the Aussie. 18 seconds is the deficit now to the Italo/Russian duo. The attrition of the pace has the lead group down to about 45 riders at the moment.

20 km to go. Apparently it's now 35 seconds! The Spaniards take the Toro by the horns and start to do some work. Freire, Sastre, Bettini, Beltran, Hincapie, Evans, Menchov, Sammy Sanchez, Siutsou all in this lead group. It's back down to 24 seconds, this is a strong response from the chasers. Just one kilometre before the last lap of the 2007 World Championship road race.

1648 CET - 19.1 km to go. Across the line, it's Alejandro Valverde leading and the gap is down to 15 seconds. Is Oscar Freire feeling confident then? Pipo Pozatto in the lead group. Triki Beltran now leads the chase, but there are four Italians behind him. Schumacher and Zabel are still in there, as are Davis, Freire, Hushovd and Fischer - all fast men for a sprint finish.

As the two leaders sweep round the hairpin bend, the pack has them in their crosshair. There was a crash on the approach to the final climb, and now we're on it! Kolobnev leads Rebellin on this climb, behind four riders have bridged across. Wegmann is there, a Belgian and two more.

1655 CET - Now Bettini and Pozzato put the hammer down alongside Schumacher! Wegmann and Boogerd lead the race over the top, leading a small group! Thomas Dekker, Boogerd, Millar, Frank Schleck, Gilbert...  still there. There isn't great cohesion in this group, and Boogerd and Wegmann accelerate.

A dozen riders in the lead including Schumacher, Schleck, Gilbert, Rebellin, Evans and Pozzato. Just one Spaniard - Samuel Sanchez, bronze medal last year. They have a gap but they aren't working well together at the moment. Thomas Dekker is also there for the Netherlands.

Now Sanchez gives it a dig before the downhill; Wegmann is chasing him. But no, it's all back together again. Bettini is there too by the way, he is in this group. Boogerd on the front now, what a fairytale it would be for him to win. Another rider in this group of a dozen is in-form Martin Elmiger (Switzerland), a recent winner at the GP d'Isbergues.Bettini tests the water, Philippe Gilbert responds.

14 riders - Leukemans, Kolobnev and Kroon are also in here. 14 riders in this leading group. Fifteen seconds to the bunch, the Spaniards are firing on all cylinders in the chase - Triki Beltran in the lead of the chase on the hill.

Rebellin still on the front, Leukemans is second wheel and then Schumacher third wheel, looking nervous but attentive. Now Michael Boogerd attacks, but the field is coming back to them!

Paolo Bettini attacks! He has 10 metres gap... but Frank Schleck and Schumacher come up to him.

1703 CET - 9 km to go. Three men in the lead - Paolo Bettini (Italy), Frank Schleck (Luxembourg) and Stefan Schumacher (Germany). The group shatters in the chase for the trio... Evans putting in a great effort with Kolobnev. Cadel Evans is coming across the gap with a man in blue, but these three might be coming back.

It's Kolobnev who was being towed across with Evans; now he leads the chase. Paolo Bettini is caught - five in the lead now, Schumacher not doing much work. There still isn't great urgency among the leading quintet. They could be caught. 8 riders led by Michael Boogerd and Thomas Dekker are at 10 seconds of the attack.

5 km to go. A group of eight riders is only 100 metres behind. Just over 5 kilometres to go. The eight men behind can see them, but the gap is about 10 seconds as Bettini accelerates on a drag. He gestures with his hand, implying that they need to work together.

3 kilometres left - Kolobnev on the front, the chase group can see them. Frank Schleck leads Schumacher on the front, then Bettini, Kolobnev and Evans at the back. Boogerd and Dekker riding strong in the chase.

2 km to go. Alexandr Kolobnev attacks, but he's quickly pegged back. Now Evans takes the front, then slows things down. They're all looking around. Schleck on front hesitates, tells them to come through. He doesn't want to lead it out.

One kilometre left, under the banner. It's between these men. Cadel Evans Attacks. He's caught and is marooned on the front. 500 metres to go, Schumacher second wheel, Bettini third. It should be between those two.

Kolobnev takes the front and powers... Bettini is on the outside, can he come round? PAOLO BETTINI wins! Two rainbow jerseys in a wheel, he passed the plucky Russian in the last 50 metres. The main bunch comes in 48 seconds down, looks like Freire took it...

Paolo Bettini Wins!!!!!!!!!

The chase group was about 15 seconds down on the leading five. Bettini had the presence of mind to shoot an imaginary arrow as he crossed the line. Quite a celebration!

1. Paolo Bettini (Italy)
2. Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia)
3. Stefan Schumacher (Germany)

4. Frank Schleck (Luxembourg)
5. Cadel Evans (Australia)
6 David Rebellin (Italy) +6"
7, Samuel Sanchez (Spain) +8"
8. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium)
9. Fabian Wegmann (Germany)
10. Martin Elmiger (Switzerland)
11. Thomas Dekker (Holland)
12. Michael Boogerd (Holland)

Il Grillo is in tears... he wanted this win so badly.

Davide Rebellin (Italy) Rebellin was the "best of the rest", a few seconds in front of the other riders. What a great ride by the old campaigner.

So that's three wins for Bettini this year... a stage in the Tour of California, a stage in the Vuelta and his most beautiful today in defense of his worlds road title.

"I was accused from every direction... I don't know why," a teary-eyed Bettini comments. Bettini thanks his big team, commenting on the good job they did.

George Hincapie finished in 23rd today, best ride by an American.

During the podium ceremony Bettini signals the audience for silence as the Italian anthem plays and Bettini leads the crowd in singing as the combined voices of the assembled tifosi ring from the podium ceremony into the living rooms and computers around the world.

Thanks for joining Andy and me for the live report for the final race of the World Championships in Stuttgart and thanks to Fabio for the live reports of the other competitions this week. Full results and photos from this race and the others this week. More report and photos from Stephanie Gutowski, Bart Hazen and Karen Lambrecht to come later.

Video replay available:
Race video replay available here.

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