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The First Part of the Rainbow
By Anita van Crey
Date: 10/8/2002
The First Part of the Rainbow
A little orange sun peeping through the cloudy sky above Zolder. In the early mornings of this day of the world championships the sun seemed to be shining a bit more on Dutch Christa Pirard. Daughter of former racer Frits Pirard and current girlfriend of Dutch hope Bobbie Traksel did not know what to expect of todays timetrial. A lot of fans did not seem to matter and showed up at the borders of the circuit. Amongst them a very nervous mom and dad and a equally emotioned to-be family in law.

When a fast riding Christa appears on the big screen, Bobbie decides he wants to go the the finish line to be there for her. No badge and a lot of fences would keep him from doing so, but the smart Raborider finds his way around that and end up behind the finish line. Fences are climbed, so are walls, a little help from someone with press accreditation is accepted, security is misled. On his way he gets accompanied by the mother and father and little sister of Christa. The sudden ring of Bobbie's cellphone disturbes the nervous chatting. Christa on the line. She tells she already had done an interview with the Belgian TV. Bobbie's smile reaches both ears. Standing behind the finish line he and the parents of the young Dutch rider are being interviewed by the there present Dutch press. They seem less concentrated though, spent most of their time looking around if Christa is anywhere in sight.

After a few moments Bobbie can't take the pressure anymore and takes of again to find his girl. The parents do their bit of walking around and later on are directed to the right place to be by their daughter using the headcoach's cell phone. The parents take off and find on their way Bobbie accompanied by the younger sister of Christa, waiting near another fence, too big to climb. Soon Christa appears on the other site, smiling. Greeted by her parents and boyfriend Bobbie she attracts the attention of the press again. She tells her story, with intervals when another rider approaches the finish line. In the end she misses the podium by 2 places, finishing fifth...a place which is in the words of head coach Gerrie Knetemann "better than the fourth..." The timetrial is won by Italian Anna Zugno, who has major trouble keeping her eyes dry at the vicory ceremony. On the podium she is accompanied by her landswoman Tatiana Guderzo and German Claudia Hecht.

The day commences, still not many spectators lining the autorace circuit. The most of the people present are in some way or another related to the riders. The more and more present orange sun could be a good sign for the young Dutch rider Niels Scheuneman, trying this year again to take the rainbow jersey home. When being interviewed by the Belgian TV, national champion Stef Clement states loud and clear when being asked if the course is more one for the Belgian big hopes Kevin de Weert and Sebastien Rosseler or for his countryman Scheuneman. Of course it's Scheunemann, itīs about time according to the young Dutch that the jersey crosses the border northwise. USA Mark Fitzgerald too was pleased with his timetrial. He did not have that much of a good preparation for it, hearing at the last moment that he could compete in Zolder. He hoped to finish in the top ten, which turned out aimed a little bit too high, in the final results he is placed at the 31st place. He sure was confident in his form, having raced some of the better pros in the Brandenburg Rundfahrt. Expecting a lot too he is of Michael Creed who had the entire European competition wondering what kind of gear he was using on the bike. Whatever gear it was, it was good enough for the 17th place. Niels Scheuneman too did not reach far enough for a medal, in the overall he is found back on the 8th spot. Being one of the youngest he knows he still has several years to grow.

Lithuanian rider Tomas Vaitkus showed his good form in winning. His coach from the Italian Ghia team he is riding for kept on being surprised in how much the rider could attack. In every race he starts he attacks and attacks and attacks states the coach. Tomas himself tells in broken English via various interpreters that the first kilometres were hard. He above all had the wind to compete. His Italian coach thinks big of the promising racer. Last year in Lisbon they already saw his potential, but by then the Lithuanian coach would let him ride only on the track. In preparation of this timetrail he rode the GP de Nations which he won and a big timetrial in France, which he won too. After about a day in the car driving south to the southern part of Italia the next day he once again attacked and attacked and attacked. And won the race. And yes he will turn pro, but in his own pace as he says, not before the end of next year. Vaitkus, smiling his head off on the podium, was sided by a very good riding Portuguese Sergio Paulinho (last year in Lisbon 5th in the timetrail, now in third place) and Russian rider Alexandr Bespalov.

The sun descends over Zolder, leaving the first part of the full rainbow on the streets...

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