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The British World Championships Team by Andy McGrath
 
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 10/8/2002
The British World Championships Team by Andy McGrath
 

Starting Wednesday, many of the best riders in the world will gather to battle it out in the two disciplines – the Time Trial (TT) and the Road Race (RR). The three age categories are Elite (over 23), Under 23 and Junior. However, for the women, the Under 23 category is non-existent. The Great Britain team, as always (!), have a great chance of securing some glory and I will be previewing every rider in our team with men being done first and foremost.

Men

Elite Time Trial:
David Millar of Cofidis is the current hope for British cycling and it’s not hard to see why. Britain pride themselves, seemingly, on good time trialists and Millar is no exception. Not only is he good all round, but he is truly excellent at time trials. In 2001, the Scotsman rode heroically to second place and a sliver medal in the World Championship Time Trial behind Jan Ullrich and he’ll be looking to improve on that performance to get gold. In recent years, Millar has won prologues on the Vuelta and the Tour de France and it is always handy having such an accomplished time trialists in one’s team. Although the time trial will be hotly contested, Millar could quite easily emerge as champion, especially as Ullrich, who thwarted him last year, is serving his drugs ban. I expect to see David Millar on the podium, and it may just be on the top roster.

The non travelling reserve was Stuart Dangerfield, who finished 43rd out of 52 competitors, 5”21 off the winner Jan Ullrich in the 2001 race. Hardly a week before the start of proceedings at Zolder, he was drafted in for Bradley Wiggins of FDJeux.com, who pulled out having had a tiring season. Dangerfield is determined to finish in the top half and there’s no reason to believe he will not achieve that, especially after a red hot 4th in the Duo Normand.

Under – 23 Time Trial:
Stephen Cummings is tall and powerful but, essentially, he has great time trial skills and is only 21 years old. Along with Bradley Wiggins, he won silver in the team pursuit at the World Track Championships in Belgium. Recently, this young man also helped England to Commonwealth Team Pursuit silver. It is foreseeable this young man could perform well here, as he currently in a very consistent vain of form and has high morale. Competition will be fierce but I expect Cummings will finish high inside the Top 10 – a podium finish is not out of the question.

Junior Time Trial:
Chris Penketh is a member of the British Dataphonics team and he recently finished in 15th at the Under 23 National Championships. That is so significant, however, because Penketh is only 18 years old! This year, he has been on the continent racing against more-disciplined Europeans and he won the Tour du Canton de Lagrasse, which is a fine achievement. Penketh is now established as a giant hope for the future and it’ll do his chances of becoming more established in Europe no bad if he finishes high up here, in the ITT. Ryan Connor won the Castlereagh Grand Prix in his home country of Ireland in April of this year. He hit 3rd sensationally in the Junior National TT Championships, a performance alone that assured his pick. However, Connor will find it difficult here and he will seemingly finish in the nether regions of the results!

Elite Road Race:
David Millar is also competing in this event, but by no means will this spirited young man fall behind in the race. The 25 year old from Scotland has proven he can handle road races just as ably as he can with time trials. Evidence of this includes his Stage 13 Tour de France in the 171 km Lavelanet – Beziers race. Having instigated a small breakaway, Millar held of the chasing peloton and sprinted to victory beating a host of top riders (including Michael Boogerd and Laurent Brochard) who had been in the split. Millar lies in the Top 50 of the UCI Road Rankings, which is an encouraging fact. Also in 2001, Millar won the Tour of Denmark. In this year’s recent Vuelta, Millar had edged his way impressively into the Top 10 before a couple of horrific crashes, which included him being run over, on the dreaded L’Angliru made the feisty young Scot controversially protest by walking up the mountain but not crossing the line. Later he apologized profoundly for that to his team, which was very sporting. Millar is an able sprinter so even if it goes down to a bunch sprint, there will still be hope. It is certain that the race will be very open and anyone out of a bunch of cyclists, including David, could prove triumphant.

Julian Winn is a member of the British based Pinarello RT is an impressive cyclist all round. In the Tour of Serbia (June of this year), Winn won two stages, the points jersey and finished 4th overall – a great performance. But the race that assured his inclusion in the British team was the British Road Race Championship. "It was one of those days where I was floating," grinned Winn. He attacked on the climbs and came home in first, 12 seconds ahead of the next rider. After a Tour in the Balkans, this result was brilliant. If Winn can stay in the peloton, he could be in a good position. Annoyingly, the course in Belgium is nearly completely flat, rendering possible attacks on climbs impossible. However, although he has good sprinting capabilities, it’ll be hard to beat the stars such as Mario Cipollini. Still, Winn is capable of finishing in the upper reaches of this race.

Amongst the trio of non travelling reserves is Max Sciandri, the Tuscan-Brit, who is riding for Lampre – Daikin. Although now 35 years old, Sciandri is still able to perform well – he can sprint with the best of them.

Under – 23 Road Race:
Jamie Alberts of CC Etupes is an impressive Under – 23 rider. In May, he joined a breakaway of fourteen riders only to lose on the sprint to the line in the Liege – Bastone – Liege 180 km race. And barely a month before that, he had ripped the field apart in the Under 23 National Road Championships, winning with ease with a 49 second gap to the runner up. Also, in mid September, he competed in the Tour de Moselle and finished 20th, admirably. Although Alberts has poor sprinting, he can climb superbly. However, on a flat Belgian course such as Zolder, that skill will not be of much aid to his chances. Alberts lies in the Top 200 of the Under 23 rankings and he’ll do well to carve out a good result.

Tom Southam is a promising, young, Belgian – based rider. He rides for Bloks/Nijdam. In May, he finished in the Top 30 of the Olympia Tour in Holland. In the 2000 U – 23 race, Southam broke away for 6 or so laps of the 12 lap circuit before being caught and dropped by a leading pack. Southam has a fairly aggressive style which leads to breakaways but when it comes down to the sprints, Southam isn’t particularly good. Still, he could finish in the top half if he gives an assured performance.

Yanto Barker rides for SG Bollington and, when he’s in France (a regular occurrence), he rides for VC Roubaix. Yanto has put in some solid performances this year. In the Nick Clark Memorial RR in mid September, he finished 3rd, beating Tom Southam in the process. Still, he is prone to having rather erratic form, especially after a prolific injury. So, on a good day, Barker could finish high up, especially as he sprints well. However, it’s always very hard to predict where this particular man will finish. Judging by his more recent results, it should be in the top section.

Stephen Cummings, already mentioned, is a very consistent road racer. In 1999 he won the National Road Race Championship but has struggled to re-create that form. Despite being more of a time trial specialist, Cummings is very determined and he could perform well, provided he keeps an eye on the front of the peloton for breakaways.

Mark Kelly has had an impressive year – his best performance to date being runner up in the UK Under 23 Road Championships in early May. He is only 21 but was a member of the ill-fated Linda McCartney squad that soon disbanded. Now, he rides for UC Liancourt in France Kelly is a good sprinter with a fair reputation, but it must be said he’ll do well to stay in the pack as this young man has hardly raced outside the United Kingdom. Kelly is expected to work as a domestique – to help out the team leaders, as his recent form has been excellent. Still, this race will be good experience for him if he wants to achieve his ambition of competing in the Olympics or Le Tour.

Junior Road Race:
Adam Illingworth rides for Team Keyne-Trek and he’s done well this season, finishing 4th in the Tom Simpson Memorial Classic behind U-23 rider Tom Southam. He’s also competed in the Internationale Junioren-Rundfahrt Niedersachsen in early August. Illingworth will do well just to avoid being shelled though, as he’s performed poorly when racing on the continent. Evidently Chris Penketh is handy at road racing too! In May 2001 he raced to 2nd in the Metaltek.co.uk & Arrow Signs road race, based in Britain. But he hasn’t really been able to re-create that form lately, so it’ll be an interesting race in Belgium to see if he can mix it with the big boys.

Michael Jolley finished in the Top 10 of this year’s Kingwood Festival Road Race and also competed alongside Illingworth in the Internationale Junioren-Rundfahrt Niedersachsen. He also finished 5th in the Horwich Cycling Club Carnival Races. Jolley, who rides for the top British team Compensation Group RT, outclasses other junior so he’s gained fine experience racing alongside elite riders. The ‘Zolder’ experience will undoubtedly give him more experience.

Matt Brammeier rides for Liverpool Century RC and he finished just outside the Top 10 in the Kingwood Festival Road Race. He also finished high up in the Silverbeck Rymer Eddie Soens Memorial Handicap. Brammeier, battling with the Elites in the majority of his races, has therefore had a poor season, but everything could be made worthwhile with a good performance in this race. Brammeier is also the reserve for the Junior TT.

Women

Elite Time Trial:
Frances Newstead has had a great 2002 year so. In the penultimate stage of the Ster van Walcheren (a 14 km TT) she finished 2nd. She finished 10th out of 84 in the final stage of the Holland Ladies Tour, and that itself helped her to 12th overall. Newstead is a very able time trialist, especially if the conditions are all right. She’s the current British Time Trial Champion (an accolade she won with considerable ease). Still, it’s certain that longer courses are more to her liking, as she finished 44th equal over 2.15 km in the prestigious Giro della Toscane Femminile prologue. I expect the 29 year old to finish in the Top 10 and possibly on the podium if she performs to her best.

Emma Davies rides for Team PowerBar and has been impressive over the years in various Individual Pursuits. The 23 year old (her birthday is 4 days before the beginning of the championships) finished 4th in the recent Commonwealth Games Individual Pursuit, having been crowned British champion in the sane discipline before then. Also, very recently, in the World Track Championships, she heartbreakingly finished 4th (again!) and therefore, out of the medals. I find it hard to see how Davies will finish high up, especially as he has more experience on the track than on the road. Nonetheless, we will surely see a determined, devoted performance from her.

Junior Time Trial:
Clare Spencer is Britain’s sole competitor in this category. She finished 3rd in the Junior Women’s Category and so it is a surprise that she was picked for this event in Zolder. Nonetheless, Clare is a time trial specialist and she’ll be hoping to finish near the middle overall.

Elite Road Race:
Nicole Cooke is the face of British cycling. This 19 year old is amongst a host of promising hopefuls in this event for Great Britain. Cooke, who recently secured the Young Rider title at the Giro della Toscane Femminile rides for Deia Pragma Colnago. The Welshwoman is in the Top 30 of the UCI Women Rankings and it’s not hard to see why. Last year she was World Junior TT Champion and World Junior Road Race Champion. Her potential is immense – already her Palmares is packed. She’s won many events this year, including the Trofeo Citta’ Di Rosignano, the Memorial Pasquale De Carlo and the vital Commonwealth Games Road Race, in a thrilling sprint finish. Not only can Cooke sprint superbly, but her climbing ability is good as well. In the coming years, Cooke will carry the expectations of a nation on her shoulders, but it should be a weight she can hold with ease. I hope to see Cooke on the podium and her current form suggests she will, after a blazing season so far.

Sara Symington is the battle horse of the British team. The 33 year old currently lies 37th in the World Cup standings after an excellent 8th in Montreal and so far this year, she’s won a stage in the Tour de l’Aude Cycliste Feminin and took silver in the Sydney Track World Cup event. She lies in the Top 100 of the Elite Women UCI Rankings too. Symington is established as a nimble sprinter who can almost climb well when she has too. The Zolder circuit will be to her preference and, although she may be forced to assist Nicole Cooke or Rachel Heal (like she had to in the Commonwealth Road Race), Symington could finish high up, especially if it goes down to a bunch sprint. Rachel Heal has had an excellent season, which included gaining Bronze in the Commonwealth Games – a fine achievement – and winning the final stage of the Gracia Cez – Ede, which helped her to a finish in the Top 20 overall. She also finished in the Top 20 overall at the GP Feminine International du Quebec.

Evidently, Heal is a very solid rider with good all round speed. She is one who stays near the front of the pack, so if a break comes it is likely she will follow. Heal, just inside the UCI Top 100, is very good all round and a strong showing could come from her. Frances Newstead is not only good at time trials, but she’s handy in the road races too! Her best performance this year on the longer races has undoubtedly been 3rd overall at the Ster Van Walcheren.

Newstead should do all right in the Road Race, as she’s very tenacious and competitive. Emma Davies has had a busy season, but she’s performed fairly well on the road, with a good performance at the Tour de l’Aude, amongst most things. However, the TT is more of her discipline and she’ll do well to stay up there and in contention.

Sara Waller rides for Team Letchworth and competed in the Tour de l’Aude this year. It’s expected she will help Cooke to get near the front, but Waller is on a learning curve and has done excellently just to gain entry into the GB team.

Contenders

In the Men’s TT, you can expect Uwe Peschel of Germany or the recently crowned Vuelta champion Aitor Gonzalez to challenge Millar strongly. Peschel recently won the GP of Nations with a fine performance whilst the Kelme man sensationally won the final time trial and therefore won the overall Vuelta. Santiago Botero of Colombia or Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland could also spring a surprise and become victorious.

For the Men’s Road Race, many competitors could win – possibly a hundred could triumph! However, the course is made for sprinters and Mario Cipollini, Eric Zabel (who could just not win a stage in the recent Vuelta) or Alessandro Petacchi are just a few big names who could win in the race. This will definitely be very open though.

The Under 23 TT will be very hard to predict. However, Tomas Vaitkus of Lithunia, recent winner of the U23 GP des Nations, will be threatening, as will Rasmus Dyring of Denmark and Dutchman Peter Weening. Mikhail Timochine is one of the favourites to win in the Under 23 Road Race as he sprints strongly, finished 2nd in the European U-23 Championships Road Race and currently occupies top spot on the UCL rankings. But Frenchman Christopher Kern outsprinted Timochine to win the Liege – Bastone – Liege race and he will be favoured in a bunch sprint. Mark Scanlon of Ireland, who recently signed a professional contract with AG2r after impressing as a domestique for them, has found his form after a knee injury and he’ll be closely watched.

The Men’s Junior TT may be won by SwedeThomas Lovkist, who has won numerous time trials over the course of the season. However, Thomas Dekker of The Netherlands is considered to be the best time triallist in the Junior ranks and he will be under pressure to win.

Slovakian UCL No. 1 Matej Jurco also has excellent time trailing skills, though he finished 2nd to Dekker by 40 seconds in the final TT stage of this year’s Tour de Lorraine. If he is not injured, Jurco is hotly tipped to win the Men’s Junior Road Race. He specialises in making breaks from the peloton and then sprinting powerfully. Even in the situation of a bunch sprint, the Slovakian would be favoured. Others who may win include Mark Jamieson of Australia, Jos Harms of The Netherlands and Olivier Stiler-Cote of the USA. However, like all road races, this will be a very unpredictable race.

In the Women’s TT, the diminutive Canadian Genevičve Jeanson is strongly fancied to take gold as she has won many time trials, including the Redlands Classic. Judith Arnt of Germany and Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden may emerge as challengers, but with Jeanson in such magnificent form, it’s hard to see anyone beating her. Still, Ljungskog can beat anyone at her best so the race is not at all a foregone conclusion.

The Women’s Road Race will be very open. Petra Rossner of Germany will be watched closely as she is arguably the best sprinter in the race. Melchers may also figure in the Road Race as she sprints well, but it will be very difficult for her to overcome the best sprinters. Magali Le Floch may also produce a shock and win, as she is very quick come the final few metres. Undoubtedly, this race will be closely fought.

The Women’s Junior TT, I expect, will be very tight. Miranda Vierling of The Netherlands is amongst a group of young women who could win. Luis Keller of Germany and Svetlana Semchuk of The Ukraine will pose a significant threat too.

In the Women’s Junior Road Race, there is a very good Lithuanian contingent, with riders such as Agne Bagdonaviciute and Agne Radzeviciute leading their team (and seemingly the unpronounceable name competition!). These two have a firm grip on junior cycling, with Bagdonaviciute winning the Omnitel Cup and Radzeviciute coming 3rd. The dominant pair were split by Luis Keller and she could challenge. I wouldn’t count out a surprise though, as these three riders will be watched intensely by the other competitors.

 
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