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Southern Sun in Zolder
By Anita van Crey
Date: 10/11/2002
Southern Sun in Zolder
Today's day for sure was Botero's day, it was one fine day for the timetrialers. Racing on such a flat course with so less curves it just couldn't get any better. Best it was in the opinions of most the timetrailers who had to work down their 40.4 kilometers in a once again sunny Zolder. This World Championships must have a good omen, one that shined today on Colombian Santiago.

"This course just was perfectly cut out for me. I felt good right from the start, found very quickly my best position on the bike. When I heard the intermediates I knew it went well. On my way I just played a little with the wind. With headwind I had to fight really really hard, but I was able to recuperate when the wind blew in my advantage. My last ten k. were the best. I learned that in the individual track pursuit, always to save some for last. After the Vuelta I was no bad and no good. Not as last year when I did have great form when I came out of the Tour of Spain. Now I just prepared myself for this race, did do some training, about two hours a day. Then did some fast speeding after a car, just to prepare myself the best way possible. No, I'm not that sorry that Lance Armstrong did not race here. And yes, maybe it would be a bigger thing if I had won the medal when he too competed, but I have beaten him in the past already. I think all riders came as prepared as could be, so no presents were given. Normally I had to start second last, but for some reason that got changed by someone from the UCI. I just rode my own race.....and won it."

Habla Espanol?

When Botero beat the up-to-then fastest time the Colombian radioman took over in his tongue the Spanish joy which was broadcasted through the air. On the podium too and later on in the press conference both Spanish speakers never stopped talking smilingly to one another. It looked like Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano almost seemed happier with the gold for Botero than he was with his own medal. "I had my doubts before I came to Zolder, I did not really know how I could be doing. The selectors apart from this did put their trust in me, I'm very gratefull to have had the opportunity to show here my best. I prepared the best I could, did the best I could. And got this medal for it. Our communication over the radio was more or less out of order, so our mechanic had to shout the intermediates to me. Don't know if that made a difference, guess not. It was a fight between me and myself. This course just was cut out for timetrialers like us. It's the best for a specialist. I did already race Rich in the Tour of Germany, so I knew what he was able of. And as for Botero, he is just outstanding class."

Split mind

Michael Rich caused himself nearly a dislocated shoulder when he started waving to the stands where lot of German flags appeared when he stepped foot on the podium. His smile reached both ears. Later he explained he though he was very happy with the medal had a sort of split mind to it whilst missing the gold by again such few seconds. "This time there were only eight seconds between me and the winner. Don't know if it had made a difference when I had known the split times of Botero or Gonzalez de Galdeano. Same as the others said, this course is one made for us and hey, the wind is for everybody."

Big guns

When the big guns started to note down their times, both Dylan Casey and Chris Horner sit aside on their bikes watching this stiff competition completing their over 40 kilometres. "Those guys are from another planet, not in our league, " Prime Alliance rider Horner says. "My legs today were no good. I am just glad its over. The course was good, the bike was good, but I just could not do any better than I did. This race was cut out well, not too many technical difficulties, not too many curves, all the aerodynamics were right. How did I prepare for this one? I spent the last three weeks doing dry runs of it. On Sunday I will be riding the road race too. Since we have a guy named Fred Rodriguez in our squad, I think the team will mostly work for him. Trying to get him in breakaways, that kind of stuff."

Casey adds, agreeing with his countrymen: "Just glad it's all behind me now, just wanna go back to the hotel. Sure it is nearby, but we can not cross the course anywhere, so we are just stuck here. After Millar gets in, we go home..... We (Chris and I) finished second in the US national timetrials, but we for sure have some good timetrialers in the US. Of course there is Lance, but also Levi Leipheimer and for instance, Floyd Landis can do well in such a ride." Horner finished on level 36, while Casey beamed himself to the 28th one.

A joyful three on the podium added some southern flavour and helped a lot of weather predictions to be more wrong than ever...however some rain is predicted for Sunday...

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