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World Champs U23 Mens Road Race Report
By Podofdonny
Date: 10/10/2003
World Champs U23 Mens Road Race Report

Race Synopsis

Fourth placed in last year's race, Sergey Lagutin of Uzbekistan won the Under-23 men's crown in Hamilton at the world road championships. The 22-year-old proved to be the hardest man against two other hard men - Belgian Johan Van Summeren and Thomas Dekker (Netherlands). 172.2km of  racing completed in 4hr 14min 05sec was enough to allow a break of 8 men to outfox the peloton.

Lagutin, constantly at the front of the race, had always looked strongest on Beckett Drive - (a climb that Bettini must relish), and rode a very aggressive race. On the final bend Dekker made the early move, Van Summeren and Lagutin were strong enough to respond, but the rider from Uzbekistan powered on to win by half a bike length.

Also see our live coverage here.

At the After Race Press Conference

By Marianne O'Brien in Hamilton

The hero of the day, Sergey Lagutin, was a very shy boy on stage. He has won against the odds and has put the disappointment of Zolder, where he came in 4th last year, behind him. He was very emotional upon winning, and when asked about it he said, "If I am emotional this year it is because I have won this year!”

Of course his virtual solo performance to victory is more dramatic if you consider team tactics. Muradjan Khalmuratov was Sergey Lagutin’s only teammate. As he tactfully reminded the press when asked if team tactics played a part in a course like, this he said, "For this race team tactics were not useful for me because we only had 2 guys, but for bigger teams it would help."

So Gold for Uzbekistan, a country like Liechtenstein, one of the only two doubly landlocked countries in the world. A remarkable double effort by Muradjan Khalmuratov and champion Sergey Lagutin to take on the big guys and win.

Italy suffered bad luck during the race, but Holland and Belgium almost rode the perfect race - when Thomas Dekker was asked about team tactics he replied, "We got two guys in the break which was good because it allowed us to work together. In the last regroupment there were two Italians, but the man they were riding for was stuck back in the peloton; he must be unlucky…"

Johan Van Summeren said, "We always had someone in front, and for the break we had two in front which was good. I think the team tactics worked."

So say the podium boys from U23 today!

Spotlight on the winner

By Fabio

World Champion Serguey Lagutin of Uzbekistan (and Zoccorinese-Palazzago)
Image courtesy of Zoccorinese-Vellutex-Palazzago

The “Zoccorinese” Factor: Are you a young rider from the former USSR ? Do you want to become a World Champion ?? All you gotta do is move to Italy and sign a contract with Zoccorinese-Vellutex. Indeed the strong amateur team based in Seregno, a city located a few miles NW of Milan, can boast a rider in rainbow colors for the third straight year.

In 2001 it was Ukraine’s Yaroslav Popovych that smoked opposition (another Zoccorinese rider, Giampaolo Caruso, was the last one to get dropped) and soloed to victory in Lisbon. The following year it was the turn of a Time-Trialist, Lithuanian Tomas Vaitkus, who grabbed the gold medal in the “race of the truth”.

Then came Lagutin and his winning sprint in Hamilton, which brought Uzbekistan’s green, white and blue colors back into limelight for the first time since the age of “legendary” sprinter Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, whose “duels” with Mario Cipollini wrote a significant page in the great cycling of the early 90s.

Serguey Lagutin - Some Data: The newest Road World Champion comes from deep inside Central Asia: Serguey Lagutin was born on January 14, 1981, in the Eastern Uzbek town of Fergana, an ancient and significant city on the Silk Road in past times, located not far from a Valley (the Fergana Valley) also known as “the Garden of Uzbekistan”.

Lagutin is 1.82 m. tall, and raced for Fergana’s local cycling team from 1992 to 1998, just to move to Italy in 1999, as he signed a first contract with Palazzago (Zoccorinese). After another season at Fergana, he was back to Zoccorinese in the year 2001. Last year he became Uzbekistan’s National Road Champion. A success he couldn’t repeat in 2003, as he lost to MBK-Oktos’ pro rider Sergeï Krushevskiy in both the ITT and RR. Lagutin competed with the pros in some “open” races too, and took home a decent second place in the Croatian ”Trofej Plave Lagune-Porec II”, in the past month of February. But of course he got his best results, including a World Cup race success. when competing in contests reserved Under-23 and Elite-2 riders.

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