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The Ultimate - Elite Men's Road Race
 
By Anita van Crey
Date: 10/12/2003
The Ultimate - Elite Men's Road Race
 

Good afternoon and welcome to live coverage of the World Championships, the elite men's road race.

Follow the action with regular updates here at DP, with the commentary of Podofdonny and Anita van Crey (Press the F5 key to refresh this page and view the latest information.

09.00 Hamilton time
The men took the start. All different colors, from Azzurri blue to Dutch orange and black show up in the front lines. At the minute the starting gun popped at 9 o'clock local time, the rain began to start dropping down also.

If we look purely at weather conditions, for sure it is Oscar Camenzind from Switzerland who is feeling at his best. Some years ago in a rain-pouring Valkenburg he proved to be the best in the mens road race.

In recent days lots of riders shared their thoughts about the course. It was Peter van Petegem for Belgium who started to believe more and more in his chances. Also the course seems to be drawn for George Hincapie to do well. And when the Dutch showed a short peak in their box, the men in orange seemed to be all in great spirit, ready to conquer the world and the other riders.

The rain made the roads wet. In the first lap we see a big crash, with main victim Oscar Sevilla, who is forced to quit the race.

The crash put down also Fabio Sacchi (Ita) and Rik Reinerink (Hol). They manage to fight their way back into the bunch. The slippery roads make the riders most anxious to be in the best positions at all times. In the frontlines we also see Levi Leipheimer.

As main favorites, we can count also Erik Zabel and Paolo Bettini. Other dark horses, so to say, can well be Kim Kirchen (Lux) and Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Nor), as well as Swiss Alexander Moos. In the early rows we see a lot of more or less relaxed blabbering going on. Since the race is 260 km. long there still is way enough time to make the right decision when to place the final attack or prepare best for a (massive or not) sprint.

Today's race has drawn a lot of spectators to the roadsides of this world championships today. They now watch the Italian squadra making their best effort to control the race already. What will their tactic be today, will they try and make it a hard race so more or less pure sprinters will suffer much? In the descent once again a crash, it is Moncoutie who hits the ground, made more slippery caused by the fallen leaves. It looks like an icy-competition as it was in Oslo, where lots of riders did not make it to the end of the race due to crashes. When the bunch enters the third lap it is Matthé Pronk (normally riding for the Dutch Bankgiroloterij team) who sets the pace. It is Swede Larsson who still is down caused by the crash. Milan Kadlec is the next forced out of the race. Others that went down to the asphalt were Konyshev, Popovych and Scirea. Gustav Erik Larsson is taken to hospital.

09.55 Hamilton-time
Riders make sure they ride the sides of the roads not covered by leafs. When they cross the finishline it is Italian Noe who is the first to go into the next lap. He is followed by Sebastian Lang (Ger) and Swiss Daniel Schnider. Amongst the first we see 2 Italian riders, 2 Dutch, 2 men from Slovania, 1 German rider, 1 from Estonia, 1 Tchech and 1 Swiss.

The other countries show their faces up front too. Austria, Columbia and Russia take their part of the action. It is Luca Paolini who lead the bunch into the fourth lap, followed by his countryman Giovanni Lombardi and Victor Hugo Pena.

10.15 Hamilton time
The race is one hour on its way. The riders take their time to conquer the second climb in the lap. It seems Sacchi still is suffering the side-effects of his fall, he visited the race-doctor several times since he went down.

When the riders pass down the leaf-covered corners on the descent they adjust their pace. The peloton takes a long shape when they cruise with an average of just over 36 kmh into the fifth lap. The Spanish camp lost in Sevilla one big helper for the other main fav for this world title, Oscar Freire. The Spanish double world champion worked himself into shape in races in Italy and can aim as the best for a great result when it comes to battling out the rainbow jersey.

Due to a mechanical problem it is Bobby Julich who is forced to pull out off the race. At least so it looks like, but he changes bikes in the box-area. He already has to fight down a gap of over two minutes back to the pack. The riders are climbing Beckett Drive.

10.27 Hamilton time
It are the Dutch who are trying to make the race a bit harder. Rik 'Brutus' Reinerink seriously sets the pace higher. He is a well valued rider in the Dutch camp, a Dutch camp who already is more successfull than ever with seven medals (two gold by juniors Loes Markerink and Kai Reus in the road races, silver and bronze by Loes Markerink and Iris Slappendel in the time trial for the junior women, silver in the women road race by Mirjam Melchers, silver also by Niels Scheunemann in the U23 timetrail and bronze by Thomas Dekker in the U23 roadrace).

It seems Erik Zabel is suffering mechanical problems, but he still has enough time to come back into the bunch. The next to attack is another man in orange. It is Koos Moerenhout who is the next angle in the Dutch offence to bring the rainbowjersey home to Holland. His countryman Gerben Löwik, in very good shape these days with winning both the stagerace Ster Elektro Toer and Circuit Franco-Belge, has some closeby supporters here in Hamilton as well. His father and sister are lining up the road, wearing their orange t-shirts with www.gerbenlöwik.nl printed on it. His mum would have been their, but she suffered a little stroke, had to stay in hospital for some days and had to give the trip to Canada a forfait. She though will be nailbiting be yelling towards the tele to support her son.

10.40 Hamilton time
Cancellara tries his luck and searches his way to lonesome Moerenhout, who still is in the lead after six laps. A Brit is eager to show too, he is immediately followed by another orange guy. Moerenhout has a lead of just over twenty seconds.

National coach Ballerini was that impressed by the way Dario Frigo did in these Hamiltondays, that he (with the coursemap drawn out on the back of his mind) to let the iceman ride the roadrace as well. Julich sees the impossibilties of his attempt in rejoining the back of the pack and quits the race. Moerenhout increases his gap to the peloton to 40 seconds.

10.47 Hamilton time
Some news from the transferfront: Michele Bartoli (2 years)and Frank Hoj (1 year) signed a contract with the Danish CSC-team. Moerenhout cruises nicely along, hands on his stear. The bunch let him do, 1.25 seconds ahead. Moerenhout is 28 years old, his most important win was the 4th stage in the Tour de Basque. During his carreer he has suffered some more injuries. The British team is very unbeat afetr Millars stunning victory in the TT - Millar said about todays race -It’s going to be incredibly hard,” Millar said, “and I doubt if any great tactical nuance will be required to be up at the front. I’m just going to do my best to stay with the best for as long as possible. I’ve fulfilled my objectives now, so anything else is a bonus.”

The British team also have riding Wegelius , Sciandri and Brit RR Champ Hammond - who has had an excellent season . Hammond is ranked at 100 to 1 outsider - but the medal boost from Cooke and Millar may give him that extra burst of confidence.

10.57 Hamilton time

15 laps to go, the weather gets better and better, though rain is predicted for lets say the last some hours of the race. Moerenhouts gap has increased to over one and a half minute. Bruylandts suffers a puncture but is able to close in quiet easyly. Koos Moerenhout now has 1'45'' on the peloton he won the fourth stage of the Internationale Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt 2003 earlier this year and has given the Dutch the ractical advantage. He is a big fan of the Counting Crows when it comes to music.

Koos Moerenhout tackles the climb of Beckett Drive - fortunately the weather is beginning to dry out. Frenchman Maryan Hary is trying to close down the gap to the leader and Victor Hugo Pena, who rides in between the bunch and Moerenhout. The notorious VH Pena attacks of the front of the pack on Becketts climb - his yellow Columbian jersey reminding us all of his days in Yellow in the TdF.

11.05 Hamilton time
Some riders in the counterattack.Hary of the French team bridges the gap to Pena as does Cesta , Sylwester Szmyd (Poland) as Moerenhout powers on. German rider Sebastian Lang also bridges too the escapees. The pack round the corners quiet smoothly.

The peloton heads down Wellington street - pretty compact with Italy controlling the front - how many times have we seen that in this worlds and yet Italy has not had huge success in these Championships. Moerenhout is half way through the seventh lap. He is married to former cyclist in the women bunch, Edith Klep. The speed of the peloton is slowly rising - lap by lap at the minute the average is 38.219 KM/h. Koos Moerenhout rides for Lotto- Domo his lead still around 1'10 and Pena again tries to leave the peloton behind. It seems to be less Americans crossed the borders to come to Hamilton as they propably would have done so when mr. five times (who goes by the name of Armstrong) would have been competing. And since his main opponent in the last held Tour de France, Jan Ullrich, also is not there, German journalists decided it was not worthwhile the trip to Canada as well. Very large crowds this afternoon - giving the race a good atmosphere - many will have crossed the border and will be supporting the USA team - Koos Moerenhout starts lap 7.

11.18 Hamilton time
Pena continues his lonely chase in no mans land 1'14 behind and the peloton is 16'' behind him. The USA team today is: Christopher Baldwin (Nvr), David Clinger (Pri), George Hincapie (Usp), Chris Horner (Sat), Tim Johnson (Sat), Bobby Julich (Tel), Floyd Landis (Usp), Levi Leipheimer (Rab), John Lieswyn (7Up), Mark McCormack (Sat), Fred Rodriguez (Vin) and Guido Trenti (Fas). Bobby Julich has abandoned - but they still have a lot of men in support for team leader George Hincapie - the team sixzes are worked out by the number of UCI points each nation has - ironically the two big points winners for USA , Armstrong and Hamilton are not riding.

11.24 Hamilton time
In the bunch present are two riders who have allready battled out in a direct sprint a world title. In San Sebastian in the U23 category it was Norwegian Kurt-Asle Arvesen who won over homerider Oscar Freire. At present race Freire suffers a puncture, but gets back into the peloton quick. The smaller nations such as Luxembourg only get two riders ( Kim Kirchen (Fas) and Benoit Joachim (Usp)) while Belarus will depend on Phonaks sprinter Aleksandr Usov only.

11.30 Hamilton time
Rain fills the air, it seems to be only a matter of time untill it will be pouring down again. The Plouay world champion Romans Vainsteins shows his nose in the lead. Björnar Vestöl (Norway) tries to join Pena - while the peloton is showing no reaction to the three men in front. Koos Moerenhout still leading the race after 2hours 30 minutes of racing - most experts are predicting a finish of around thrity riders since they do not think the course is selective enough to reduce the field anymore than that - however as they always say -it is not the course but how it is ridden. Koos Moerenhout leads followed by Pena and Björnar Vestöl trying to bridge the gap - while the German lead peloton does not seem to bothered by these three men.

11.36 Hamilton time
Some people in the crowds are throwing water towards Pena on the climb. He signals to them he does not like that.Björnar Vestöl , the third of the chasers hasbeen a pro since 1998 when he joined Acceptcard - in 2000 he was a member of the ill fated Linda Mc Cartney Racing Team before he joined team Fakta - and it is Italy leading the peloton into Lap 8 while Koos Moerenhout's lead extends to 2'24''. Vestol has the same age of Moerenhout, they both are 29. Pena seems to have ahard job in trying to join Moerenhout in the lead. The colors of the bunch minglle when the peloton stuggles up to the top of the climb.Up Beckett Drive climb again - Koos Moerenhout has 50 '' on Pena - who might be advised to wait for Björnar Vestöl who is just 15 seconds behind him. Vestol originates from the same town in Norway as the big Norwegian strong rider Thor Hushovd does. During the season Björnar lives in Belgium.

Certainly , the Colombian tifosi who will be listening to this race will be hugely pleased to see Pena once again show his colours at the front of the race - the Colombian team in todays race is: Félix Cárdenas Ravelo (Col-L2c), César A.Grajales (Jit), Israel Ochoa Plazas (Col-*El.2), Victor H.Pena Grisales (Usp) and Marlon Pérez Arango (Col-Orb). While the gap to the bunch is biog enough (nearly three minutes) Moerenhout decides to wait for his followers Pena and Vestöl.As the peloton heads up Beckett Drive Koos Moerenhout still has 2'50''

11.45 Hamilton time
We will have a trio of leaders who will be able to share the work load - now a team in the peloton must take responsibility or these three birds could fly away. Frigo in the meantime switches bikes. Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands) in Orange , Victor Pena (Colombia) in yellow , Bjornar Vestol (Norway) in red make a colourful trio at the head of the race and are working well together 2'40 back the pelton is lead by the Italians and Germans with a wedge of Stars and Stripes shirts just behind the leaders.

Freire is the man who excells most in sleeping through a race. He can as the best ride a more or less boring race like this. Once upon a time at the worlds in Lissabon the Spanish team went training and checking out the course. While awaiting a red light, Oscar 'fell asleep' and dreamed away. When he woke up again he discovered his mates gone. There he was, in the middle of a town he hardly know, with no name of his hotel or street to remembered. He searched for some while untill he asked a taxidriver to escort him back to what he remembered to be close to the Spanish hotel. And so after about an hour search Freire was delivered back to the hotel. Spanish hope he will wake up this time in time to sprint for success again.

Pena was born in Bogotà, Colombia and turned professional in 1997 with Telekom Flavia - he rode for a couple of seasons with Vitalicio Seguros before joining US Postal - he won stage 4 of the Vuelta Ciclista a Murcia this year and got national headlines when he wore the Yellow jersey.

11.58 Hamilton time
The bunch cruises around at an average of 38 KM/h. The three escapees go through the feed zone - as in the peloton the Dutch move to the front - presumably to slow things down the gap is now 2'50". Having seen the course more closely Eddy Merckx has changed fhis prediction - he was backing Bettini but told the Daily Peloton just before the race started he now fancies Erik Zabel.

Yaroslav Popovych has kept to the front of the peloton very well so far - he has a good team in support and could well surprise this afternoon - his team is :Volodymyr Bileka (Lan), Vladimir Duma (Lan), Ruslan Gryschenko (Lan), Volodymir Gustov (Fas), Serhiy Honchar (Dnc), Yuriy Krivtsov (Del)and Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Dve). Behind the wheels of the national cars we see some former riders, like there are Antequera for Spain, Kvalsvoll for Norway, Knetemann for Holland, Berard for France and De Cauwer for Belgium. All strong riders who will be determined to help their man. The trio of escapees head up Upper James Street - while the peloton tackles the climb of Becketts Drive - still all together , massed across the wide highways of Canada.

12.06 Hamilton time
It again are Cancellara and Reinerink who counterattack. The bunch seems to be a bit more alive in this lap, just over half way race. Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands), Victor Pena (Colombia), Bjornar Vestol (Norway) still lead the race and they head down Wellington Street as Rik Reinerink (Holland) and Fabian Cancellara (Swis) try to bridge the gap.

Belohvosciks also has quit the race. So the Dutch easily the most active team in this race so far - sending men down the road , all of which is good news for the other Dutch riders who can "relax" in the bunch - the Dutch team today: Michael Boogerd (Rab), Jan Boven (Rab), Bram de Groot (Rab), Steven de Jongh (Rab), Erik Dekker (Rab), Maarten den Bakker (Rab), Karsten Kroon (Rab), Gerben Löwik (Bct), Koos Moerenhout (Lot), Matthé Pronk (Bct), Rik Reinerink (Bct) and Bram Schmitz (Bct). A very powerful squad who may find this course very similar to the Amstel Gold race and enjoy it. The peloton a compact wedge - with German , Spanish and Italian teams at the front. 10 laps done, 11 laps to go. 136 long kilometres to decide who will succeed Cipollini in wearing the rainbowjersey.

Hincapie also near the front of the peloton - keeping out of trouble - he has a big squad in support as the three leaders start lap 11 - John Herety confirms that the GB team will be supporting Millar 100% - as the Italian team lead the peloton which is now 2.45 and the Italians begin to up the speed and stakes. Van Petegem (Bel) told before: "The only lap that matters to me will be the last lap.....".

12.21 Hamilton time
The pace is set higher, the gap is diminishing. Next year the World Championships will be held in Verona. The calendre has changed a bit, Paris-Tours will be the week áfter the Worlds. When Bettini will take part in the championships in his homecountry he will know what to look for when he goes out training. Five years ago when the Worlds were held in Verona too, he went out training with his compatriots. The ended up at the course when the juniors had to start their race. Even though there where some major gaps in between fences that were lining the roads, Paolo could not find his way out and decided to stick around to watch the little Italians and others do their job. The rest of the team got back to the hotel and spend some hours wondering where tiny Bettini did take off too.

The "Squadra Azzurra" - pile the presssure on and what a great team they have - Ivan Basso (Fas), Paolo Bettini (Qsd), Francesco Casagrande (Lam), Danilo Di Luca (Sae), Dario Frigo (Ita), Giovanni Lombardi (Dve), Cristian Moreni (Als), Daniele Nardello (Tel), Andrea Noe (Als), Luca Paolini (Qsd), Fabio Sacchi (Sae)and. Mario Scirea (Dve). The gap starts to fall dramatically down to 1' now as they speed down Claremount Acess. The peloton one long string now with Mark McCormack (Sat) the last man in line. The sky starts to show some more Azzuri-spots as well, as the Hamilton skies want to support the Italian ride for gold.

12.30 Hamilton time
Cancellara tries his luck once again. The man from Bern is a former world champion timetrail. He was educated in the tradeteam III of Mapei, together with for instance Evgeni Petrov. With 124 k. to go the attack of the "Squadra Azzurra" at the front of the peloton has finished and once again Fabian Cancellara attacks to try and bridge the gap - maybe the young specialist against the clock has been inspired by Longo's great ride of yesterday!

Koos Moerenhout (Netherlands), Victor Pena (Colombia), Bjornar Vestol (Norway) the three leaders - Fabian Cancellara chasing the peloton - still Italian led 43'' behind. Cancellara joins the three in the lead while the Portuguese rider Lopez does not succeed in doing the same.

12.36 Hamilton time
In professional world championships we allways see the cross overs between the teams one rides for every day and the national team one rides only one day a year for. The line between paycheck and national pride can be a thin line. Cyclesports quotes that former pros say shorts are more important than the jersey..... Considered this the job Ballerini did succesfully complete last year was an even more impressive one.

Tesar from Tchechia quits the race. Another group (of about 18 men) tries its luck in a counterattack. Present are amongst others Bruylandts and Löwik and also Trenti and Montgomery. At the back of the pack we see Wim van Sevenant showing his food-getting skills for the Belgian squad. The gap is down to 25".

12.55 Hamilton time
Nine laps to go, the four in the lead have set the pace up to over 40 KM/h. Britains Roger Hammond and Axel Merckx set the pace of the bunch a bit higher. Merckx is building a house near Vancouver, the city his wife Jody originated. from. Sosenka and Rutkiewicz quit the race. Van Goolen and Mitchell show up in the frontlines. The break of Moerenhout and co. is history. The peloton gets longer and longer while the pace gets higher and higher. The bunch seems to get mor active as the race proceeds. The race will get more and more nervous towards the end, who will hold his horses long enough to be the utter most happy at the end?

It are the Italians who together with the Dutch are trying to make the race as hard as can be to provide the fact from happening too many sprinters will be present in the front lines at the end of the battle. Sacchi has found his better legs and does a big part of the job. It now is Karsten Kroon (Hol) who attacks together with German Andreas Klier (winner of Gent-Wevelgem) and Floyd Landis. A Spanish and Portugues rider try to join them, while Moerenhout pays for his attack and has to let the pack go.

Frigo seems to have found himself a new hobby, he is closing all the gaps on behalf of the Azzuri. Mizourow from Kazachstan shows his nice blue jersey in the lead. It is six riders in the front now, a small gap though. Pena punctures.

13.11 Hamilton time
The big names hide nicely between the wheels. Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano seems to have recovered well from his respirationproblems he suffered in the timetrail whilst he is setting up the pace smoothly for Freire. Pena and Moerenhout quit the race. One of the Spanish riders (Luis Perez) now takes over the offensive. He is followed by amongst others Landis (USA), Scirea (Ita), Kroon (Hol), Brandt (Bel), Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano and Mizourov (Kaz). Another crash takes place, Krupa (Pol) tumbles down on the asphalt. The ones in the lead see their gap grow to half a minute allready.

Perez's advantage to the first ones in the bunch is less than twenty seconds in the descent of Clairmont Access. It still is one tactical race, tend to get a boring ride. The Dutch do not await. Sunderland (Aus), Noe(Ita) follow the action as close by as they can. Long and stong and mean Rik Reinerink (Hol)proves his election to compete here in Hamilton right and hurts the others in setting the pace higher. The other promising one, Tom Boonen from belgium tries to keep up with him. The Dutch have Löwik in the lead too, the USA has Horner, the Germans have Aldag present there. Trenti (half US, half Italy) joins up with Moreni (Ita) and Rinero (former King of the Mountains in the Tour de France, from France). The eight in the lead have secured a nice gap.

13.28 Hamilton time
The riders head for the Beckett Drive climb. When one attack, Italy and Spain make sure they have one or more men present.

Current gap is 25 seconds.

Moreni (Ita), Wegmann (Ger), Rinero (Fra), Guilbert (Bel) and Den Bakker (Hol) now have a lead of 35 seconds. The Italians and Spaniards ride an attentive race.

78 kilometres to go, Chavanel (Fra) moves up to the frontlines as well. In the group in the lead Mancebo and Zberg are also present.

MiMi Chavanel from Chatellerault, France, is a great young prospect and he too must hav been inspired by "The Legend" Longo's ride yesterday. Interesting to see Guidi Trenti in this group - the USA rider has always ridden on the continent and has had great legs this season. Sunderland (Aus) does ride one hell of a worlds.

Den Bakker (Hol) seems to be fully recovered from a season in the dumps last year. He is riding as a youngster again at this world championships. The gap is now 23 seconds.

Sevilla, the first to be forced out of this worlds after a somewhat silly crash due to the slippery roads, now has joined the Spanish commentators to tell the folks at home in Espana what is happening at this side of the world in the road race.

The Dutch are still very aggressive in this race, and it is Maarten Den Bakker trying to urge the escapees along - the veteran from Abbenbroek turned pro way back in 1990 with the PDM squad.

I believe he is also TT champion of the Nederlands this year too. Number 72 calls it quits, it is John Leiswyn.

Yes podofdonny, you are more than right about Den Bakker being national time trial champion. He surprised the nation and more than all, himself.

35'' for the leading 8 men - certainly for this group to stay clear they will need all Den Bakkers experiance and a little more as well.

Many people in Holland were more or less skeptical about Knetemann who had chosen that many riders from Bankgiroloterij in the team, but maybe assuming they would quit way before the race would be half way through. Since Moerenhout is the only orange man so far back in the boxes, Löwik, Reinerink, Schmitz and Pronk proved them all wrong.

This sort of scenario seems to be typical for a world championships race. It proves it is not so much the course that makes the race, it is the tactics and nerves of the riders themselves who do.

Mario Scirea (Italy) maybe the surprise of the Italian squad is proving his worth with a great effort as the peloton comes over Beckett Drive - the flags waving the leaves swirling in the Canadian sunshine.

Den Bakker makes one last great effort - but the break is finally caught and the peloton is back together.

The peloton still quite large and it is the USA who lead the peloton, which slows down and waits for the next attack - which will surely come soon. Arvesen shows up in the lead. In the Giro he showed he can handle such a course very well.

Norway have only two riders in this race, Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Fak) and Björnar Vestöl, yet both have ridden with distinction.

Kurt Asle Arvesen, the man from Molde, Norway, won stage 10 of this year's Giro - just ahead of Paolo Tiralongo and race winner Gilberto Simoni - there are a few Norweigan flags around the course and they will be pleased how the duo of Vikings have performed in this race.

14.10 Hamilton time
Peloton all back together on lap 17, though as once again they head up Becketts Drive, this time the French make another move - Casagrande is leading the peloton as Vasseur and Dumoulin force the pace for France - Spain as ever very watchful.

The last 60 kilometres will now sort the men from the boys - over a 260 kilometre race it will only be the super fit and experienced who will be able to survive to the end. This could well be the time the Italian team decides to move the stakes a little higher, to try and expose the other Captains from their teammates.

The bunch is all together again, Italia is showing up in the front.

Belgian Van Goolen, at four laps from the end, escapes. One of the French men reacts. Sacchi quits the race. Cancellara is the other one who does not finish this race.

Into the last 45 kilometres and now is the time that the danger men will be starting to think about making a move - Bettini, as always, has been active so far - the rest of the favourites hidden in the pack - who will make the first move?

14.20 Hamilton time
The bunch crossed the 210 k mark, only 21 riders so far quit the race.

It has certainly not been the war of attrition expected - so far! The last kilometres are always the longest ones though and there will be some very tired legs out there this afternoon...Dekker has to let the bunch go; his shape does not allow him to play a main part up until the end. The first one behind Van Goolen is Swiss Beat Zberg.

Have quit the race so far: Larsson, Belohvosicks, Tesar, Rutkiewicz, Sosenka, Hary, Vaitkus, Pena, Moerenhout, Ochoa Plazas, McCormack, Lang, Lieswyn and Day.

The riders are in the 18th of 21 laps.

Other news from the transfer front: it seems that Oscar Sevilla indeed will join Phonak next year.

Van Goolen is a team mate of pre-race favourite Bettini, and he and Zberg have managed to gain a small advantage over the peloton - today Van Goolen will be riding for Peter Van Petegem - who is many people's choice for the rainbow jersey.

Van Sevenant and Dekker are quiting the race.

Hincapie still up near the front of the peloton keeping himself out of trouble, as is Popovych, who has been in about 16th place ever since the race started. The race seems to get even tougher as the riders near the finish line. Current gap is 45 seconds.

The abandons will start to come thick and fast now - the average speed so far 39.527, but the speed on the last lap was 42.033, so the pace is getting harder as the legs are getting more tired...

Frigo is not able (yet) to close down the gap.

Also near the front of the peloton is "Fast Freddy" Rodriguez - if it comes to a bunch sprint he will fancy his chances - he showed a steady improvement in the Vuelta Espana and was quite rightly included in the USA team. The two in the lead do not give in.

Freire is also well up - just behind Bernhard Eisel - who is no slouch himself. Three laps to go as the duo crosses the finish line.

Freire suffers mechanical troubles and has to switch bikes. He seems to be the calm himself and does not get nervous one bit when he sees the back of the pack ride away from him. At the same time Matthew White calls it quits. The Spanish await their main fav to bring him back to the peloton.

14.45 Hamilton time
Bettini tries his luck again. Astarloa sneaks with him. And down is Astarloa on the ground...Gap is down to 15 seconds for the duo in the lead.

Millar and Horner show some "English-speaking" jerseys in the lead. Boogerd and Van Petegem also keeping well up with the quickly changing events - the usual suspects always show at the end of a long race.

Freire has now had two mechanicals - which may prove unlucky for him at the end of the race, when every last ounce of effort is required. The race all together again.

Another rider to watch out for, if it keeps together, is Tom Boonen - he too rode well in the Vuelta and those Spanish miles in his legs may well come in handy at the end of the day. Squadra Azzurri not giving in, giving all in the frontlines of the bunch.

Vainsteins has quit the race too, so no second rainbowjersey for him. It has been a well drilled and disciplined performance from the Azzurri - but it will mean nothing if it is not converted into a rainbow at the end.

Frigo has been a true Giant this afternoon for the Squadra Azzuri working tirelessly and unselfishly for his Captain. Horner defends a few seconds; gap. Another Dutch attack. It is again Karsten Kroon who tries to close the gap to Horner. Marc Wauters (Bel) is the next to try. The riders are currently on the descent.

Just over two laps to do, still unpredictable who will win. When the bunch stays this big right until the last k it will be one big battle to come best out of the last corner to be best placed for the upcoming sprint.

As we saw in the women's race yesterday, the attacks on Claremont Access are usually brought back on the long fast descent - which makes it hard for aggressors to shake off the field. The riders pass by in Queens Street and work their way towards yet another climb.

15.00 Hamilton time
In the lead we now have Horner (USA), Wauters (Bel), Mancebo(Esp), and the Polish rider who won his national tour, Krupa.

Sorry, that is Cezary Zamana.

Camenzind attacks, Frigo has to let the pack go. And Merckx is the next to attack. Axel Merckx has been well positioned throughout the race and he and Bruylandts have been looking forward to this race.

Still the usual suspects near the front - Millar - can he achieve a unique double gold for Britain? Bettini - the World cup winner and big favourite. Van Petegem - double Classic winner. Hincapie - the USA favourite.

The Italian camp on the road now has to lack the powers of Basso and Scirea, enjoying their refreshments in the box-area.

Still the usual suspects near the front - Millar - can he achieve a unique double gold for Britain? Bettini - the World cup winner and big favourite. Van Petegem - double Classic winner. Hincapie - the USA favourite.

The Italian camp on the road now has to lack the powers of Basso and Scirea, enjoying their refreshments in the box-area. Hoj - IS HE DOWN THE ROAD? Yes, Hoj and Elmiger attack

But the bunch is not far though. So Hoj and Elminger try their luck - but the peloton is breathing down their necks - and it is the Italians once again doing all the work. The peloton will come back tgether on the descent of James Mtn Road - one long string of riders. Italy and Spain leading the charge...

Last lap, current gap: 11 seconds. Levi Leipheimer is dropped off the front of the peloton - after 6 hours 14 minutes of racing in downtown Hamilton. Beltran is working very hard for Freire - pushing the peloton along.

Still Hoj and Elminger in the lead - Italy leading the chase the final climb up Becketts Drive could be decisive. 10k to ride for the successor of Cipo.

Luttenberger attacks. He is dropped. Hamburger, Bettini, Boogerd and Astarloa still very present in the lead. And so is Van Petegem. The rest of the bunch has to let go....

The tension is building. Camenzind is there, to the 6 men have the gap. Current gap is 15 seconds.

The gap grows up to 20 seconds. Bettini knows his competition, he sure knows Van Petegem is the one to beat. In the bunch the Germans are setting the pace higher. Boogerd attacks the escapees!

He will be pulled back - the 6 are back together as the peloton behind panics! 25 seconds.

Bettini at the back of the escapees - how many times have we seen him in this position this year? 5 km to go - the tension is unbelievable!! It is almost the same group which went away in the end of the Valkenburg worlds, as well as later winner Camenzind both Boogerd and Van Petegem were present there. The gap diminishes to 13 seconds. Bettini now forcing the pace - and Camenzind attacks - he too is brought back.

The bunch comes back to 10 seconds.

Apologies for the coverage interruption - here is the conclusion of our live coverage.

The six may well be caught on the final climb - but Astarloa attacks on the ascent. Bettini goes with him as well as Van Petegem.

The peloton is closing like an express train! Astarloa pushes on alone. Astarloa's gap is 5 seconds, will it be enough? 3 km. to go.

Bettini tries to close in, Astarloa is pushing hard - Bettini now has the peloton breathing down his neck - Astarloa reaches the top. It looks like they are heading towards a massive sprint. But will the winner of the Fleche Wallone be abel to hold off the competition.

Crash of Merckx. Igor Astarloa Askasibar sweeps down the descent - the 5 men maybe 5 seconds behind, the peloton equally close. Gap grows to 12 seconds, and yours truly is out of her mind....!!!! with joy!!!

Igor Astarloa Askasibar is holding on! Igor Astarloa Askasibar is going to be world Champion! HE WINS !!!! Valverde second, Van Petegem third. One and Two for Spain - pass me my castanets!!!

"I decided to attack and just kept going - it was all or nothing for me - i did not think of anything but the finish. I knew if I looked back or paused i might be caught so just kept going for the line - I can't believe it!"

How sweet, tears are rolling down his cheeks, the tears battling with one bigger than big smile...

"I did crash earlier - but did not hurt myself. (laughs) Well, at the minute I can only feel joy and pride, so I'm not sure." Dear oh dear, he looks more like he lost his grandma than won a race! Or Freire's grandma for that matter.

So an exciting World Championships, and a great result on the final day. We thank you very much for joining us.

Elite Mens Road Race Results

1. 149 ASTARLOA Igor  ESP 6:30:19
2. 160 VALVERDE BELMONTE Alejandro  ESP 6:30:24 + 5
3. 89 VAN PETEGEM Peter  BEL
4. 2 BETTINI Paolo  ITA
5. 99 BOOGERD Michael  NED 6:30:25 + 1
6. 56 HAMBURGER Bo  DEN
7. 175 BARRY Michael  CAN
8. 10 PAOLINI Luca  ITA 6:30:31 + 6
9. 152 FREIRE GOMEZ Oscar  ESP
10. 49 TOMBAK Janek  EST
11. 31 ZABEL Erik  GER
12. 13 DAVIS Allan  AUS
13. 138 ELMIGER Martin  SUI
14. 96 KONYSHEV Dmitri  RUS
15. 57 HOJ Frank  DEN
16. 28 SINKEWITZ Patrik  GER
17. 82 BOONEN Tom  BEL
18. 74 RODRIGUEZ Fred  USA
19. 35 VALJAVEC Tadej  SLO
20. 6 LOMBARDI Giovanni  ITA
21. 145 ZBERG Beat  SUI
22. 127 USOV Aliaksandr  BLR
23. 59 EISEL Bernhard  AUT
24. 37 BROCHARD Laurent  FRA
25. 104 DEN BAKKER Maarten  NED
26. 106 LÖWIK Gerben  NED
27. 47 VASSEUR Cédric  FRA
28. 60 GLOMSER Gerrit  AUT
29. 116 KIRCHEN Kim  LUX
30. 75 TRENTI Guido  USA
31. 166 SCIANDRI Maximilian  GBR
32. 55 CHRISTENSEN Bekim  DEN
33. 16 HAYMAN Mathew  AUS
34. 61 LUTTENBERGER Peter  AUT
35. 34 STANGELJ Gorazd  SLO
36. 92 BOTCHAROV Alexandre  RUS
37. 66 HINCAPIE George  USA
38. 133 PEREZ ARANGO Marlon Alirio  COL
39. 168 BODROGI Laszlo  HUN
41. 93 EKIMOV Viatcheslav  RUS
42. 161 ARVESEN Kurt-Asle  NOR
43. 142 SCHNIDER Daniel  SUI
44. 76 AMORIM Gonçalo  POR
45. 173 COX Ryan  RSA
46. 150 BELTRAN MARTINEZ Manuel  ESP
47. 91 WAUTERS Marc  BEL
48. 172 MIZOUROV Andrey  KAZ
49. 95 KOLOBNEV Alexander  RUS 6:30:38 + 7
50. 80 AERTS Mario  BEL 6:30:40 + 2
51. 42 HALGAND Patrice  FRA
52. 114 ZAMANA Cezary  POL 6:30:42 + 2
53. 97 MENCHOV Denis  RUS
54. 83 BRANDT Christophe  BEL 6:30:45 + 3
55. 129 CARDENAS RAVALO Félix Rafael  COL
56. 3 CASAGRANDE Francesco  ITA
57. 113 SZMYD Sylwester  POL 6:30:49 + 4 x zz
58. 20 ALDAG Rolf  GER
59. 122 GUSTOV Volodymir  UKR
60. 70 LANDIS Floyd  USA
61. 87 SIJMENS Nico  BEL
62. 155 MANCEBO PEREZ Francisco  ESP
63. 158 SERRANO RODRIGUEZ M.  ESP
64. 84 BRUYLANDTS Dave  BEL
65. 8 NARDELLO Daniele  ITA
66. 4 DI LUCA Danilo  ITA
67. 170 SCANLON Mark  IRL 6:31:01 + 12
68. 171 FOFONOV Dmitriy  KAZ
69. 98 PETROV Evgeni  RUS
71. 143 STRAUSS Marcel  SUI 6:31:30 + 6
72. 86 MERCKX Axel  BEL
73. 81 BAGUET Serge  BEL 6:31:49 + 19
74. 79 RIBEIRO Nuno  POR 6:32:14 + 25
75. 139 JEKER Fabian  SUI 6:32:19 + 5
76. 67 HORNER Chris  USA 6:32:30 + 11
77. 126 POSPYEYEV Kyrylo  UKR
78. 58 SKELDE Michael  DEN
79. 17 ROGERS Michael  AUS 6:34:00 + 1:30
80. 134 AEBERSOLD Niki  SUI 6:34:09 + 9
81. 27 SCHRECK Stephan  GER 6:34:52 + 43
82. 24 KLIER Andreas  GER
83. 23 KESSLER Matthias  GER
84. 38 CHAVANEL Sylvain  FRA
85. 164 HAMMOND Roger  GBR 6:35:11 + 19
86. 165 MILLAR David  GBR
87. 29 WEGMANN Fabian  GER
88. 105 KROON Karsten  NED
89. 157 PEREZ RODRIGUEZ Luis  ESP 6:35:27 + 16
90. 45 RENIER Franck  FRA
91. 110 SCHMITZ Bram  NED
92. 71 LEIPHEIMER Levi  USA 6:35:58 + 31
93. 88 VAN GOOLEN Jurgen  BEL
94. 163 ROGINA Radoslav  CRO
95. 177 WALTERS Mark  CAN 6:38:28 + 2:30
96. 9 NOÉ Andrea  ITA
97. 94 KARPETS Vladimir  RUS 6:39:37 + 1:09
98. 111 KRUPA Dawid  POL
99. 77 LOPES Pedro  POR 6:40:14 + 37
100. 115 JOACHIM Benoît  LUX 6:40:15 + 1
101. 63 TRAMPUSCH Gerhard  AUT
102. 51 HRAZDIRA Michal  CZE 6:42:42 + 2:27
103. 32 DERGANC Martin  SLO
104. 176 PERRAS Dominique  CAN
105. 178 WOHLBERG Eric  CAN
106. 101 DE GROOT Bram  NED
107. 36 BESSY Frédéric  FRA
108. 135 BEUCHAT Roger  SUI
109. 44 MONCOUTIE David  FRA
110. 40 FLICKINGER Andy  FRA
111. 41 FRITSCH Nicolas  FRA
112. 174 GEORGE David  RSA

Did not Finish
7 MORENI Cristian  ITA DNF
50 MITCHELL Glen  NZL DNF
125 POPOVYCH Yaroslav  UKR DNF
151 CUESTA LOPEZ DE CASTRO Iñigo  ESP DNF
1 BASSO Ivan  ITA DNF
12 SCIREA Mario  ITA DNF
21 GRABSCH Bert  GER DNF
30 WERNER Christian  GER DNF
62 SUMMER Jochen  AUT DNF
65 CLINGER David  USA DNF
102 DE JONGH Steven  NED DNF
108 PRONK Matthé  NED DNF
141 MOOS Alexandre  SUI DNF
147 PUGACI Igor  MDA DNF
153 GONZALEZ DE GALDEANO ARANZABAL ESP DNF
5 FRIGO Dario  ITA DNF
33 GOLCER Jure  SLO DNF
46 RINERO Christophe  FRA DNF
118 VAINSTEINS Romans  LAT DNF
18 SUNDERLAND Scott  AUS DNF
19 WHITE Matthew  AUS DNF
26 SCHOLZ Ronny  GER DNF
39 DUMOULIN Samuel  FRA DNF
64 BALDWIN Christopher  USA DNF
78 PAULINHO Sergio  POR DNF
85 GILBERT Philippe  BEL DNF
90 VANSEVENANT Wim  BEL DNF
100 BOVEN Jan  NED DNF
103 DEKKER Erik  NED DNF
109 REINERINK Rik  NED DNF
119 BILEKA Volodymyr  UKR DNF
120 DUMA Vladimir  UKR DNF
124 KRIVTSOV Yuriy  UKR DNF
140 MONTGOMERY Sven  SUI DNF
144 ZAMPIERI Steve  SUI DNF
146 IVANOV Ruslan  MDA DNF
156 OSA EIZAGUIRRE Aitor  ESP DNF
169 ROHTMER Balazs  HUN DNF
11 SACCHI Fabio  ITA DNF
14 DAVIS Scott  AUS DNF
22 HIEKMANN Torsten  GER DNF
48 PÜTSEP Erki  EST DNF
68 JOHNSON Tim  USA DNF
121 GRYSCHENKO Ruslan  UKR DNF
128 SUZUKI Shinri  JPN DNF
130 GRAJALES Cesar Augusto  COL DNF
137 CANCELLARA Fabian  SUI DNF
162 VESTÖL Björnar  NOR DNF
179 GRÖNQVIST Thomas  SWE DNF
15 DAY Ben  AUS DNF
72 LIESWYN John  USA DNF
25 LANG Sebastian  GER DNF
73 MCCORMACK Mark  USA DNF
131 OCHOA PLAZAS Israel  COL DNF
154 GONZALEZ LARRANAGA Gorka  ESP DNF
167 WEGELIUS Charles  GBR DNF
107 MOERENHOUT Koos  NED DNF
132 PENA GRISALES Victor Hugo  COL DNF
148 VAITKUS Tomas  LTU DNF
43 HARY Maryan  FRA DNF
53 SOSENKA Ondrej  CZE DNF
112 RUTKIEWICZ Marek  POL DNF
54 TESAR Lubor  CZE DNF
117 BELOHVOSCIKS Raivis  LAT DNF
69 JULICH Bobby  USA DNF
52 KADLEC Milan  CZE DNF
159 SEVILLA RIBERA Oscar  ESP DNF
180 LARSSON Gustav Erik  SWE DNF

Started: 214
Ranked: 112
Did not start: 0
Disqualified: 0
Did not finish: 68
Outside time limit: 34

 
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