What's Cool In Road Cycling

Worlds’08 Women’s RR: Nicole Nabs World’s

Race Report : Today’s woman’s world championship road race was a lesson in how to play it cool. A group was up the road all day, did Nicole Cooke panic? Nup, she held back until the cream came to the top of the milk and went with the action and then delivered the killer coup in the sprint.

***See all the Worlds’ action live via internet at UniversalSports.com***

The woman will be riding 8 laps of the road circuit with its two climbs; the Salita di via Montello with its average of 6.5% gradient and the longer but not so steep Salita dei Ronchi at an average of 4.5% covering a total distance of 139 kilometers. The course split things up yesterday, so it’s not as easy as some people were originally reporting!

The Early Action
First thing to happen was a crash bringing down a Kazakhstan rider on the tight bend down from the first climb of the Montello as Italy and the G.B. teams control the front of the bunch. As usual Jeannie Longo is off the back, but this is her usual position, either off the front or off the back!

The first group goes off the front due to the hard riding of Kirstin Armstrong (U.S.A.) on the climb of the Ronchi, she takes 12 other riders with her, but none of them are interested in helping her with the work. There is a rider from all the main countries, so there isn’t much of a chase behind. The fast start has lost a few out the back as they start the second lap with the leaders 35 seconds ahead.

In the main bunch, Olympic Champion and one of the favorites, Nicole Cooke is wearing a skin suit like she did in Beijing. The Swedish team have started to chase, but the gap is over a minute at the end of the second lap, but its still Armstrong doing most of the work, occasionally helped by one of the three German riders in the break. On the second time up to the finish, Angela Brodka can’t hold the pace leaving two Germans.

The break were not working together and Armstrong, Diana Ziliute and Jolanta Polikeviciute (Lithuania) were trying to encourage the others to do their turn. The break consisted of; Kristin Armstrong (USA) Luise Keller and Charlotte Becker, (Germany) Diana Ziliute and Jolanta Polikeviciute (Lithuania), Maryline Salvetat (France), Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain), Monia Baccaille (Italy), Anna Sanchis Chafer (Spain), Grace Verbeke (Belgium), Nikki Egyed (Australia) and Laura Lorenza Morfin Macouzet (Mexico). A good combination of countries, but probably the wrong riders representing some of the countries!

The Dutch missed the break and put three riders on the front of bunch, probably working for Marianne Vos, over the Ronchi for the third time the Australian team take over the half hearted chase, but the Germans and the Lithuanians come forward to slow things down for their team mates up front, this was working as the gap went up to over 2 minutes, but they were still not at the half-way mark.

Four Laps To Go
Kirstin Armstrong is still doing most of the work through the finish as the gap stays around 2 minutes for the 12 leaders. The “Old Lady” of cycling; Jeannie Longo (France) shows she can ride at the front as she stretches the bunch out in a proper chase, this last for a few kilometers and then she goes back to he usual place; two length off the back of the bunch.

As with the time trial you wouldn’t have a problem getting a good view of the race today as the crowds are a bit sparse, even on the climbs, for sure it will be a different story tomorrow from the Elite men’s race. Three laps to go and the 12 leaders are working more evenly now, but Armstrong is still the strongest or keenest in the group, the Mexican leads them up the Ronchi again. Behind, Emma Pooley of Great Britain puts in a hard turn at the front of the bunch as more of her team move forward as does time trial champion, Amber Neben (U.S.A.), although the Italians are doing the policing work to control everything.

The end of lap 5 and the lead is much the same at 1 minute 14 seconds, up the Montello and Italian, Fabiana Luperini puts the pressure on causing team mate Eva Lechner gets dropped off the back. As the leaders go through the feed at the bottom of the Ronchi they have lengthened their lead to 1 minute 24 seconds and time is running out for the hopefuls in the bunch. With this in mind Pooley goes to the front again, but then the Americans and the Italians close it down (again), to say this was negative racing would not be stressing it strongly enough.

Two Laps To Go
Nothing much has changed and the lead is down to 49 seconds, up the Montello and its Pooley again trying mix things up, she succeeds to thin the bunch out and this inspires a bit of action from the others bringing the lead down to 25 seconds as they head towards the Ronchi for the second last time. The two Lithuanians (Polikeviciute and Ziliute) in the break must know that the bunch has woken up as they start to ride very hard and the race now might be on!

Spanish rider Anna Sanchis takes to the front for the climb which drops German; Luise Keller as the Mexican has a bike problem, but doesn’t have to stop, the German Trixi Worrack now starts to chase from the bunch as Australian Nikki Egyed attacks from the break. The Mexican stops for her Mechanical and manages to get back to the leaders and then attacks them as the bunch are now breathing down their necks. Through the streets of Varese the race is all together except for Egyed on her own.

Last Lap
Nikki Egyed is 20 seconds ahead of a main bunch of around 30 riders, but on the last climb of the Montello Vos of Holland chases and passes Egyed and is then caught by Cooke, Worrack, Johansson, Ljungskog and Arndt.

Bad luck for Ljungskog as she has a front wheel puncture at the wrong moment. This splits as Worrack and Vos attack together, leaving Cooke, Johansson and Arndt to chase, behind them Italian Cantele and Ljungskog.

All five are together for the last time up the Ronchi, Worrack sits on the front allowing her team mate Arndt to attack, this doesn’t last as Vos puts in an enormous jump to put her self out of sight on the bends of the climb. Cooke and Johansson leave the Germans to do the chase work and it’s Worrack who takes them up to the dieing Vos; she still has enough to lead over the top.

As there was two Germans the others were watching them attack in turn. Worrack again gets a gap, but Vos pulls her back, then Cooke lays down a big jump to lose Worrack, but this gives Johansson her chance, again its all together again as they hit 300 meters and Vos goes on the outside for Nicole Cooke to hold her wheel and come round her in the last meters.

A very happy, Welsh flag waving Cooke could hardly believe it, in the interview she thought it was a hard race and the sprint was long, but she was very pleased. Then in Italian she said “I lived in Italy for four years and Italy had been very important for me. Today was fantastico! Vos was so strong.” Vos was disappointed, but said “I tried my hardest and Cooke was on my wheel, it was very difficult, but at least I’m on the podium.”

Woman’s World RR Result :
1Є Nicole Cooke (Great Britain)
2Є Marianne Vos (Holland)
3Є Judith Arndt (Germany)
4Є Emma Johansson (Sweden)
6Є Trixi Worrack (Germany)
7Є Diana Ziliute (Lithuania)
8Є Marta Vilajosana Andreu (Spain)
9Є Joanne Kiesanowski (New Zealand)
10Є Alex Wrubleski (Canada)

Like PEZ? Why not subscribe to our weekly newsletter to receive updates and reminders on what's cool in road cycling?

Comments are closed.