What's Cool In Road Cycling

Worlds’09 Men’s RR: Ripper! The Winner Is …

Race Report: Wow! What a final lap, and what a winner. After so many near misses, the gold medal is hanging around the neck of a Grand Tour podium getter who’s not had the happiest of years. It’s a first senior road title for a southern hemisphere country. Can you tell who it is yet?

The rainbow jersey goes to … Cadel Evans! A blistering final six kilometers from the Aussie saw him perfectly profit from the awesome strength and effort of home hero Fabian Cancellara.

Evans rocketed away approaching the final ascent of the race up Novazzano and disappeared with the gold medal. It was a phenomenal finishing burst to take the day. Who said he doesn’t attack?

He looked totally stunned as he crossed the line to take his biggest ever prize, and you can’t say he doesn’t deserve it. The Aussies rode a smart race and got Evans and Gerrans into the crucial shake-up. For all the numbers that Spain and Italy loaded into the business end of the race, they managed just a bronze between them as Joaquin Rodriguez ended on the podium behind Russia’s Alexandr Kolobnev.

Alexandr Kolobnev put himself on yet another big podium: he now has a 2nd and 3rd to his credit at Worlds to go along with his podium in Beijing.

Earlier on: Someone’s got to turn to start up a party and the happy-go-lucky attackers to kick things off today were Vuelta sprint king Andre Greipel of Germany, Japan’s early season sensation Yukiya Arashiro, the formerly Balkan trio Matija Kvasina (Croatia), Peter Kusztor (Hungary) and Jan Barta (Czech Republic), with Austria’s Christoph Sokoll in the mix, too.

There are chases and counter moves to get across. Four make it and they are Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia), the Colombian Mauricio Ardila, Latvia’s Olegs Melehs and Volodymyr Zagorodny from Ukraine.

The peloton give them their head, but it’s not an outrageous gap, going a little over seven minutes, then dropping back below that at half distance.

Hammer time!: The field decides to chase and a number of names get away. Ballan, the defending champion! Boonen, the winner in 2005! How did the field let them go? Fair enough, there’s 100kms to go, but they’ve got team-mates with them and the chase group looks strong. Interesting …

200kms done – the magic marker that separates the men from the boys. The lead break goes through with an advantage of 56 seconds on the chasing peloton, and 1’ 38” on the main peloton.

Australia – O’Grady, Sulzberger – are doing the bulk of the pulling in the main field. It’s the Azzuri – Visconti, Scarponi – doing the work in chase group one.

Four laps to go:
The gap is falling all the time. It’s 36” to the chasers and 1’ 11” to the peloton. The Dutch and the Belgians are appearing in numbers in the main field.

It’s a tough gig, the World’s Road Race. People talk your chances up, but if you don’t have the legs … Nico Roche, a crash-affected David Millar, Andy Schleck, Ryder Hesjedal, Stuey O’Grady … all gone by 210kms.

The leading riders are caught by the chase group at 212kms done. The peloton are not going full-gas to catch the leaders and the gap goes out over 1’ 30” again.

Three laps to go:
The front group trundle – and I mean trundle – towards the line, with Ballan looking over his shoulder to see what’s happening. Duque of Colombia attacks and he’s quickly got 20 seconds.

The main field sweeps through and they’re two minutes down. It’s starting to get dangerous.

Boonen jumps across to Duque, but he’s marked. Next to go is Vuelta hero Johnny Hoogerland of the Netherlands, chased by Spain’s Joaquin Rodrigeuz. They’re pulled back and we’re inside 40kms to go.

The peloton don’t seem to be in any hurry and there are some twitchy looking favorites in the main field – they’re two minutes behind.

The break is screaming down the Acqua Fresca at 50 mph. Ballan is hammering it on the front, and time’s running out for the main field.

Duque goes again, Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium goes with him and the chase is … non-existent!

Franco Ballerini, the Italian DS, is obviously happy with the situation. The UCI must be, too, with Valverde nowhere near the front!

The lead group is really jumpy – guys trying to break things up. Included are Hoogerland, Rodriguez, Cobo, Kirchen, De Walle, Van Avermaet, De Walle, Paolini, Ballan, Fofonov, Riblon, Stangelj, Zaugg, Rogers, Rujano, Duque,

Two laps to go:
Here comes the lead group to the line. 6hrs 16’ 57” in the saddle so far, and there’s still plenty of racing to come. The peloton have taken advantage of the messing about and it’s 1’ 20” to the leaders.

Spain are now dragging the main peloton along and the speed is up – the gap is less than a minute all told. The Norwegians are still there, Fab Cancellara is revving up …

Stangelj goes it alone. Kirchen is leading the chase on the climb of the Castel San Pietro, taking Zaugg with him, Rodrigeuz and Paolini. They’ve put ten seconds into their erstwhile buddies and the main field is now just 18 seconds back!! 25kms left!

The five are caught … It’s Cancellara who rockets clear!! The crowd erupts! It’s a long, long line now as Fab tries to split it up, and there are little gaps appearing.

Zaugg hits the front as Cancellara urges the Italians through. They don’t and we’re altogether again. The remaining favorites are in the mix. The Italians look mighty! The Aussies are right in it, too.

Pozzato and Basso are piledriving it up the Novazzano. Boonen pops!! He’s gone! Spain and Italy are mob-handed and we’ve got about 20 guys clear. This is it! Vino’s here! Valverde, Cunego, Evans, Gerrans, Arvesen, Breschel, Basso, Sanchez, Gilbert …. but Ballan is dropped now!

Fabian Cancellara showed today that the course in Mendrisio was most certainly not too difficult. He made a lot of riders’ lives difficult though.

Vino goes and Arvesen reacts! Pozzato tries to split it and Cancellara drags it all together.

The bell lap:
To quote Man Utd’s volcanic football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, it’s now “… squeaky bum time!”

Vino again, as he crosses the line, goes solo. Kolobnev comes roaring past Vino who is now practically at a standstill.

10kms to go: Italy chase … now Cancellara drives it. The crowd noise goes up to 11! It’s a monstrous turn from Cancellara and the lead group is destroyed. Kolobnev is caught. Gilbert, Cunego, Evans and Breschel get up with three Spaniards.

Cancellara goes again on the descent, and it’s a scramble to get on terms! Italy have missed out. There’s only nine left in it now. Evans, Kolobnev, Cancellara, Sanchez, Cunego, Gilbert, Breschel, Rodriguez, Valverde.

5 kms to go: Evans has gone alone! He’s all over the bike frame on the Novazzano. Kolobnev is chasing desperately and Rodriguez is sitting in.

I don’t think we can fault Damiano Cunego: it appears he went so hard that he made his nose bleed. Ouch. I think all of those ugly faces were nosebleed inducing.

The top of the final climb of the race, 2.8kms left, and Evans has 13 seconds. He’s flying, face twisted with ferocious effort!

The Cancellara group is at 24”! It’s a one-man TT to the line for the Aussie! Rodriguez and Kolobnev are looking at each other.

Red kite: It’s frantic behind as the chasers desperately try to catch Evans – he’s got about 10 seconds.

Cadel crosses the line in rapture…

…then the raw emotions hit him. His was a unique victory celebration, quiet. I’d go so far as to say a personal moment with his wife…in front of thousands.

It’s in the bag … Evans is the Champion of the World. He crosses the line with a kiss to the crowd and a punch of the air. Kolobnev surprisingly takes the silver ahead of Rodriguez.

That’s right Sammy, great race, way to celebrate 4th. 3rd and 4th for Spain is a great accomplishment. Then again, he did beat the rider who appeared to be the strongest in the race: Fabian Cancellara. I guess I’d celebrate that too.

A shattered Cancellara sits slumped by the barriers as Arvesen comes to commiserate. Evans can’t believe it and stands kissing his necklace over and over again – brilliant race and perfectly timed from Cadel.

Congrats, Cadel! And your wikipedia page was updated less than a minute after you crossed the line … almost as valuable as a rainbow jersey!

Keep it Pez for all the roadside low-down from our very happy Aussie, Matt Conn!

2009 Men’s Road Race World Championship
1 Cadel Evans (Australia) 6hrs 56’ 26”
2 Alexandr Kolobnev (Russia) + 26”
3 Joaquin Rodrigeuz (Spain) same time
4 Samuel Sanchez (Spain) + 30”
5 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) same time
6 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) + 51”
7 Matti Breschel (Denmark)
8 Damiano Cunego (Italy)
9 Alejandro Valverde (Spain) same time
10 Simon Gerrans (Australia) + 1’ 47”

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