Worlds ’11: The Men Provide The Expected Sprint!
Race report: The men’s road race might have taken place on a course flatter than a squashed credit card, but the racing was fascinating as the British team tried to deliver on the worst-kept plan in road racing. Get Cavendish to the finish; everyone else tried to wreck that idea. Who had the last laugh? Read on …!
The first established breakaway is seven strong, formed towards the end of the first hour’s racing. The peloton is keen to avoid last year’s near-humiliation when the commissaires had to order them to get the collective finger out before they got lapped. The gap never goes beyond eight minutes.
Up front, and belting along at 45kms/h, are Anthony Roux (France), Luxembourg’s Christian Poos, recent Vuelta stage winner Pablo Lastras (Spain), and, intriguingly, trade team mates Tanel Kangert (Estonia), Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan) and Robert Kiserlovski (Croatia) from Astana with Oleg Chuzhda from Ukraine.
Riders from Iran, Morocco, Colombia and Brazil try to get across but don’t make it.
90kms to go and finally the Belgians emerge in the top twenty places with Phillipe Gilbert shadowing Olivier Kaisen.
Bert Grabsch is in his familiar armchair on the front of the race, calmly windmilling what looks like a 78×10 gear ratio. The Brits are in attendance, with a varying pattern of Stannard-Cummings-Millar-Hunt-Froome-Thomas-Wiggins-Cavendish.
11 laps to go, about 154kms left and the gap has been pegged to seven minutes. Still GB and Germany doing the bulk of the work – free ride for the Australians, Italians, Belgians, and Spain have a man up in the break so they’re not chasing.
Half-distance: the USA have sent a man (King) to the front to help out but the escapees are still pinging along very nicely. It’s beautifully sunny, shirt-sleeves weather. Northern Europe is not always freezing!
Eight laps to go, and it’s still 45kms/h on average. Kiserlovski in the break grabs a musette with such enthusiasm that he rips the handle and has to excavate his supplies while riding no-handed.
Attack! The peloton eases off on the finish line to get bottles and Belgium, Italy and France move. It’s Johan Vansummeren, Luca Paolini and Yoann Offredo. Everything stretches out and suddenly another Belgian and an Aussie appear. The Aussie is Simon Clarke, the other Belgian is Kaisen, and, together, they’ve sliced nearly a minute off the big break’s advantage.
Britain and Germany have been on the front all day, and now they have to do more work. Poos has blown and is dropped from the front group.
Six laps to ride and the chasers have clipped the lead to two minutes. As the peloton approaches the line, Italy send another man clear and Martin Kohler follows. Everyone reacts, and it was Visconti who tried to go clear.
Crash! Biel Kadri (France) is jammed under the crash barriers and looks hurt. The back of the field has come to a complete halt. Andrew Talansky (USA) is hobbling, Frank Schleck is standing about like a tourist, Greg van Avermaet is delayed. Total chaos.
There are Serbian riders, Colombians, Austrians waiting for neutral service. The Austrian is Stefan Denifl, with a consoling arm on trade team mate Schleck’s shoulder, but Frank eventually gets back on his machine and trundles away. The peloton is pretty much halved after that little misadventure.
190kms raced, 76kms to go, and the two escape groups merge. Van Summeren looks as if he’s in agony with the effort. What’s the gap to the peloton? It’s a very manageable 58 seconds. Hushovd is caught in the second part of the peloton. Big problems for the defending champion.
The Netherlands launch a man, Weening, and he looks a little bemused to find no-one goes with him. His compatriot Mollema, Sorensen (Denmark), Rohregger (Austria) and Baden Cooke (Australia) eventually join him as Gavazzi and Visconti for Italy try to catch up. Still Britain on the front of the peloton. Are they losing control of the day? Maybe, maybe not. They sweep that little group up. 70 seconds to the front escape.
Four laps to go. Four-and-a-half hours in the saddle and still a chunk of hurt to come. Cummmings and Froome battering away on the front of the main field and they’re 1’ 35” behind.
Simon Gerrans (Australia) and Visconti (Italy) again jump at the top of the finishing straight. The second part of the peloton is slowly clawing its way back into contention.
Three laps/42kms to go: Lastras drops his bottle going through the feed zone and looks ‘not happy’. The British team are still tracking the eleven escapees – the gap is 59”.
Italy send two men off the front … again. It doesn’t split. So much chatter about this flat course. Every time there is anything resembling a gradient now, there are attacks.
Switzerland launch now with Albasini joined by Lovkvist (Sweden), Nuyens (Belgium), Australia’s Michael Rogers and Costa (Portugal). But again, Britain haul it back.
Roux attacks the front group which only serves to annoy everyone. It’s constant movement now as this escape devours itself. Lars Bak delights the home crowd by powering past Tanel Kangert and chases the escape.
Two laps/28kms to go and Roux is still solo, 23” clear. Norway appear at the head of the peloton: Arvesen flogging himself for Boasson Hagen. The peloton picks up the remaining escapees.
Roux looks over his shoulder and sees them coming.
20kms left Thomas Voeckler flies past Roux! He’s got Nicki Sorensen (Denmark) and Belgium’s Klaus Lodewyck with him.
Last lap! 14kms to ride. Penultimate time up the finishing straight. The front three push on as the bell clangs! Peloton is still some 110 and more riders.
Voeckler screams at Sorensen to ride. Seventeen seconds now! Wiggins is dragging things along. Cavendish rocking a little up the climb.
Attack! Johnny Hoogerland flies up to the front trio. Team GB lead the field with the Aussies right behind.
Nine kms to go: Hoogerland takes it up. The peloton has them in sight.
Seven clicks to go: Voeckler goes as the escape is caught, but it’s over for him. Two parallel trains: Italy and Britain.
Five kms to go: A lot of Slovenian shirts coming through now. Cavendish loses Thomas’s wheel in a right-hander, needs to get back up.
Three to go: Ian Stannard is on the front; the Aussies hit the front! Britain drop away a bit. Farrar gets pulled through now.
Two to go: Germany on the front with Italy, too! Spain are there! Britain on the right-hand gutter. Cavendish is in the mix. It’s all bunched up. Thomas looks for Cavendish.
Last kilometer!: Last right-hand corner. Everyone looking around! Hell for leather up the slope! Cav appears in the right-hand gutter. It looked like an Aussie left a gap on the barriers… and Cav gets through to win it!! Just! The road is a yard too short for Matt Goss for silver.
Cancellara does an incredible sprint but is caught on the line by Greipel’s bike throw.
Fabulous finish to a well-controlled race by the British team, and Cav takes the UK’s second word title after Tommy Simpson in 1965.
Stay tuned for Ed Hood’s roadside experience!
Elite Men’s World Championship Road Race, 256kms, Copenhagen
1 Mark Cavendish (Great Britain) 5hrs 40’ 27”
2 Matt Goss (Australia)
3 Andre Greipel (Germany)
4 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
5 Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium)
6 Romain Feillu (France)
7 Borut Bozic (Slovenia)
8 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)
9 Oscar Freire (Spain)
10 Tyler Farrar (United States of America) all same time
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