ZURICH World Cup: The Battle Continues
The hills were alive with the sound of whirring gears, clanking cowbells, and sweating riders at today’s Championship of Zurich World Cup. PEZ-Man Chris Selden was there to witness Round 8 of the Bettini-Rebellin battle.
After riding the Zurich world cup course myself last week & discovering how taxing the parcours actually is – I decided to get some of the pros thoughts before they started.
The race is about to start – we’d better get in there and do some quick interviews!
A Little Pre-Race Chatting With The Pros
An obvious choice for inside peloton scoop was Pez favourite, Andrea Peron, “tough course, it’s a course of elimination for people who are very, very strong”. The general feeling amongst the pros was one of agreement with Andrea, Matthew White (Cofidis) concurred, “Really, really hard course mate. It’s one of the hardest courses. Lots of climbing, lots of climbing.”
First timer at Zurich & first time World Cup racer was Tim Johnson from Saunier Duval. How does a pro prepare for their first world cup?? Tim was heard quoting excerpts from our Zurich Preview: We Ride The Course story & was even naming the climb before the Pfannesatiel as the ‘Pre-Pfannestiel’.
Let’s Get Busy!
So, now after hearing what the pros thought of the course it was onto the action itself. The first attackers to start the day’s proceedings were David Zabriskie of US Postal & Carlos Barredo of Liberty Seguros who attacked after only 10kms of a 240km race. Courageous move guys! Perhaps David just wanted to get a good look at the course & check out the beautiful scenery? Before the start, David commented to PEZ that he hadn’t seen the course yet and, “the form is coming along”.
Dave Zabriskie and Carlos Barredo went for a long ride off the front.
Well Zabriskie’s form was obviously coming along nicely as the pair’s lead grew to an amazing maximum of 21 minutes. With 100kms to go the daring pair still had a lead of 19 minutes & they were cooperating well.
Meanwhile, the peloton was stringing out over the never ending climbs, and the number of riders hitting the showers, began to match the number of riders hitting the pedals.
Slowly but surely the pair’s lead began to dwindle as Quickstep sent some troops to the front, with Michael Rogers being very prominent and Swiss homeboy, Laurent Dufaux also doing some pace setting in his last home race of his career.
Come on guys – let’s get ‘em!
With 70kms to go, the breakaway were still leading by almost 10min so more teams decided to join the chase with T-Mobile, Gerolsteiner and Lampre all willing to help Quickstep bring back the escapees.
All Together Now
Only 37kms out from the finish & after a courageous move that lasted almost 200kms, the brave pair were finally caught. The race itself was now wide open again with only 60 riders still together to contest the last 37kms. The big pre race favourites, Bettini & Rebellin were both in this group along with numerous other dark horses such as Moncoutie & Casagrande. Pre race favourites that had fallen by the wayside at this stage included Danilo di Luca & Jorg Jaksche who had joined the rest of the gang back at the showers.
The pace was blistering the last time over the Pfannestiel & it was the mysterious French wonderboy Moncoutie over the top first with the surprising Rik Verbrugghe glued to his back wheel. These two had a small gap of around 8 seconds over 30 other riders who were strung out all over the climb in small groups. As predicted though, it all came back together on the descent & the bunch of just over 30 riders looked set to contest the finish.
Despite some excellent individual attacks in the final flat 10kms from Rebellin, Dekker & Barry, it all came down to a 30 man sprint & it was the surprising figure of Juan Antonio Flecha who took the win from Bettini & Jerome Pineau. Reigning world cup leader Rebellin comes home in 6th with his world cup lead dwindled to only 6 points over Bettini.
All signs are pointing up for Bettini’s
World Cup chances.
The battle for the world cup is now a two horse race between the two great Italians. Next stop – Paris Tours, Oct 10th.
Results – Zurich World Cup
1. Juan Antonio Flecha(Spa) Fassa Bortolo 6.13.30 (42.707 km/h)
2. Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step – Davitamon
3. Jйrфme Pineau (Fra) Brioches La Boulangere
4. Dmitriy Fofonov (Kaz) Cofidis, Le Credit Par Telephone
5. Michael Albasini (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
6. Davide Rebellin (Ita) Gerolsteiner
7. Michael Barry (Can) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor
8. George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor
9. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank
10. Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) Domina Vacanze