Spain?s Astarloa Takes World Championships Road Prize

News & Results

10/13/2003| 0 comments
by David Cohen
Astarloa crosses the line 5 seconds ahead of the chasers. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Astarloa crosses the line 5 seconds ahead of the chasers. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Spain?s Astarloa Takes World Championships Road Prize

Spain?s Igor Astarloa took the world?s biggest single-day road racing prize Sunday when he sped home first in the Elite Men?s Road Race at the Hamilton 2003 Road World Championships.   Alejandro Belmonte Valverde came second for a one-two Spanish finish.   <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Belgium
?s Peter Van Petegem was third in a sprint finish with Valverde. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

Heavy pre-race favourite Paolo Bettini of
Italy
was fourth.

 

Astarloa was part of a six-man escape group that formed on the first climb of the 21 st and last lap of the race.   Others in the group were Van Petegem, Michael Boogerd of the
Netherlands
, Bo Hamburger of
Denmark
, Oscar Camenzind of
Switzerland
, and Bettini.

 

They stayed pretty much together during the first climb up

Beckett Drive

to the top of the escarpment along Garth, Fennell and James Streets.   They then descended on the Claremont Access.   One more climb remained -- back up the
Claremont
.

 

At first, no one did anything significant.   But, suddenly, about half way up, Astarloa sped away from the group.   The attack occurred about 3 km from the finish.

 

It seemed, then, that Bettini would show his stuff   -- give chase, overtake Astarloa, and then romp home to keep the Elite Men?s title in Italian hands.   The Lion King, Mario Cipollini, would give way to The Cricket, Paolo Bettini.

 

But it didn?t happen.   Bettini responded, but weakly.   Astarloa, meanwhile, arrived alone at the summit of the
Claremont
climb.

 

?Bettini went to sleep,? said Giuseppe Ferrara, the man mainly responsible for bringing the Worlds to
Hamilton
.

 

That may be because the powerful 12-member Italian team seemed in control of the race until the last lap.   Virtually from the start, the front of the peloton was painted Italian blue.   The Italians seemed to be directing this production.

 

But Astarloa and wasn?t reading their script.   If he was following any example, it was that of  
Holland
?s Kai Reus, who broke away on the same climb Saturday to win gold in the Junior Men?s Road Race all alone at the finish.

 

?I said it four years ago when we first designed the course -- if someone gets to the top of the second climb with more than 10 seconds in hand, it?s virtually impossible for that person to lose,? said Ferrara.

 

That?s because the rest of the course dives down the steep and dangerous

James Street

descent (where there was a fairly serious crash Saturday in the Junior Men?s race).   An attempt to make up time on

James Street

would mean taking some serious risks.   The descent ends just before a 90-degree turn into the home stretch 250 meters away in front of
Hamilton
?s City Hall.

 

 

Jeannie Longo came within a hair?s breadth of making the course?s last descent work in her favour in Saturday?s Elite Women?s Road Race.   She, too, had made a solo attack but her?s was much longer

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