11.10.2001 11.10.2001 World Champ. - ind. TT POR CM MEL
Exclusive Report by InfoCiclismo Correspondent Nicholas W. van Aelstyn
Jan Ullrich of Germany today re-took the rainbow TT jersey that he won once before in 1999. He finished with a time of 51:49:99 at an average speed of 44.798 km/hr. Filling-out the podium were the two primary time trial combatants at the recent Vuelta a España, David Millar of Great Britain, the only other rider to crack 52 minutes today with a time of 51:56:29, and Santiago Botero of Colombia at 52:01:72. The American hopeful and Vuelta podium finisher, Levy Leipheimr, finished just off the podium in 4th at 52:14:69.
53 riders attacked the hilly, twisty 38.2 km course of two laps around Lisbon's large Monsanto Park under overcast skies with pleasantly cool temperatures in the low 70's. Perfect weather for a good hard ride. And it was clear that the riders were doing just that, the effort visible in the sweat pouring off them and the pain visible in their clenched faces. The crowd in the start-finish stands was small but appreciative, especially of the two Portuguese riders.
I arrived at the start-finish area while the second of three waves of riders were still on the course. At the finish line opposite the stands there's a large electric leader board and a huge jumbotron TV. The best time of the first wave of riders was still up there, and it was a homeboy, Joaquim Adrego Andrade of Portugal at 55:31:86. His time soon dropped down the board though, as the second wave riders started to arrive. First to beat him was Roland Green of Canada (14th in the end).
Nathan O'Neil of Australia was next to do so, sprinting the last 25 meters and lunging for the line, his large form clearly wracked with pain. (He was 8th overall.) Finally, Santos Gonzalez Capilla of Spain set the best time of the first two waves, his name atop the leader board for nearly an hour before the final wave started to arrive. (He finished 7th overall.)
After watching the second wave arrive I headed over to the riders area about 200 meters past the finish line. It's a long row of little tents -- one for each country -- with a few chairs in each and usually a set of rollers. The starting ramp is set-up just beyond the row of tents. I passed the Italian national champ Daniele Nardello, who was standing partially dressed and chatting with his managers; his efforts to wipe-off with a towel appeared to be having no effect on the streams of sweat still pouring off his body. (He finished what may have been a disappointing 24th, though clearly not from a lack of effort.)
The USA tent is second from the end nearest the start ramp. I wondered down there and watched as Jonathan Vaughters cleaned-up after his ride in the second wave. His Look bike was already mounted on a mechanics stand and the wheels removed. When you see Vaughters up close, it's striking just how small and skinny he is. He looks like a natural climber. I listened while the John Wilcockson interviewed him. Vaughters told the esteemed VeloNews reporter that that was his last
race of the season. Afterwards he might do some commentating in London or return home to the States. He asked Wilcockson how the weather was back in Colorado. A little later your humble correspondent screwed-up the courage to ask a few questions as well.
Interview with Jonathan Vaughters after his ITT World Championship ride in Lisbon, Portugal by InfoCiclismo Correspondent Nicholas W. van Aelstyn
NWV: "How did it go out there today?"
JV: "Not too good. I had a bad day. [Vaughters finished 36th overall at 56:23:86.] It's a time trial course unlike any I've ever seen. Up and down, twists and turns, you're in the big ring and then the small ring. Have a hard time on one of those hills, and bam you could lose 30 seconds. It's tough."
NWV: "Who do you think will do well today?"
JV: "Santiago Botero and David Millar are the favorites. Look out for Levy though, he could do well. Ullrich too, of course."
Given that he named the top four finishers, I'd say he could do some good commentating. I also asked him if he knew who the American road team would be working for on Sunday. Not being in the race himself, he said he didn't, but noted that both Chann McRae and Levy Leipheimer are here.
Soon the split times started to be announced over the loudspeaker, first in Portuguese, then French and finally English. Millar had the best time at the 13 km check, followed by Botero, Leipheimer and Ullrich. It looked like Vaughters was going to be right! Sergei Gontchar of Ukraine, riding last as the defending TT champ, clearly was not doing well. I saw him go by on the first lap and he looked to be hurting. He ultimately finished 11th overall. Later at the 32 km check, Millar was still leading, followed by Botero and Ullrich, Leipheimer had slipped to 4th. Ullrich put in a tremendously strong final push to overtake Millar.
No reporters surrounded Leipheimer in the tent after the race. He looked very cool and after a short bit got on the rollers for a warm-down. Vaughters was still there and joked with him that Ullrich might yet crash in that final turn. David George of South Africa wondered by to say hi in his Panaria kit. (He finished 26th overall.) I saw good old Neil Stephens, the Australian formerly of the ONCE and Festina teams, chatting nearby with another "mate." He seems just as exuberantly cheerful in person as he did on TV as a rider, and I was reminded of that wonderful moment at the '97 Tour de France when he won a stage and crossed the line while motioning as though rocking a baby to commemorate the recent birth of his child.
In the tent next door to Vaughters a large crowd of Dutch reporters was interviewing Bart Voskamp who finished 38th overall. Tells you something about what sports are popular where, eh? Similarly un-bothered by press was Santiago Botero a few tents down the row. He was one of the first of the last wave to start and so had time to wait and see how his rivals would fare. He and his Colombian support team were clearly very happy. There were lots of smiles and back- slapping, and
he even posed for a few photos with some friends while another took pictures with several of their cameras. I don't know if Colombia has ever won a worlds medal (I know they didn't in '95 when the worlds were held in Duitama, Colombia), but it was clear they were thrilled with his result today, no matter what Millar and Ullrich might yet do.
David Millar arrived soon thereafter. He looked near to collapsing off his bike when he rolled in. He staggered over to a chair in his tent and sat for a few moments with his head in his hands trying to recover. He took time to drink a soda and compose himself, ignoring the large crowd of journalists and photographers around him.
Then the announcer said that Ullrich had caught the rider ahead of him, last year's under 23 TT champ, Laszlo Bodrogi of Hungary (who finished a very respectable 5th overall, mind you), and it was clear that we were about to see something special. Seconds later we all knew that Ullrich had won the championship. I happened to be just the other side of the German tent and watched as he came zipping in with a huge crowd of journalists, photographers and TV cameramen jostling after him. I stood in the empty tent next door and had a clear view of Ullrich as he quickly took off his jersey and wiped down. He was all smiles as he received the congratulations from several friends among the German support team. He looked genuinely happy, not triumphant, and he really does have a very warm smile. I soon realized that some others had also discovered the open tent next door, as several young Slovenian riders on their bikes were moving in behind me to get photos just as I had. I made room for them and went round to the front to watch as Ullrich, now in a clean shirt, answered a few questions of the clamoring German press. Soon we were all pushed aside by support staff as Ullrich re-mounted his bike and headed over to the podium area, the media pack hot on his heels.
The awards ceremony was very nice. Tinny marshall music was played as the presenters processed up. First came the six podium girls wearing tastefully conservative dress suits of alternating blue and red, three bearing white satin pillows with the medals and three bearing bouquets. Then the UCI officials, and finally the riders. Ullrich was quietly beaming; Botero looked pleased as well. Millar seemed to me to be a bit sullen, perhaps disappointed (he lost by just 6 seconds) or maybe he
just finds the attention of the podium awkward. The medals were hung 'round their necks, and then the flowers were presented. After the German national anthem was played, Millar and Botero joined Ullrich on the top for the traditional photo.
Afterwards, round back, I saw Botero escorted on his bike through the crowd of eager fans trying to catch a glimpse of their heroes. Then the crowd got really big as a horde of folks wearing bright orange "Jan Ullrich Fan Club" vests pushed forward, some waving banners on high. When the man himself emerged on his bike amidst his attendants, the crowd surged forward. He quickly moved through, not stopping for autographs. A fellow standing next to me managed to pat Ullrich on the back as he rode by and then triumphantly waved the proud hand to his friends. I suspect a few more will hear about that backslap over some beers tonight.
Your humble correspondent is now going to head off in search of a stein to tip as well, or perhaps a nice glass of Portuguese tinto down in the ancient Baixa or Barrio Alto. I will leave the busy press hall to the pros. A parting thought: Keep an eye on Levy Leipheimer, both this Sunday in the road race and in the years to come. Readers may recall another American a few years back who set the then best ever American finish at the Vuelta (4th) and a few weeks later in Holland finished 4th at the world championships in both the time trial and the road race. The year was 1998. That rider was one Lance Armstrong.
Men's Elite Individual Time Trial, 38.2 km: (Intermediate Times at 4.5 km, 13km, 19.2km and finish)
1. Jan Ullrich (GER) 7:07 18:33 25:46 51:49
2. David Millar (GBR) 6.53 18:12 25:29 51:56
3. Santiago Botero (COL) 6:58 18:18 25:33 52:01
4. Levy Leipheimer (USA) 7:07 18:23 25:40 52:14
5. Laszlo Bodrogi (HUN) 7:21 19:06 26:03 52:50
6. Leif Hoste (BEL) 7:18 18:43 25.52 52:54
7. Santos González (SPA) 7:12 18:43 26:06 53:16
8. Nathan O'Neill (AUS) 7:08 18:36 26.04 53:18
9. David Plaza (SPA) 7:18 19:04 26:26 53:35
10. Michael Blaudzun (DEN) 7:21 19:14 26:36 53:41
11. Serguei Honchar (UKR) 53:45
12. Piotr Chmielewski (POL) 53:55
13. Jean Nuttli (SWI) 53:57
14. Roland Green (CAN) 54:07
15. Fabian Cancellara (SWI) 54:13
MEDAL STANDINGS AFTER 3 DAYS
COUNTRY GOLD SILVER BRONZE TOTAL
Germany 1 1 2
Great Britain 1 1 2
Belgium 1 - - 1
France 1 - - 1
USA 1 - - 1
Ukraine - 1 - 1
Russia - 1 - 1
Switzerland - 1 - 1
Spain - - 1 1
Colombia - - 1 1
Holland - - 1 1
Lithuania - - 1 1
South Africa - - 1 1
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Dutchman Hein Verbruggen will remain at the head of the Union Cycliste Internationale until the end of 2005. The president of the UCI has been re-elected and accepted to continue for another four years.
MAPEI-QUICK STEP: GILMORE SIGNS-UP
Next year Matthew Gilmore will be joining the Professional Cycling MAPEI-Quick Step Team. The 29-year-old Matthew of Australian origin but with a Belgian passport has just signed a contract that will see him joining the team for the 2002 season.
Gilmore has been a professional racer since 1994. Mostly he will be taking part in on road races that make up the International Calendar. He will be taking part in the "6 Giorni – 6 Days race" where he will be coupled with the 2000 Olympic Champion Scott McGrory. During the Olympic games of Sydney, Gilmore who was coupled with De Wilde gained second place behind the Australian duo of McGrory-Aitken.
Charly Mottet has resigned his position at the Société du Tour de France due to personal and family reasons.www.infociclismo.com