Flecha Wins Championship of Zurich
Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) is the surprise winner of the Championship of Zurich.
Juan Antonio Flecha (Fassa Bortolo) is the surprise winner of the Championship of Zurich. The Spaniard took a bunch sprint from Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) and Jerome Pineau (Brioches La Boulangere) to win the 241-km race, which is Round 8 of the World Cup, in 6:13:30. Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner) continues to lead the competition, but Bettini has reduced his lead to six points.
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The weather was cool and overcast, and the racing began early. At 10 km, David Zabriskie (U.S. Postal Service - Click here for our recent interview with Zabriskie) and Carlos Barredo (Liberty Seguros) went off of the front. Their lead ballooned to 21 minutes before the bunch began to chase.
T-Mobile, Quick Step, and Gerolsteiner led the pursuit. With 40 km left, and less than a minute separating the bunch and the break, Francesco Casagrande (Lampre), Alexander Vinokourov (T-Mobile), Markus Zberg (Gerolsteiner), and Michael Rogers (Quick Step) countered and overtook the leaders. Rogers, however, did not work, and the bunch was together at the beginning of the final ascent of the Pfannenstiel.
At the base of the climb, Bettini attacked, and Rebellin and Michael Albasini (Phonak) took his wheel. The peloton was reduced to 30 riders, and a series of attacks took place. The lead group regrouped on the descent.
With 14 km remaining, Rebellin attacked and took Bettini, Dario Frigo (Fassa Bortolo), and Paolo Savoldelli (T-Mobile) with him. This move appeared to be the winning break, but the bunch rode them down. In the closing km, Erik Dekker (Rabobank), Rik Verbrugghe (Lotto), and Michael Barry (U.S. Postal Service) made attacks, but Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick Step) led Bettini and the rest of the group to their wheels. In the last km, Dekker had another go, but the lead group was having none of it.
Flecha and Barry made the first move. Bettini took Barry?s wheel. The Olympic champion came around the Canadian, but the Spaniard held him off for his first World Cup victory. Bettini congratulated Flecha with a pat on the back.
In the overall, Rebellin, who earned 32 points for sixth place in Zurich, leads the World Cup with 314 points. The Gerolsteiner man is six points ahead of Bettini, who garnered 70 points for second, and 112 ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank), who received 20 points for ninth. The World Cup is a two-man race that Rounds 9 and 10 (Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy in October) will decide. Who will prevail? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!
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