Oscar Freire outsprints Erik Zabel and Luca Paolini to take his third WC title in five years. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Freire's victory puts him in elite company. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Freire Wins His Third World Road Race Championship
Oscar Freire (Spain) has won the World Road Race Championship for a record-tying third time.
Oscar Freire ( <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?> Spain) has won the World Road Race Championship for a record-tying third time. Freire took advantage of the help of five other Spaniards who made the final selection of 15 riders and then blasting into the lead in the final 100 m to win the 18-lap, 265.9-km ride in Verona, Italy in . Erik Zabel ( Germany) took the silver medal, and Luca Paolini ( Italy) grabbed the bronze.
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Christophe Le Mevel ( France) wasted no time in beginning the day?s hostilities. Le Mevel attacked on the first ascent of the Torricelle. Eventually, Vladimir Efimkin ( Russia) bridged up to the Frenchman, and the pair forged a seven-minute lead by midrace.
Eladio Jimenez ( Spain) attacked from the peloton, and counterattacks ensued. The shakeout produced a 30-rider chase group that reeled in Le Mevel and Efimkin at about 165 km. The peloton, which was behind the break, began to chase. The Italian squad, sans Paolo Bettini (he had needed two wheel changes and hit his knee against a team car door before abandoning), led the pursuit that caught the break at the end of lap 12.
Steve Zampieri ( Switzerland) and Sylvain Calzati ( France) attacked. Frank Hoj ( Denmark), Bartosz Huzarski ( Poland), and Koos Moerenhout (the Netherlands) bridged up to the pair. At 191 km, the break led Denys Kostyuk ( Ukraine) by 0:50, Charles Dionne ( Canada) by , and the peloton by .
The Spaniards began to press the pace. With four laps left, the bunch was 0:35 behind Kostyuk and behind the leading quintet. Because Italy?s team captain Bettini was hors de combat, Italian team manager Franco Ballerini made Damiano Cunego and Ivan Basso his go-to guys. The Italians joined the Spaniards at the front.
With three laps left and the break?s advantage down to , the Australians joined the Italians and the Spaniards. Zampieri attacked his companions, and only Moerenhout could join him. The pair stayed away one lap before the avalanche, which was led by Italy, Spain, and Australia, engulfed them.
Patrick Calcagni ( Switzerland) counterattacked on the Torricelle. He forged a 20-second lead on the descent. The Spaniards led the pursuit and reeled in Calcagni with two laps remaining.
Luis Perez ( Spain) led the field up the Torricelle. Attacks by Leonardo Bertagnolli and by Ivan Basso (both from Italy) split the field. The Spaniards put six men in the lead group, the Germans four, and the Italians five, while Stuart O?Grady ( Australia), Alexandre Vinokourov ( Kazakhstan), Michael Boogerd ( Netherlands), and Chris Horner ( United States ) helped to round out the group.
The Spaniards led the break into the last lap. Michael Rasmussen ( Denmark) attacked, and Marcos Serrano ( Spain) chased him down. Boogerd countered, and Freire joined him. On the descent, a regroupment occurred. Steffen