Ljungskog Takes Second Consecutive Road Title in Worlds

News & Results

10/12/2003| 0 comments
by David Cohen
Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden nipped Holland's Mirjam Melchers at the line. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden nipped Holland's Mirjam Melchers at the line. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Ljungskog Takes Second Consecutive Road Title in Worlds

- but Longo nearly steals the show.

Susanne Ljungskog of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
Sweden
nipped
Holland
?s Mirjam Melchers at the line Saturday to win her second consecutive Elite Women?s Road Race at the Hamilton 2003 Road World Championships. 
Great Britain
?s Nicole Cooke was a very close third. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>

 

 

But almost overshadowing the three medal winners was a dramatic solo attack staged by 44-year-old Jeannie Longo of
France
, the legend-on-a-bike who has been on Worlds podiums 12 times.

 

The 10-lap, 124 km race was a largely humdrum affair until the 8th lap, when Longo suddenly streaked out in front.  Until then, there were very few attacks of any consequence. Even after Longo made her move, there seemed to be a general reluctance to reel her back in.

 

Melchers said she began to be concerned as Longo continued to maintain leads as much as 25 seconds well into the last lap.  ?I had to do the work; no one seemed to want to do anything,? Melchers said.

 

Asked if her work to capture Longo may have sapped some of her energy for the final sprint, she replied,  ?You never know.?

 

Cooke, who also played a key role in chasing Longo, was more blunt: ?Maybe those teams with more riders should have done more work.?

 

Ljungskog acknowledged her podium mates? work, but she credited her win to ?Swedish tactics? .

 

She professed surprise at the rather somnolent early laps, saying her basic tactic was to ?stay calm and let the other teams work.?   She predicted that the road course would prove tough on the Elite Men (who race tomorrow) if there were a fast pace.

 

Longo?s escape seemed at first to be a temporary gambit, but it began to look like a winning move as she kept a steady rhythm going into the 10th lap.  Diminutive but powerful, she looked as if she would be a candidate for another gold medal.

 

Cooke and Melchers began to press forward at the top of the escarpment but Longo held them off and was still leading as the Claremont Access descent.  The pursuers gained on her as the she raced back up the
Claremont
but she was still leading on the top. Not by enough, however, as it turned out.  She was gobbled up on the final descent.

 

Longo finished sixth, four seconds behind Ljungskog?s time of three hours, 16 minutes and six seconds.  Edita Pucinskaite of
Lithuania
was fourth and Olga Zabelinskaia of
Russia
fifth.  They were given the winner?s time.

 

Sue Palmer-Komar of
Canada
(and
Hamilton
) came 13th, the best Canadian finisher.  Lynne Bessette was 17th.  These creditable finishes helped to ease some of the disappointment felt in the Canadian camp. Saturday morning the Union Cycliste Internationale, the governing body of the Worlds, announced that Genevieve Jeanson had been declared ?unfit? to ride in Saturday?s race after a random blood screening test found that she had an elevated red blood cell level.  This suspension will last 15 days.  A urine analysis is also being carried out. Jeanson won the women?s

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