By Kip Mikler, VeloNews editor
After three days of time trial competition in Bardolino, Italy, road racing at the 2004 world championships got underway on a foggy Friday morning in the city of Verona. The first to don the rainbow stripes in Verona was Marianne Vos of the Netherlands, the winner of the 73.75km junior women’s road race.
On a course similar to the one used in 1999, when road world’s were last held here, Vos won on a solo breakaway after escaping 8km from the finish near an ancient Roman arena in Verona’s Piazza Brà. After several attempts by others to get away on the Torricelle climb, the main obstacle in the 14.75km course, Vos made it count with a hard attack on the final ascent of the Torricelle.
Vos, who also competes in mountain biking and cyclo-cross, continued the Netherlands’ hot streak in junior women’s racing, making it three straight world titles in the category over the past three years. Vos was joined by fellow Dutchwoman Eleanora Van Dijk on the podium; Van Dijk finished third after being edged out by Italian Marta Bastianelli in the sprint for second.
American Rebecca Much, silver medalist in the junior women’s time trial four days ago, and the sole U.S. representative in Friday’s road race, stayed near the front all day. The 18-year-old from Chicago spent the day chasing down attacks by the Italians, Dutch and Germans, teams that each outnumbered her 4-to-1, but she was unable to contest the final dash for the medals. Much finished 15th.
Vos, who finished ninth at last month’s world cross-country championships in Les Gets, France, said she was aware of the legacy to uphold with the young Dutch riders, but had no indication of how she might fare in Friday’s race.
“You hope you can get in the lead group, but you don’t know,” she said. “You don’t know the other girls you ride against because we don’t have international competition.”
At age 17, the dark-haired Vos is a first-year junior, as is her blond teammate Van Dijk.
When presented with the predictable question of what her future might hold, Vos said it’s too early to decide which of cycling’s disciplines will become her specialty.
“In a few years, yeah, I’ll have to make a choice,” she said. “But for now I race all three disciplines and like it. In the winter, I race cyclo-cross, in the summer road and mountain biking. It’s not that hard.”
The two medals by Vos and Van Dijk made it three for the Netherlands in the medal count, which is currently led by Germany with four.
The world road championships continued Friday afternoon in Italy with the men’s under-23 road race. The 171 U23 men were scheduled to race 12 laps on the same course as the junior women.
1. Marianne Vos (Nl), 73.75km in 2:11:44
2. Marta Bastianelli (I), at 0:30
3. Eleonora Van Dijk (Nl), same time
4. Olena Andruk (Ukr), s.t.
5. Roxane Knetemann (Nl), s.t.
6. Daiva Tuslaite (Lit), s.t.
7. Ekaterina Tretiakova (Rus), s.t.
8. Savrina Bernardi (I), s.t.
9. Amanda Spratt (Aus), s.t.
10. Suzanne Van Veen (Nl), s.t.