Events

Botero scores Colombian gold

Santiago Botero must be relieved he decided to come to Zolder. The Colombian suffered through much of the 2002 Vuelta a España despite winning a stage and wondered out loud if he would compete in the world championships. But a strong fourth-place finish in the Vuelta’s final time trial helped change his mind. On a blustery, flat course in northern Belgium, Botero became the first Colombian to win a world championship gold medal. Riding a 55x11 through strong crosswinds and headwinds topping 25 kph that buffeted the 57 riders, Botero made up time on Michael Rich to edge the German by just 8

By Andrew Hood

Photo: Graham Watson

Santiago Botero must be relieved he decided to come to Zolder. The Colombian suffered through much of the 2002 Vuelta a España despite winning a stage and wondered out loud if he would compete in the world championships.

But a strong fourth-place finish in the Vuelta’s final time trial helped change his mind. On a blustery, flat course in northern Belgium, Botero became the first Colombian to win a world championship gold medal.

Riding a 55×11 through strong crosswinds and headwinds topping 25 kph that buffeted the 57 riders, Botero made up time on Michael Rich to edge the German by just 8 seconds to claim the rainbow jersey.

“I played with the wind a little bit. When it was in my face, I went as hard as I could and when I had a tailwind, I tried to recuperate,” Botero said. “I was the strongest in the final 10 kilometers because that’s the way I ride from my experience on the track in the pursuit.”

Pre-race favorites such as Brit David Millar, German Uwe Peschel and Spaniard Aitor Gonzalez struggled against the wind. Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov, the 2000 Olympic gold medalist, posted an early fast time at 49:38, good enough for 15th by the time all the favorites came through.

Spanish rider Igor Gonzalez de Galdeano was fastest until Rich came through with the fastest intermediate time at 20 km and 25 km, but hung on to take bronze despite a malfunction with his course radio. Botero was third-fastest through the first two time splits, but made up time in the final 10 kilometers of the course to erase the differences.

It was the second time in three years Rich has to settle for the silver medal in a narrow defeat. In 2000, he lost by 10 seconds to Serguei Honchar in Plouay, France.

“I am both disappointed and pleased because to lose two medals by just 18 seconds is difficult,” said Rich, scoring Germany’s sixth world’s podium since the time trial was introduced as a world championship event in 1994. “I think tomorrow I’ll be happier about this medal than I am today.”

Americans Dylan Casey and Chris Horner each were hoping for more. Casey finished 28th with 50:32.21 while Horner was 36th with 51:01.13.

“I was hoping for something better today. I wouldn’t have even gotten on the plane if I was expecting to finish in the top-10,” said Horner. “I wanted to be in the top-3. I’m used to winning bicycle races, so it doesn’t matter when you come over here, you come here to win.”

Casey said he felt good on the course, but was taken aback when he crossed the line to see his time. “I’m surprised my time was as bad as it was. I was feeling pretty good,” said Casey, who said his computer broke and didn’t have any references.

The Canadians fared better. Two-time defending mountain bike world champion Roland Green ripped one of the earliest times, passing his two-minute man, Namibia’s Mannie Heymans, before hitting the first time split at 20 km. Green, 14th last year at Portugal, finished 20th with 50:15.95 while compatriot Eric Wohlberg was the top North American at 19th with 50:00.14.

Without Armstrong and defending world time trial champion Jan Ullrich at the start line, someone asked if Botero thought his victory meant as much to him.

“This medal has great value to me because this is the world championship and everyone came here prepared to be at their best,” Botero said. “I cannot control who is or isn’t here. I have beaten Armstrong in the past and there will be other chances for us to compete against each other.”

Botero’s world championships title caps what’s been an incredibly up and down season.

Botero won the Classiques des Alpes in June and then beat four-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong in the Montelimar to Pierrelatte time trial at the Criterium du Dauphine Libere in June. In July, Botero handed Armstrong his first defeat in a long Tour time trial in the Lanester to Lorient course.

Botero then won the Les Deux Alpes mountain stage and finished fourth in the Tour. Botero was expected to be a shoe-in for the Vuelta a España podium, but faded with poor form and only managed to finish 66th overall.

1. Santiago Botero (Col), at 48:08.45 (50.352 kph)2. Michael Rich (G), at 0:08.233. Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa), at 0:17.154. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), at 0:25.535. Uwe Peschel (G), at 0:33.766. David Millar (GB), at 0:35.327. Aitor Gonzalez (Spa), at 1:04.038. Michael Rogers (Aus), at 1:06.349. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), at 1:07.8110. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), at 1:15.4211. Bogdan Bondariew (Ukr), at 1:16.1112. Marc Wauters (Bel), at 1:29.7713. Bert Roesems (Bel), at 1:29.9014. Filippo Pozzato (I), at 1:30.1915. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), at 1:30.3416. Christophe Moreau (F), at 1:38.1517. Evgeni Petrov (Rus), at 1:40.2218. Manuel Quinziato (I), at 1:47.2219. Eric Wohlberg (Can), at 1:51.6820. Roland Green (Can), at 2:07.4921. Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit), at 2:11.4122. Steffen Kjaergaard (N), at 2:11.7623. Jean Nuttli (Swi), at 2:11.9824. Eugen Wacker (Kg), at 2:14.6125. Servais Knaven (Nl), at 2:17.8126. Stuart Dangerfield (GB), at 2:17.8927. Robert Hunter (SA), at 2:19.3628. Martin Cotar (Cro), at 2:19.9329. Dylan Casey (USA), at 2:23.7630. Georg Totschnig (A), at 2:25.0731. José Azevedo (P), at 2:25.0832. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), at 2:27.1233. Dean Podgornik (Slo), at 2:30.9734. Victor Hugo Pena (Col), at 2:32.4335. Nathan O’Neill (Aus), at 2:44.6436. Ondrej Sosenka (Cz), at 2:45.3637. Chris Horner (USA), at 2:52.6738. Tomasz Brozyna (Pol), at 2:53.9139. Edgardo Simon (Arg), at 2:59.4640. Thor Hushovd (N), at 3:01.5041. Benoît Joachim (Lux), at 3:05.4642. Slawomir Kohut (Pol), at 3:10.1443. Igor Bonciucov (Mda), at 3:10.7344. Csaba Szekeres (Hun), at 3:12.8345. Pedro Miguel Lopes Goncalves (P), at 3:17.7846. Andrey Mizourov (Kaz), at 3:25.9447. Marcus Ljungqvist (S), at 3:53.0248. Tiaan Kannemeyer (SA), at 3:57.1849. Magnus Backstedt (S), at 4:00.3050. Jacky Durand (F), at 4:02.4251. Jan Valach (Svk), at 4:05.4952. Alexander Kuchynski (Blr), at 4:05.6953. Christian Poos (Lux), at 4:28.3554. Paul Van Schalen (Nl), at 4:31.2055. David O’Loughlin (Irl), at 4:58.8856. Mannie Heymans (N), at 6:39.6757. Pavel Nevdakh (Kaz), at 6:58.22

Results

1. Santiago Botero (Col), at 48:08.45 (50.352 kph)
2. Michael Rich (G), at 0:08.23
3. Igor Gonzalez De Galdeano (Spa), at 0:17.15
4. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun), at 0:25.53
5. Uwe Peschel (G), at 0:33.76
6. David Millar (GB), at 0:35.32
7. Aitor Gonzalez (Spa), at 1:04.03
8. Michael Rogers (Aus), at 1:06.34
9. Fabian Cancellara (Swi), at 1:07.81
10. Raivis Belohvosciks (Lat), at 1:15.42
11. Bogdan Bondariew (Ukr), at 1:16.11
12. Marc Wauters (Bel), at 1:29.77
13. Bert Roesems (Bel), at 1:29.90
14. Filippo Pozzato (I), at 1:30.19
15. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), at 1:30.34
16. Christophe Moreau (F), at 1:38.15
17. Evgeni Petrov (Rus), at 1:40.22
18. Manuel Quinziato (I), at 1:47.22
19. Eric Wohlberg (Can), at 1:51.68
20. Roland Green (Can), at 2:07.49
21. Marius Sabaliauskas (Lit), at 2:11.41
22. Steffen Kjaergaard (N), at 2:11.76
23. Jean Nuttli (Swi), at 2:11.98
24. Eugen Wacker (Kg), at 2:14.61
25. Servais Knaven (Nl), at 2:17.81
26. Stuart Dangerfield (GB), at 2:17.89
27. Robert Hunter (SA), at 2:19.36
28. Martin Cotar (Cro), at 2:19.93
29. Dylan Casey (USA), at 2:23.76
30. Georg Totschnig (A), at 2:25.07
31. José Azevedo (P), at 2:25.08
32. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), at 2:27.12
33. Dean Podgornik (Slo), at 2:30.97
34. Victor Hugo Pena (Col), at 2:32.43
35. Nathan O’Neill (Aus), at 2:44.64
36. Ondrej Sosenka (Cz), at 2:45.36
37. Chris Horner (USA), at 2:52.67
38. Tomasz Brozyna (Pol), at 2:53.91
39. Edgardo Simon (Arg), at 2:59.46
40. Thor Hushovd (N), at 3:01.50
41. Benoît Joachim (Lux), at 3:05.46
42. Slawomir Kohut (Pol), at 3:10.14
43. Igor Bonciucov (Mda), at 3:10.73
44. Csaba Szekeres (Hun), at 3:12.83
45. Pedro Miguel Lopes Goncalves (P), at 3:17.78
46. Andrey Mizourov (Kaz), at 3:25.94
47. Marcus Ljungqvist (S), at 3:53.02
48. Tiaan Kannemeyer (SA), at 3:57.18
49. Magnus Backstedt (S), at 4:00.30
50. Jacky Durand (F), at 4:02.42
51. Jan Valach (Svk), at 4:05.49
52. Alexander Kuchynski (Blr), at 4:05.69
53. Christian Poos (Lux), at 4:28.35
54. Paul Van Schalen (Nl), at 4:31.20
55. David O’Loughlin (Irl), at 4:58.88
56. Mannie Heymans (N), at 6:39.67
57. Pavel Nevdakh (Kaz), at 6:58.22