Events

Velits strikes U23 gold

Scores of attacks in the final laps in the chaotic men’s U23 world championships failed to break the elastic to the sprinters and 22-year-old Peter Velits of Slovakia confidently snagged the rainbow jersey in a crash-marred bunch sprint. The pace wasn’t hard enough over the hilly, 19.1km circuit for several late-race breakaway attempts to stick. The Norwegians did most of the heavy lifting to reel in the remnants of a 12-man group in the final lap, but their work was all for naught. Pre-race favorite Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway tumbled in a finish line crash behind French and Swiss

Lewis, Peterson in top 30

By Andrew Hood

The crash...

The crash…

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Slovakia's Peter Velis (center) and Australia's Wesley Sulzberger (left) sprint

Slovakia’s Peter Velis (center) and Australia’s Wesley Sulzberger (left) sprint

Photo: AFP

Scores of attacks in the final laps in the chaotic men’s U23 world championships failed to break the elastic to the sprinters and 22-year-old Peter Velits of Slovakia confidently snagged the rainbow jersey in a crash-marred bunch sprint.

The pace wasn’t hard enough over the hilly, 19.1km circuit for several late-race breakaway attempts to stick. The Norwegians did most of the heavy lifting to reel in the remnants of a 12-man group in the final lap, but their work was all for naught.

Pre-race favorite Edvald Boasson Hagen of Norway tumbled in a finish line crash behind French and Swiss riders who clipped wheels, but it didn’t matter.

Velits, 22, used his form from winning the professional GP de Fourmies two weeks ago to triumph by a bike length ahead of Australia’s Wesley Sulzberger with Great Britain’s Jonathan Bellis hanging on to take bronze.

“We tried to get away earlier but it wasn’t possible, so I knew it was going to come down to a sprint. That last kilometer was hard for everyone and I got into position going into the last turn. I was on the outside and I didn’t focus on anyone in particular. I just wanted to have a clean shot to the finish,” Velits said. “It was a very chaotic finish. It was a hard and fast uphill sprint, that’s good for me.”

American Craig Lewis led the peloton to reel in Russian Ivan Rovny and Frenchman Julien Simon with about one kilometer to go.

Riding in his final U23 world’s before joining the ProTour ranks with T-Mobile for the 2008 season, Lewis was swarmed by the sprinters in the final 400 meters while Thomas Peterson was the top American in 29th with Lewis 30th.

... the win.

… the win.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“We weren’t waiting for the sprint, but there was never a good opportunity for us to go. It was really strung out in the last three laps. I tried to go to the two guys with 500 meters to go and I caught them, but that’s all I had,” said Lewis. “It was a hard race, we could have used a few more hard laps in the end because it was right on the edge of exploding. In a race like this, everyone is fresh and motivated, it comes down to individuals.”

American Craig Lewis at the start.

American Craig Lewis at the start.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Peter Stetina was 93rd at 11:12 back and Max Jenkins was 110th at 16:24 back. Tejay Van Garderen did not finish.

For Velits – who races on the Wiesenhof continental team with his twin brother Martin – the victory could serve as a trampoline to a contract with a ProTour team next season.

“We’re going to be talking more after winning this race. I expect more teams to be interested,” he said. “No matter where I go, I want my brother to join me if possible. We understand each other well. He really helped me today to reel in the breakaway. This victory is half his.”

Early moves squelched
Brisk winds and mostly sunny skies welcomed the 168 riders from 47 nations for the nine-lap, 171.9km race.

There were some bigger names in the always-unpredictable U-23 race, with Russian Mikhail Ignatiev and Norwegian sprinter ace Hagen among the standouts to challenge the always-deep Belgians, French and Italian teams while the five-man American squad was led by T-Mobile-bound Lewis and Peterson.

Three riders peeled away in the opening lap to set the day’s early breakaway, with Dane Andreas Frisch, South African Jacques Janse Van Rensburg and Serbian Esad Hasanovic surging away.

The Serb lost the wheel on the third lap, leaving Van Rensburg and Frisch to build a nearly a five-minute lead after three laps. The peloton finally came alive to pick up the chase to trim the lead to 1:30 with five laps to go as riders splayed out of the bunch only to be reeled in.

 Van Rensburg and Frisch give it their best.

Van Rensburg and Frisch give it their best.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The Italians picked up the chase to neutralize the move with three and a half laps to go and sent Francesco Pirazzi clear to a hold narrow, 16-second lead with three laps left to race.

Lithuanian Ignatas Konovalovas then Russian Ivan Rovny bridged out heading up the hard climb at Herdweg before Rovny blew with leg cramps. Canadian Christian Meier also bridged across as the main pack was still north of 100 riders.

With two laps to go, the leading trio had about 30 seconds as things started to get interesting.

Attacking finale
Things started to rev’ up with two laps to go as the Dutch, Russians and Australian started popping riders up the road. The leading trio was reeled in heading up the Herdweg climb as the race blew up under the long distance.

Not an easy course

Not an easy course

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The day’s second climb of each lap – the Birkenkopf – a good group of about a dozen riders peeled off the front that included U23 time trial champ Lars Boom. Boom was joined by Slovenian Simon Spilak and Estonian Rein Taaramae.

Each time, the Americans tried to put riders into the breaks but just missed the moves.

“It never stayed hard enough to make it real selective. Every time after each steep climb, they would sit up. Every time there was a group over the top and I was trying to get into the groups in the final three laps, but I just missed it because positioning was really hard on this course,” Peterson said. “The legs felt really good. I came out of Avenir pretty good so we’re satisfied.”

Dane Jakob Fugslang jettisoned out of a chase group to latch on while Norwegians put three riders on the front to try reel in the aggression. The leading quartet had about five seconds on another five chasers and then about 45 seconds to the main pack.

On the bell lap, Spilak zoomed out of the front group, leaving Boom and the others to chase, but the peloton was clawing back on the Herdweg.

Riders splayed forward out of the closing-in peloton at the foot of the Birkenkopf when Simon and Rovny made a late run only to be caught with about one kilometer to go led by Lewis.

Danish fans out in force.

Danish fans out in force.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

With a bunch sprint in the cards, Velits swept through the final right-hander with 200m to go in good position to have a clear shot up the grinding, rising finishing straight. Velits made easy work to take gold while Sulzberger delivered silver for the Aussies.

“I heard (the crash) over my shoulder, but I wasn’t involved, so I just kept my head down,” Sulzberger said. “I was working hard at the end and was so close to the winner that in a way I am disappointed not to get gold, but to taking home a medal is a great feeling.”

Bellis slotted in for bronze after riding conservatively as part of the three-man British team.

“It’s my first year in the under-23 ranks and this is well beyond my expectations, I am over the moon,” he said. “With only three riders, we had to conserve a lot in the end. I was just looking to position ourselves and try to do something in the final laps. We are a pretty small team, so we knew we had to fend for ourselves and leave a bit in the tank for the finish. Thankfully, that tactic paid off.”

With the elite men’s race on tap Sunday, it’s hard to read how the race will unfold. The women won a final-lap solo attack while the U23 ended in a bunch sprint.

With the strong national teams for the elite men’s race, it will take some hard men fend off the sprinters at Stuttgart.

Results
1. Peter Velits – Slovakia 172km in 4:21:22
2. Wesley Sulzberger – Australia
3. Jonathan Bellis – Great Britain
4. Tom Leezer – Netherlands
5. Daniel Wyss – Switzerland
6. Jonas Aaen Jörgensen – Denmark
7. Domenik Klemme – Germany
8. Florian Vachon – France
9. Vitaliy Buts – Ukraine
10. Andrey Zeits – Kazakhstan
11. Juraj Sagan – Slovakia
12. Pawel Cieslik – Poland
13. Simone Ponzi – Italy
14. Stefan Denifl – Austria
15. Rui Costa – Portugal
16. Mickael Larpe – France
17. Simon Spilak – Slovakia
18. Ivan Rovny – Russian
19. Nikolas Maes – Belgium
20. Rafai Chtioui – Tunisia

Photo Gallery

Results

Results
1. Peter Velits – Slovakia 172km in 4:21:22

2. Wesley Sulzberger – Australia

3. Jonathan Bellis – Great Britain

4. Tom Leezer – Netherlands

5. Daniel Wyss – Switzerland

6. Jonas Aaen Jörgensen – Denmark

7. Domenik Klemme – Germany

8. Florian Vachon – France

9. Vitaliy Buts – Ukraine

10. Andrey Zeits – Kazakhstan

11. Juraj Sagan – Slovakia

12. Pawel Cieslik – Poland

13. Simone Ponzi – Italy

14. Stefan Denifl – Austria

15. Rui Costa – Portugal

16. Mickael Larpe – France

17. Simon Spilak – Slovakia

18. Ivan Rovny – Russian

19. Nikolas Maes – Belgium

20. Rafai Chtioui – Tunisia

21. Christopher Froome – Kenya

22. Roman Kireyev – Kazakhstan

23. Marco Frapporti – Italy

24. José Herrada Lopez – Spain

25. Ignatas Konovalovas – Lithuania

26. Daniel Martin – Ireland

27. Maciej Paterski – Poland

28. Mathias Belka – Germany

29. Thomas Peterson – USA

30. Craig Lewis – USA

31. Tanel Kangert – Estonia

32. Francesco Ginanni – Italy

33. Elias Schmaeh – Switzerland

34. Jos Van Emden – Netherlands

35. Vitor Rodrigues – Portugal

36. Martin Velits – Slovakia

37. Christian Meier – Canada

38. Denis Cioban – Republic Of Moldova

39. Branislau Samoilau – Belarus

40. Tony Martin – Germany

41. Wilson Alexander Marentes Torres – Colombia

42. Gatis Smukulis – Latvia

43. Jerome Coppel – France

44. Kristjan Koren – Slovenia

45. Lukasz Modzelewski – Poland

46. Pavel Kochetkov – Russian Federation

47. Rein Taaramae – Estonia

48. Grega Bole – Slovenia

49. Alexandr Pliuschin – Republic Of Moldova

50. Nelson Hugo Lobo Rocha – Portugal

51. Thomas Vedel Kvist – Denmark

52. Jelle Vanendert – Belgium, at 0:09

53. Simon Clarke – Australia

54. Francis De Greef – Belgium

55. Andrey Klyuev – Russian Federation, at 0:21

56. Edvald Boasson Hagen – Norway, at 0:27

57. Bauke Mollema – Netherlands, at 0:29

58. Martin Kohler – Switzerland, at 0:30

59. Julien Simon – France, at 0:49

60. Benat Intxausti Elorriaga – Spain, at 1:00

61. Diego Milan Jimenez – Spain, at 1:20

62. Mauro Finetto – Italy, at 1:41

63. Kim Michely – Luxembourg, at 1:59

64. David Veilleux – Canada

65. Marcel Wyss – Switzerland, at 2:12

66. André Steensen – Denmark, at 2:21

67. Ian Stannard – Great Britain

68. Mikhail Ignatiev – Russian Federation

69. Jakob Fuglsang – Denmark, at 2:28

70. Mathias Frank – Switzerland

71. Biel Kadri – France, at 2:51

72. Dalivier Ospina Navarro – Colombia, at 3:32

73. Abdelkader Belmokhtar – Algeria

74. Istvan Cziraki – Hungary, at 3:53

75. Ben Swift – Great Britain, at 4:48

76. Mark Cassidy – Ireland, at 5:29

77. César Fonte – Portugal 5:32

78. Kristof Vandewalle – Belgium

79. Sörtveit Sondre – Norway

80. Oleg Berdos – Republic Of Moldova

81. Michael Morkov – Denmark

82. Ben Gastauer – Luxembourg, at 6:56

83. Lars Boom – Netherlands, at 9:41

84. Kevin Lacombe – Canada

85. Dennis Van Winden – Netherlands

86. Stian Sommerseth – Norway

87. Dmitriy Gruzdev – Kazakhstan, at 11:12

88. Viesturs Luksevics – Latvia

89. Yusuke Hatanaka – Japan

90. Alexander Gottfried – Germany

91. Darwin Luis Urrea Vergara – Venezuela

92. Simon Geschke – Germany

93. Peter Stetina – USA

94. Mauro Abel Richeze – Argentina

95. Nikolay Trusov – Russian Federation

96. Hossein Nateghi – Islamic Republic Of Iran

97. Blaz Jarc – Slovenia

98. Michael Torckler – New Zealand

99. Jay Robert Thomson – South Africa

100. José Mendes – Portugal

101. Sergiu Cioban – Republic Of Moldova

102. Pieter Vanspeybrouck – Belgium

103. Stefano Pirazzi – Italy

104. Jaco Venter – South Africa

105. Mohammad Rajablou – Islamic Republic Of Iran, at 16:24

106. Alex Meenhorst – New Zealand

107. Isaac Speirs – Ireland

108. Alexander Kristoff – Norway

109. Andreas Frisch – Denmark

110. Max Jenkins – USA

111. Nolan Hoffman – South Africa



Did Not Finish

Maxim Belkov – Russian Federation

Andrius Buividas – Lithuania

Zoltan Mecseri – Hungary

Kazumasa Katayama – Japan

Farshad Salehian – Islamic Republic Of Iran

Sam Bewley – New Zealand

Jacques Janse Van Rensburg – South Africa

Frederik Wilman – Norway

Johnnie Walker – Australia

Luis Pulido Naranjo – Mexico

Mateusz Komar – Poland

Eder Arenas – Mexico

Siarhei Papok – Belarus

Roger Ferraro – Brazil

Emanuel Saldano – Argentina

Alo Jakin – Estonia

Gediminas Kaupas – Lithuania

Federico Pagani – Argentina

Gasper Svab – Slovenia

Kleber Da Silva Ramos – Brazil

Zakkari Dempster – Australia

Bradley Fairall – Canada

Yong Li Ng – Malaysia

Maksym Averin – Ukraine

Victor Moreno – Venezuela

Gabriel Richard – Argentina

Jozef Palcak – Slovakia

Konstantin Kalinin – Uzbekistan

Tejay Van Garderen – USA

Martins Trautmanis – Latvia

Herberts Pudans – Latvia

Dmytro Krivtsov – Ukraine

Steven Kruijswijk – Netherlands

Milos Velickovic – Serbia

Alexei Tsikhanau – Belarus

Ryan Anderson – Canada

Raphael Serpa – Brazil

Marius-Nicolae Stoica – Romania

Guillaume Levarlet – France

Marius Kukta – Lithuania

Pawel Wachnik – Poland

Sho Hatsuyama – Japan

Haijun Ma – People's Republic Of China

Kristofers Racenajs – Latvia

Sergei Sakavets – Belarus

Joze Senekovic – Slovenia

Istvan Molnar – Hungary

Esad Hasanovic – Serbia

Mohd Rauf Nur Nisbah – Malaysia

Evaldas Siskevicius – Lithuania

Yusuf Abrekov – Uzbekistan

Marko Tomic – Serbia

Mohd Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi – Malaysia

Loh Sea Keong – Malaysia

Akos Haiszer – Hungary

Sander Maasing – Estonia

Clinton Robert Avery – New Zealand