Events

World’s: Boom! Boom! Cyclo-cross champs score twice in TT

Cyclo-crossers across the world, take note. A pair of past and present world champion ’cross racers, under-23 world cross champ Lars Boom and three-time world elite women’s champ Hanka Kupfernagel, each won world time trial titles in Stuttgart, Germany, Wednesday. And both credited the muddy discipline for their success. Taking it a step further, Boom said he would focus on cyclo-cross for at least two more years. Winning a world under-23 time-trial championship might be something all developing riders dream of, but Boom, a Rabobank continental professional development team rider has

By Neal Rogers

Boom still wants to race 'cross.

Boom still wants to race ‘cross.

Photo: Agence France Presse

Cyclo-crossers across the world, take note. A pair of past and present world champion ’cross racers, under-23 world cross champ Lars Boom and three-time world elite women’s champ Hanka Kupfernagel, each won world time trial titles in Stuttgart, Germany, Wednesday. And both credited the muddy discipline for their success.

Taking it a step further, Boom said he would focus on cyclo-cross for at least two more years. Winning a world under-23 time-trial championship might be something all developing riders dream of, but Boom, a Rabobank continental professional development team rider has another rainbow jersey in mind — that of world elite cyclo-cross champion.

Over four hilly, technical laps that delivered a total of 1328 feet of climbing, the 22-year-old Dutch rider blazed the 23.67-mile course in 48:57 for an average speed of 29.14 mph. Boom’s time was just nine seconds faster than Russian Mikhail Ignatiev, winner of the world U23 time trial in 2005.

Despite the expression, Boom really is happy about his win.

Despite the expression, Boom really is happy about his win.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Canadian David Veilleux was the top North American finisher, landing in 34th place, 3:03 off Boom’s winning time. Teejay Van Garderen was the top American finisher in 38th place, 3:23 off Boom’s pace. National under-23 time trial champion Nick Frey finished 57th, 5:06 back.

Seventy espoirs entered the event, with riders sent out of the start house in 60-second intervals. Racers were spared the rain that had been forecasted and could have turned the course’s many technical corners into danger zones. Instead, the racers were greeted with overcast skies, cool temperatures and light wind.

The 19km under-23 course formed a loop through Stuttgart’s Feuerbach and Botnang neighborhoods utilizing both city streets and closed highways over circuit that included rolling hills, high-speed descents and multiple hairpin turns.Last year’s elite men’s TT silver medalist Dave Zabriskie rode in Van Garderen’s follow car alongside U.S. national under-23 team director Noel Dejonckheere. Zabriskie, whose last race was his September 1 national time trial victory, said he liked the course but was concerned about Thursday’s ongoing forecast, which calls for heavy rain.

Ignatiev was favored, but he's satisfied with silver

Ignatiev was favored, but he’s satisfied with silver

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“I wanted to have another look. I’ve never done a time trial on multiple laps of a circuit like this,” Zabriskie said. “It’s fairly hilly, maybe the hilliest world’s course I’ve done. It’s a good course, but there are a couple of tricky sections that are going to suck if it rains.”

Zabriskie sat shotgun and jotted down time splits for Dejonckheere while simultaneously studying the course, oftentimes motioning his hands to simulate the best lines to take through the course’s many high-speed turns.

Though Van Garderen reeled in his one-minute man, Uzbekistan’s Azizbek Abdvrahimov, early on, Boom flew past the American at mile 17 in a blur of orange.

Coppel rounds out the U23 podium

Coppel rounds out the U23 podium

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“It’s just disappointing because I know I have form right now,” said Van Garderen. “I just did the Tour de l’Avenir, a 10-day stage race, and finished in the top 20 overall, so things were going really well. When I was pre-riding the course, it looked like it was actually a good one for me; a little bit technical, some climbs and a good solid downhill. One-day time trials are just weird. Everything has to come together and there’s just this thing where I don’t feel like I have that power for one day. I feel like I need to race for three days first and then I could fly. It’s a little bit disappointing knowing the form is there, but there’s just something about a one-day time trial; I need to figure out how to do them.”

Boom’s time of 14:18 was fastest through the first intermediate check at 11.68km (until Ignatiev bested it by eight seconds), and the Dutchman set the fastest times at the second and third splits — 23:28 at 18.84km and 39:29 at 31.12km — before putting in the tenth fastest final split (9:28) to average 46.9 kph.

“I felt good today,” Boom said. “I had high RPMs.”

Although Boom proved he is one of the strongest time trialists of his generation, he will return with the Rabobank development program next year and continue to focus on cyclo-cross racing. A seven-time Dutch national cyclo-cross champion (three junior titles, three under-23 titles and the 2007 elite title) Boom won the world U23 cyclo-cross title earlier this year, and he now wants to bag the big one.

“Over the last few years I won big races in cyclo-cross, and I feel comfortable in the culture of cyclo-cross,” Boom said. “When you are 19 or 20 and win a big race, it’s an easier decision to do cyclo-cross. Also, in the pro [road] races I need four or five more years to be a big rider. So I will combine road and cyclo-cross as I did in the last few years, which means I will race more cyclo-cross and less road, but bigger road races. In cyclo-cross, I want to be world champ in the elite category.”

Ignatiev, who rides for the Russian/Italian team Tinkoff, admitted he was disappointed in losing by such a close margin — however he said he could console himself with his past results, which include the 2002 and 2003 world junior TT titles, the 2005 world U23 TT title and a gold medal in the points race at the Athens Olympics. Ignatiev also finished second in the U23 time trial last year, 37 seconds behind Belgian Dominique Cornu.

“The time difference between us was a small one,” Ignatiev said, “but in the last months I could not prepare like I had hoped because of a problem with a leg muscle. This is a good result for me. It’s my second time finishing second in the time trial, and I won the title as well, so I must be happy with my results.”

Ignatiev added that his main concentration in 2008 will be on the Olympic points race in Beijing, because there is “more possibility there than in the road race.”

Third-place was a familiar one for bronze medalist Jerome Coppel. The 21-year-old Frenchman finished third last year as well, behind Ignatiev and Cornu. This year Coppel finished 45 seconds behind Boom and said that he wasn’t surprised to have been beaten by a pair of riders who spent 2007 racing for continential professional teams.

Boom is heading to the dirt as soon as he gets a chance.

Boom is heading to the dirt as soon as he gets a chance.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“It’s true I came here with the intention to win, but when you see the difference, the gap was very big,” Coppel said. “Both of them were too strong for me today. I knew them from last year but this year both are professional riders, and there is such a difference. They had the opportunity this year to race at higher level than I did.”

Perhaps things might turn Coppel’s way next year — both Boom and Ignatiev are in their final years as under-23 riders, and in 2008 Coppel will race as a professional. He signed a two-year contract with French ProTour squad Francaise des Jeux during the Tour de l’Avenir.

“I will have to discover pro cycling,” Coppel said. “I will keep working to be good time trial rider but I want to become a more complete rider and I hope in three or four years I will be at the highest level for stage races.”

By then Boom might be racing at the ProTour level. Rabobank developmental team director Nico Verhoeven said Boom’s got the talent, but conceded that, for now, his heart belongs to ’cross.

“Lars stopped road racing in May and started again August, focusing specifically for this time trial to then lead into cyclo-cross,” Verhoeven said. “He hopes to do 25 to 30 cyclo-cross races a year for the next two years, so for now he’ll stay on our team even though he won’t be under 23 next year.”

If Boom has any misgivings about his career decision to focus on cyclo-cross, he didn’t show it in Stuttgart.

“I am confident in that decision,” he said. “I think it will be good for me, for my upcoming years as a rider, and I think because of cyclo-cross I have a good time trial. They are a little bit the same. Cyclo-cross is constantly at a high heart rate, just one hour at full speed, and the time trial is a little bit like that — changes in tempo differences in the course, up, down, corners… besides, it’s easier to go from cyclo-cross to the road than from the road to cyclo-cross.”U23
1. Lars Boom – Netherlands, at 48:58 (46.86 kph)
2. Mikhail Ignatiev – Russia, at 0:09
3. Jerome Coppel – France, at 0:46
4. Michael Faerk Christensen – Denmark, at 1:10
5. Adriano Malori – Italy, at 1:12
6. Edvald Boasson Hagen – Norway, at 1:13
7. Tanel Kangert – Estonia, at 1:14
8. Alexandr Pliuschin – Moldavia, at 1:17
9. Branislau Samoilau – Belarus, at 1:28
10. Francis De Greef – Belgium, at 1:30
FullResults

Kupfernagel powers to a win.

Kupfernagel powers to a win.

Photo: Graham Watson

If Boom’s view is true, that might explain why German Hanka Kupfernagel, a former Olympic silver medalist in road racing, took three world cyclo-cross titles (2000, 2001 and 2005) before defeating defending world time trial champion Kristin Armstrong by 23 seconds to win her first rainbow jersey on the road.

Forty-nine elite women followed the under-23 men, riding two laps of a slightly altered 12.8km course that delivered 1070 feet in total climbing. Kupfernagel, whose UCI seeding saw her start two hours before the race favorites, was fastest at each intermediate time check before finishing the 15.6-mile course in 34:43 for an average speed of 26.9 mph.

After collapsing onto the ground at the finish line the 33-year-old German veteran sat in the hot seat until Armstrong, the final rider out of the start house, crossed the line two and a half hours later.

American Amber Neben joined Kupfernagel in the hot-seat podium with a second-fastest time of 35:46, but was eventually displaced into third by Austrian Christiane Soeder, who clocked a 35:25.

Austria's Christiane Soeder rounds out the podium

Austria’s Christiane Soeder rounds out the podium

Photo: Graham Watson

As rider after rider fell short of Kupfernagel’s time — including 48-year-old French legend Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, who ended the day an admirable seventh — all eyes were on former world champions Karin Thürig of Switzerland and Armstrong, the final two riders. Thürig, a two-time world TT champ, never found her rhythm and crossed the first checkpoint in 13th on her way to a ninth-place finish.

Armstrong, on the other hand, was third best at the first time check before settling into second-place pace for the remainder of the race. The Liton rider from Boise, Idaho, kept it close, and it wasn’t until the final kilometer that a weary Kupfernagel realized she’d finally landed the elusive world-time trial championship she’s chased over her career.

“It was a long wait on [the hot seat], and I was having all kinds of emotions,” Kupfernagel said. “While I was sitting there I was happy about my result. I knew I gave it 100 percent, and that after the race I couldn’t think of any part where I could have gone faster. With the best racers starting two hours later, plus another 30 to 40 minutes on the course, this time was more nervous than the race itself.”

Armstrong was gracious in defeat, saying she’d told her teammates earlier in the day that the strongest woman would be the winner.

“The course is difficult, it has a little of everything,” Armstrong said. “It’s technical, it’s hilly, and there is some fast descending. I knew the winner would be a good all-arounder.”

Armstrong’s ride bumped Neben off the podium into fourth. Still, with American Christine Thorburn finishing fifth, 1:11 down, three Americans finished in the top five, prompting USA Cycling endurance program director to call the day “a good indicator of the depth we have.” However this time, there would be no gold medal.

Thürig missed the podium this year

Photo: Graham Watson

“After having the world champion’s jersey for a year it’s not easy to give it up,” Armstrong said. “The only way to do better is to come back and win it next year. It’s hard to be world champion every year, but I look forward to going for it again — and Beijing as well —next year. But Hanka rode a strong race, so congratulations to her.”

German-born Soeder, now a citizen of Austria, admitted her surprise at
 landing on the podium, but echoed Armstrong’s ambitions, saying, “I hope to go 
to Beijing.”

And like Boom had hours earlier, Kupfernagel credited her cyclo-cross skills for contributing to her win.

“I felt good in the downhills and on the short climbs; this is the type of riding I have practiced all these years,” Kupfernagel said. “I liked this course from the first minute I saw it.”


Women
1. Hanka Kupfernagel – Germany, 34:43 (43.43kph)
2. Kristin Armstrong – United States of America, at 0:23
3. Christiane Soeder – Austria, at 0:41
4. Amber Neben – United States of America, at 1:02
5. Christine Thorburn – United States of America, at 1:11
6. Priska Doppmann – Switzerland, at 1:21
7. Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli – France, at 1:21
8. Emma Pooley – Great Britain, at 1:32
9. Karin Thürig – Switzerland, at 1:35
10. Meifang Li – China, at 1:37FullResults

Photo Gallery

Results

U23
1. Lars Boom – Netherlands, at 48:58 (46.86 kph)

2. Mikhail Ignatiev – Russia, at 0:09

3. Jerome Coppel – France, at 0:46

4. Michael Faerk Christensen – Denmark, at 1:10

5. Adriano Malori – Italy, at 1:12

6. Edvald Boasson Hagen – Norway, at 1:13

7. Tanel Kangert – Estonia, at 1:14

8. Alexandr Pliuschin – Moldavia, at 1:17

9. Branislau Samoilau – Belarus, at 1:28

10. Francis De Greef – Belgium, at 1:30

11. Dmitry Sokolov – Russia, at 1:35

12. Ignatas Konovalovas – Lithuania, at 1:42

13. Jos Van Emden – Netherlands, at 1:42

14. Roman Kireyev – Kazakhstan, at 1:46

15. Peter Velits – Slovakia, at 1:47

16. Rein Taaramae – Estonia, at 1:50

17. Rafael Serrano Fernandez – Spain, at 1:59

18. Marcel Kittel – Germany, at 2:06

19. Grega Bole – Slovenia, at 2:12

20. Tony Gallopin – France, at 2:18

21. Dmitriy Gruzdev – Kazakhstan, at 2:24

22. André Steensen – Denmark, at 2:26

23. Rafai Chtioui – Tunisia, at 2:30

24. Stefan Schäfer – Germany, at 2:34

25. Martin Kohler – Switzerland, at 2:35

26. Rui Costa – Portugal, at 2:37

27. Kristjan Koren – Slovenia, at 2:38

28. Mathieu Deschenaux – Switzerland, at 2:45

29. Oleg Chuzhda – Ukraine, at 2:51

30. Maxim Belkov – Russia, at 2:52

31. Martin Velits – Slovakia, at 2:54

32. Sergiu Cioban – Moldavia, at 2:55

33. Jaroslaw Marycz – Poland, at 3:00

34. David Veilleux – Canada, at 3:04

35. Sam Bewley – New Zealand, at 3:05

36. Ian Stannard – Great Britain, at 3:08

37. Evaldas Siskevicius – Lithuania, at 3:09

38. Tejay Van Garderen – United States of America, at 3:24

39. Gatis Smukulis – Latvia, at 3:25

40. José Mendes – Portugal, at 3:25

41. Christopher Froome – Kenya, at 3:31

42. Jacqu: Janse Van Rensburg – South Africa, at 3:37

43. Siarhei Papok – Belarus, at 3:41

44. Zakkari Dempster – Australia, at 3:45

45. Frantisek Kloucek – Czech Republic, at 4:00

46. Emanuel Saldano – Argentina, at 4:00

47. Marco Coledan – Italy, at 4:01

48. Christian Meier – Canada, at 4:03

49. Pavel Zitta – Czech Republic, at 4:14

50. Clinton Robert Avery – New Zealand, at 4:15

51. Krisztian Lovassy – Hungary, at 4:30

52. Wilson A: Marentes Torres – Colombia, at 4:34

53. Martins Trautmanis – Latvia, at 4:42

54. Darwin Luis Urrea Vergara – Venezuela, at 4:48

55. Abdelkader Belmokhtar – Algeria, at 4:51

56. Hossein Nateghi – Iran, at 4:57

57. Nick Frey – United States of America, at 5:06

58. Andriy Suralyov – Ukraine, at 5:15

59. Sergio Dominguez Munoz – Spain, at 5:20

60. Dimitri Jiriakov – Liechtenstein, at 5:21

61. Frederik Krogh-Larsen – Norway, at 5:41

62. Esad Hasanovic – Serbia, at 5:49

63. Federico Pagani – Argentina, at 5:59

64. Azizbek Abdvrahimov – Uzbekistan, at 6:09

65. Victor Moreno – Venezuela, at 6:26

66. Mohd Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi – Malaysia, at 6:28

67. Mohammad Rajablou – Iran, at 6:57

68. Yong Li Ng – Malaysia, at 7:39

69. Konstantin Kalinin – Uzbekistan, at 8:12

70. Sandor Koczka – Hungary, at 8:21


Women

1. Hanka Kupfernagel – Germany, 34:43 (43.43kph)

2. Kristin Armstrong – United States of America, at 0:23

3. Christiane Soeder – Austria, at 0:41

4. Amber Neben – United States of America, at 1:02

5. Christine Thorburn – United States of America, at 1:11

6. Priska Doppmann – Switzerland, at 1:21

7. Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli – France, at 1:21

8. Emma Pooley – Great Britain, at 1:32

9. Karin Thürig – Switzerland, at 1:35

10. Meifang Li – China, at 1:37

11. Mirjiam Melchers-Van Poppel – Netherlands, at 1:49

12. Zulfiya Zabirova – Kazakhstan, at 1:50

13. Susanne Ljungskog – Sweden, at 1:55

14. Tereza Hurikova – Czech Republic, at 1:55

15. Anne Samplonius – Canada, at 2:02

16. Martina Ruzickova – Czech Republic, at 2:08

17. Eleonora Van Dijk – Netherlands, at 2:13

18. Charlotte Becker – Germany, at 2:14

19. Maryline Salvetat – France, at 2:20

20. Alison Powers – United States of America, at 2:22

21. Oenone Wood – Australia, at 2:22

22. Edita Pucinskaite – Lithuania, at 2:25

23. Sara Carrigan – Australia, at 2:30

24. Maribel Moreno Allue – Spain, at 2:35

25. Wendy Houvenaghel – Great Britain, at 2:40

26. Emma Johansson – Sweden, at 2:41

27. Trine Schmidt – Denmark, at 2:51

28. An Van Rie – Belgium, at 3:00

29. Svetlana Bubnenkova – Russia, at 3:03

30. Ana Paola Madrinan Villegas – Colombia, at 3:12

31. Alex Wrubleski – Canada, at 3:13

32. Anna Zugno – Italy, at 3:16

33. Lesya Kalitovska – Ukraine, at 3:18

34. Marta Vila Josana Andreu – Spain, at 3:18

35. Anita Valen De Vries – Norway, at 3:19

36. Silvia Valsecchi – Italy, at 3:24

37. Tatiana Antoshina – Russia, at 3:38

38. Rasa Polikeviciute – Lithuania, at 3:56

39. Giuseppina Grassi Herrera – Mexico, at 4:03

40. Min Hye Lee – Korea, at 4:05

41. Svetlana Galuk – Ukraine, at 4:11

42. Yong Li Liu – China, at 4:31

43. Nontasin Chanpeng – Thailand, at 4:37

44. Lang Meng – China, at 5:03

45. Elissavet Chantzi – Greece, at 5:04

46. Aurelie Halbwachs – Mauritius, at 5:45

47. Chapookam Monrudee – Thailand, at 5:57

48. Evelyn Garcia – El Salvador, at 6:07

49. Lyubov Dombitskaya – Kazakhstan, at 7:28