Zabriskie finishes fifth
By Andrew Hood
This time there will be no asterisks, no waiting on failed doping tests and no doubt for Michael Rogers.
Just hours after officially receiving the 2003 world champion’s rainbow jersey, the 24-year-old roared across the finish line Wednesday with his right arm shot into the air to emphatically score his second.
“I don’t know how many people have won two rainbow jerseys in one day, but it’s very satisfying,” said Rogers, who beat German Michael Rich by 1:12. “Since the Olympics there haven’t been five minutes that I haven’t thought about this race.”
Rogers finished runner-up to David Millar in Hamilton last year, but slipped into the rainbow jersey after the Scot admitted he was doped on EPO when he won. UCI president Hein Verbruggen officially presented the jersey to Rogers in a ceremony Wednesday morning.
But Rogers wanted the outright victory this time around. The Aussie admitted the controversy weighed on his mind as he hammered to the fastest splits over the undulating 46.75km course around Lake Garda.
“I’ve finished second too many times and I was thinking about that and it made me push a little bit harder,” said Rogers, the only rider of the 47 starters to finish under 58 minutes. “I’ve always said from the beginning, it’s more satisfying to win fair and square. I wanted to win straight up today.”
Rogers started last as the defending champion, but it didn’t take long until it was obvious he was in top form. Just weeks after finishing a disappointing fourth in the Olympic time trial race in Athens, Rogers blew away the field despite a slow start.
At the first time check at 6.3km, bronze medalist Alexandre Vinokourov was fastest, some 12 seconds faster than Rogers coming up a steep rise. Vinokourov faded to third fastest behind Rich at the second split at 27.1km and Rogers drove it home for the convincing win.
Given that Millar’s margin of victory of 1:25 over Rogers last year has been thrown out, the Aussie’s gap of 1:12 is largest since the individual time trial became a world championship discipline in 1994.
“I already knew at the first time split that I had no chance to win today,” said Rich after winning his third silver time trial medal and his fourth world’s podium without a win. “Rogers was just too fast today, so I had to think about finishing on the podium.”
If Rogers entered the race against the clock with something to prove, so did Americans Dave Zabriskie and Tom Danielson.
The young duo took the start after strong American time trialists Lance Armstrong, Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer and Tyler Hamilton all skipped the world’s for one reason or another.
For Zabriskie, the 46.75km Garda course was short compared to the 160km solo break he rode to victory in stage 11 at the Vuelta a España (see “Zabriskie’s 161km time trial nets him victory in Vuelta’s 11th stage“). The national time trial champion was quiet before the start and planned a quick escape from Italy as he isn’t starting the road race Sunday.
Zabriskie posted an excellent ride, setting the third-fastest times at both splits. But he faded slightly over the final 20km. The reigning national time trial champion finished just two seconds slower than Swede Gustav Larsson to finish fifth, the best by an American since Levi Leipheimer was fourth in 2001.
“I tried to go as fast as I could. I wanted to win today,” said a disappointed Zabriskie, who stopped at 11 seconds slower than bronze medalist Vinokourov. “I had a good ride. I just went all out.”
Danielson was equally ebullient and realistic about his chances in Verona.
“I don’t expect to win or even be close, but this is a learning experience for me to be here. Maybe someday this will help me at the Giro or the Tour,” said Danielson, who finished 35th at 5:06 slower. “This is my first world’s, so I am here to soak it up. I never even rode in U-23, because I was in college then.”
World championship racing takes a break Thursday and resumes Friday with the junior women’s and U23 road races in Verona.
1. Michael Rogers (Aus) 57min 30sec
2. Michael Rich (G) at 1:12
3. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kz), at 1:25
4. Erik Gustav Larsson (S), at 1:34
5. David Zabriskie (USA), at 1:36
6. Marzio Bruseghin (I), at 1:37
7. Marc Wauters (B), at 1:56
8. Fabian Cancallara (Swi), at 2:10
9. Jose Gutierrez (Sp), at 2:23
10. Uwe Peschel (G), at 2:28
11. Andrea Peron (I), at 2:32
12. Brian Vandborg (Dk), at 2:34
13. Bert Roesems (B), at 2:36
14. Eddy Seigneur (F), at 2:41
15. David McCann (Irl), at 2:44
16. Przemyslaw Niemec (Pol), at 2:59
17. Dmitri Semov (Rus), at 3:05
18. Bart Voskamp (Nl), at 3:07
19. Ivailo Gabrovski (Bul), at 3:16
20. Sergiy Matveyev (Ukr), at 3:38