Road

Saturday’s Zolder Notebook

It was another exciting day at the world championships Saturday under cloudy skies and cool temperatures. French rider Arnaud Gerard won the junior men's road race marred by a horrible finish-line crash that took down a half-dozen riders. Susanne Ljungskog won the women's road race that was equally blighted with spills. The 2002 world's conclude Sunday with the elite men's road race.Wauters hometown hopefulMarc Wauters, a Belgian rider on the Rabobank team, knows every inch of the Zolder world's course. Wauters lives just 5 kilometers away and first rode the course as a young boy.Since then,

By Andrew Hood

It was another exciting day at the world championships Saturday under cloudy skies and cool temperatures. French rider Arnaud Gerard won the junior men’s road race marred by a horrible finish-line crash that took down a half-dozen riders. Susanne Ljungskog won the women’s road race that was equally blighted with spills. The 2002 world’s conclude Sunday with the elite men’s road race.Wauters hometown hopeful
Marc Wauters, a Belgian rider on the Rabobank team, knows every inch of the Zolder world’s course. Wauters lives just 5 kilometers away and first rode the course as a young boy.Since then, he’s won such races as Paris-Tours, GP Eddy Merckx (with Erik Dekker) and a stage in the 2001 Tour de France and wore the maillot jaune.”Because I live so close, I know the circuit very well. I come with incredible motivation and my form is very good right now,” he said. Wauters, 33, will be sharing leadership duties on the Belgian team with Johan Museeuw and Peter Van Petegem.Meirhaeghe signs with Acqua & Sapone
Mountain bike World Cup champion Filip Meirhaeghe has penned a deal to race on the road for the 2003 season with Acqua & Sapone. The Belgian will continue to focus on the mountain bike scene, racing with Specialized, but is expected to compete in Tour of Flanders, Four Days of Dunkirk and other spring classics such as he did this season racing for Landbouwkrediet-Colnago. Specialized bikes also sponsors Acqua & Sapone.Dekkers angry at relegation
Dutch rider Hans Dekkers was incensed that he was relegated to last place in the lead group after the race jury ruled he made a dangerous sprint en route to taking the silver medal in the men’s U23 race Friday. Dekkers received his medal, kissed the podium girls, attended a post-race press conference and underwent anti-doping tests before the race jury told him the bad news.”Something always happens in a sprint, but I was doing nothing to deserve this,” Dekkers told Dutch journalists. “If I was relegated, so should the winner. He was more dangerous than me.” Dekkers was so mad he reportedly threw his silver medal at commissaries president Martin Bruin.Blood tests negative
Blood tests conducted Friday and Saturday mornings turned up no riders with high hematocrit levels. Twenty-nine riders from Luxembourg, Denmark, Holland, Sweden and Germany were tested Friday and 20 riders from Italy, Slovenia, Belgium and England were tested Saturday. So far, there have been no positives at the 2002 worlds.Crashes take toll
A horrible finish-line crash marred the world championships for the second day in a row. In Friday’s U23 race, Italian Fabio Borghesi went down hard after several riders fell in the frantic bunch finish. Saturday’s crash was worse. Spanish rider Jose Rojas looked to clip a wheel and his front tire slipped and crashed and then slid across the finish line. In his wake, another half-dozen riders went down, including Australian Ryan Sullivan who toppled head first to the ground and was transported to a local hospital with cuts to his lips, chin and nose. Riders said the legs holding up the course barriers are dangerous because they jut onto the route.The women’s race was equally melodramatic, with crashes taking out Petra Rossner and a horrible last-lap crash.”It was sketchy out there, especially with the barrier legs,” said Deirdre Demet-Barry. “Once it started to rain, it got worse. There were a lot of crashes. When I was coming down the hill, I had to bunny-hop over a bike.”Spanish train
Spain is hoping to create a “Cipollini-style” train for defending world champion Oscar Freire. Spain will be boasting 13 riders as the defending champion team and will be riding to get Freire back into the rainbow jersey for the third time in four years.According to the national Spanish team, Freire is the obvious team leader while Igor Astarloa will have a free ride.Joseba Beloki will act as road captain while six riders have been given the job of creating a set-up train. Rafael Diaz, Jose Garcia, Jose Gutierrez, Pedro Horrillo, Pablo Lastras and Antonio Tauler have been ordered to save their strength for the final kilometers to tow Freire to the line.Men’s start list
Defending world champion Oscar Freire of Spain gets the No. 1 start bib in a field of 201 riders for Sunday’s elite men’s road race. The start list certainly reflects the sentiment that the Zolder world’s will be the sprinters’ race. Mario Cipollini, Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen top the start list of pure sprinters.Other wild cards include Johan Museeuw, Fred Rodriguez, Paolo Bettini, Laurent Jalabert and any one of the super-motivated Dutch and Belgian riders. Of course, anyone can win in a one-day race. For the Americans, Rodriguez leads a 10-rider team of mixed European experience. Rodriguez will be counting heavily on Guido Trenti, Antonio Cruz and Chris Horner to carry him to the line. The other Americans are Dylan Casey, Mariano Friedrick, Ryan Guay, Tim Johnson, Jeff Louder and Mike Sayers. A chance of rain could turn the race course into a slippery, dangerous affaire.Italy tops, Belgians shut out so far
With nine of the 10 events completed in Zolder, Italy leads the medal countwith a total of four medals, two gold. Switzerland has also tallied fourmedals, while Russia, Germany and Spain have garnered three each. With onlyone event remaining, however, home team Belgium has been shut out, and itschances for a medal will fall entirely on the elite men’s team, which willbe headed up by birthday boy Johan Museeuw, who turns 37 on Sunday.

Country
Gold
Silver
Bronze
Total
Italy  2 1 1 4
Switzerland  0 2 2 4
Russia 2 1 0 3
Germany 0 2 1 3
Spain   0 1 2 3
Sweden 1 0 1 2
Australia 0 1 1 2
Colombia 1 0 0 1
Lithuania  1 0 0 1
France  1 0 0 1
Netherlands  1 0 0 1
Finland  0 1 0 1
Portugal  0 0 1 1