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World’s preview: Exciting women’s race expected Saturday afternoon

Editor's note: This preview was written prior to this morning'sannouncement that Canada's Geneviève Jeanson will not be starting today'sroad race because of an elevate hematocrit level. It was also later announcedthat Nicole Brändli of Switzerland will not be racing because of illness.Saturday afternoon’s elite women’s road race should be one of the mostexciting editions of this event since women’s racing was introduced tothe world championships 45 years ago.It will be a truly intergenerational contest, with the 10-lap 123kmrace including five former winners (defending champion Susanne

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North Americans Jeanson, Demet and Bessette among the favorites

By John Wilcockson

Editor’s note: This preview was written prior to this morning’sannouncement that Canada’s Geneviève Jeanson will not be starting today’sroad race because of an elevate hematocrit level. It was also later announcedthat Nicole Brändli of Switzerland will not be racing because of illness.Saturday afternoon’s elite women’s road race should be one of the mostexciting editions of this event since women’s racing was introduced tothe world championships 45 years ago.It will be a truly intergenerational contest, with the 10-lap 123kmrace including five former winners (defending champion Susanne Ljungskogof Sweden, Lithuanians Rasa Polikeviciute, Edita Pucinskaite and DianeZiliute, and five-time champion Jeannie Longo of France) and a half-dozenyounger pretenders (Nicole Cooke of Great Britain, Geneviève Jeansonof Canada, Nicole Brändli of Switzerland, Joane Somarriba of Spain,Judith Arndt of Germany and Sara Carrigan of Australia).After early-morning fog that greeted the junior men’s race, the afternoonis expected to see the sun break through and give the same 70-degree temperaturesthat world’s competitors have enjoyed all week. That will provide an evenplaying field for the 116-strong women’s field — although the course itselfis anything but even!The under-23 men’s 14-lap race on Friday showed that aggression paysoff on this 12.3km circuit with its two climbs, but does not rule out latebridging efforts. Women’s racing has evolved a lot in recent years, andthe processional-type events of the past don’t exist anymore, at this veryelite level especially. So expect plenty of attacks.Jeanson and her teammates Lyne Bessette and Sue Palmer (who lives inHamilton!) are all aggressive riders, as is 2003 World Cup champion Cooke,2002 winner Ljungskog, and Wednesday’s time-trial champion Somarriba. Expectall these riders to figure in the final breakaways that are sure to develop.The U.S. challenge should come from Dede Demet, who is something ofa local, being married to Toronto-born Michael Barry, and her excellenteighth place in Wednesday’s time trial has given greater confidence intackling this difficult circuit.As for the morning’s junior men’s race, the newly crowned time-trialchamp Mikhail Ignatiev of Russia did not start, so expect the Russian challengeto come from Maxim Belkov. The favorites are the remarkable Slovakian twinsPeter and Martin Velits, who lie respectively first and third in the UCI’sWorld Challenge, a 15-race series of the best junior races.JUNIOR MEN
Date and time: Saturday, October 11, start 9 a.m., finish approx.12:20 p.m.
Course: Ten laps of the 12.3km RR course for a total of 123kmand 20 climbs up the Niagara Escarpment.
History: First held in 1975, this event’s past champions includeGreg LeMond (1979), Pavel Tonkov (1987) and Mark Scanlon (1998).
Favorites: This is a notoriously difficult race to predict,but expect some of these names to figure among the medals: the Slovakiantwin brothers Martin and Peter Velits, Dutch riders Sebastian Langeveldand Kai Reus, Italian Valerio Agnoli, Russian Maxim Belkov, Frenchman MikaelCherel, Czech Lukaz Fus, Australia’s William Walker, Germany’s Carlo Westphal,and Belgium’s Jurgen Roelandts.ELITE WOMEN
Date and time: Saturday, October11, start 12:45 p.m., finishapprox. 4:15 p.m.
Course: Ten laps of the 12.3km RR course for a total of 123kmand 20 climbs up the Escarpment.
History: First held in 1958, the list of champions includesthe legendary Beryl Burton of Britain, Jeannie Longo of France and LeontienVan Moorsel of the Netherlands. There have been just two American winners,Audrey McElmury (1969) and Beth Heiden (1980).
Favorites: Wednesday’s time trial winner Joane Somarriba ofSpain could win again, but also look out for Canada’s GenevièveJeanson and Lyne Bessette; Britain’s Nicole Cooke; Switzerland’s NicoleBrändli; Germany’s Judith Arndt; Dede Demet of the U.S.; and defendingchampion Susanne Ljungskog of Sweden.