Stuttgart, Germany (September 29, 2007)
Armstrong and teammate Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif./Flexpoint) finished in a 16-rider chase group just six seconds behind winner Marta Bastianelli of Italy.
After spending 18 kilometers in a two-woman breakaway with Italian Noemi Cantele on the penultimate lap of the seven-lap race, Neben placed 16th.
Defending world champion Marianne Vos (NED) took the sprint from the chase group to claim the silver medal while Bastianelli’s Italian teammate, Giorgia Bronzini finished third.
The United States put forth a strong team effort, but missed adding a second medal to Armstrong’s silver from Wednesday’s individual time trial.
“I would have liked to have gotten top five for the team,” Armstrong said afterwards. “They worked really hard for me today, but sometimes at the finish you need a little bit of luck on your side.”
Assigned to support roles, Katheryn Curi (Mountain View, Calif./Webcor Builders) and Lauren Franges (Asheville, N.C./Team Lipton) spent much of the day at the front of the peloton setting the pace before Curi escaped in a four-woman breakaway with Tatiana Guderzo (ITA), Hanka Kupfernagel (GER) and Oxana Kozonchuck (RUS). The foursome was eventually caught before separate solo breakaway attempts by Mazaga Iturriagaechevarriea (ESP) and Guderzo tried and failed.
On the sixth lap, Neben and Cantele distanced themselves from the rest of the pack on the circuit’s first of two climbs in a move that many thought would be the decisive break of the day.
“I know that Amber has to go when it gets really hard for everybody else, and so when she came up my wheel I told her to go,” Armstrong later explained. “I think getting away in a small group like that is Amber’s strength. She did a great job and took a risk and that’s the only way you’re going to win in road racing. She could have been just like Bastianelli today, but it just didn’t work out. If there was a little bit of luck on her side, the move could have stuck.”
“It was a fantastic job,” Neben later commented of her teammates’ efforts. “Curi and Franges were all over the front in the beginning and Christine (Thorburn) was up there. Kristin was awesome as far as helping set up that move.”
Once the breakaway containing Neben and Cantele was established, it gained a maximum of 25 seconds but only lasted 18 kilometers before Germany led the chase to shut it down.
“It was just one lap too early,” Neben explained. “We still had 30 or 40 kilometers to go. If we could have set it up like that on the last lap it could have been awesome, but at the same time, when the moment is there, you have to take your chance. We’re going to win when we take risks. It was pretty windy though and I think that helped kill our momentum.”
The final lap began with most of the pre-race contenders in the lead group before Bastianelli made her winning move on the first ascent of the circuit. Her lead only grew to 20 seconds but the peloton was unable to close the gap before the finish.
“Bastianelli was too good today,” Neben said. “It was just a weird finish. I think maybe everyone was just looking at each other to chase. I was pretty cooked at that point and I was just hoping to get up to Kristin’s wheel and sit up to create a gap,”
“By the end, it was just Amber and me,” Armstrong said, “and Amber had put so much effort into that move with Cantele that she didn’t have any energy at the end to make some attacks.”
In the following group, 1:09 off the pace of the leaders, Thorburn (Sunnyvale, Calif./Webcor Builders), who suffered a mechanical mishap and had to change bikes twice during the race, and Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Webcor Builders) who was competing in her first world championships after a breakthough season that saw her win a national title and place second in a World Cup, placed 44th and 45th respectively.
After riding aggressively throughout the early part of the contest, Curi, Franges and Tina Pic (Dahlonega, Ga./Colavita-Sutter Home-Cooking Light) did not finish but played roles in the team’s overall efforts.
“I was excited to come here and I knew we had a strong group of climbers and that this course was really good for our team,” Franges said after racing in her first world championships. “I was really excited to come and do whatever I could to make it easier for the team on the last couple of laps.”
“Going into the start of the sixth lap, Lauren and I worked hard to make sure the girls were in position going into the downhill,” Curi explained. “I think as a team we raced really well together and I think that’s indicative of how cohesive we’ve been all year.”
After a season in which the U.S. National Team won several international races, Saturday’s world championships illustrated the progress and cohesiveness of USA Cycling’s European-based national team program.
“We have a much more unified group then we’ve had in years and they’re starting to trust each other more and more,” explained Jim Miller, USA Cycling’s director of endurance programs and women’s national team director. “They want to ride for each other and that’s the big thing. For me, it’s not a question of if we’re going to win a medal, or if we’re going to win a world title, but when.”
The United States has been one of the most successful countries in the women’s time trial event over the course of the last decade, winning two Olympic silver medals, five world championship medals and two world titles. On Wednesday, the U.S. claimed three of the top five spots in the race against the clock and qualified more riders to compete in the event than any other country. But in the road race – an event which requires a cohesive team effort – the U.S. last won a world championship medal 14 years ago when Jeanne Golay captured the bronze medal at the 1994 championships in Agrigento, Italy. With the recent advancement of USA Cycling’s national team program, which included the opening of a women’s European residence center in Tuscany this spring, Miller expects even more success on the road during the ensuing Olympic year.
“Right now, we’re just a little bit off, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that in the next year you’ll see somebody do something in the road race, and that’s what it’s all about. You build world champions and teams throughout the course of the season, not the week of the world championships. And all year long, and throughout the last two or three years, we get more and more results. You see every year when we come to the world championships that we have the best time trial riders in the world, but they’re also becoming some of the best road racers. It takes a while to build a program like this. It’s not done, but we’re getting closer.”
The 2007 UCI Road World Championships continue Saturday afternoon with the U23 men’s road race.
2007 UCI Road World Championships
September 26-30, 2007:
Elite Women’s Road Race
1. Marta Bastianelli (ITA) 3:46:34
2. Marianne Vos (NED) +0:06
3. Giorgia Bronzini (ITA) s.t.
13. Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho) s.t.
16. Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif.) s.t.
44. Christine Thorburn (Sunnyvale, Calif.) +1:09
45. Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo.) s.t.
DNF. Katheryn Curi (Mountain View, Calif.)
DNF. Lauren Franges (Asheville, N.C.)
DNF. Tina Pic (Dahlonega, Ga.)
About USA Cycling
Recognized by the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling promotes American cycling through its 60,000 members and 2,500 annual events. USA Cycling associations include the BMX Association (BMX), National Off-Road Bicycle Association (mountain bike), U.S. Cycling Federation (road/track), the National Collegiate Cycling Association and the U.S. Professional Racing Organization (professional men’s road). For more information, visit www.usacycling.org or contact USA Cycling Director of Communications, Andy Lee at 719-866-4867.
This Article Published 2007-09-29 11:37:40 For more information contact: [email protected]