U.S. national team leader Fred Rodriguez (Emeryville, Calf.) missed out on the sprint for the rainbow jersey, finishing in a group of 39 riders that rode in 25 seconds off the pace of winner Tom Boonen of Belgium in the Elite men's road race of the 2005 World Championships in Madrid.
"Basically, I was supposed to be doing the sprint," Rodriguez said of the team's pre-race plan. "The last hill was pretty tough and I basically hung out with McEwen and Petacchi and made it over the top in the front group and then somewhere on the flat roads it split apart."
Despite missing the split of 17 riders that regained contact with the lead group of six just before the line, Rodriguez initially thought he was in good shape given the company in his group. "I was still in a good place with Petacchi and all his guys, and McEwen and all the Australians, but I never made it back on. All of the sudden, there was a little hesitation and it was game over."
USA Cycling U23 National Team alumni Saul Raisin (Dalton, Ga.) was a major contributor to the team's agenda today after spending four-and-a-half hours in a breakaway. Raisin attacked with his usual teammate on the French-based Credit Agricole team, Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan), and increased their advantage on the main group to almost 12 minutes with the help of Juan Carlos Lopez (Colombia) before the trio was caught with three laps remaining.
Only three Americans were in the mix in the final laps as Rodriguez had assistance from teammates John Lieswyn (Ames, Iowa) and Italian-American Guido Trenti (Natick, Mass.). Christian Vande Velde (Boulder, Colo.) was scratched from the race before the start due to illness, leaving the U.S. squad at a numerical disadvantage with just seven starters to most of the other strong nations' nine.
Other riders who competed, but did not finish were Jason McCartney (Coralville, Iowa), Patrick McCarty (Allen, Texas) and Phil Zajicek (Tucson, Ariz.).
Trenti, who holds a U.S. passport and is a teammate of Boonen in the Belgian-based Quick.Step team, recorded the top finish for the U.S. National Team, placing 23rd as the last rider in the front group.
Sunday's elite men's road race concludes the 2005 UCI Road World Championships in which the U.S. National Team captured one medal: Kristin Armstrong (Boise, Idaho) earned a bronze in the elite women's time trial on Wednesday, leading a charge that included two other top-ten performances as Amber Neben (Irvine, Calif.) placed fifth and Christine Thorburn placed eighth.
One of the favourites on Saturday, Tyler Farrar (Bellingham, Wash.) crashed out of the U23 road race after placing tenth in the time trial on Wednesday, the U.S. National Team's only other top-ten finish of the week.
Also, Bobby Julich (Glenwood Springs, Colo.) closed out what he referred to as his "best season ever" with an 11th-place effort in the elite men's time trial.