Askari holds Iranian flag up

Hossein Askari

Hossein Askari (Image credit: Shane Goss)

Hossein Askari of Iran did what many others couldn't in yesterday's elite men road race, and that is finish. Granted, a Worlds road race is a team event and many riders simply drop out and there is no point in finishing just to finish for many of the higher ranked riders. Still, for Askari to hang on and finish the tough 267.4-kilometre course showed resilience.

Askari's training conditions aren't quite as good as it is for many of his European and North American colleagues, yet he had some good results this year. In the Tour de Hokkaido he finished sixth overall and third in GC at the Tour of East Java in Indonesia.

How he fared against the top pros, he was able to realize in August, at the Beijing invitational. It was an event to preview the road race and time trial courses for the 2008 Olympics. In the time trial, that was dominated by the Australians Cadel Evans and Michael Rogers, Askari finished a respectable 11th, 2'53"41 down on the Aussie pair. Rogers told Cyclingnews after the event that "the course is really hard. There is a very long uphill."

In the road race, Askari was one better and his tenth place was only five spots down on Evans' fifth, 1'09" slower. He ended up almost eight minutes ahead of Rogers, who was saving his strength to get ready for the Regio Tour.

Askari in the mean time will be looking forward to the next Olympics. He already participated in the 2004 Olympics, and showed his multi talents by also doing the track events.

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