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UCI Road World Championships 2009: Men's Elite Road Race


LIVE REPORTING BY SHANE STOKES - Hello and welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the World Championship road race for Elite men. The race is just getting underway in Mendrisio, Switzerland.

The temperature in Mendrisio this morning is 18 degrees C and the riders have commenced their 262.2km journey beneath blue skies.

The peloton lines out as it heads down the first descent of the day. 201 riders were scheduled to start today - you can view the full startlist here.

After a quiet start, there's been a flurry of early attacks and currently Yukiya Arashiro (Japan) is clear.

There's a small group away...also present amongst those is the big Norwegian Roy Hegreberg.

There's an absolutely brilliant atmosphere as the national teams ride past their supporters. Belgian, Dutch, Slovenian, Italian, Spanish, Colombian, Japanese....flags everywhere.

The race is still trying to sort itself out at the moment. Six riders are just off the front of the peloton. Five in front and one, German, chasing.

Andre Greipel is the German rider who was trying to bridge to the leaders, he's across now. So we've got six out in front, together.

Norway wants into the break. Frederick Wilman is trying to bridge to the six leaders now. We're currently on the second of 19 laps.

Ok, in the break we've got: Andre Greipel (Germany), Yukiya Arashiro (Japan), Matija Kvasina (Croatia), Christoph Sokoll (Austria), Peter Kusztor (Hungary) and Jan Barta (Czech Republic)

Belgium are visible, setting the pace for the bunch at the moment.

That pace is starting to fracture the peloton a little.

Frederick Wilman (Norway) is now waiting for Garrido Mayorga (Argentina) to come across to him.

It's been a very brisk start to this race, with the peloton lined out at times.. A lot of the riders are expecting this to be a war of attrition...hang on, and see what legs are left at the end.

More riders now try to get clear of the bunch. They've got bright skies, which is a a relief after warnings of possible bad weather today. That's not to say it won't pour down later, but fingers crossed it stays sunny. As the women's race showed yesterday, wet conditions are not fun at all on this circuit, due to slippery roads.

Gorazd Stangelj (Slovenia), Mauricio Ardila (Columbia) and Olegs Melehs (Latvia) are chasing the leaders, who are climbing now.

230km remaining from 262km

Zagordony gets across, so there's four in pursuit.

So, we've six leaders and then those four chasers. The pace appears to have settled down behind...which will be a relief to those contemplating 262km of manic racing...

Those four look to be closing...


The pace in the peloton is considerably slower and the gap has gone out to over three minutes. Several riders take the chance to stop and water the roadside, with spectators looking on with smiles. Hard to choose the spot, I guess...

Meanwhile, no such antics up front - the four chasers are giving it socks to try to get across  and make it ten leaders. It's likely they'll make it as the six ahead will welcome reinforcements at this early point.

The peloton crosses the start/finish line 4'20 back. It's quite chilled out there, with several riders eating. Irish riders Dan Martin and Philip Deignan are down near the back, taking it handy. Their plan is to let the bigger nations do the work and then see how the legs are inside the final three to four laps. Ditto for Nicolas Roche, the third member of the squad.

The four chasers now get across, making it ten...

It's a postcard setting in Mendrisio - the area looks great.  No sense of urgency in the peloton; the break is established, so those behind will give them a bit of space now.

With ten riders, the break must ensure that there's no messing around. The danger when moves get bigger is that one or more riders start taking half-turns, or don't bother coming through at all. That's a risky situation and so they need to keep rolling through.

Andre Greipel is up there, of course. He took four stages plus the points classification in the Vuelta a Espana, including the final stage into Madrid. At the time he said that he would go to the worlds to help the other German riders, and that's what he's done - going up the road early on will give his team-mates a valid reason not to work later. Tony Martin is the captain there...he took a bronze medal in Thursday's time trial, behind Fabian Cancellara and Gustav Erik Larsson, and will try to make it two today.

Italian ex-pro Paolo Bettini is here, signing autographs. He retired at the end of 2008 and was a double winner of the rainbow jersey.

Scott Sunderland is a regular Twitterer, giving updates when he's not helping put together the new Sky team. He has given his top three predictions for today: Simon Gerrans, Fabian Cancellara, Edvald Boasson Hagen. Not bad choices. My own feeling is that this course is going to be a bit too tough for Cancellara when the hammer goes down, even though he's in great form. Could be wrong, though!

On paper, Italy and Spain look dangerous...Damiano Cunego is on everyone's watch list, while Alessandro Ballan will try to rediscover the form that saw him take the jersey twelve months ago. Alejandro Valverde and Samuel Sanchez, first and second in the Vuelta, are the big Spanish hopes, but triple champ Oscar Freire will also hope to go well and take what would be a record fourth title. He's been relatively quiet of late, though; slight lack of form, or holding back? We'll see today...

If Valverde wins, that will be a headache for the UCI, who would much rather he was elsewhere.

Believe it or not (time flies!), Freire's first worlds win was ten years ago. That was a peculiar moment - on one hand you'd a perfectly executed attack with 400 metres to go, the Spaniard using the right hand side of a wide, wide Verona road to scurry clear. On the other, once he crossed the line, everyone was left scratching their heads and asking, 'who is this guy?'

Of course, unlike other surprise champions (Romans Vainsteins and Igor Astarloa spring to mind), Freire went on to equal that success in the subsequent years. He triumphed in 2001 and again in Verona in 2004, and took many other victories. His stage win in the Tour de Suisse a few years back was particularly notable - Freire hopped his bike sideways onto a road island, getting the shortest possible route around a roundabout and soloing to victory.

For a rider known as absent minded off the bike, he's very clever on it.. Other three time winners of the world championship include Alfredo Binda (Italy) and the Belgian duo of Rik Van Steenbergen and Eddy Merckx.

Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer gives us this information: Christoph Sokoll was a last-minute addtition to the Austrian team. He had been named as a subsittute, and then was named to the team on Wednesday. He replaced Thomas Rohregger , who had to have an abcess removed from his buttocks last week. The wound was not healed sufficiently for him to ride.


The gap is now over five and a half minutes. Italy, Venezuela, Spain lead the peloton, but there's no major chase on at the moment.

193km remaining from 262km

Latest timegap: 7.05. So it continues to go up.

One of the under 23 riders in yesterday's race, Mark O'Brien, has advised his Elite compatriots to conserve as much energy as possible. He says it's really a tough course.

The Norwegian riders are sitting up at the front. No pacemaking going on, other than turning the pedals. Edvald Boasson Hagen and Thor Hushovd are the two big names on the team. The course is probably too tough for Hushovd, but Boasson Hagen - in his best form - could do quite well. He was flying in the Tour of Britain but has since said he's feeling fatigued. Hopefully he'll have good legs today as he's an exciting rider.

The ten riders in the break roll through steadily. Good co-operation there, which is important. The aim is to keep pushing out the lead while the peloton is on its slumber.

Let's have a look at the winners of this race in the past two decades:

Of those, only four are currently still racing - Freire, Boonen and last year's winner Ballan, plus Armstrong. The first three are here today and hoping that their respective country will scoop gold. The course is almost certainly too tough for Boonen (we'll eat our hat if he wins on this hilly parcours), but his team-mate Philippe Gilbert could do rather well.... The friendly Walloon was in pretty good form in the Vuelta, although he said then that he didn't want to go too deep before the Worlds.

168km remaining from 262km

The pace is on now in the bunch, which is in one long line. Gregory Rast and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) are sitting right at the back. Also close by are Timothy Duggan and Jason McCartney.

The pace has slackened off slightly, but the bunch is still extended. The piano section may be over for today.

Ireland's Philip Deignan is sitting down near the back, and has been for most of today's race. Hard to tell if he's feeling the effects of the Vuelta in his legs, or if he's simply decided to sit in that position in the first half of the race. Deignan said that during the Vuelta, he often felt sluggish early in the stages and then came round well at the end. He had his best-ever career performance during those three and a half weeks in Spain, taking a stage plus ninth overall.

The peloton is now moving through the feedzone, the rider grabbing musettes as they pass. Serbian rider Esad Hasanovic nearly missed his bottle but the team helper ran after him and managed to get it into his hand. He's chasing back on now.

Speaking to Eurosport, Stefano Garzelli has emphasised the importance of the composition of the Italian team and the fact that they are friends. Sometimes the selection is not just about who is strongest, but also who gets on well and will support the team.

Jeannie Longo came in for flak before for not being a team player, but she still made the French selection this year. She was 48th yesterday, 12'09 back - her last worlds road race, or will she keep going? 

Irish duo Philip Deignan and Dan Martin are both sitting at the back of the bunch...We've spoken to Cycling Ireland's high performance manager Phil Leigh, who said that they are taking it lap by lap and see how their legs respond as the race goes on. Many of the riders who did the full Vuelta might find that they feel stiff early on but could have great legs in the finale. It's a balancing act, frankly - some, such as Cuengo and Ballan, withdrew early, while Valverde and Sanchez continued to the end of that race.

Italy, Spain and Australia are now stretching out the main field. The pace has certainly increased somewhat, although it's a softening up process rather than full-on racing.

A couple of riders went down on the descent, including Andrey Amador Bikkazakova (Costa Rica). He got going again very soon afterwards - didn't seem to be hurt.

154km remaining from 262km

152km remaining from 262km

140km remaining from 262km

The ten leaders are crossing the start/finish line again at the end of lap nine. Marzio Bruseghin (Italy) is on front of the peloton. Ivan Basso is of course also part of the squad, and should be there in the finale. However Cunego and Ballan would probably be better bets in one-day races, due to their explosiveness.

The crowds are very passionate today - not a surprise, given that this is a real festival and they can cheer on riders in their own national team colours. Also, with Switzerland so central in Europe, it's made it very possible for large numbers to travel. Italy's just over the border, too, so there's been a big influx of tifosi.

134km remaining from 262km

The gap has now fallen below seven minutes, so the pendulum has certainly swung. There's a clear ramping up of speed in the bunch, with Bruseghin swaying all over the place as he gets the Watts out.

Cancellara and Evans are towards the front of the peloton, looking focussed. While they are relaxed, other riders are grimacing under the effort...this is starting to hurt....

The peloton turns right at that rather curious cemetary. Is it the dead centre of Mendrisio? (groan)

Zagorodny leads the break, then the others come through. The co-operation is still very good in this move. They know that they have an almost impossible task ahead, but will enjoy the crowd attention and the TV time until they are caught. As mentioned earlier, it also takes the pressure off their teams as they don't have to do any riding at all back in the peloton.

Feedtime again for the's really crucial to keep eating in a race this long. Hydration, too, given that it's quite warm out there...

We're over halfway through the race now - 135 kilometres covered.

A dozen or so riders stop for a 'nature break'. Three Italians and three Australians. They're making their way back to the peloton now. There's certainly not much privacy to be found on the circuit today.

Spain and Italy come to the front as the peloton once again goes through the feed zone. Robert Gesink is also well up there, keeping out of trouble.

One of the two climbs on the course is the Aqua Fresca (also known as the San Pietro). The other is the Novazzano. The leaders are currently on the latter, while the peloton is currently descending off the Aqua Fresca (San Pietro)

A British rider crashes in the peloton. It looks like Ian Stannard has gone down. It doesn't look too serious, he's waiting for the rest of the field to pass before he remounts his bike.

Melehs (Latvia) looks to have done his dash. He's lost contact with the leaders and is dropping back quickly.

Marzio Bruzhegin (Italy) leads the peloton up the Novazzano. He's setting the sort of tempo that is going to see the peloton thin considerably in the coming laps.

The peloton come through the start/finish area. They pass the finish line 6.10 behind the leaders.

There's a marked difference in the peloton as they hit the start of the climbs. They were riding up then as a solid, rectangular block in the earlier laps, they are now being dragged into a diamond pattern each time. Italy are using their strength in numbers to push the pace.

Two Italians and a Belgian rider have gone off the front of the bunch. Spain are nowhere to be seen.

106km remaining from 262km

Three more riders have linked up. Moreno is looking around anxiously for Spanish teammates.

Apologies, Rodriguez is the Spanish rider in this newly established chase group. Balland, Visconti and Scarponi are the three Italians within it.

The chase group has just passed Melehs (Latvia) who dropped out of the lead group on the last lap.

Tim Gudsell (New Zealand) has crashed in the feedzone; a dangerous part of each lap. He's dusting himself off at the moment.

Ballan (Italy), Scarponi (Italy), Visconti (Italy), Rodriguez (Spain), Van Avernmaet (Belgium), De Greef (Belgium), Albasini (Switzerland), Maertens (Germany, Hoogerland (Netherlands) are now chasing the leaders. They are at 4.00

There's a second chase group that has formed in front of the peloton. The big surprise is how few Spanish jerseys can be seen in the two chase groups. Spain caught off guard perhaps...

Hoogerland attacks the chase group on the Aqua Fresca, Ballan goes with the Dutchman.

Now Hoogerland attacks! He jumps on the climb. That's early...maybe he's trying to disrupt this bunch so that his team leaders can get back into the frame. He's marked by Ballan.

There's still a long way to go, so what's happened is rather unusual...

The Norwegians and the Russians are doing a lot of the chasing. They have the peloton lined out while, up front, Hoogerland is back in that chase group. It appears that the second group of chasers has joined up. Tom Boonen is driving it, then the Italians take over.

There are 28 riders now in this chasing group. Jose Rujano (Venezuela) has attacked and gone clear.. When he's on form, he's a great climber. However his form has been very patchy for a couple of seasons. He's going well now, though...

Cancellara is back in the peloton. He's got some Swiss team-mates up front and they appeared to be trying to stall the chase group. David Milalr is right at the back of the peloton - he crashed earlier.

Russell Downing brought Millar back after he got back on his bike. The energy expended there saw the Tour of Ireland winner retire from the race once he'd completed that task. That's a pity - he was GB's only finisher last year.

There's no sense of urgency in the peloton, which has spread across the road on this climb. Rujano is 2'38 behind the leaders, with that chase group 2'49 back. The peloton is at 4'32. Strange that there's no longer a chase on in the bunch - something needs to start soon.

The Australian team is now chasing, while Belgium sits just behind to impede it slightly.

Scarponi leads the chase group, allowing Ballan to sit on.

The chasers are on the Acqua Fresca part of the climb. It's Italy doing all the work there, Scarponi looking strong. Visconti sits on his wheel.

Australia still leading behind...the Spanish don't have one of their big riders up front, but they are playing a bit of poker here, methinks.

The chase group is now 2'40 back. Vosconti pushes the pace, then Scarponi takes over. Kirchen (Luxembourg), Geraint Thomas (Great Britain) are two more names in this group.

The Italians are the only ones driving things in this second group; the others are getting a free ride. Ballan is a danger of course, but so too riders such as Kirchen and Cobo.

Matthey Hayman, Simon Clark, Wesley Sulzberger and Stuart O’Grady are on the front of the peloton for Australia. Dan Martin (Ireland) appears to be coming around and has moved up near the front.

Andy Scleck (Luxembourg) and Allan Davis (Australia) are amongst those who have the Tour de France runner-up has run out of legs. Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) is also gone. There's quite a few riders missing from the bunch at this point.

68km remaining from 262km

The chasers are 1'53 behind the leaders, who have done a superb job of staying out front for so long. The peloton is not that much further back - 2'59. This is still under control, it seems.

We think Rujano was reeled in - no sign of him out there. He's likely to be in that chase group.

Still Australia driving it...O'Grady moves to the front now, looking strong. Think it's 2'15 to the front group now, so it's coming down all right...

An update as to the names in that chase group: They are Giovanni Visconti (Italy), Michele Scarponi (Italy), Alessandro Ballan (Italy), Luca Paolini (Italy), Carlos Barredo (Spain), Joaquím Rodríguez (Spain), Juan Jose Cobo (Spain) Françis De Greef (Belgium), Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium), Tom Boonen (Belgium), Bert De Waele (Belgium), Paul Martens (Germany), Johnny Hoogerland (Netherlands), Michael Albasini (Switzerland), Rubens Bertogliati (Switzerland), Olivier Zaugg (Switzerland), Geraint Thomas (Great Britain), Volodymyr Starchyk (Ukraine), Jose Rujano (Venezuela), Michael Rogers (Australia), Christophe Riblon (France), Rein Taaramae (Estonia), Christoph Sokoll (Austria), Dmitriy Fofonov (Kazakhstan), Kim Kirchen (Luxembourg), Lars Ytting Bak (Denmark), Sergio Paulinho (Portugal), Leonardo Duque (Colombia) and Vladimir Karpets (Russia)

Visconti is pushing the chase group onwards but it looks like the Italians are starting to tire. They've been left to do all the work since this second break was formed and are now less than a minute ahead of the peloton.


Apparently Cancellara has punctured, but got back into the group. Millar also reported to be in trouble.

Irish riders Dan Martin and Philip Deignan are moving closer to the front. That's what was expected - the Vuelta riders were likely to feel that race in their legs early on, but should have better endurance than the others.

As they cross the start/finish line again, it's ust 36 seconds now for the leaders, while the peloton is 1'12's certainly coming back together, little by little... Australia are down to just one rider, though, Wesley Sulzberger. The Dutch and Belgians sit right behind himand won't help as they have riders up the road.

Rujano is driving the second group along, from which Greipel has been dropped. They are perhaps 20 seconds behind the leaders now...

51km remaining from 262km

Another team needs to ramp up the pace - the Australian support riders have burned all their matches, and the Belgians and Italians are now stalling on the front... They'll be happy if that group can stay clear.

Hmmm...the gap has gone back up to 1'43...that could be dangerous...

The peloton is bunched up into a pace at all now. Unless a team goes to the front, some of the big hitters might start to fire on the climbs ahead...  There's a real tension in the air - they know this is going to explode over the next lap or two..

44km remaining from 262km

Cancellara is close to the front in that peloton. Has he got the legs today, or is his 80kg frame too big to haul up these climbs when the hammer is down? 

Heading over the start/finish line for the end of lap 16, Duque attacked... He's clear alone but being chased. The peloton is now lined out. It's 2'03 back so that's a big enough gap to close.

The chase group has split up, and Boonen is riding well.. Stangelj also there. There's perhaps 10 riders in this group. Duque continues alone... He tried a solo move from a break in the Tour, too, but that didn't work out.

Now Hoogerland jumps...! He was going well in the Vuelta and has caught and passed Duque... The latter holds his wheel, then cracks..

Hoogerland has been joined by Rodriguez... meanwhile, back in the bunch, Spain also leads! That's not tactical.

37km remaining from 262km

The Belgian team continue to block, as do the Italians. Cunego and Cancellara are near the front and must be frustrated.

Scarponi and several other riders are at the front now, sensing that maybe - just maybe - they can stay clear.

Only two and a half laps left....that big chase group caught the leaders and then split, although there's not a huge gap between them.

Ballan is pushing the pace...he'd love another rainbow jersey. That would probably be a surprise if it happened, given that he hasn't shown spectacular form this year, but the Italians have played a smart card today.

Duque and Greg Van Avermaet are clear of the others...

Feedzone again for the chasers (those behind Duque). This group has stalled! Can't understand these tactics...

Rujano is concerned and pushes the pace... Behind, two Spanish riders now drive the pace in the peloton...they had to do it, frankly.

Van Avermaet and Duque are in the driving seat, pushing on. There's a couple of tactical battles going on behind, and so they can pull ahead.

31km remaining from 262km

This is quite confusing - attack, brought back, attack, brought back! The more time passes, the more likely one of these front runners will win the Worlds.

Garate now leads the peloton, trying to get the Spanish back into the equation.. There's now 19 leaders, with names like Ballan, Kirchen, Rogers etc there...

Less than laps to go! The bunch is 1'19 back now...

Stangelj now attacks...he's alone out front with approximately 25 kilometres remaining...

No real pace at all in the group behind...the bunch is being led by the Spaniards, who are chasing hard... They are only 59" behind the leader, and 39" off the Kirchen group!

Kirchen now pushes on, wtih Visconti and Rodriguez there. They've caught Stangelj and now he tags along behind. They are on the penultimate ascent of the Castel San Pietro climb. Behind, a group of strong riders has caught Rogers and others...

Freire is also there in that second group, as is Cunego plus several others.

Cancellara attacks from behind! He's got up to Kirchen...

Several others are also there...bear with us...

Rodriguez also there, but the peloton is right behind...

Zaugg drives it for Cancellara, but it's all back together now...

All together, wth just over a lap to go!

Gerrans moves up, looking zippy... Italy lead, though..

Italy leads on the Novazzano climb...this is going to explode...

17km remaining from 262km

Basso, Cunego, Cancellara are just some of the strong riders in this group. Meanwhile last year's champion Ballan has been dropped.

Vinokourov is also right up there, and sits at the front...

There's plenty of attacks, but everything is being marked for now.

Evans and Gerrans are there, wtih Gerrans in the front split. Cancellara closes the gap, so there's a group of approximately 20 riders there with one lap to go.

Vinokourov has attacked... he's clear, but only by 20 lengths...


Update: Vinokourov (Kazakhstan) is five seconds clear of 17-man group containing - Cunego (Italy), Basso (Italy, Valverde (Spain), Evans (Australia), Gerrans (Australia), Cancellara (Switzerland), Gilbert (Belgium), Hoogerland (Netherlands), Kroon (Netherlands).

He's caught! Now anther Alex goes - this time it's the Russian Kolobnev...he's really strong and finished top three in the worlds two years ago...big danger.

Cancellara and Gilbert lead the chase, driving it on this climb...

9km remaining from 262km

There's approximately 10 riders in front... Cancellara attacks...!

Kolobnev (Russia), Cancellara (Switzerland), Sanchez (Spain), Gilbert (Belgium), Cunego (Italy), Basso (Italy, Valverde (Spain), Cancellara (Switzerland), Kroon (Netherlands), Evans (Australia) are the leaders, with Cancellara pushing the pace.

7km remaining from 262km

Sneaky attack fired off by Rodriguez, who went the far side of a traffic island. Valverde, Evans, Rodriguez, Gilbert, Cancellara are some - but not all - of those who are there.

Kolobnev, Evans and Rogriguez have gone clear...! They have five seconds...

Evans goes! He's clear....can he get revenge for the Vuelta?

Evans is on the final climb and is giving it everything.....Australia goes mental. Kolobnev and Rogriguez are chasing, while behind Cancellara is being marked out of it.

Evans is not that far ahead of the other two....Kolobnev doing all the work...

They are five seconds back....the others are marking themselves out of it....

It looks more and more likely that Evans will do it! He's over the top of the climb, only a couple of kilometres left to go...

2km remaining from 262km

Evans is surely going to win this....

Evans weeped at the top of Sierra Nevada, being extremely distraught at losing his chance to win the Vuelta. He'll be weeping again today, but for different reasons...

1km remaining from 262km

Evans is not only going to win this, he's going to do it by a really big margin.....same two chasers, but they are riding for silver now.

He wins! Impressive victory...

Kolobnev goes for his second silver medal at the worlds...he gets it ahead of Rodriguez. Sanchez and Cancellara sprint it out for fourth and fifth.

Evans is very emotional, kisses his wedding ring which is on a chain around his neck. Team-mate Gerrans gets tenth...

That beat's McEwen's 2002 silver medal. First major one day race of his career? 

Yes, first major one day victory of his road career....

Cancellara was distraught at the end...not happy with fifth..

Evans lives nearby and said after the race that this is almost a home race for him...

That competes our live coverage from this World road race championship in Mendrisio, Switzerland....very good racing, and a worthy winner. Don't forget to stick around for our race report, results and photos.. Thanks for reading!



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