A quick recap of how the North American cyclists fared at the 76th World Championships UCI Road World Championships which were held in Mendrisio, Switzerland, from Wednesday 23 September in Mendrisio, Switzerland.
The competition started with the 33.2 km Men U23 Time Trial won by Jack Bobridge of Australia earned the U23 men’s world title with a time of 40:44.79. Completing the podium were silver medalist Nelson Oliveira of Portugal and last year’s silver medalist Patrick Gretsch of Germany.
In his final year as an Espoir, Canadian David Veilleux finished 10th, clocking a time of 41:56:72, putting him at 1:11:93 from the winner. His teammate Ryan Anderson set a time of 43:17:03 which put him in 30th spot.
“That was the goal [top 10]. I am satisfied of my result.” said the U23 Canadian TT Champ Veilleux. “Everything went well and I think that my effort was good. I am happy with my race.”
The 21-year did have a slow start and was only 10th in the first intermediate time check. “I did have a little more difficulties at the start, but I really had a good rythm in the end.”
For the USA, Tejay Van Garderen was the highest placed, at 13th, with a time 42:09:08 to finish 1:24.29 off the winning pace in 13th. Peter Stetina, who finished sixth in last year’s contest, posted a time of 42:28.92 which put him in the 20th spot.
The afternoon belonged to the women, and more specifically to American Kristin Armstrong who earned her second world title in the women’s time trial. Defending world champion Amber Neben finished sixth while Jessica Phillips was 14th.
Armstrong recorded a time of 35:26.09 over the 27km course to post the fastest time of the day by more than a minute. As the seventh seed however the Olympic gold medalist still had to endure six of the world’s best, including her American teammate and defending world champ Neben. Armstrong’s time did in fact hold more than 51 seconds ahead of silver medalist Noemi Cantele of Italy and nearly a minute better than the bronze medal mark set by Linda Melanie Villumsen of Denmark. Neben’s time of 36:55.83 put her in sixth place, while Phillips, after holding the top slot for much of the contest, finished in 14th.
Arguably the most decorated female cyclist in history, Armstrong added her second world title to an Olympic gold medal. Armstrong remains the fourth American ever to win an elite women’s time trial world title, joining Amber Neben (2008), Mari Holden (2000) and Karen Kurreck (1994).
“I can’t think of any better way of saying goodbye to the sport,” said the 36-year old Armstrong who confirmed that she is retiring from the sport. “I had a little bit of motivation today. Now I hope another American can come out on top on Saturday.”
Tara Whitten of Canada finished 8th at 1:33:39 behind Armstrong. Canada’s second entrant, Julie Beveridge finished 19th. Witten took over from Philips in the hot seat until pushed out by Cantele.
On Thursday, it was the men’s time to test themselves against the clock in the 49.8 km time trial. Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland blizted his way on the course that was tailor-made for him to stop the clock at 57:55.74. Gustav Larsson of Sweden finished second at 1:27.13 back and Tony Martin of Germany third at 2:30.18.
In his first ever World Championships, and his first ever race in Europe, American Tom Zirbel posted the fourth fastest time of 1:00:42.86. Zirbel went off in the second wave of riders and his fast time kept him in the hot seat until the fifth and final wave went out. Also racing the clock for the U.S. Team was Tom Danielson who placed 23rd.
Silver medalist at last year’s TT World Championship in Italy, Canada’s Svein Tuft finished 15th at 4:24.25 back. Tuft has been struggling all year after suffering a concussion at the Tour of California in February.
The weekend brought the road races. On Saturday, Olympic silver medalist Tatiana Guderzo of Italy was able to sprint away from her breakaway companions and grab the world title after help from her strong Italian team throughout the race. 2006 world champion Marianne Vos (NED) took silver and Wednesday’s time trial silver medalist Noemi Cantele (ITA) the bronze in the final 3-rider sprint to the line.
Wednesday’s time trial gold medalist, Armstrong just missed the podium, finishing fourth in her final race before retirement. The Olympic gold medalist, Armstrong, was part of the winning four-woman group that was able to get away from a larger group on the final climb of the elite women’s road race. Armstrong just missed becoming the first American to ever win world championship medal in both the time trial and the road race.
“I always want to medal, but it’s the best result the Americans have had for many years,” said Armstrong. “I hope this gives other American riders motivation for many years to come.”
Both Armstrong and Evelyn Stevens established themselves as part of a strong 19-woman group late in the 124 km race. Four of the sport’s most decorated cyclists were finally able to get away from that lead group on the final ascent up Acqua Fresca. Guderzo then made the winning move in the form of a solo attack at the crest of the climb.
The U.S. women placed three riders inside the top 20 with Armstrong in fourth, Stevens in 15th and Mara Abbott 18th. Kim Anderson , Amber Neben and Meredith Miller did not finish the selective course with more than 2,200 meters of climbing. Neben was injured in a crash.
Canada’s Erinne Willock also made the final selection and was part of the chase group right behind the break. She fnished seventh, a career-high for her. Tara Whitten was Canada’s only other finisher, in 40th place. Julie Beveridge, Heather Logan, Alison Testroete and Joelle Numainville did not finish the race.
With two climbs at less than 4km from each other on each 13.8 km (8.6 mi) circuit, the road race was touted by the organizers to be one of the hardest and most selective course, after Sallanches in 1964 and Duitama in 1995, since the Second World War. Pre-race favorite and recent winner of the Tour de L’Avenir, Romain Sicard of France made his winning move on the last lap of what he called a very difficult course, in the U23 Men’s 179.4 km race. Betancur Carlos Alberto of Colombia was second and Egor Silin of Russia finished third.
Peter Stetina lead the U.S. U23 men’s squad, finishing 19th in the 124-kilometer contest. The second-place finisher in last month’s Tour de L’Avenir, Tejay Van Garderen abandoned the race along with Kirk Carlsen, Chris Barton and Alex Howes who went in one of the early breaks.
David Veilleux was Canada’s only finisher, in 62nd place as Ryan Anderson, David Boily and Guillaume Boivin did not finish.
“At the beginning of the race, I waited a bit in the peloton, but I didn’t feel that I was in extraordinary form. I realized that my chances of staying in the lead group at the end of the race were slim. So I decided to take a chance and attack.” said Veilleux who was part of a break for four of the thirteen laps. “We were caught with four laps to go and at that moment, I was not able to keep the rythm. The peloton was accelerating.”
“I think that if I had not tried something, I would have probably finished in the same spot in the results. I am therefore happy with my strategy. I tried something, it didn’t work, but at least I tried.” said Veilleux who was racing his last U23 World Championships.
The final race, the 262.2 km men’s road race was held on Sunday where the riders faced 19 circuits of the very difficult course. Once a break was brought back in the penultimate lap, a select group of 30 riders jumped out the front and never looked back. The group splintered under the incessant attacks in the final lap until ultimately Australia’s Cadel Evans built a small lead up the final climb. The less than 30 second gap proved to be enough to give him his first world title and Australia’s first gold in the men’s world championship road race. Alexandr Kolobnev of Russia and Joaquin Rodriguez Olivier of Spain crossed the line 27 seconds later to claim silver and bronze respectively.
After working hard all day, as the Canadian team only had 3 riders, Michael Barry made it into the final group and finished 18th overall, at 2:44 behind the winner. Neither Svein Tuft nor Ryder Hesjedal finished the race.
For the U.S.A., 24-year-old Craig Lewis was the top finisher coming in 59th in the grueling seven-hour affair. Lewis, Tim Duggan, Tom Peterson and Jason McCartney remained in contention but did not make it into the final selection. The remainder of the American squad of nine riders, Brent Bookwalter, Andy Bajadali, Tyler Farrar and Tom Danielson did not finish the race.
Complete results here