Sunday’s Elite Men’s Road Race was the finale of the 2007 Road World Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. This year’s edition was fairly typical of racing over the past six months: rather unspectacular and overshadowed by political manoeuvring and tainted by the fall-out from doping investigations.
Months before the event had even started, there were strong rumours circulating that the event wouldn’t take place at all, the German cycling scene having collectively had enough of all of the doping scandals in professional cycling.
Then we had the ‘is he, isn’t he going to race’ saga of Alejandro Valverde, the Spanish rider who may/may not be implicated in the Operacion Puerto doping investigation.
In the end, he was given the green light but then doubt was cast on defending champion Paolo Bettini (Italy), who had not signed the UCI’s ‘commitment to clean cycling’ charter and was accussed of supplying drugs to another rider. And when it was decided he could race, then Danilo Di Luca (Italy) was kicked out…
And most bizarre of all, the organisers publicly stated that cycling legend Eddy Merckx would not be welcome at the event. It all seemed a bit pointless.
WHO WON WHAT
Back to the racing… There was no new owner of the rainbow stripes in both of the Elite male categories. Bettini and Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland) both successfully and convincingly defended their respective Road Race and Time Trial titles. Both men were strong pre-race favourites, and it was hard to see anyone else taking the titles on the day.
The women’s events were a different story, with two new World Champions crowned: Italy’s Marta Bastianelli surprised everyone by clinching the Elite Women’s Road Race and Hanka Kupfernagel (Germany) pushed 2006 champ Kristin Armstrong (USA) into second in the Time Trial.
Always a showcase for future talent, in the Under-23 Men’s Time Trial Lars Boom (Netherlands) showed that he can excel on and off road – the current Under-23 cyclo-cross World Champion added another gold to his collection. Peter Velits (Slovakia) took the honours in the Under-23 Men’s Road Race on Saturday in a hectic sprint which saw a couple of riders hit the deck.
HOW DID THE BRITS DO?
John Bellis was the British revelation of the championships, coming away with bronze in the Under-23 Men’s Road Race. That made him the first British man to win a medal at the Road World Championships since 1967. This result is all the more incredible as Bellis was a last minute addition to the GB squad, and didn’t even know he was riding the event two weeks before he rolled onto the start line.
Emma Pooley excelled in the Elite Women’s Time Trial, posting a fantastic eighth place in her first ever Worlds outing. She then followed it up with a tenth place in the Elite Women’s Road Race, giving Brits something to cheer about in the absence of Nicole Cooke, who is still recovering from knee surgery. Pooley put her performance down to her GB team-mates.
In the Elite Men’s Time Trial, the Bradley Wiggins-David Millar rivalry failed to materialise, or at least produce a podium position, something which disappointed both riders. Wiggins posted Britain’s best time in tenth, 2-10 adrift of winner Cancellara and Millar was 18th at 2-40. Those positions were enough to ensure that Britain has two places at the Beijing Olympics time trial next year though, a great result in itself.
Millar also showed himself several times in the Elite Men’s Road Race on Sunday, but when the decisive split came Millar missed the boat and eventually came 54th. His Great Britain team-mates Roger Hammond and Mark Cavendish did not finish.
You can read all of our full report and browse our exclusive photo galleries from all of the World Championship events by clicking on the links below.
2007 ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NEWS
Bettini fires back
Comment: Stuttgart embarrassed by Worlds
Bellis: “Biggest success of my career”
Pooley: “My tenth place was earned by the team”
Bettini cleared to race by Stuttgart courts
McQuaid gives Bettini green light to race
Bettini in Worlds but Di Luca is out
Wiggins and Millar disappointed with TT ride
Bettini denies supplying drugs to Sinkewitz
Valverde can race at World Championships
Eddy Merckx not welcome at Worlds
Cooke out of Worlds, Brailsford names GB squad
British team get extra places for U23 Worlds
Boonen out of Worlds
Should Valverde ride the Worlds?