The descent in the World Championship road race route has caused concern for the upcoming elite men’s and women’s races after recent crashes. Junior Italian Nicola Conci crashed in the same spot – a right-hander before the flat road over the dam with 6.5km to race – one day after his countryman Gianni Moscon went down in the Under 23 race.
“If it doesn’t rain, there are going to be many more riders there for the men’s pro race,” former professional and noted descender Paolo Savoldelli told Cycling Weekly.
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“If someone has five-metre gap, he could win, someone like Fabian Cancellara who goes fast on the descent and on the flats. If someone makes a mistake, crashes and creates a gap, the race could fall into the hands of someone like Cancellara. The descent, and a crash, could make more of a difference than the climbs.”
The right-hand curve ends the descent of the Confederacion climb and leaves 6.5 kilometres to race in the 18.2-kilometre circuit. Besides the Italians, it also saw a Venezuelan fall yesterday.
“They are going very hard and fast, and with the bikes and wheels that they use, they are at the limit. If you make some sort of mistake you are going to crash,” Savoldelli added.
“The Italian today, his back wheel slid out. Usually when you crash on a descent the front wheel goes because it’s the first to enter in the curve. That means that he made a mistake, probably not having enough weight towards the back of his bike. Yesterday, Moscon’s wheels both slid, showing that he went in too fast.”
“We had 10 or 15 seconds so it was normal that we were going to push it and risk it,” Conci explained. “It went bad for me, but that’s the way it is. I didn’t think I’d crash.
“I don’t think so the curve is dangerous, but you come off that descent fast. Many riders are underestimating it. The road is narrow beforehand, opens up a lot, it’s wide, and you think you can take it quickly, but then you hit the corner and slide. The pros will need to pay extra attention to that curve and not underestimate it.”
The organiser padded the poles and erected fencing to stop riders going over the wall and down the far side of the dam.
“If you mess it up you’re in the wall. You’re down the other side of the wall and in the water if you’re not careful!” Great Britain’s James Shaw added.
“You got to stay off the brakes in those situations and let the bike flow. Obviously, you are coming off a fast downhill into a very tight corner and trying to carry your speed out on the flat, so in that situation it’s really easy to go one kilometre an hour too fast, and then that’s it and the race is over.”
Fast downhill section on Ponferrada course proves undoing of Italian and Venezuelan riders.
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A look ahead to Sunday's men's road race at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, Spain