Cycling | 2 comments
UCI World Cycling Tour
By Zdenko Kahlina
Photo Alain Buyck
New road world champions crowned in Stavelot (Belgium)
After many years in trying, my old friend Bojan Ropret (Slovenia) finally made it in Belgium this September. He was third in the road race where several different veteran categories raced together
New UCI World Champion M50 – Bojan Ropret
But the first two riders were much younger (M45 age group) and he out-sprinted his opponent for the first place in their age group M50. In addition, Bojan also won silver medal in the same age group during the Time Trial race, over the 21 kilometers course.
Back in the 70s and 80s, Bojan Ropret was one of the best cyclists in the country that was called Jugoslavia. Bojan Ropret won Tour of Jugoslavia stage race in 1980. That was full 31 years ago! It is amazing that so many years after, Bojan is still in winning form!
Bojan Ropret is leaving legend of the Slovenian cycling. I had the privilege to be his direct opponent on the road in the late 70s. He was at the forefront of a new generation of cyclists, who have just announced their great potential. Former triple Olympian (1976 Montreal, 1980 Moscow, 1984 Los Angeles) and the best Slovenian cyclists in the period 1977 to 1986, he still appears in the results of many races at the very top, where he is almost unbeatable in his group.
Bojan Ropret in 1978 when he won Alpe-Adria (Tour of Slovenia)
Winner of Tour of Jugoslavia in 1980
National team from 1982: Vinko Polončić, Bruno Bulić, Bojan Ropret and Bojan Udovič
These days, Bojan pays little attention to these old glory days, but he talks about how he still enjoys the daily rides on his bike and how this makes him very happy. His nearly forty year association with the bike brought him much success and recognition in life.
You can read more about Bojan Ropret on “Zdenko’s Corner” blog:
There were hundreds of starters
Road races in Stavelot
Two days after the Time Trial Championships held under rainy skies, Stavelot was again blanketed by heavy clouds. It did not take long before the first showers appeared. The age categories above 45 took their start at 9am with two minutes between the two groups.
There were some fast attacks, but the whole peloton kept them within reach until finally Dirk Himley (USA) got a sizeable gap on the rest. Unfortunately his lead came to an abrupt end when he fell at the conclusion of the first loop. He was not the only casualty of the day due to the inclement weather conditions. The rain was so heavy; in fact, that the road from Wanne towards Stavelot was more like a river at a certain moment. This kept the onsite race doctor and ambulances quite busy.
The course was anything but flat
In the second loop, the next successful break of the day was made containing about twelve riders. This group was further broken apart by the top of the Côte d’Aisomont , leaving only Italian Giovanni Lattanzi and Dutch Jos Wolfskamp to battle it out up the ultimate climb of Côte de Stockeu. Lattanzi took a few meters in the downhill, earning him the victory. By afternoon, the rain dissipated just in time for the younger age groups to take their start. After numerous attacks, the two age class pelotons that started at an interval of two minutes joined at the Côte de l’Ancienne Barrière. While it was Côte de Brumes that caused the first gaps in the peloton, it was only after the first passage at the finish line that the main leading group was formed at the Côte de la Haute Levée. It contained many Belgian, Italian, French, American and Slovenian riders battling for gold.
Some very aggressive riding
It was a cold and wet day on the road
Cyclists enjoy some nice scenery
The two teammates, Kristof Houben and Bart Bury, looked very strong and again Côte d?Aisomont made the final decision. On this fateful clilmb, Kristof Houben attacked with compatriot Simon Collard. The two turned themselves inside out in the name of victory on the Côte de Stockeu. Houben emerged the overall victor, earning himself the M30 age category win while Collard snagged the M16 title.
Finish was on an uphill and cobblestone road
Sprint – Just like real professionals!
New UCI World Champion M40 – Kristof Houben (Bel)
New UCI World Champion M40 – Wladimiro d’Assenzo (Ita)
New UCI World Champion M45 – Giovanni Latanzi (Ita)
The women’s race started half an hour after the men’s with four strong women breaking away from the peloton after the first loop. Belgians Edith Van den Brande (F16) and Anja Buysse (F40) escaped with Netherlander Esther Olthuis (F30) and French rider Karine Saysset (F35). All four were already sure of the world title in their respective age categories, so they worked perfectly well together to maintain their gap over the rest. For the first time, the deciding climb was not the Côte d’Aisomont but rather the Côte de Stockeu. Youngster Edith Van den Brande made a gap and won ahead of Olthuis, Saysset and Buysse.
Pat McQuaid honored all 18 new World Champions with their brand new UWCT World Champion jerseys.
Take a look at the video off the finals
|Winners of the day:|
|M16: Simon Collard (BEL)
M30: Kristof Houben (BEL)
M35: James Mattis (USA)
M40: Wladimiro d’Assenzo (ITA)
M45: Giovanni Lattanzi (ITA)
M50: Bojan Ropret (SLO)
M55: David Zimbelman (USA)
M60: Rudolf Sluyts (BEL)
M65: Bruno Macciocu (ITA)
F16: Edith Vanden Brande (BEL)
F30: Esther Olthuis (HOL)
F35: Karine Saysset (FRA)
F40: Anja Buysse (BEL)
F45: Marti Shea (USA)
F50: Linda Eiler (GER)
F55: Carole Vanier (CAN)
F60: Susie Anderson (AUS
Melinda Berge, a sportive 66 year old American was the first to go for the World Championships time trial for masters and amateurs at 10h in the morning. The weather was not so kind as it was raining for most of the race.
Can you time trial on this course?
New Time Trial champions
In the overall women’s rankings, 38 year old Molly Van Houwelingen (USA) had the best time, beating 48 year old Marti Shea (USA) and Ester Olthuis (HOL). All three became World Champion in their respective age categories.
Waiting for the start
Hilly and wet TT course
It took some time before the first male could beat the time of Van Houwelingen. Russian Yury Demanov (48) was the first to go under the 30-minute mark. Eventually Michael Olheiser (USA) won with 27.58 (average speed of 44.6 on a hilly and wet course complete with cobblestones in the last kilometer) beating Slovenian Richard Kopce and James Mattis (USA).
Impressively, the fastest man and woman emerged from the 35-39 age category beating out their younger opponents. Furthermore, the male 35-39 podium contained the top three overall.
189 Time-Trial specialists gave the best of themselves in the first UCI World Cycling. The podium ceremony honored all 18 new World Champions with medals and a brand new UCI masters and amateurs jersey.
All the 2011 UCI Masters World Champions.