Tuesday 29 September 2009

Mendrisio Worlds Part 1

Just back last night from the Worlds in Mendrisio, Switzerland. We stayed in Milan and took the train up for the two days of road races. A brute of a course but what an enjoyable weekends racing.

First a bit about the setting and the course. Mendrisio is in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, only a few kilometers from the Italian border and Lake Como. It's not in the high mountains but sits in a valley with some pretty big hills on either side. The course made full use of the hills. After the start there was a slight descent followed by about a kilometer of flat road through the lower part of Mendrisio itself. A sharp right and left and the climbing started, up through the town and out onto the hill above to Castel St Pietro. A winding, fast descent brought the race back almost to the Italian border and to the bottom of the second climb, which ramped up in stages through Novazzano, past the vineyards above the town. Then a sweeping descent to the one kilometer to go mark and a slight drag to the finish. It was widely considered the hardest Worlds course for years.

On Saturday morning, on the way to the Elite Womens race, we had to change trains in Chiasso station so grabbed a coffee and saw some of the race on TV in the station bar. We didn't see much but it was obvious that the green jerseys were hanging on the back on the climbs and so, surprisingly, was defending champ Nicole Cooke. We got to the course in time to catch the last third of the race. As the bunch passed us on the flat section through Mendrisio there was no sign of any green jersey. After a short wait Siobhan Horgan came down the hill in a group of three adrift of the field. We found out later that Olivia Dillon had already packed.

We moved on up to the feed station to catch the field coming through the next time, led by the incredible multi World and Olympic champion Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli of France, 50 years old and still competing at the highest level.

 Unfortunately, Siobhan Horgan came through shortly after to retire from the race.

We made it to the trade village behind the Start/Finish area in time to watch the very exciting last lap on a TV screen in one of the trade stands. The mostly Italian crowd were excited (to say the least!) to see one of their own win in convincing style.

1st  Tatiana Guderzo (ITA)  3:33:25
2nd Marianne Vos (NED)       +0:19
3rd Noemi Cantele (ITA)         s.t.

I couldn't see the actual medal ceremony so this is the best pic I could get.

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