Monday, August 20, 2007

The closing kilometers of the 99 worlds...

Coming in to the last 10k of the World's in '99 in Verona, it was clear that the next World Champ would come from a group of 8. 6 of those 8 were known quantities, and superstars with long race-winning backgrounds: Ullrich ('97 TdF winner,'current world TT champion), Vandenbrouke (previous Liege winner); Casagrande (2x San Sebastian winner); Konyshev (Silver medalist '89 Worlds, behind LeMond); Camenzind ('98 World Champ); Marcus Zberg (3rd Amstel Gold in 98) ; Cyril-Robin (roleur and hardman); the remaining 2 were Chann McRae (US) and Oscar Freire (SPA), neither of whom were (at the time) high-profile winners of big races. O.K., Freire had won the U23 worlds, but still, that hardly qualifies as someone Ullrich or Vandenbrouke should nervously mark coming in to the final 2K of the '99 Worlds. With all that in mind, check this out, watching for how well Freire controls the group of 8 he's finishing with. He's chasing down moves with 3k to go, but when it's clear that the group will finish together, he enters the last corner near last. Which, in a group that small is the perfect position. Lots of people will tell you that you need to be 3rd or 4th. I don' t find that to be true, especially when the last kilometer is long, straight and flat, and when the finishers will be nervous. As long as you're not at the back because you're already fried, sitting 7th or 8th isn't bad. It gives you time to judge your opposition, it gives you the element of surprise, and you don't have to worry about being caught out (or boxed in) from behind. Freire wasn't being closely marked at the World's in's the result.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Milan-San Remo 1992