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Worlds’08 Elite Men’s TT: Grabsch Grabs Gold
Race Report : Sometimes things don’t pan out as we expect and well, I had money on Levi Leipheimer to win the World TT today! German rider Bert Grabsch took the honors on an exciting day that saw the lead change many times till we had a “Surprise” winner and a great performance from Svein Tuft from British Columbia.

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Today’s course starts and finishes in the same place as the last two days, but now has a big loop round a lake before heading back to Varese for a small finishing circuit to complete 43.7 kilometers. Today probably has an easier profile as the rise is less and much more gradual. With reigning champion Fabian Cancellara at home with his feet up, the race is wide open, the favorites, just like yesterday are from America; Leipheimer and Zabriskie, but upsets can happen!

The Early Starters
First man off was Kasakhstan rider, Andrey Zeits, he rides for Astana and is still only 21 years old, he rode the Under 23 TT last year and will want to show he can make the step up. Spanish rider, Ruben Plaza is one of the early riders off that we would expect something from and he takes fastest at the 20 kilometer mark. Leif Hoste (Belgium) who rides for Silence-Lotto was second in the Belgian National time trial championships is also one of the early starters, but we really have to wait for nearly an hour until Adam Hansen from Australia kicks off for the names that we recognize.

Bert Grabsch was definitely not listed as one of the favorites before the start, nor was Svein Tuft…guess that’s why they race these things.

As he warms up Michael Rogers (Australia) is interviewed by Italian TV (in Italian), when asked who the favorites are he names just about every rider, Leipheimer, Larsson, Zabriskie, Millar and Gutierrez. Johan Bryneel is also interviewed (in French) and he is putting his money on “Levi.” One of the favorites, Josй Gutierrez (Spain) says (in Italian) that “the difficult part of the race will be the finishing circuit as there is a bit of wind, it will be piano, piano at the start, then…”

Old stager, Serhiy Honchar is here, not sure of the Ukrainians age, but he must be getting on a bit, he was world champ in 2000 and still has the same big gear pedaling style. First finisher Zeits, unsurprisingly takes the fastest time of 56:58, this stays good until Ruben Plaza posts a time of 55:31, but this doesn’t last long as Andrei Kunitski (Belarus) beats him by 21 seconds.

YEAH! If you’re not psyched about Tuft’s second place, you’re sedated.

Honchar may look untidy on a bike, but he goes fast enough to catch Ruslan Ivanov (Moldova) and take the fastest time at 20 and at 32 kilometers. At the start area, Italian TV is missing all the riders because of a stunning blond masseur who is with the Canadian rider, Svein Tuft waiting to go, nice!

David Zabriskie was solid in 3rd. I think there’ll be a championship somewhere in his future though.

As we wait for Zabriskie to have his bike measured, Italian Champ, Marco Pinotti heads off to a big cheer from the larger crowd than there has been for the first two days, beautiful course, but it doesn’t seem to have got the spectators out on the road side.

Stijn Devolder was good, but nothing special today.

Honchar takes the lead with 53:39 as Spanish hope Gutierrez moves into second fastest at 20 kilometers. Adam Hansen records a reasonable time. An unshaven David Millar lines up on his Felt TT bike, not a special British Cycling designed carbon frame. Honchar is knocked off the top step by Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) with a 53:26 as Stijn Devolder (Belgium) takes the fastest time at the first time check at 8 kilometers.

Levi definitely left his very special TT legs in Spain and picked up some 4th place ones in Italia.

Last man off
Levi Leipheimer is looking very keen as he should after his two TT stages at La Vuelta and his third place at the Olympics, his Trek bike has a 54 chainring fitted, some riders have gone for the bigger 56 for the fast down hill section just after the start. Italian hope, Pinotti goes in to second place at 20 kilometers as Rogers does the same at the first time check, behind Tuft of Canada, at this point Tuft is also fastest at the second check.

Liquigas rider Quinziato (Italy) pushes into second spot at the finish, Leipheimer is not going so well as he is in 22nd place at the first check point at 8 kilometers at the same time Devolder is leading at the last time check at 32 kilometers. New leader is now Tony Martin (Germany) in 53:17, but there are a lot of fast riders still to finish. Gutierrez (Spain) has slowed towards the finish to finish with a time of 53:56 to be in 5th place at the moment.

Three riders take the lead very close to one another, first Devolder (53:17) and then the Canadian Tuft (52:44), to be followed by Grabsch with 52:01. Pinotti was a little disappointed with 53:35 which was about the same as his countryman Quinziato. He didn’t want to say too much at the finish, especially as it was “diretta.”

Just can’t get enough Tuft.

Next in was Zabriskie, he slotted into 3rd spot with a 52:53, but Garmin team mate David Millar was not doing so well with a 53:26, well out the medals. Leipheimer, with his high arm position seems to be speeding up now, not so for Rogers as he is out of the top ten and we only have Larsson and Leipheimer out on the road and neither of them are going to upset Grabsch’s time or anyone else on the podium. Larson finishes in fifth place with 53:07:44 and Leipheimer in fourth in 53:07:02.

So a surprise win for Bert Grabsch and a great second place for Svein Tuft, first of the favorites was David Zabriskie in third, not the result we expected, but that can happen at the World Championships. Stay PEZ for all the road race results starting tomorrow.

Bert Grabsch, Svein Tuft, and David Zabriskie.

For some reason, I actually thought this was a picture of Bert Grabsch for awhile, until I realized that it wasn’t…It’s David Zabriskie with his bronze.

Elite Men’s time trial Result :
1Є Bert Grabsch (Germany) in 52.01.60
2Є Svein Tuft (Canada) in 52.44.39
3Є David Zabriskie (U.S.A.) in 52.53.87
4Є Levi Leipheimer (U.S.A.) in 53.07.02
5Є Gustav Larsson (Sweden) in 53.07.44
6Є Stijn Devolder (Belgium) in 53.17.01
7Є Tony Martin (Germany) in 53.17.86
8Є Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) in 53.26.76
9Є David Millar (G.B.) in 53.26.86
10Є Sylvain Chavanel (France) in 53.27.42


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