Italians scoop two world titles in thrilling Cycling Tour Final

2012-08-27 00:00

THE Italian flag flew prominently at Alexandra Park after the 112 km road race that brought down the curtain on the UCI World Cycling Tour Final, with two of the three world titles on offer on the final day going to Italian riders.

D’Andrea Allesandro won a thrilling three-way dice to the line to snatch the coveted UCI rainbow jersey from local riders JC Jooste and Jaco Ferreira in the 30-34 year class, while his compatriot, Gabriele Clementoni, capped a tactically astute race with an imposing victory in the men’s 40-44 class.

Allesandro said: “Of course it is a great honour to have won. Cycling is a hobby for me now. I used to be a pro, but now I have a full-time job.”

Jooste said: “We are a little disappointed. At 35 km to go, myself and Jaco had a gap of two minutes, and when one of the 16-29 youngsters bridged the gap the Italian had a lot of help closing in on us.”

However, the day will be remembered for the dramatic crash 50 metres from the line by Slovenian rider Igor Kopše, who had dominated the 35-39-year class to the extent that was able to enter the home straight alone, and he started to celebrate as he entered the straight.

The move proved costly because as Kopše threw his arms loft and fist punched the air he lost control of his bike and crashed hard into the tarmac. As he got up he glanced back to see where second-placed Jone Ellinsen was and tried to remount his bike, only to discover the he had smashed the gear off his back wheel in the crash, and he had no option but to pick up his bike and run to the line.

“I probably tried to salute too much when I got it wrong, but none of that matters now because I am so happy to have won,” said Kopše.

“I have been working for this the entire season trying to push the limit,” he added.

Second-placed Ellinsen cottoned on to the dramatic developments too late as he too was coasting into the finish, and his late charge was not enough to keep a relieved Kopše from the rainbow jersey.

The 16-29 year age group Challenger class produced breakneck racing in the cool overcast conditions until the sun burnt off the clouds, creating ideal conditions for very fast times.

Belgian Simon Collard (27) retained his title in the class, which is the only age group not eligible for masters world champion rainbow jerseys, as he crossed the line first in a four-way sprint finish with Allesandro, Jooste and Ferreira.

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