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Cancellara crushes rivals to take cycling gold

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Swiss speed specialist Fabian Cancellara dominated the cycling time trial world championships in Switzerland on Thursday to win well ahead of his closest rivals.

This content was published on September 24, 2009 - 18:22

The Olympic medalist maintained a blistering pace on the 49.8-km course around Mendrisio in the southern canton of Ticino to finish in 57 minutes, 55.74 seconds.

That was one minute, 27 seconds ahead of Sweden's Gustav Larsson, who took silver, and two minutes, 30 seconds swifter than Germany's Tony Martin who finished third.

Cancellara, 28, is the second Olympic gold-medal cyclist to have become a world time trial champion on the course. On Wednesday, Kristin Armstrong of the United States won the women's time trial.

Cancellara, from canton Bern, has further cemented his reputation as a cyclist who can power across relatively short distances with mind-boggling speed. He averaged more than 51 km/h on the course that included three laps along a 16.6 loop and 360 metres of climbing.

Hammer the pedals

From the outset Cancellera hammered the pedals aggressively, narrowly missing curbs and barriers as he carried speed into turns. After the first lap he'd already established a 38 second lead, which only grew with each pedal stroke.

Sixty-five racers, separated by one-minute intervals, had started the course, and Cancellara, one of the fastest riders and a favourite to win, raced second to last. Before the halfway mark the rider for Saxo Bank had overtaken Larsson, who had started the course one minute before the Swiss.

"It's been a perfect day," Cancellara said after the event. "I was very strong. It's a fantastic motivation to race at home."

He began celebrating long before the finish line, applauding his fans and patting the Swiss flag on his jersey.

With Thursday's win Cancellara, who recently won the Tour de Suisse, has added one more gold medal to his world championship wall. He claimed gold in Salzburg in 2006 and again in Stuttgart in 2007.

But the same skills that have propelled him to victory may become his liability on Sunday, when Cancellara will race in a 262.2-km contest featuring a lung-searing 4,600 metres of climbing. The bulky muscles of his powerfully built body seem to soak up gravity more readily on hilly courses than lighter racers.

Cancellara faced the same challenges during the Tour de France, when he crushed the field during the early, flat stages to hold onto the leader's yellow jersey for six days. He eventually lost the jersey to Rinaldo Nocentini as the course turned hilly.

By the end of that 3,459.5-km race, Cancellara had slipped to 91st, two hours and 23 minutes behind winner Alberto Contador of Spain.

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WADA and the UCI

David Howman, director general of the World anti-Doping Agency (Wada), says the UCI anti-doping programme "has improved a great deal".

But he cautions that quantity – the UCI does a lot of testing – does not necessarily translate into quality.

"What we are doing now is looking more generally whether quantity of testing is what we really need. It's probably more quality," Howman told swissinfo.ch.

"What we don't know yet, and this is something we're still waiting to hear from the UCI on, is how they're using the athlete passport to show that doping is occurring."

Howman says the UCI rules are in line with Wada's.

"They are moving in a satisfactory direction," he said. Howman says analysing the quality of a testing regimen is "more subjective".

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said: "The relationship between the UCI and Wada is excellent."

The UCI is suing Wada over comments made by its former head, Dick Pound.

Howman says that the relationship "at a high level, is quite difficult."

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Rankings (as of September 21)

Individual:
1. Alberto Contador (ESP)
2. Alejandro Valverde (ESp)
3, Andy Schleck (LUX)
4. Cadel Evans (AUS)
5. Edvald Boasson (NOR)
6. Roman Kreuyiger (CZE)
7. Mark Cavendish (GBR)
8. Samuel Sanchez (ESP)
9. Allan Davis (AUS)
10. Damiano Cunego (ITA)
23. Fabian Cancellara (SUI)

Country:
1. Spain
2. Italy
3. Australia
4. Germany
5. Russia
6. Belgium
7. Luxembourg
9. Norway
9. United States
10. Britain
15. Switzerland

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