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This coming Sunday’s world men’s elite road championship taking place in Doha, Qatar (#UCIDoha2016) is the flattest world title race since 1959—when French sprinter André Darrigade won the 292-kilometer title race on the Dutch coastal motor-racing circuit at Zandvoort.
#PelotonShorts by John Wilcockson/Photo by Yuzuru Sunada
The major obstacle in the seven-and-a-half-hour race was the strong wind blowing off the North Sea and Darrigade led home an eight-man breakaway that finished 22 seconds ahead of the main peloton. Fifty-seven years later, the 2016 world championship is expected to end in a field sprint.
Over the past 15 years, there have been six worlds that ended in spectacular sprint finishes, and we’ll look at all of them over the next few days, starting with 2001, the year that the worlds took place in Lisbon, Portugal.
There were 45 riders in the front group at the end of the 254-kilometers race, which featured a couple of mild climbs on each of the 21 laps, and few of the top sprinters were left. It was somewhat of a chaotic finish, with Italy’s Paolo Bettini looking to be the likely winner when Spain’s Oscar Freire (already champion two years earlier in Verona) made a surging effort along the right-side barriers to squeeze past the surprising Slovenian rider, Andrej Hauptman, to take the win.
In this image, runner-up Bettini is on the right, just ahead of fourth-place Erik Dekker of the Netherlands, while third-place Hauptman (in green) is on the left.