BikeRadar editor Jeff Jones topped the time trial podium at the 2009 world press cycling championships in Slovenia.
The recently crowned British masters time trial champion won the 31-44yrs category for the second year running, and was the only rider of the day to go under 20 minutes on the 15km course.
More than 80 journalists from 14 countries took part in the 10th annual championships, also known as the Mondial de la Presse. They are open to any card carrying journalist who can ride a bike, and have grown almost every year since their inception in 2000.
This year's event was in the medieval town of Kranj, Slovenia, and competitors were treated to a superbly organised weekend of racing, fine local food and entertainment. Preparations are already underway for next year's event in Lierde, Belgium from September 3-5. See www.lierde.be for more information.
There were five categories this year: women, 21-31yrs men, 31-44yrs men, 45-59yrs men and 60+yrs men. Each category raced a 15km time trial on Saturday followed by an extremely technical circuit race around the streets of Kranj on Sunday.
The circuit was 3.25km long and included some cobbles, a section through a pedestrian mall, a single lane descent with a 20 percent hairpin bend, a wooden bridge and a steep climb. The same circuit is used for the GP Kranj professional race.
The time trials were held on a mostly flat 15km out-and-back course. Many competitors were fooled by the headwind going out, expecting the wind to help coming home. But the return leg was slightly uphill and was actually the slower of the two halves.
The women raced first, and fastest home of the nine starters was Austrian Brigitte Krebs, winner of this discipline in Austria in 2006 and 2007. She clocked 23'09 to beat Slovenians Jekla Rakus (23'18) and Lucia Petavs-Bosnik (23'32).
Women's time trial winner Brigitte Krebs checks her start time
The men's over-60 category saw Karl Rupp claim another title with a time of 22'41, 22 seconds better than Italian Eugenio Capodacqua. Another Italian, Nino Villa, was third in 25'33.
The men's 45-59yrs category was a closer affair, but defending champ Italian Maurizio Marogna was still too good for the rest. Marogna's 21'12 gave him another rainbow jersey ahead of German Gerhard Hack (21'17) and Slovenian Robert Bauman, 21'34. Belgian Rik Lintermans just missed out on a medal, his 21'35.29 a mere half-a-second slower than Bauman.
Italian Maurizio Marogna sets off on his winning ride
In the 31-44yrs category, last year's winner Jeff Jones was the only rider of the day to go under 20 minutes. His 19'28 was more than enough to give him the win over Austrian Martin Ganglberger (U35 TT winner in Salzburg two years ago) with 20'43, followed by the improving Dutchman Mark Koghee with 21'02.
The men's 21-30yrs category was the smallest, with just five riders starting. But that didn't take away from Belgian Frederik Backelandt's excellent ride of 20'21 to give him his second time trial title in a row. Backelandt was nearly a minute quicker than Dutch rider Rafael Stocker with 21'18. Eduard Choulet (France) took third in 21'28.
Belgians Frederik Backelandt and Rik Lintermans after Backelandt's winning ride
Predicted rain held off and sunny blue skies greeted the riders for Sunday's circuit races around the town centre of Kranj. The women raced first and faced six laps of the 3.25km circuit. Slovenia had four women in the field, but they weren't strong enough to prevent Austrian Brigitte Krebs from claiming another gold medal.
Krebs had to dig deep to haul back a last kilometre attack by ex-professional Ilenia Lazzaro (Italy). Lazzaro almost had it won but made the mistake of sprinting on the cobbles, allowing Krebs to come past on the smoother section of road on the left. Slovenian Marjetka Conradi finished third, a few seconds behind the winner after making some big improvements in the past year.
Brigitte Krebs on the top step again after winning the women's road race
The men's over-60 category raced next, over seven laps. Italian multiple journalist world champ Eugenio Capodacqua beat German Karl Rupp in a close two-man sprint, with Slovenia's Herman Razborsek finishing third at 10 seconds.
German Gerhard Hack added another rainbow jersey to his collection by winning the men's 45-59yrs category. The 10-lap race saw the bunch of 20 gradually whittled down to eight riders by the final few laps. Belgian Rik Lintermans put in a strong bid for victory with 1km to go, but was chased down by Slovenian Robert Bauman (also the organiser of the championships). And right behind Bauman was Gerhard Hack, who came past to win the sprint from Bauman and Lintermans.
Gerhard Hack, Robert Bauman and Rik Lintermans on the 45-59yrs road race podium
The men's 31-44yrs field also faced 10 laps, and the pace was on right from the gun, splitting the bunch in half after the first time across the bridge and up the climb. Early attacks by Andreas Kublik (Germany) and then Emanuele Conti (Italy) failed to escape the vigilant bunch, but when Italian Eros Maccioni escaped with Austrian Martin Ganglberger at halfway, there was nothing anyone could do.
The pair increased their lead to 30 seconds by the finish with Maccioni beating Ganglberger in the sprint to claim a second rainbow jersey after winning in Salzburg two years ago. The sprint for third was won by Australian Matthew Conn ahead of local boy Miroslav Cvjeticanin.
31-44yr road race champion Eros Maccioni with Martin Ganglberger (L) and Matthew Conn
The final race was the men's 21-30yrs, and with only eight starters it was always going to be a tough affair. By halfway there were five left: Eduard Choulet (Fra), David Cermelj and Jaka Jausevec (Slo), Frederik Backelandt (Bel) and Filip Grim (Cze).
Although the last few laps were quite aggressive, no-one could make a significant break. But on the last kilometre of the last lap, Choulet put in a winning attack to take the victory from Cermelj and Backelandt.
Eduard Choulet (Fra) wins the men's 21-30yr road race
Once the racing had finished, the remainder of the afternoon was occupied by podium ceremonies and the consumption of significant quantities of Slovenian food, beer and wine – a fitting end to such a well organised friendly competition.
The 2009 world press cycling champions, including BikeRadar's Jeff, third from left