The United States made up for two successive disappointing years by
BENIDORM, Spain (AP) _ The United States made up for two successive disappointing years by winning the women’s 50-kilometer team time trial Saturday in the World Cycling Championships, edging the defending gold medalists from France.
Bunki Bankaitis-Davis, Eve Stephenson, Jan Bolland and Jeanne Golay were clocked in 1 hour, 3 minutes and 30.7 seconds, more than 12 seconds ahead of the French and just over 46 seconds in front of the third-place Russians.
The U.S women won the silver medal in 1990, but wound up fourth last year when one of their riders was thought to have had an ″off day.″ That rider, Maureen Manley, was later diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.
″After the things that have happened the last couple of years we figured it had to come together this time,″ said Bankaitis-Davis, the 34-year-old team leader from Cleveland who announced her retirement after the victory.
Stephenson, the other member of last year’s team and a native of Covington, La, said, ″We went out thinking something might happen bad - because it usually does.″
Not this time. The Americans had the fastest time at 17 kilometers, the first checkpoint. At the 30-kilometer mark, the United States was still up by just under 10 seconds over the French who closed from fifth to second but could get no closer over a hilly course that was to the Americans’ liking.
Henny Top, a Dutch national and the U.S. women’s coach the last two seasons, said consistent speed training, high attitude training in Colorado Springs, Colo., and patience finally paid off.
″The Americans expect success right away, but I told them these things take time,″ Top said.
Bolland, of New Brighton, Pa., credited the victory to stick-on ″tatoos″ from a package of chewing gum that each women applied to her right calf just before the race.
The French were timed in 1:03:43.0, followed by Russia at 1:04:16.8.
In a team time trial, teams leave at specified intervals and try to post the fastest time against the clock. In a four-member race, the time of the third rider is the official time.
The week-long championships end Sunday with the men’s 261.6-kilometer road race in which Spain’s Miguel Indurain will be the favorite.
Indurain is shooting to become only the third rider to take the Tour de France, Tour of Italy and world title in the same year. Ireland’s Stephen Roche last pulled the triple in 1987.
Greg LeMond withdrew from Sunday’s 162-mile race.
Fred Mengoni, president of the U.S. Professional Cycling Federation said LeMond had a urinary tract infection.
Lemond’s withdrawal, expected since Thursday when he dropped out of a race in Belgium, is the latest in a disappointing season for the three-time winner of the Tour de France.
The top U.S. riders are Andy Hampsten, fourth in this year’s Tour de France, and Lance Armstrong.
Armstrong, 20, turned professional after placing 14th a month ago in the Barcelona Olympics and has been impressive in several races in Europe.