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Cyclists Prepare for World Challenge

October 10, 2000

PLOUAY, France (AP) _ Leontien van Moorsel has an Olympic cycling gold medal. Now she wants to set the stage for a world-record charge and a shot at a longtime rival in her final season in the sport.

Van Moorsel takes her first step toward those goals when the World Cycling Road Championships open with the women’s time trial Wednesday, just 10 days after the Dutchwoman’s gold-medal ride in the Sydney Games.

Her quest is not another title, she said, but a chance to beat the world mark held by one of cycling’s icons.

``My goal is not to take the most titles like Jeannie Longo,″ van Moorsel said. ``The world championship will bring nothing more to my list of medals. Instead, next year, which will be my last cycling season, I want to beat the world record.″

The world hour-record distance of 29.93 miles, set on Oct. 26, 1996, in Mexico, is held by Longo, long considered the heroine of French women’s cycling and a celebrated rival of van Moorsel. Longo finished third in Sydney, behind van Moorsel and American Mari Holden.

The races at Plouay promise an interesting duel between Longo, Holden, van Moorsel and Australian Anna Wilson, who came in fourth in the Summer Games.

Even if she wins the world title, Longo does not intend to announce her retirement just yet.

``Sometimes I want to hang it up,″ she said. ``But I continue to experience such pleasure on my cycle and many people encourage me to continue.″

The senior women’s road race will take place Saturday. The senior men’s time trials will be Thursday and the road race will be held on Sunday.

Juliette Vandekerckhove of France won the junior women’s time trial Tuesday, while Evgeni Petrov of Russia took first in the junior men’s race.

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