Ballan upsets Bettini at world cycling championships

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Italian cyclist Alessandro Ballan deflated the attempt by fellow countryman Paolo Bettini to win a record three-in-a-row World Championship at Varese, Italy, on Sunday.

Ballan attacked a dozen cyclists in a breakaway near the finish of the 161-mile road race to take the gold medal by 3 seconds over the group.

Bettini finished nearly 5 minutes behind. Had he won on Sunday, he would have been the first cyclist to win three road race championships in a row. Spain's Oscar Freire, one of only four cyclists to ever achieve 3 championships in his career and the only one currently riding, finished in Bettini's group.


Among the other high-profile cyclists, Olympic gold medal winner Samuel Sanchez of Spain finished 1:22 behind the winner. Alberto Contador, winner of the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana this year, did not finish.

Italy's Damiano Cunego and Denmark's Matti Breschel finished 2nd and 3rd in the group, just three seconds after Ballan.

The US had a team at the championships, although team leader Levi Leipheimer announced he wouldn't compete at the road race after he finished in fourth place in the time trial.

Bettini announced on Saturday that the World Championship road race would be his last as a professional. In addition to the gold medal at the 2006 and 2007 world championships, the 34-year-old cyclist for Quick-Step also won the Olympic gold at the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

The results for the US team:

23 Steven Cozza, 1:40 behind
63 Tyler Farrar, 10:33 behind
76 Lucas Euser 22:49
Brent Bookwalter, did not finish
David Zabriskie, did not finish
Levi Leipheimer, did not start

More details and results at CyclingNews and VeloNews.

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