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Zijlaard Lays Claim to Best in the World

September 26, 2000

If there was any doubt about who was the world's best women's cyclist, Leontien Zijlaard of the Netherlands erased it in the Olympic road race.

Zijlaard won her second gold medal of the Sydney Games, sprinting out of a soggy pack to win Monday in 3 hours, 6 minutes and 31 seconds.

Hanka Kupfernagel of Germany won the silver medal. Diana Ziliute of Lithuania took the bronze.

Beset by crashes and mechanical problems, Karen Kurreck of Los Altos Hills, Calif., and Mari Holden of Colorado Springs, Colo., pulled out midway through the road race.

That left Nicole Freedman of Stanford as the only American. She rode with the lead pack through the first three laps but fell off the pace on the fourth lap and finished 47th, almost 22 minutes behind Zijlaard.

Midway through the final lap, 12 riders remained on the lead pack, setting up a sprint finish under less-than-ideal racing conditions. Rain began falling on the third of seven laps and temperatures dropped into the low 60s.

Zijlaard didn't seem to mind the weather, adding another gold medal to the one she claimed last week on the track. She set a world record in individual pursuit and also took silver in the points race.

Kurreck, the 1994 world time trial champion, crashed with two other riders early and had problems with her wheel.

She was well behind the lead pack and when she pulled into the pits and dropped out just before finishing her third lap, her jersey torn on the back.

Holden, a five-time national champion in the time trial, got a flat on the second of seven laps. She also had problems with her chain, even switching bikes after the second lap but pulled out just before completing her fourth lap.

Both Kurreck and Holden are scheduled to race Friday in their specialty, the time trial.

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