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23-28 September, Varese, Italy

To get involved use 606 or text us your views & comments on 81111 - please put cycling before your message. (Not all contributions can be used)

By Peter Scrivener

1615: That's it from me - no British winner, no three-peat for Bettini, no fourth victory for Freire, but a great race and a fitting winner, I hope you agree, in Ballan.

Thanks for your company, and I hope we'll do it all again next year.

1612: Bettini is allowed to lead the remaining riders home in his farewell race - he sits, arms aloft, accepting the applause of the fans.

Britain's Russell Downing finishes alongside Bettini some five minutes back.

Ballan's winning time incidentally was six hours 37 minutes, 30 seconds - three seconds ahead of Cunego. Rebellin came home fourth to make it three Italians in the top four.

Russell Downing is the only Brit to finish - the Rotherham rider comes home in a creditable 49th.

1610: Incredible finish - that attack from Ballan was truly astounding and, as I mentioned earlier, it was fitting that he should win it given the work he put in earlier for Bettini.

Bettini to his his credit punched the air when he heard the news.

1609: Cunego outsprints Breschel as the second and third places are sorted out.

1608: Alessandro Ballan is celebrating before he crosses the line - arms aloft, freewheeling and the Italian fans go wild.

1605: Breschel is trying to close the gap, but Rebellin and Cunego are in his wheel, ready to nullify any attack. Final kilometre for Ballan who is gritting his teeth, out of his saddle and has the finish line in his sights.

1604: And out of nowhere Ballan goes like a bullet from a gun. He seems to have taken everyone by surprise and opened up a 100m lead - astonishing burst at this stage of the race. The Italians are going crazy.

1603: Denmark's Matti Breschel attacks, but is held, another Rebellin surge is eradicated.

1602: But Austria's Christian Pfannberger is not letting anyone settle and goes on the attack - he is quickly reeled in.

Pictures of my other hope Boonen sitting with Bettini some way back - glad I'm not a betting man.

1601: Rebellin starts to wind it up, but he is not allowed to get away. Ballan goes again, but Spain's Rodriguez keeps on his wheel. A bit of damage is done though and six riders are clear - and all the Italians are there.

1600: Three Italians are in the leading group. Ballan, Cunego and Rebellin hold the hopes of the home crowd.

1557: "I don't belive that Bettini has sat up and decided to let that bunch go. Have the favourites marked themselves out of the race with him, Friere and a few others stuck behind Moto 3?"Alex - 5 Live on 606
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1555: The leaders are at the bottom of the final climb and my fingers are tingling, not with excitement, more with bashing this keyboard for the last six hours and 26 minutes.

1553: Pictures of Bettini shaking hands with fellow riders - it would appear as though he has given up any chance of winning a third consecutive title - commentator's curse from me? Sorry Ballan, hope this doesn't affect you, but I'd love to see you go on and win it now after the loyalty you've shown.

1552: "Heart rate going up! A hill and a half to go, a Belgian with a serious sprint (Grego!) in the first group and Tom Boonen apparently in incredible shape. Oeh, this is nice."
TheGSgirl on 606

1549: The lead group is up to a dozen. Gesink and a Danish rider are pushing the pace.

But there may be no point in Ballan waiting for Bettini - the two time reigning champion is back in the third group. Are his hopes of winning a third title gone?

1547: Dutchman Robert Gesink is keen to get on with things after bridging the gap from the main pack and takes things on. Ballan drops into his customary role in his wheel.

1545: The bell has sounded and the leaders are 12 seconds clear of a chase group, with the main pack a few seconds further back. It all depends if the six out front are prepared to work together.

Wegmann is on the front, but nobody else seems prepared to help out too much - Ballan is still waiting for Bettini.

1543: Here we go then - final lap time.

1541: "Ballan is keeping it ticking along, waiting to see who will come across, showing tremendous loyalty to his Italian team."
BBC commentator Chris Boardman

1540: And several riders are dispatched off the front of the peloton to close the gap.

1538: Germany's Wegmann is in amongst again and they are 15 seconds clear, but anxious looks back suggest it will come back together as the final lap approaches.

1535: Here come the charges and Italy's Ballan jumps out and takes four other riders with him. They don't appear to be working too well together though so expect them to be reeled in.

1533: Belgium are getting Boonen in place as the riders come through the feed station and grab their bottles and start the penultimate passage of the Salita dei Ronchi.

Robbie McEwen fans look away now - he has also pulled out - we have under 80 of the initial 206 starters left.

1532: "I've got no idea who WILL win, but I'd be happiest if it was Boonen.

"Bettini or Freire would be fine, because of their pedigree, plus the fact that it would make cycling history.

"Then Valverde or Rebellin, because you think they've got to win one sooner or later.
jophinejophine on 606

1530: "It's all going to happen on the final climbs - everybody is waiting."
BBC commentator Chris Boardman

1526: "They're dropping like flies now, including none other than ALBERTO CONTADOR!"
TheGSgirl on 606

1525: "Of the big nations perhaps only the Italians don't want this to come down to a bunch sprint. Spain, Belgium, France and even Germany would probably think they've got a chance if it does." Alex - 5 Live on 606
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1522: Britwatch - Russell Downing is 56th after 13 laps and from one Yorkshireman to another - go on son. Froome news when I get it.

1520: "Fantastic race"? Nervy, I'd call it."
jophinejophine on 606

I take your point - but aside from the Brits, I don't have a favourite - just enjoying the race and wondering whether my typing fingers can keep up with what will be a frenetic finish - from a personal point of view, I'd have been happy if the breakaway had succeeded! PS

1518: And as they cross the line at the end of the 13th lap it's almost as you were and all the main riders are in contention with just two laps, or 34km remaining.

This promises to be a belting last 45 minnutes - Bettini is looking good for me, but Belgium's Tom Boonen is sitting pretty - who do you reckon will win?

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1514: Nine riders are now out front, but the over-the-shoulder glances suggest they are not working well together and the peloton will soon swallow them up.

1512: Five riders have gone away - Wegmann is in there again, Cunego and Rebellin for Italy and Rodriguez of Spain and Grivko of the Ukraine are keeping him company.

Chris and Hugh reckon Spain will not be happy that Rodriguez is in there as he is the wrong man, so expect them to work to close the gap.

1510: This is turning into a fantastic race - France's Nicolas Vogondy goes on the attack again, but the Italians cover it and Davide Rebellin makes his first showing of the day.

1507: Freire has just clocked the fastest speed of the race - 88.5km/h.

1505: A fourth British retirement - Geraint Thomas has gone - so only Froome and Russell Downing left in.

1501: Busy period of action there - no sooner had I found out who was up in the front group, than it was all change - as Hugh and Chris keep saying, the race is constantly re-shaping itself at the moment.

The latest to have a go is Christophe Le Mevel of France.

Ochoa - long-time leader has climbed off.

1457: Another Spaniard, and rather worryingly for Bettini, Oscar Freire has bridged the gap.

1456: Kevin de Weert of Belgium, Germany'sFabian Wegmann and Croatia's Hrvoje Miholjevic make up the 10, although there are more coming across from the main pack.

1455: There are 10 riders in the leading group - three Italians, Bettini, Ballan and Cunego; three Spaniards, Juan Manuel Cepa, Valverde and Joaquin Roidriguez. Russia's Alexandr Kolobnev is also in there and they have opened up a 12-second lead with three laps to go.

1450: Spain's Alejandro Valverde is trying to get across to the group and while decisions are made in the leading group as to whether they are going to work together, a Spanish rider shoots off the front. Italy respond and Ballan takes control again, but the Italians have to be wary of doing too much work.

1446: Chuzhda starts to glance over his shoulder, a sure-fire sign that he knows the peloton are about to capture him. And he moves over to the side as Italy's Allesandro Ballan leads an eight-man attack up the climb.

Bettini is in the leading group.

1443: Poland's Hubert Krys is the latest to have a go on the ascent up the Salita dei Ronchi.

1442: News of another British rider calling it a day - Cummings has gone.

1440: "I'm with Hugh and Chris, it's far too early for an attack to stick."Alex - 5 Live on 606
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1438: Attacks galore at the moment, France seem to be the main instigators, but nobody is making a clear break.

1436: Chuzhda is now out on his own as Poos and Ochoa are reeled in by the new breakaway, but that in turn is also pulled back and the Ukranian is left dangling, just 34 seconds ahead.

1433: Meanwhile, back up front, there is another breakaway off the peloton - four have moved away - one Frenchman, one Italian, one Spaniard and one German.

Bettini decides not to hang around and immediately jumps out of the pack to make five.

1432: It's certainly not going to be Millar-time later - he's climbed off his bike with four laps to go.

Chris Boardman doesn't seem massively surprised as Millar has had a tough season.

1431: Normality is restored at the front of the peloton as Bruseghin leads them over the line, just 90 seconds later.

1429: The leading trio cross the line in front for probably the last time - they have been in the saddle for just under five hours and have led for around four of them.

1427: The attacks are now coming thick and fast - France's Geoffroy Lequatre is the latest to go, but Froome is covering - is he trying to keep things in check for Millar time later?

1425: Bettini attacks off the front of the peloton and Froome goes with him - but they are looking around for help and while they don't get away, the field strings out a little more.

1421: Britain's Chris Froome is in the top 10 in the chasing pack as they go up the Salita dei Ronchi - three minutes behind the leaders.

1418: "The Italians did something similar last year, sitting on the front with a few laps to go and stringing it out, but that was with far less distance to go. Anyone think they've been talked into making the race from the front very early by the pressure of being on home soil?" Alex - 5 Live on 606
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1412: There are several conversations going on at the head of the chasing pack - I guess they are figuring out what's going to happen once the leaders are reeled in.

1408: Poos injects a bit of pace in a vain attempt to gee up his fellow breakaway riders, but there is nothing doing - it's got to be painful for the leaders seeing their lead whittled away - should they keep going or just accept the inevitable and try and reserve a bit of energy for when they are actually caught?

1406: And here comes the peloton, Bruseghin continues on his merry way but most of the Italians have made way and the Belgian riders are showing near the front. Just four minutes, 40 seconds behind Ochoa, Poos and Chuzhda. Chris Boardman reckons they have one lap left out front.

1405: "Leaders are definitely struggling - they were almost at a standstill going up the first climb of the lap - they are paying the price now."
BBC commentator Hugh Porter

1400: Leaders are two-thirds of the way through the race - 10 down, five to go.

1358: "He has bought a vineyard to go with his donkey-farm (the man really owns donkeys)."
TheGSgirl on 606

1355: Bruseghin continues to lead a blue train which is being closely followed by seven Spaniards in their distinctive white, red and yellow jerseys.

1352: "Stevo's predos - re Oscar Freire in a tight sprint (see 1320). So that's one less Boonen will need to worry about.
TheGSgirl on 606

1350: "Bruseghin may be slaughtering himself on the front, but that's exactly why he's there, plus he needs to get the most value out of the remains of his career.

"He's a great rider in his own right and on a good day could probably rightly claim to be a challenger for the race. According to Pezcycling, reporting the Italian press, he said: "I need money. I have invested in a vineyard where I will retire and it's expensive."

"His job is to keep the process of attrition going and to keep the Italian interests at the head of the race while trying to isolate the named riders in the opposition teams.

"Did I spy Geraint Thomas up near the front?"
Alex - 5 Live on 606

1349: Lead down to about seven minutes - which lap will they be caught on?
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1344: Not sure what happened to the last few updates - some technical glitch I presume.

Anyway, our leading men are now seven minutes 45 seconds ahead of the peloton which is being led by the Italians, although the Spanish and German riders are keeping a close eye on proceedings. Nine laps have been completed, leaving six to go.

Six of the Italian riders are leading the peloton and Chris Boardman thinks it is a strange tactical choice as they are effectively pulling the rest of the field round.

1330: The lead drops under 10 minutes.

1328: "From this movement forward we're going to see a lot of riders retire. We'll see about 80 finishers out of 200 starters"
BBC commentator Chris Boardman

1325: Bruseghin is finally getting some assistance from a team-mate and drops, presumable gratefully, into second in the peloton.

1320: "Intriguing news about Bettini retiring (see 0915), given the rumours about him signing for a new Canadian-based team... Ah well. Stevo's predos - Oscar Freire re in a tight sprint. Enjoy!"
Stevo via text

1317: Eight laps down for the chasing pack and they are now 11 minutes, 27 seconds adrift. Anyone reckon a repeat of the final lap in the women's road race is in the offing?

1314: I know it's all part of racing, but I do feel a little sorry for Bruseghin - he may get some plaudits come the end of the race if Bettini wins, but who will remember him in 20 years?

1312: The Italian, who is being cheered on by a partisan crowd, is doing a fantastic job pulling the peloton along behind him and has taken a couple of minutes out of the trio up front.

1310: Bruseghin continues to tap out the pace at the head of the peloton - it is unlikely that he will complete the race, but if it helps lead Bettini to glory, he will have done his job.

1306: There are now fewer laps remaining than have been completed for Ochoa, Chuzhda and Poos.

1300: Leaders are approaching the end of lap eight, which means we are a little over halfway through. Italy, perhaps learning from their earlier burst, send out Marzio Bruseghin as the sacrificial lamb and again the field begins to string out.

1255: A quick update on British interest - Froome is currently the best placed and was 18th at the end of lap seven, second is Cummings in 103rd. No mention of Downing, Thomas or Millar.

1254: "Talking to Ed Clancy last weekend at the London Freewheel he seemed to think the GB squad would all be focused on pulling for David Millar as our best hope."
Alex - 5 Live on 606

Britain's Ian Stannard has climbed off - more as and when I get it.

1252: Italy's little burst is over and the peloton is back spread across the road as before - they have reduced the deficit more though and the lead is a smidge under 14 minutes at the end of the seventh lap.

Ireland's Nicolas Roche has called it a day - he crashed a little earlier.

1248: Another minor skirmish at the back - our old friend Lars Bak of Denmark (see 1020) is among them - there's handlebars and spokes entwined and it could take a few extra seconds to sort that out.

1246: "Freire, Valverde, Sanchez, Contador, Sastre anyone of those could win but I have a feeling Freire will win it as he is the team leader of the Spanish team."
vidic4ever on 606

1245: "To correct on Matt's point (see 1112) Armstrong re-entered the USADA out-of-competition testing pool for elite athletes earlier this year so that he could compete in the Leadville 100 mountain bike race.

My reading of the situation is that the UCI are questioning his eligibility to return to UCI-sanctioned races as he hasn't entered into the Biological Passport scheme which is their testing setup for elite cycling."
Alex - 5 Live on 606

1242: "Really surprised at the pace of the Italians - they are fracturing their own group."
BBC commentator Chris Boardman

1240: "Having only caught 10 mins of this before I left my hotel - is (Mark) Cavenidish in this for us? If not why not? Thought he is the road race daddy."
Adam in Seville (but from Manchester) on text

Hi Adam, Cav pulled out on Wednesday, citing fatigue - Geraint Thomas is taking his place:

1238: Leaders through lap seven in three hours seven minutes 44 seconds. Boardman reckons the peloton may have shaved two minutes off the lead by the time they come through.

1237: "Team managers will be shouting move up - like the riders haven't thought of that."
BBC commentator Chris Boardman

"The worst instruction I ever received was 'raise it' - shocking!"
BBC commentator Hugh Porter

1234: We're three hours into the race and the Italians are almost sprinting at the head of the peloton - incredible stuff.

1231: Almost instantly, the lead comes down by over one minute - it's only a matter of time for Ochoa, Poos and Chuzhda.

1230: Lead up to 17 minutes 43 seconds, and the peloton have finally decided to start reeling it in - four Italian riders move to the front and suddenly the peloton is strung out.

1220: Hugh and Chris are having another little break which gives me time to tell you that Belgium, by far, have won the most titles, with 25. Italy are second with 18 and France third with eight.

Will Boonen add a 26th, Bettini a 19th or Freire be the first to win four titles? Get involved and let me know.
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1216: How do the riders manage to collect sustenance from a feed station while going up what looks a short sharp climb? Is it designed that way so the pace of the riders is a bit slower and therefore accidents are less likely?

1215: "(Britain's) Stephen Cummings is not looking great, looking at his body language."
BBC commentator Chris Boardman

1210: Ochoa, Chuzhda and Poos are through six laps, so nine remaining.

"The peloton needs to start working as the lead is getting towards the maximum."
BBC commentator Hugh Porter

1208: "The riders have to eat every 10-15 minutes and will burn 8,000 calories during the race."
BBC commentator Chris Boardman

1205: If you fancy your action a little faster-paced and on four wheels, the lovely Caroline Cheese will be taking you through the Singapore Grand Prix.

In Italy, the peloton is still not upping the pace and the lead is 15 seconds over 15 minutes.

1159: Peloton saunters over the finish line, some 15 minutes adrift of the leading trio. When I say saunter, let me just point out they are averaging just shy of 40km/h, or 25 mph - not your average Sunday afternoon ride then.

1155: Before they do, just time to point out Britain have only won this race once since it began in 1927.

Tom Simpson was victorious in San Sebastian in Spain in 1965 - he went on to win the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year and is still the only cyclist to do so - do you reckon that may change this year?

Simpson famously died while climbing Mont Ventoux during the 13th stage of the 1967 Tour de France after taking amphetamines and alcohol (brandy) as was allowed back then. A memorial stone was erected where he died.

BBC Sport's Chris Russell tried out the climb a few years ago.

1150: Lead up to 14 minutes and Hugh Porter reckons the peloton won't leave it too much longer before the workers begin to reel them in.

1145: Boardman points out there is a speed gun on the descent of one of the climbs and Italian favourite Paolo Bettini, going for his third straight victory, lest we forget, is currently fastest, recording a speed of 83.8km/h. "That is fast" confirms Boardman. 83.8km/h is roughly 52 miles per hour.

1143: Five laps down for the leaders.

1138: Still no huge effort from the peloton as the leaders continue to extend their advantage - another 30 seconds is added to the 12 minutes.

In case you are new to cycling, Hugh Porter is going over the tactics on the live commentary with Chris Boardman - the sprinters will sit in the peloton while the workers control the pace of the race and watch for any breakaways and the action will liven up in the second half of the race and the trio out front will be caught.

1130: Monumental effort from Ochoa who is back with Chuzhda and Poos at the head of the race - be interesting to see how much that takes out of him though and whether it will affect the pace of the leading trio. What do you reckon?
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1128: One of the leaders, Ochoa gets a problem - his two fellow breakaway riders are not hanging around though and the Venezuelan rider puts the hammer down in an attempt to catch up as the peloton finishes lap four 12 minutes behind the leaders.

1120: "Mark Cavendish had superstar written all over him from the age of about 13 or 14."
GB coach Shane Sutton in the BBC commentary booth

1115: "Varese is an under-estimated tourist area, picturesque scenery, beaches and lakes, cultural activities. Easily reached by cheap airlines (and expensive ones (PS). Easy reach of Milan, ideal for a short break."
Taggingalong on 606

1112: "Lance did indeed sign up to the dope testing program back in June so will have no trouble racing in the Tour Down Under." (See 1033)
MagpieMatt on 606
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1110: "It was a phenomenal final lap. Nicole was astute in her tactical awareness. Vos showed her cards too early, but Cooke was patient, it was a good performance."
GB coach Shane Sutton in the BBC commentary booth

1105: Boardman reckons the lead trio could open up a 20-minute advantage, but that still won't be enough as they are expending too much energy with only a quarter of the race gone.

Beatles classic 'Here Comes the Sun' blares out from the roadside - rather apt as the relatively cool morning makes way for what promises to be a warm afternoon.

GB coach Shane Sutton enters the BBC commentary booth.

1100: Bit a crash - Ireland's Nicolas Roche, son of Stephen, is among three or four who take a tumble - there's a bit of a frantic scene as bits of bike are waved in the air and wheels are replaced but there should be no trouble getting back into the race according to Boardman as the pace is so controlled.

1058: And here comes the peloton to end lap three - they really aren't too concerned about the breakaway which is now eight minutes up the road.

And welcome back Hugh Porter and Chris Boardman from their cuppa tea 'n' slice of cake, or whatever TV commentators get for elevenses - I've got some hula hoops to keep me going (other crisps are available from your local shop)

1055: "I really want to see bunch finish charging round those final bends towards the line!"
jophinejophine on 606
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1051: Three laps down for the leading trio who look fairly comfortable. Paolo Bettini meanwhile has dropped back to his team car - don't think anything is wrong though as he gets a pat on the bum before he ambles back to the rear of the peloton - can you amble on a bike?

1050: The route takes the riders from the Hippodrome in Varese to the edge of the lake and back to the Hippodrome.

There are two significant climbs the first is the Montello near the start of each lap - it is 1.15km long and takes the riders to the highest point on the course before descending down towards Lake Varese.

The riders then return to Varese, reaching the highest point of the Ronchi climb with 4km of the lap remaining.

In total, the riders will climb just over 3,500m.

1046: If you ever fancy a visit to the area, Varese is in Lombardy, 55km north of Milan - and in the Italian Lakes.

Consider taking in the famous Sacri Monti of Piedmont and Lomabardy - a series of nine chapels and other architectural features originating from the late 16th and 17th centuries - one of which, the Sacro Monte of the Rosary is in Varese.

In 2003 they were made UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

1040: While Porter and Boardman take a 10-minute snooze on the TV commentary, there is no such luck for me, so let me tell you a bit about the last time the race came to Varese.

It was in 1951 and an estimated 1.5 million fans lined the route - that's a staggering amount.

The Italian team was managed by Alfredo Binda, the man, as you have already found out, who won the first World Championship in 1927 and went on to become the first man to win three titles.

Much hope was placed on the shoulders of home riders Fiorenzo Magni and Toni Bevilacqua, but they could only finish second and third respectively behind Switzerland's Ferdy Kubler.

The leading trio, by the way, are five seconds short of five minutes ahead of the peloton.

1033: It's another beautiful day in northern Italy as numerous cyclists take a quick pit-stop - no port-a-loos for these boys - any wall/tree/advertising hoarding will do.

How often do they need to stop? I would have thought an hour in was a bit early - surely you'd go before you set off. My four-year-old can do better than that.

Meanwhile, Hugh Porter says that the Tour of Britain has officially invited seven-time Le Tour winner Lance Armstrong to race next year. What a great coup that would be - can you see Lance coming over?

However, Chris Boardman, who is Porter's co-commentator, says Armstrong's plans to start his comeback in the Tour of Australia could be hit by UCI rulings that cyclists coming out of retirement need to give six months notice of their intention to join a race.

1026: So, that's two laps down, or 34.7km in a little over 55 minutes. Just the 13 to go. The peloton barely seems to be moving as they cross the line some two and-a-half minutes back.

Looks like there was some duff info on the TV screen about the breakaway, apologies to all you Bak fans, but he's not in the top three - Venezuela's Richard Ochoa Quintero is though. An easy mistake to make I'm sure you'll all agree!

1024: They have a lead of 53 seconds over the main bunch, but there is a Russian, Boris Shpilevsky, who is trying to get across.

1020: Denmark's Lars Bak, Ukraine's Oleg Chuzhda and Luxembourg's Christian Poos are leading the field up the second climb of lap two - they made the breakaway with just over 5km of the lap to go and they look to be working well together to maintain their advantage.

1015: Three riders have jumped out from the peloton and opened up a gap of about 100m - names will follow when I get them.

1013: Pleased to hear that Nicole looked after her team-mates - she also confides that they had a wee drop of the local firewater to celebrate - well, you would, wouldn't you?

1008: Armistead joins in: "Nicole took us all out for tea and we had pizza and a pudding."

1005: With the absence of anything of note going on, we'll continue with Cooke who thanks Jessica Allen, Elizabeth Armistead, Sharon Laws and Emma Pooley for helping her win the title.

Cooke also says she will be take a nice holiday before deciding where she fancies racing next year and let's face it, as Olympic and world champion she's certainly earned the right to pick and choose.

Click on the tab above and have a listen - there's detailed analysis of the race going on.

1000: Nothing of note happening in the men's race as they come to the end of the first of their 15 laps.

0955: British heroine Nicole Cooke is on the TV commentary: "I went to bed last night, but I couldn't sleep. But the Italian TV put a re-run of the race on at 3am, so I sat and watched it.

"It was a great last lap and we were all on our last legs coming into the finish as it didn't let up - there was attack after attack after attack.

"I achieved my season's aim at the Olympics and it's been a relaxing time since and the main aim of the race yesterday was to enjoy the race.

"And with that type of attitude and frame of mind, it helps you relax a bit more."

0950: A brief breakaway attempt by six riders is quickly reeled in by the field - the first real action of the race.

0948: To put Bettini's quest into perspective, only four other riders have ever won two consecutive titles, Georges Ronsse (Belgium, 1928-29), Rik Van Steenbergen (Belgium, 1956-57), Rik Van Looy (Belgium, 1960-61) and Gianni Bugno (Italy, 1991-92) - no rider has won three on the trot.

There have been four three-time winners - Italy's Alfredo Binda who won the first race back in 1927, Van Steenbergen who registered his first of two wins in Copenhagen in 1949, Belgium's Eddy Merckx won three times in eight years in the late 60s early 70s and Freire is the most recent - his two Verona victories in 1999 and 2004 being split by a triumph in Lisbon in 2001.

0940: Who are you backing for glory? BBC Sport's Hugh Porter has been hedging his bets and named just about every rider in the field as having a chance. But he does say the Spanish have high hopes for Oscar Freire who has already won the race three times, although the last of them was four years ago.

0930: And they are off - to be honest, a little before the 0930 BST start time, but you've missed nothing - the pace is distinctly pedestrian as they approach the first climb up Montello.

0925: The course follows the same route as the women's race which, of course, produced a stunning victory for Britain's Nicole Cooke. But whereas the women only had eight laps of the 17.35km circuit to negotiate, the men have 15 laps to complete.

That means it's a 260.25km race, so get a hearty breakfast lined up and settle down for what promises to be a tremendous race.

0920: A bit of housekeeping before the race begins - you can get involved via 606, or if that isn't your bag, you can always text me your thoughts on 81111, putting 'cycling' before your message. And we are of course streaming the race live on the website.
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0915: Welcome to the final day's race racing from Varese in northern Italy where home favourite Paolo Bettini is looking to become the first man to win the world road race title for a third successive time.

Bettini, who won in Salzburg in 2006 and Stuttgart last year, has announced his intention to retire after today's race - no better way to bow out then, than with a unique victory on home soil.

I'll be taking you through the race, which is due to start in about 15 minutes.

see also
Swift misses under-23 road medal
26 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Grabsch storms to time trial win
25 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Neben claims time trial victory
24 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Malori wins under-23 time trial
23 Sep 08 |  Cycling
Cooke leads GB Worlds challenge
22 Sep 08 |  Cycling

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