Cycling: Museeuw's world title

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The Independent Online
Johan Museeuw became world road race champion yesterday seven days after declaring: "I am finished with bike racing."

He had another reason for celebrating his change of heart and his new crown yesterday in Lugano. It was his 31st birthday but the Belgian's victory in the 252-kilometre race "gate-crashed" local plans for a celebration party.

Museeuw beat Lugano's finest, Mauro Gianetti, in a taut finish and dashed a Swiss quest for a hat-trick of titles from the five-day championships.

Italy's Michele Bartoli spoiled a dream day for Belgian manager Eddy Merckx, who 22 years ago won his third world title. He edged out Merckx's son, Axel, in the sprint for the bronze after nearly six and a half hours of punishing racing watched by more than 150,000 paying spectators on the 16.8-km circuit.

Forty-eight hours after announcing that he had had enough of cycling, Museeuw, who is also leading the World Cup series, had second thoughts. "I promised Eddy [Merckx] that I would ride, but I have no ambition for the championship. It's too hard for me."

When Museeuw made the move that only Gianetti could match, they left behind a straggling field of 49 survivors from a line-up of 154, including Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis.

Britain's Max Sciandri was among the big names for most of the race but fell away to finish 45th, 15 minutes behind Museeuw.