The 2001 World Cycling Championships kick off in Lisbon, Portugal, on Tuesday with Swiss hopes resting on the shoulders of Fabian Cancellara, Jean Nuttli and Nicole Brändli in the time trials.This content was published on October 8, 2001 - 20:17
The Swiss team has been hit by a series of big name withdrawals, with both former world champion Oscar Camenzind and the experienced Laurent Dufaux pulling out of the squad last week.
Three other high-profile Swiss riders - former world number one Alex Zülle, Markus Zberg and Sven Montgomery - were also ruled out: Zülle due to loss of form, while Zberg and Montgomery both miss the trip through injury.
The 36-strong Swiss team will be joining 200 riders from 56 countries who are due to tackle 10 events over the six-day championships, which open with the junior women and the men's under-23 time trials.
Organisers have designed a tough circuit that twists and climbs through the outskirts of the Portuguese capital. "This is very much a course for all-rounders," said championship spokesman Fernando Petronilho in a clear warning to the time-trial specialists.
Another big name missing from Lisbon is three-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who has cited fatigue and the imminent birth of twin daughters for his absence.
Germany's Jan Ullrich and France's Richard Virenque are being widely tipped for a podium finish in Sunday's 254 km elite men's road race.
swissinfo with agencies
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