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Despite being, what I would call, a cycling buff, there are many instances where I can’t take in all of a race.
I have even written on this very website how the recent trend of tv coverage from flag to flag sometimes can feel like too much cycling.
The first instance of this trend I can remember was the 2015 Paris Roubaix where the first hour of action waiting for the break to form was much more entertaining that what went after it. So the television execs thought they’d hit on a successful formula and it stuck.
But for every race like that, there has been plenty where ‘sleepy’ would still be too active a description for the action.
Its content like that which gives commentators abuse on the internet. They can only call what they see and if nothing is happening the dead air is filled with less quality. Same goes for the racing.
The 2021 world professional men’s road race yesterday was one occasion where if you invested the time at the start of the race, there were massive rewards at the finish.
The French national team rode the perfect race.
Unlike the Belgians who seemed to back both Remco Evenepoel and Wout van Aert before leaving home town rider Jasper Stuyven to content the finale, the raiding team from south of the border had a clear strategy.
They backed the defending champion to the hilt and were rewarded by his retention of the precious rainbow jersey.
From 140kms out Benoit Cosnefroy and Anthony Turgis were a total pain in the Belgians backsides with attacks and counter attacks forcing lots of chasing.
Italy were caught out in the first big split, something that might have contributed to a subdued finale from their main hope Sonny Colbrelli.
Mathieu Van der Poel was very subdued and was content to follow all day without having any impact on the race.
Julian Alaphillippe attacked four or five times to get his win with a number of these digs coming in the last lap and a half around Leuven.
He eventually wore them down with his desire to get clear and with Valentin Madouas working hard to help him establish his lead he was gone and gone for good.
The splinter group chasing him down had neither Van Aert, Tom Pidcock nor Van der Poel within it and didn’t have the power left to make the catch.
You can argue that Alaphillippe is all show and no content, but the wins he is racking up now make that point of view weak.
He is so entertaining to watch and his attack so wonderful to behold that you can’t help but be engaged and excited.
Last year he won with style. This year he won with persistence, style, panache and flair.
It truly was a world for the ages.
|2||VAN BAARLE Dylan||Netherlands||475||260||0:32|
|5||POWLESS Neilson||United States||275||130||,,|
|6||PIDCOCK Thomas||Great Britain||225||110||0:49|
|7||ŠTYBAR Zdeněk||Czech Republic||175||100||1:06|
|8||VAN DER POEL Mathieu||Netherlands||150||90||1:18|
The last minute, re-arranged World Cycling Championships were very good considering all of the stress and alterations to the venue in the run up.
Naturally it was a shame not to see U23 competitions and the team time trial (especially seeing as how controversial it was when it came in). But the events we did get to see where entertaining and with deserving winners.
|1||VAN DER BREGGEN Anna||Netherlands||350||100||47.157||40:20|
|3||VAN DIJK Ellen||Netherlands||200||40||46.561||0:31|
|6||NEBEN Amber||United States||100||20||45.648||1:20|
|7||NORSGAARD Emma Cecilie||Denmark||85||15||45.612||1:22|
|9||STEPHENS Lauren||United States||60||9||45.232||1:43|
Anna Van Der Breggen was a narrow winner of the Womens TT with Marlen Reusser at only 15 seconds and Ellen Van Dyke only a second away from a 30 second blanket being able to be thrown over the podium.
|1||VAN DER BREGGEN Anna||Netherlands||600||200||4:09:57|
|2||VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek||Netherlands||475||170||1:20|
|3||LONGO BORGHINI Elisa||Italy||400||140||,,|
|6||DEIGNAN Elizabeth||Great Britain||225||110||,,|
|8||LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup||Denmark||150||90||2:41|
The road race was less close with Van Der Breggen doing the double. Special mention must go to her team mate and rival Annamiek Van Vleuten who came home for a silver medal despite recently suffering a fracture of her wrist.
As with the womens events, the mens were dominated by the big names of the sport with Fillipo Ganna winning the time trial ahead of Wout Van Aert (who bagged a pair of silver medals) and Stefan Kung who had left the Tour de France early to prepare for this event.
The weather was unpredictable with howling wind and cloud closing in and pulling out all through the event. At one point a cloud burst looked inevitable and this would have given an advantage to the early starters. But it didn’t materialise.
It was interesting to see that despite a pretty bland circuit and shortened distance the riders made the event and that was exactly what the championships needed to be successful.
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Belgium||250||190||52.349||0:26|
|4||THOMAS Geraint||Great Britain||150||110||52.086||0:37|
|9||DOWSETT Alex||Great Britain||60||60||51.405||1:06|
The final event of the weekend was the mens road race which I settled down to watch with a beer after 80km of hard, windy riding of my own Sunday morning.
The breakaway were kept at a suitable arms length going into the latter stages of the race before Tadej Pogacar rocketed out of the front of the pack with a lap and a half to go.
He managed to get a good distance before fading, but it was a clear plan to soften the race up for his team mate Primoz Roglic.
Whether Roglic didn’t feel too great I don’t know. But he didn’t seem capable of getting out of the wheels when the likes of Tom Dumoulin and Greg Van Avermaet went off up the road.
The attack that did stick came from Julian Alaphillippe who went clear on the penultimate climb before following the Pogacar blueprint from previous laps and digging in on the plateau and rolling section of road.
He then made good on the decent into the Formula 1 circuit before stretching his narrow lead in the final kilometer as the chasers started to disfunction and settle for the lower places.
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Belgium||475||260||0:24|
Van Aert came home second as previously mentioned with man of the month Marc Hirschi finishing off the podium places.
We now have a really short break before the Eneco Tour this week, Ardennes Classics on Wednesday and Sunday and the Giro starting Saturday.
Bring it on!
Weve re recorded episode 125 after it mysteriously vanished.
So the last big event of the season is over and Peter Sagan is the Champion of the World again.
The show this week discusses his win in detail and some of the racing from Team GB and Belgium with over 100 miles still to ride.