Worlds Race Report: Julian Alaphilippe won the World Road Championship in Italy on the Imola circuit on Sunday after an exciting final two laps of the 260 kilometre race. The silver medal went to Wout van Aert (Belgium) who outsprinted a small chase group. Marc Hirschi (Switzerland) snatched the bronze medal from Michał Kwiatkowski of Poland.
A very emotional Julian Alaphilippe
9 laps for the men
258.2 tough kilometres
In the first lap a leading group managed to escape: Jonas Koch (Germany), Torstein Traeen (Norway), Marco Friedrich (Austria), Daniil Fominykh (Kazakhstan), Yukiya Arashiro (Japan), Eduard Michael Grosu (Romania) and Ulises Alfredo Castillo (Mexico). They worked well together to take a maximum lead of 8 minutes.
A long day ahead
Slovenia, Switzerland and Denmark moved to the front of the peloton to control the lead of the escapees. Their advantage fluctuated around 6 minutes for many laps. With four laps to go and more than a 100 kilometres, the pace increased and the gap was slowly closed. Various top riders moved up in the peloton.
The big race of the year
On the motor racing circuit
Koch and Traeen were left out front the longest. With three laps of the 28.8 kilometre circuit to go, the difference between the front riders and the peloton was still 2:30. Behind; Viacheslav Kuznetsov tried an attack, but had no chance. 70 kilometres out and the French team put on the pressure as they hit the Cima Gallisterna (2.7 km at 6.4%). The Belgians and Slovenians were following the action.
The early break
The tricky descent
There was no attack, but the peloton was thinned out under the speed of the French. The last two from the early break were caught. France maintained the pace at the start of the penultimate lap, as Tour winner, Tadej Pogačar, needed a bike change. He returned to the pack as Belgium took over command from France.
There were many fans on the main climb
The early break
On the penultimate climb of the Mazzolano (2.8 km at 5.9%), the British and Belgians set the pace. The Dutchman, Tom Dumoulin was the last wheel of the peloton at that moment, but he quickly move up some places. The Cima Gallisterna was started at a fast pace. Pogačar attacked, but no one went with him. Benoot set the pace 10 seconds behind the Slovenian, with around forty riders still in the front group.
The break fell apart, as expected
Bike change for Tadej Pogačar with 2 laps to go – Then he attacked
Pogačar extended his lead to 15 seconds before he started the circuit. Despite chasing work by Wellens and Benoot, the Slovenian pulled out to 25 seconds at the start of the final lap. On the Mazzolano, the counterattack came from Tom Dumoulin. The Dutchman closed a gap of seven seconds to Pogačar, but the chase group caught the leading duo before the top.
Pogačar went solo with over a lap to go
The Belgian team set to chase Pogačar down
Vincenzo Nibali jumped at the top and took Mikel Landa, Rigoberto Urán and Wout Van Aert with him. The foursome did not manage to get away, so we had thirty riders coming to the last climb of the day. The decision was going to have to be made on the Cima Gallisterna. A group with Van Avermaet and Alaphilippe had a gap just before that climb, but the co-operation was not there. Benoot brought everything back together with one last effort.
Tom Dumoulin crossed to Pogačar, but the move was over
Wout Van Aert was looking comfortable
Van Avermaet increased the pace on the steep Cima Gallisterna. Marc Hirschi accelerated from his wheel and had Van Aert, Nibali, Alaphilippe, Roglic, Schachmann, Kwiatkowski and Fuglsang on his wheel. A group with Dumoulin followed right behind. Just before the top, Alaphilippe put in a strong attack that no one could follow. He had a gap on five riders: Fuglsang, Kwiatkowski, Van Aert, Hirschi and Roglic.
Attack from Alaphilippe
At the start of the descent his lead was 8 seconds, but the Frenchman managed to double it. The presence of Van Aert made the chase difficult. Still, the chasers managed to keep the difference to around 12 seconds. In the descent towards the Formula 1 circuit, the five pursuers could see Alaphilippe, but they were still at 10 seconds.
Solo to the finish
When turning onto the circuit in Imola, 3 kilometres from the finish, the difference was 13 seconds. Alaphilippe didn’t wait and despite fierce attempts by Van Aert he could not close the gap and the others wouldn’t/couldn’t help the Belgian. Alaphilippe had time to enjoy his win and receive the World title to become the first frenchman since 1997 to win the men’s World title.
The win he has dreamt of – Julian Alaphilippe
The sprint was easily won by Van Aert, who also finished second at the World’s time trial on Friday. Marc Hirschi took the bronze just ahead of Kwiatkowski.
A strong finish from Wout van Aert in second place
2020 World road champion, Julian Alaphilippe (France): “At the moment it is difficult to say anything about it. I want to thank everyone, all teammates who have believed in me. Everyone has worked well. This is a dream come true. For some time I was very close to World champs, but I have never been on the podium. I came here again with a lot of ambition. This is really a dream day for me.”
The 2020 World top three
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World Championships Men’s Road Race Result:
1. Julian Alaphilippe (France) in 6:38:34
2. Wout van Aert (Belgium) at 0:24
3. Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)
4. Michał Kwiatkowski (Poland)
5. Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)
6. Primož Roglič (Slovenia)
7. Michael Matthews (Australia) at 0:53
8. Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
9. Maximilian Schachmann (Germany)
10. Damiano Caruso (Italy).