Men’s elite road race: Sunday September 26
For the second year running, Julian Alaphilippe produced a devastating late attack at the road world championships to blow the field apart and claim the rainbow jersey. Britain’s Tom Pidcock finished a highly creditable sixth in what was a hugely entertaining race in Flanders.
Alaphilippe, who won in Imola 12 months ago, was not the favourite heading into Sunday’s 268.3 km test from Antwerp to Leuven.
That honour went to Wout van Aert, who headed a mighty Belgian squad and was fresh from his victory at the recent Tour of Britain. But after a gruelling day on the lanes and cobbles of Flanders, the peloton had no answer when Alaphilippe put in three lung-busting attacks in the final 20km to power clear.
As the swashbuckling Frenchman soloed towards the finish, he found himself booed by home crowds who begged him to slow down. Alaphilippe said afterwards that they had spurred him on.
“A lot of Belgian fans asked me to slow down and they weren’t very nice, that gave me extra motivation,” he admitted, adding that he had not expected to retain his rainbow jersey. “It wasn’t something I had in mind. I didn’t think it would happen, I didn’t think it would be possible.
“It [the final 20km] was horrible. I don’t have any words. It was hard. I thought about my son. I would give everything for him.”
The British team had mixed fortunes. Ethan Hayter crashed more than once and eventually crossed in 35th place, describing it as “a shame”.
But Pidcock, who took mountain bike gold in Tokyo two months ago, showed real grit to break clear of van Aert’s group in the closing kilometres in an attempt to bridge to the first chasing group of four riders.
“It was cat and mouse,” said the 22 year-old. “I was just saving it for one [last] attack and I waited too long and I missed the race to be honest. But Alaphilippe produced an unreal ride. Fair play to him.”
Pidcock, who only turned professional at the start of this year but has already registered some notable victories, added that the huge crowds that lined the roads in Flanders provided memories to last a lifetime.
“We weren’t riding on roads today, we were riding in a stadium,” he said. “It was unbelievable. The first lap, when we went into the first climb, my ears were ringing.”
Balsamo beats Vos to gold in sprint to the line
Women’s elite road race: Saturday September 25
Lizzie Deignan praised her GB team-mates, saying they had produced their “best team performance” in years at the road race world championships in Flanders, even if she was sorry she was unable to finish off their work.
Deignan, the 2015 world champion, finished 14th as Italy’s Elisa Balsamo beat the Netherlands’ Marianne Vos to the gold medal in a sprint to the line.
The 32-year-old admitted to feeling a little legless by the end of what she called a “war of attrition”, but said she was encouraged by the performance of the GB team as a whole.
Anna Henderson, 22, chased down a number of attacks in the final kilometres, while Deignan was also hugely impressed by 20-year-old Pfeiffer Georgi who looked after Deignan for much of the race.
“I just really need to say thank you to Pfeiffer,” Deignan said. “She’s probably the best team GB team mate I’ve ever had.
“As a team we rode the best we have in a few years so that is an exciting prospect.”
Of Henderson, who rides for World Tour team Jumbo-Visma, Deignan added: “Certainly she’s made a huge step forward [this season] so hopefully the tables might turn and I might be able to help her in the future.”
Earlier in the day, there was more encouragement for British Cycling with Welsh 17-year-old Zoe Backstedt winning the women’s junior road race.
On Sunday it is the turn of the elite men. Tom Pidcock, Ethan Hayter and Mark Cavendish lead the British squad.
Baroncini secures Under-23 title after late breakaway
Under-23 men’s road race: Friday September 24
Italy’s Filippo Baroncini won the Under-23 men’s road race after attacking on the penultimate climb and making a successful solo bid for the finish.
Eritrea’s Biniam Girmay was second, with Dutchman Olav Kooik in third.
After the race, Baroncini said:”For me it’s a dream, the day was really stressful…it’s a victory that is a dream for all my life. For me, all was perfect for me and my team.
“My attack was planned before the race and all went well. It’s a big emotion for me, no words.”
Martin bows out in style as Germany win mixed team relay time trial
Mixed team relay time trial, 44.5km: Wednesday September 22
Tony Martin ended his career in style as Germany won the mixed relay race at the Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium, on Wednesday.
Martin, 36, a four-time time trial world champion who also won five Tour de France stages and wore the famed yellow jersey, announced last week that he would end his 14-year professional career after the mixed relay race.
He finished sixth in Sunday’s individual time trial won by Filippo Ganna of Italy, but finished in style when the six-rider German team won the mixed relay team time trial.
“Its the best finish, isn’t it?” Martin said. “It’s a dream for me. Now it’s time to celebrate.”
The men’s teams started from the North Sea resort of Knokke-Heist and completed a 22.5-kilometre course to Bruges, where their female team-mates took over for a 22km loop around the city.
Martin and his five team-mates – Lisa Brennauer, Lisa Klein, Mieke Kröger, Nikias Arndt and Max Walscheid – finished 12.79 seconds faster than the Dutch team that included world champion Ellen van Dijk and Olympic champion Annemiek van Vleuten. Italy completed the podium, lagging 37.74sec behind.
Martin had one year remaining on his contract with Jumbo-Visma but decided after this year’s Tour de France that he would not continue. Martin crashed out of the three-week event in July during stage 11, when he had to be taken away in an ambulance.
Martin also crashed in the Tour’s opening stage after a spectator brandished a large cardboard sign while leaning into his path.
Nicknamed “Der Panzerwagen” for his enormous power, Martin also won the one-week Paris-Nice in 2011 and is a 10-time German time trial champion. AP
Teenager Tarling adds to British tally win time trial silver
Junior men’s time trial, 22.3km: Tuesday September 21
Joshua Tarling won Great Britain’s second silver medal of the day on Tuesday after finishing second in the 22.3-kilometre junior men’s time trial at the Road World Championships in Bruges.
Similarly to fellow Welsh rider Zoe Backstedt who earlier in the day had taken the hotseat having set the fastest time on the flat course in Flanders, Tarling, 17, was later ousted from top spot by Gustav Wang (Denmark) who completed his race 20sec quicker than the Briton.
Alec Segaert (Belgium), the recently crowned European champion, took bronze after finishing 29sec down on Wang. There was a top-10 finish for another Briton after Finlay Pickering, 18, finished eighth, 52sec off the pace of Wang.
Backstedt takes time trial silver behind Russia’s Ivanchenko
Junior women’s time trial, 19.3km: Tuesday September 21
British teenager Zoe Backstedt has won silver in the junior women’s time trial at the Road World Championships after she was pipped to gold by Russia’s Alena Ivanchenko by 10 seconds.
Having set the fastest time of the day – 25 minutes 16 seconds – on the flat 19.3-kilometre course between Knokke-Heist and Bruges, the 16-year-old faced an anxious wait after taking the hotseat in what was her first appearance at the Road World Championships.
Backstedt, the daughter of Magnus Backstedt who won Paris-Roubaix in 2004, and the younger sister of Elynor Backstedt who rides for Trek-Segafredo, however, was beaten by Ivanchenko who was the last rider out on the road.
After setting the fastest time at the intermediate split, the 17-year-old Ivanchenko held on all the way to the line, completing her time trial in 25min 5sec to add the rainbow jersey to the European time trial title she won in Trento, Italy, a fortnight ago.
Antonia Niedermaier (Germany) was third at 25sec, while the only other Briton in the race, Madelaine Leech, finished in fifth place 1min 26sec off the pace of Ivanchenko.
Flying Dutchwoman Van Dijk takes second time trial title
Women’s time trial, 30.3km: Monday September 20
Dutchwoman Ellen van Dijk won the women’s time trial at the Road World Championships in Bruges on Monday, beating Tokyo Olympic medallists Marlen Reusser of Switzerland and compatriot Annemiek van Vleuten to claim the title.
Van Dijk, world time trial champion in 2013, set a time of 36 minutes 5.28 seconds on the 30.3km flat course from Knokke-Heist on the North Sea coast to the centre of Bruges to claim her second rainbow jersey.
Reusser, who won silver at the Tokyo Olympics, came in second over 10 seconds behind the former world time trial champion and Tokyo gold medallist Van Vleuten was third — 24sec off the pace.
American twice world champion Amber Neben, 46, came in fourth and Germany’s Lisa Brennauer was fifth. Reuters
Price-Pejtersen the latest great young Dane to win U23 time trial
Men’s Under-23 time trial, 30.3km: Monday September 20
Johan Price-Pejtersen won Denmark’s fourth successive men’s Under-23 time trial title at the Road World Championships in Flanders on Monday as the 22-year-old added the rainbow jersey to his wardrobe just 11 days after also taking home the European title.
Price-Pejtersen competed the 30.3km course between Knokke-Heist and Bruges in 34 minutes 29 seconds, 10sec faster than Luke Plapp (Australia) who had earlier filled the hotseat having set a benchmark time. Home favourite Florian Vermeersch (Belgium) came in third just 1sec behind Plapp who next year will ride for Ineos Grenadiers.
“At the European championships I exploded a bit in the finish, so I thought it was better to do a controlled ride, with a negative split in the first section,” said Price-Pejtersen in his post-race inteview
“I had the advantage of starting last so I could see where my effort put me. I was told I was third and not far from the fastest time, so I knew I had to pick up the pace. I then gave it everything from the hard second split and pulled hard all the way to the end.
“It’s good that Denmark won again, we’ve won five out of the last six world championships [Mads Wurtz Schmidt 2015, Mikkel Bjerg 2017, 2018, 2019 – there were no Under-23 events at the 2020 championships] and that’s important for the national team.”
Ganna strikes gold again as Italian retains rainbow jersey
Men’s time trial, 43.3km: Sunday September 19
Filippo Ganna broke Belgian hearts at the Road World Championships in Flanders as he retained his individual time trial title by beating local favourite Wout van Aert on Sunday.
The Italian lagged behind Van Aert at both intermediate checks but he managed his effort better on the panflat 43.3-kilometre course to clock 47min 47sec.
Van Aert finished 5.37sec behind with another Belgian, Remco Evenepoel, picking up the bronze medal 43.34sec off the pace.
“In a week, my condition improved very well after a short camp in altitude,” Ganna said. “Today when I woke up I had a good feeling in the legs and the head did the rest.”
Evenepoel clocked the first time of reference but Van Aert, who snatched silver in both the time trial and the road race at last year’s Road World Championships in Imola, Italy, was already 28sec up at the first intermediate check.
Ganna lagged six seconds behind Van Aert after 13.8km with Swiss Stefan Küng 17sec off the pace.
Van Aert increased his advantage over Evenepoel to 31sec at the second intermediate but Ganna was less than a second behind in a nail-biting finale.
The momentum had swung the Italian’s way and Ganna punched the air in celebration after crossing the line.
Four-time time trial world champion Tony Martin of Germany, who said he would retire after the championships, finished sixth. Reuters