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Hello again, CyclingTips readers.
Sunday capped off a big weekend at the 2020 UCI Road World Championships. Plans may have changed a bit this year, but when all was said and done, the course in Imola, Italy, offered the climber-friendly action that was always expected for Worlds.
After Saturday’s elite women’s race saw a big star soloing to her second world road title, Sunday’s elite men’s race saw a big star soloing to his first.
Read on for more …
| Julian Alaphilippe wins his first world road title
Julian Alaphilippe soloed to his first world road title on Sunday in the elite men’s race at Imola Worlds.
The 28-year-old Frenchman put in a decisive attack out of a select lead group with around 15 kilometers to go in the up-and-down race. Although a very strong selection of chasers kept the gap under half a minute, they could not reel him back in as he powered towards the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari finish line.
Alaphilippe would hit the line with a comfortable advantage of 24 seconds to secure his first ever rainbow jersey. Wout van Aert led the chasers over the finish line for runner-up honors with Marc Hirschi rounding out the podium in third.
“At this moment it’s really hard to say something,” an emotional Alaphilippe said after his win. “I want to say thank you to all my teammates who really believe in me today. Everybody did a great job. It was a dream of my career. Sometimes, I was so close, and I was never on the podium. Now, I came here with a lot of ambition and it’s just a dream day for me.”
The 258.2-kilometer race saw an early break build a decent advantage over the first few laps on the challenging, 28-kilometer circuit, but there was little question that the move would ultimately be reeled in. It took several hours for the catch to be made, but the gap started to fall at the midway point of the race as several teams put in work in the peloton. With the French leading the way in the pack, the last of the escapees were indeed caught with just under 70 kilometers still to go.
The Belgian and Italian teams led the pack into the penultimate lap, and then, with 42 kilometers to race, Tour de France champ Tadej Pogacar kicked off the action from the pack with a solo move off the front.
The peloton gave him a little bit of breathing room and he built a gap of nearly 30 seconds that he took into the final lap, but that advantage would drop as the race made its final trip up the short but steep Mazzolano climb. Tom Dumoulin jumped across with around 22 kilometers to go but then both riders were caught by a reduced peloton.
Vincenzo Nibali jumped off the front on the descent and was joined by Rigoberto Urán, Mikel Landa, and Wout van Aert, but the move was unable to create much distance on a French-led pack, and after a few riders bridged up, everything came back together. Guillaume Martin put in a short-lived move on the run-in to the Cima Gallisterna, but that too was caught, setting up a battle on the challenging final climb.
As the race hit the ascent, Greg Van Avermaet and then Marc Hirschi put in big digs that shelled numerous riders out the back. When Michael Kwiatkowski jumped on the steep slopes, there were only a handful of riders left to chase, but the 2014 world champ could not quite open a gap, with Alaphilippe right behind in a group that also included Van Aert, Hirschi, Jakob Fuglsang, and Primoz Roglic. Then, near the top of the climb, Alaphilippe made his move, putting in a big surge that no one could follow.
Alaphilippe built a gap of around 15 seconds before the five riders behind organized a chase, and then he managed to keep the gap there or thereabouts as he powered towards the line. He held on to take the victory by 24 seconds, enough time to take in the moment as he rolled across the line to become France’s first winner of the men’s world road title since Laurent Brochard in 1997.
1 ALAPHILIPPE Julian (France) 6:38:34
2 VAN AERT Wout (Belgium) 0:24
3 HIRSCHI Marc (Switzerland)
4 KWIATKOWSKI Michal (Poland)
5 FUGLSANG Jakob (Denmark)
6 ROGLIC Primoz (Slovenia)
7 MATTHEWS Michael (Australia) 0:53
8 VALVERDE Alejandro (Spain)
9 SCHACHMANN Maximilian (Germany)
10 CARUSO Damiano (Italy)
| Lutsenko misses Worlds road race after COVID-19 positive
Alexey Lutsenko did not make the start in Sunday’s elite men’s road race at Worlds after testing positive for COVID-19.
According to the Kazakh cycling federation, Lutsenko’s positive came in a test on Friday. He was pulled from making the Worlds start and is now awaiting the results of a second test.
| Van der Breggen wins her second world road title
In case you missed it earlier in the weekend, Anna van der Breggen soloed to yet another big win in what has been a fantastic season for her, claiming her second career world road title on Saturday.
Two days after winning the world time trial title on Thursday, Van der Breggen attacked a strong group with a little over 40 kilometers to go in the elite women’s road race in Imola and quickly built a gap. Despite the firepower in the chase behind, Van der Breggen was able to grow her advantage on the up-and-down circuit and before long, she had a gap of over a minute.
As the impetus in the chase faded, it became clear that there would be no catching Van der Breggen, who took her second World Championships win in three days and her second world road title in three years at the line. Her Dutch teammate Annemiek van Vleuten nabbed second 1:20 later with Elisa Longo Borghini just behind to round out the podium.
1 VAN DER BREGGEN Anna (Netherlands) 4:09:57
2 VAN VLEUTEN Annemiek (Netherlands) 1:20
3 LONGO BORGHINI Elisa (Italy)
4 VOS Marianne (Netherlands) 2:01
5 LIPPERT Liane (Germany)
6 DEIGNAN Elizabeth (Great Britain)
7 NIEWIADOMA Katarzyna (Poland)
8 LUDWIG Cecilie Uttrup (Denmark) 2:41
9 BRENNAUER Lisa (Germany) 3:08
10 REUSSER Marlen (Switzerland)
| Bach hails cycling’s resumed season
As Olympic organizers are planning the Tokyo Games for 2021, Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, has cycling’s restarted 2020 season as evidence that sporting events can be held even during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Cycling has played a very particular role. There was the Tour de France and now the World Championships, the two most complex events so far at international level. The success of these events gives us and the entire sports movement a lot of confidence. I’d like to thank the UCI for taking on this responsibility and organizing in a very responsible way,” Bach said, according to Cyclingnews.
“It makes all us very confident because we’ve seen in the last couple of months that you can big sporting events in a safe environment, even without a vaccine.”
| Lappartient defends CPA amid criticism
As a large number of pros are questioning how they are represented via the CPA, UCI president David Lappartient has criticized what he called a push to “destabilize” the CPA.
A significant movement in the pro ranks is pushing for reform within the CPA, with particular focus on the current voting process in the union, and there are also rumors of a potential push to form a breakaway union. In a press conference at the Imola World Championships, Lappartient addressed the subject, calling a document that was sent to riders “fake news.”
“I can’t accept the use of fake news to destabilize the CPA, which is clearly the case and we have proof of this,” Lappartient said.
He also reiterated the UCI’s support for the organization, saying, “The CPA will remain the official body recognized by the UCI, and the same for the riders.”
| Moving Pictures
Saturday’s elite women’s race featured the shot of the weekend and maybe of the cycling season so far as a camera tracked Van der Breggen on her way to another impressive world title.
It's back to TT mode for @AnnavdBreggen 🇳🇱 as she glides through the beautiful countryside of Emilia-Romagna 🇮🇹.
— UCI (@UCI_cycling) September 26, 2020
In case you missed it
| What it takes to organise a World Championship race in 22 days
As José Been writes, 22 days is not a long time to organize Worlds.
Today’s featured image of Julian Alaphilippe winning his first world road title comes from Cor Vos.