a fantastic Julian Alaphilippe defeats the Belgians and renews his title in Leuven

Julian Alaphilippe won the title of world champion after 268 kilometers of a grueling race from Antwerp to Leuven. The French was simply the strongest. He made the selection on several occasions before extricating himself from a group of beefy ones which included the Belgians. Wout Van Aert and Jasper Stuyven. Titled in 2020 at Imola, he renews his world title and will wear the rainbow jersey for twelve more months. To increase the Belgian disappointment, Stuyven finished in fourth place, beaten in a four-man sprint by the Dutchman Dylan Van Baarle and the Danish Michael Valgren.

The French team took the initiative 180 kilometers from the finish with Belgium. She performed an almost perfect collective score. Always in the blows, the French did not have to pedal too much, leaving the weight of the race to van Aert and co. The ace Alaphilippe then made the difference with his talent. Untenable in the last 50 kilometers, he managed to multiply the attacks before placing his decisive acceleration 17 kilometers from the line, just before the last lap. Big favorite, and already at the limit in Smeysberg, Wout van Aert had no legs. It ranks 11th.

The summary of the race

Jose Tito Hernandez (Colombia), Joel Levi Burbano (Ecuador), Pavel Kochetkov (Russia), Patrick Gamper (Austria), Rory Townsend (Ireland), Oscar Nisu (Estonia), Kim Magnusson (Sweden), Jambaljamts Sainbayar (Mongolia): they are eight runners from small “nations” take advantage of the first kilometers to go to the front, show the jersey and lead the world championship. Only Gamper evolves in a World Tour team. The gap rises above 3 minutes.

The danger is not immediate but Tim De Clercq and the blue jerseys are at the head of the peloton as they approach Mechelen. More than 245 kilometers from the finish. Belgium assumes its status, but isn’t it too early? Denmark also hurries Mikkel Bjerg to lend a hand to “El Tractor”.

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The Leuven turnstile makes its ribs increase the tension a notch. The race is really starting for the favorites. When entering the final circuit, Slovenia, France or Germany are at the forefront in the Wijnpers, the first of the 42 climbs of the day. At the first crossing on the line, the gap is 5 minutes.

One against four stars, Italy rectifies a complicated situation

The fuse is lit, the fireworks can begin. In the S of Overijse, it still comes out of the peloton and with big names! A group of 15 is formed: Tim De Clercq, Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), Primoz Roglic, Jan Tratnik (Slovenia), Magnus Cort Nielsen, Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), Arnaud Démare, Benoit Cosnefroy (France), Stephan Bissegger (Suisse), Nathan Haas (Australia), Brandon McNulty (United States), Ben Swift (Britain), Pascal Unicorn (Netherlands), Imanol Erviti (Spanish), Markus Hoelgaard (Norway). Belgian jerseys form a curtain in Bekestraat to favor the fugitives. Italy from Colbrelli, Germany from Politt and the Netherlands of Van der Poel or the Poland of Kwiatkowski are under pressure. The Squadra sets off a long pursuit. It lasts more than 30 terminals and the “royal” group is taken over. But Italy has spent a lot of energy and burned the Trentino cartridge. The morning break is suspended. His adventure stops a few hundred meters further.

Omnipresent Belgium, is it doing too much?

The elimination race has done its work. The peloton, very often in single file in the streets of Louvain, was reduced by half. In front of the accelerations follow one another to maintain a high pace and everyone under pressure. France, Slovenia and Denmark are the most enterprising. The Belgians remain attentive. And to avoid being raised, they position themselves at the front. De Clercq has finished his job, Lampaert and Campenaerts are in gear. They do too much for Tiesj Benoot who comes to moderate the ardor of his teammates. The odometer still shows 100 km to go.

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And here is Remco again!

The elimination race has done its work. The peloton, very often in single file in the streets of Louvain, was reduced by half. In front of the accelerations follow one another to maintain a high pace and everyone under pressure. France, Slovenia and Denmark are the most enterprising. The Belgians remain attentive. And to avoid being raised, they position themselves at the front. De Clercq has finished his job, Lampaert and Campenaerts are in gear. They do too much for Tiesj Benoot who comes to moderate the ardor of his teammates. The odometer still shows 100 km to go.

The message is heard. There is no longer any question of riding in the lead. After a short delay, Nils Politt (Germany) relaunched the offensive. He takes 10 runners: Evenepoel, Bagioli, Garcia-Cortina, Madouas, Tratnik, Tiller, Wurdz-Schmidt, Stannard, Van Baarle and Powless. The British missed that shot. They cry out behind.

The group of eleven lost six units in the Moskesstraat. Evenepoel, Bagioli, Madouas, Van Baarle and Powless isolate themselves in the lead. The cobbles and the percentages of this 29th ascent also hurt the legs in the peloton. But the great candidates for victory are there.

The strongest make the difference on the Flandrian circuit

They come into action in the Bekestraat. Julian Alaphilippe, the defending champion, stands on the pedals. Wout van Aert follow the movement with Jasper Stuyven. Stybar, Mohoric, Colbrelli, Nizzolo, Pidcock, Valgren, Hoelgaard, Van der Poel and Seneschal join the fun with a little delay. The N1 bib and the European champion are the strongest in the Smeysberg but van Aert can count on his teammates to bring him back. These 17 tough guys are heading for Louvain. Evenepoel does not count its efforts before parking 26 kilometers from the finish. France and Italy benefit from the advantage of numbers. Alaphilippe takes down one of his last cards in the Wijnpers. It takes a few meters. Without constituting a decisive advantage. The tactical aspect is invited in the last 20 kilometers of this rainbow race.

Van Aert has the sign. He is targeted. Alaphilippe is untenable and starts the last lap in the lead. Stuyven, Powless, Valgren and Van Baarle are the closest at 10 seconds. The others follow at 25 seconds. We will never see Alaf again, who is going to pick up a second consecutive world title.

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Cycling World Championships: The Belgian team led by Wout van Aert © Belga





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