What's Cool In Road Cycling

WORLDS’20: Ed’s View of Imola

2020 World Championships LookBack

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Worlds Race Review: The 2020 World championships may have been restricted to just the elite riders, but all four races were well worth the hours in-front of the TV. One man who didn’t miss a pedal stroke was Ed Hood, PEZ’s most experienced Worlds watcher – Normally roadside.

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The rider of the 2020 Worlds – Two gold medals for Anna van der Breggen

Ladies Time Trial:
Predicting race results is one thing, saying that a rider is going to be, ‘the new Merckx’ or ‘dominate the sport for the next decade’ is another. Take Remco’s crash, or Jan Ulrich’s love of a good party, or Roger Riviere landing in a ravine. The latter two men cited to, ‘dominate the sport for the foreseeable future.’ It’s as if, ‘The Fates,’ – the Goddesses Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos, who even the most powerful of the Gods respected and feared, intervene and say; ‘we can’t allow humans to predict what will be, that’s down to us.’

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Silver medal went to Marlen Reusser of Switzerland

Chloe Dygert, 10 times a world champion was en route number 11 in the ladies time trial championship, a favourite for Sunday’s road race and ‘set to dominate the individual pursuit and time trial Worlds for the foreseeable future,’ when the Deities mentioned above intervened. A puncture, a failed wheel, an imperfection in the road surface?

Whatever, the world’s fastest ‘chrono girl’ was thrown off line, lost control, hit the corrugated steel barriers on the outside of the curve, went over them and was out. I’ve seen pictures of the wound on her leg – it’s horrific. Here at PEZ we wish her a complete and speedy recovery but please, let’s not make those big predictions and tempt The Fates – those ladies don’t mess.

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Van der Breggen had the form

Some say that Anna van der Breggen was ‘lucky’ to win in that fashion; the lady has been four time a silver medallist in this event, not to mention having won the European, World and Olympic road race titles, so I guess you could say she’s not a bad bike rider then?

World Championships Women’s Time Trial Result:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) in 40:20
2. Marlen Reusser (Switzerland) at 0:15
3. Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands) at 0:31.

 

Men’s Time Trial:
The date when Filippo Ganna won the World Elite Time Trial Championship wasn’t actually Friday September 25th, it was Monday, September 14th, the day he won the closing 10.1 kilometre time trial in Tirreno-Adriatico. That was the day he put a kilometre per hour and more into the reigning world hour record holder, Victor Campenaerts and two kilometres per hour and more into the reigning world time trial champion, Rohan Dennis.

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Off the boil – Rohan Dennis

The big Italian – he’s 1m. 93cm or 6’ 4” in British money, from the beautiful Verbania on the shores of Lake Maggiore averaged a startling 56.636 kilometres per hour to beat Fabian Cancellara’s course record for the pan flat, out and home percorso along the Adriatic coast at San Benedetto del Trento. Whilst Dennis is a master of peaking for the ‘big day,’ he must have known that he was going to struggle to improve by two kph in less than two weeks.

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The ‘new’ TT top gun – Filippo Ganna

Some said that a 10K drag strip percorso, ideally suited to a big boned pursuit specialist was one thing but a ‘draggy’ 31.7K Worlds percorso was something completely different. But they’d forgotten that in August, Ganna had taken the Italian time trial championships over 38.8K at Bassano del Grappa putting a kilometre per hour into strongman, Alessandro De Marchi.

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Two silver medals for Wout

And we have to delve deep into the superlatives chest to find new ones for WVA; cyclo-cross World champion, battling with and beating the sprinters in le Tour where he also proved himself to be an ace mountain ‘super domestique’ and now it takes a beast like Ganna to prevent his becoming world time trial champion. The man is special.

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Swiss ‘Powerhouse’ Stefan Küng took the bronze medal

Stefan Küng produced another great ride to take bronze, he’d already claimed the 2019 European time trial title; with his lovely World’s mount, a Lapierre Aerostorm’s paint job reminding us of the fact. Like Ganna, Küng’s roots are in the pursuit, he took Worlds bronze in 2013, silver in 2014 before claiming the title in 2015. Since then he’s concentrated on the road and was on the podium on the horrible day in Harrogate last year.

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Lost Garmin for Geraint Thomas – Lost podium ride

The losers? Geraint Thomas can’t be too disappointed with fourth ahead of ‘pure’ specialists like Dennis, Cavagna and Campenaerts; his ride bodes well for the Giro. His admission that he rode ‘sans Garmin’ because someone messed up and had no idea of speed/distance/power is a surprise coming from a rider on a team where attention to detail is all.

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The difference a year makes – From top to fifth for Rohan Dennis

However, if you’re a specialist sprinter or ‘chronoman’ like Dennis then you’re expected to win them, second is no use and fifth place is a disaster. The Aussie’s last win was the 2019 Worlds; with second to Durbridge in his national championship and second again, this time to Remco in the Algarve test as close as he’s been to a win since his English triumph. Sir David will be looking at ‘recalibration’ for sure.

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Cavagna – Seventh for the French champion

Deceuninck took sixth and seventh courtesy of Dane, Kasper Asgreen and French Champion, Remi Cavagna – remarkable performances given neither men had time for specialist preparation on the back of a Tour de France where their work rate was prodigious.

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Hour record holder, Victor Campenaerts, expected more

Campenaerts was eighth, again a specialist failing to deliver but behind Ganna it was a close race with just 23 seconds separating the bronze medal from the Belgian’s eighth position. In ninth spot was another specialist, six time British Champion, Alex Dowsett. I saw him take eighth spot back in the time test at the Valkenburg Worlds back in 2012 and I thought he was on his way to the very top. A view which was confirmed when he put 10 seconds into Olympic Champion, Bradley Wiggins to win the 54.8K Stage Eight Giro time trial in 2013. But since then he’s never really progressed, the 2019 British title was his last win in a season where he was fifth in the European and World title races – but there are no flowers or headlines for fifth place.

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Tom Dumoulin – Tired?

Completing the top 10 was former champion, Tom Dumoulin but the big, stylish Dutchman didn’t look himself, all those kilometres on the front in service of Roglič having to be paid for at some time.

World Championships Men’s Time Trial Result:
1. Filippo Ganna (Italy) in 35:54
2. Wout van Aert (Belgium) at 0:26
3. Stefan Küng (Switzerland) at 0:29.

 

Ladies Road Race:
The best summing up came from my Amigo, former British track star, Peter Jacques;
“Dear national road team managers.
What on earth made you think it was a good idea to let the world time trial champion ride off the front and give her one-and-a-half minutes with 23 km to go?”

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Solo for over 20 kilometres – Anna van der Breggen

A fair question I’d say. Made all the more relevant by the fact that Ms. van der Breggen is reigning Olympic Champion and won the road Worlds title in 2018. The Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team rider becomes only the second woman to pull off the ‘double’ since the legendary Jeannie Longo did so in Columbia in 1995. But with no disrespect to Ms. Longo, ladies cycling has come a long way in the intervening 25 years; albeit many might say it still has a ways to go.

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The second of her two rainbow jerseys

Whilst the race distance is up from just 88 kilometres in 1995 to 143 kilometres this year, the average speed hasn’t seen the same increase; 33.66 kph over the tough Duitama course and 34.33 kph on Saturday despite a bigger field – 88 finishers in Colombia as opposed to 105 on Saturday. But it was is good to see a race with breaks going up the road, unlike some of the processions of the past. The chase group did seem to abdicate any ambitions to chase the Dutchwoman very easily once she was away and en route The Netherlands fourth straight Worlds solo breakaway win.
That said with another two very strong ‘orange women’ in there it must have been discouraging for the rest.

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Just a little bit of elbow in the sprint between Van Vleuten and Longo Borghini

Last year’s champion, Annemiek Van Vleuten made it a Dutch one-two, despite bronze medallist Elisa Longo Borghini of Italy showing her a mean elbow in the sprint. Marianne Vos’s fourth place only served to underline the dominance of the Dutch girls. Lizzie Deignan of GB took sixth spot, a decent ride but not the one she wanted.

World Championships Women’s Road Race Result:
1. Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands) in 4:09:57
2. Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands) at 1:20
3. Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy).

 

Elite Men’s Road Race:
It’s possible I may have an anti-authority streak but I thought it was the height of petty rule book pushing when Julian Alaphilippe lost his maillot jaune in the Tour for taking a bottle inside the last 20K; a fine, sure but not to divest him of the second most coveted jersey in cycling.

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Yellow was taken away – Not so the rainbow

But the 28 year-old from Saint-Armand-Montron took his revenge today, taking the jersey that you don’t just get to wear for a maximum of 21 days, rather one you get to wear for 365 days, not to mention the fact you get to wear those rainbow stripes on your jersey cuffs forever. He timed his coup de grace to perfection, attacking from a small group of top favourites – Wout Van Aert, Marc Hirschi, Micha Kwiatkowski, Jakob Fuglsang and Primoz Roglic to grab a handful of seconds with 12 kilometres to go as the group laboured towards the top of the Cima Gallisterna for the last of the nine ascents. The narrow, twisting descent favoured a lone attacker – particularly one as bold as the Frenchman – and when the chasers hesitated and began to look at each other as they reached the Imola Circuit, thinking about the podium places, the race was his.

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A very strong sprint for second by Wout van Aert – And his second silver medal

Van Aert easily won the sprint for silver with Tour hero Hirschi narrowly getting the better of former champion Kwiatkowski for bronze. Chapeau, Monsieur Alaphilippe!

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A fine win for the Frenchman

The first French Elite World Road race Champion since 1997 when Laurent Brochard won in San Sebastian – but let’s not discuss that hair style of his, please. And Van Aert continues to amaze, ‘cross, chrono, climbs, sprinting – the man can do it all. And big respect to Belgian team manager Rik Verbrugghe and the squad who rode a great, united race but came upon an Alaphilippe who was simply outstanding on the day.

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The Belgian team was strong, but…

Whilst Hirschi confirmed the talent he displayed in le Tour. Mentions in despatches have to go to the early breakaways who gave the commentators something to talk about before it ‘got for real.’ I had to agree with my Amigo, Dave when he said that GB should have put someone in that early break, show the flag, much better than the anonymity of the peloton – but neither of us were in the team car.

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Hirschi was one of the strongmen – Bronze medal just reward

However, a further mention in despatches to Welshman Luke Rowe who chaperoned English Baby Giro winner, the precociously talented Tom Pidcock deep into the race before the distance and relentless pace caught up with his young legs.

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Disappointment for the ‘tifosi’

The ‘buts.’ But if I was a member of the tifosi I’d be bitterly disappointed by a lack lustre display where the best the Azzurri could do was Damiano Caruso in 10th place.

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The Italians could only watch

Spain likewise, despite strength in numbers on the last lap they were lacking; old hand Alejandro Valverde their best finisher in eighth place.

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There is a big smile on the face of Patrick Lefevere behind that mask

No ‘buts’ about who the day belonged to though – and Patrick Lefevere will be ordering another large brandy as I write this.

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).

# Next up: Flèche-Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Giro d’Italia on Saturday. Keep it PEZ for Ed’s Giro preview. #

 

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