Christophe Laporte (silver) and Michael Matthews (bronze) accompanied him on the podium, while Asturian García Cortina finished eleventh
Remco Evenepoel, the young prodigy of Belgian cycling and the smartest in the class, conquered the Road Cycling World Championships held this Sunday in Wollongong, Australia, after crowning a solo break of more than 30 kilometers. He finished ahead of Frenchman Christophe Laporte, second, and Australian Michael Matthews, third. The best Spaniard was the Asturian Iván García Cortina, who finished eleventh.
The 22-year-old won his first world title for Belgium in ten years, two weeks after winning the Vuelta a España, where he became the first Belgian rider to win a major stage race since 1978.
Evenepoel reached the finish line of the Australian track alone, with a lead of two minutes and 21 seconds over the first pursuit group, where the strongest was Christophe Laporte, after 266.9 kilometers of racing under a blazing sun.
“I’m super happy. He dreamed of being world champion. A monument, a classic, a grand tour, the World Cup… I’ve won everything this year, it’s incredible,” said the Belgian, who, in addition to the Spanish round, won the classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège in spring and the Clásica de San Sebastian this summer.
The Belgian succeeds the Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, his training partner in Quick-Step and winner of the last two editions, who this Sunday, however, could not fight for the title and stayed very far, no less than in position 51.
“I feel a mixture of many emotions. I took time to imagine myself without the rainbow jersey from next week. That will make me appreciate even more the moments I have spent with this jersey », declared the Frenchman, who effusively congratulated his successor, « the strongest today ».
Evenepoel made the difference with 35 kilometers to go, when he broke away from a group of 25 riders who had taken the lead, two minutes ahead of the peloton. The only one able to follow Evenepoel was the Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko, who was then unable to keep up with the Belgian on the penultimate climb of Mount Pleasant, on the Wollongong street circuit in New South Wales. “I felt I was the strongest, there was no time to waste on a circuit like this and I kept pushing,” Evenpoel explained.
The Belgian, bronze medalist in the time trial last Sunday, seemed to face the clock again, continuing to increase his advantage and earning the right to fully savor his achievement. Anecdotally, he crossed the line with his finger over his mouth, as if he wanted to send a message to silence criticism, numerous in his country.
For Belgium, this title is a revenge after what happened last year, when the formation collapsed away from home under the pressure of the rivalry between Evenepoel and Wout van Aert.
The other great Flemish leader, fourth on Sunday, will therefore have to wait at least another year to seek to achieve the arocíris jersey with which he continues to dream. “Today we ran as a team, it was for him or for me. The attack from afar has worked, we deserve it,” Evenepoel commented.
Van der Poel leaves after spending the night at the police station
This Sunday’s race was marked by the early abandonment of Mathieu van der Poel, one of the big favorites, who found himself without strength after 30 kilometers after being detained by the police and spending part of the night in a police station.
The Dutchman was accused of pushing two teenagers in a corridor of his hotel who prevented him from sleeping. The cyclist was taken to the police station and charged with two counts of assault, and he is due to appear in Australian court on Tuesday.
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