photo credits @ WTF
Dutch rider Mathieu van der Poel took a stunning victory in today’s UCI Road World Championships in Glasgow, beating his closest competitors by almost two minutes, relegating Belgian’s Wout van Aert to second place, while Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) outsprinted Mads Pedersen (Denmark) for bronze.
Van der Poel made it into an elite group of riders before he accelerated away from his rivals with 23 kilometers to go at the bottom of Cathedral Street. He first swept up Italy’s Alberto Bettiol, who had spent almost an hour out front on his own, before powering himself into a lead with an advantage of almost 30 seconds within five kilometers.
From there, the 28-year-old was so dominant that, even after his fall with just over 16 kilometers remaining, the Dutchman was able to cruise home without a real challenge in the final stages as the Glasgow fans roared him on to the finish line.
Meanwhile, Wout van Aert stole enough of a march on Pedersen and Pogačar under the flamme rouge, to seize the silver medal, with the Slovenian rider outsprinting Pedersen for 3rd place on the podium.
Earlier, Patrick Gamper (Austria) and Rory Townsend (Ireland) were the first riders to attack, with USA’s Kevin Vermaerke, Owain Doull (Great Britain), Matthew Dinham (Australia), Ryan Christensen (New Zealand), Harold Tejada (Colombia), Krists Neilands (Latvia) and Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic) quickly joining the duo.
The escapees went on to establish a sizable margin of around nine minutes before the race was paused due to a number of protestors who blocked the route, gluing themselves to the road and forcing the commissaries to stop the race for almost an hour.
Once restarted, the pressure of the chase had reduced the breakaway group’s lead to about five minutes, as they hit the finishing circuit around Glasgow. It wasn’t long after that the group was reeled in by the chase.
At one point, Bettiol decided to launch a solo attack, opening up a gap that left the Italian rider out front alone for almost an hour, while Pogačar, van der Poel, Pedersen and Van Aert kept him in their sights.
In the meantime, defending champion Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) found himself distanced by the group.
Just as the chasing quartet was about to catch Bettiol with just over 22 kilometers to go, van der Poel attacked, leaving his companions unable to follow.
However, van der Poel’s race to the finish proved to be anything but smooth, as he crashed during a turn with 16.5 kilometers to go. But, he was able to remount without losing much of his lead.
Indeed, despite the crash and a ripped jersey, van der Poel resumed increasing his advantage over Van Aert, Pogačar and Pedersen. And, as they hit the final lap of the finishing circuit with just over 14 kilometers remaining, it was clear that the three chasers were battling it out for the last two spots on the podium.
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