CYCLING: Finally, World Road titles for Valverde and van der Breggen

Road race World Champion Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands (Photo: Innsbruck 2018)

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again was the lesson of the final weekend of the 91st UCI World Road Race Championships in Innsbruck (AUT).

In this famous mountain town of winter sport, it was two veteran climbers who mastered the road races best in Alejandro Valverde (ESP) and Anna van der Breggen (NED).

Van der Breggen, the 2016 Olympic Road Race winner, attacked with about 40 km remaining on the 155.6 km route on Saturday, trying to win her first World Championships road title after finishing second in 2015 and silver medals in the 2015-17-18 World time trial races.

Amazingly, no one followed her and she piled up a huge lead, finally crossing the line an amazing 3:42 ahead of Australia’s Amanda Spratt.

“I didn’t know any gaps, so until the finish line I didn’t believe that I’d be the World Champion,” she said afterwards. “I just rode as fast as possible. I was doubting if it was too early or not to attack by myself when I did it, but since I took this opportunity, I had to go. I know how difficult it is to win the World Championship, so I’m really happy.

“I built my season for being fresher than usual at this time of the year, skipping some races like the Giro d’Italia that I won last year and doing some mountain biking instead of road racing. I felt the pressure growing as we came closer to the race. It’s been quite a long period leading up to today. This morning, I felt that it’d be over soon and I could finally relax.”

Teammate Annemiek van Vleuten, who won the Time Trial earlier in the week, looked like a contender until she suffered a broken bone in her knee after a crash with Britain’s Dani Rowe. And yet van Vleuten still finished seventh!

In the men’s race, the course featured nine major climbs and the course took a hard toll on the field. Of the 188 starters, only 76 finished; among the casualties was three-time defending champion Peter Sagan (SVK).

Going into the final climb of the 258 km course, a group of six took the lead but it was France’s Romain Bardet, Canada’s Michael Woods and Valverde who escaped from the final summit, with Dutch star Tom Dumoulin playing catch-up on the descent.

Once into Innsbruck itself, It was Valverde who placed himself perfectly for the final sprint from about 150 m out and edged Bardet and Woods, with Dumoulin fourth. “It’s incredible,” he said afterwards. “Fighting, fighting, it’s a dream. I was saving it for the sprint and the truth it’s just something incredible. This has been a dream of mine to be a world champion.”

In his 12th try, he won his sixth Worlds medal, but his first gold. But it will look glorious right next to his 2005 silver and his four bronzes. Summaries:

UCI World Road Race Championships
Innsbruck (AUT) ~ 23-30 September 2018
(Full results here)

Men’s Road Race (258.0 km): 1. Alejandro Valverde (ESP), 6:46:41; 2. Romain Bardet (FRA), 6:46:41; 3. Michael Woods (CAN), 6:46:41; 4. Tom Dumoulin (NED), 6:46:41; 5. Gianni Moscon (ITA), 6:46:54; 6. Roman Kreuziger (CZE), 6:47:24; 7. Michael Valgren (DEN), 6:47:24; 8. Julian Alaphilippe (FRA), 6:47:24; 9. Thibaut Pinot (FRA), 6:47:24; 10. Rui Costa (POR), 6:47:24.

Men’s Individual Time Trial (52.1 km): 1. Rohan Dennis (AUS), 1:03:02.57; 2. Tom Dumoulin (NED), 1:04:23.66; 3. Victor Campanaerts (BEL), 1:04:24.19; 4. Michal Kwiatkowski (POL), 1:05:07.15; 5. Nelson Oliveira (POR), 1:05:16.91; 6. Jonathan Castroviejo (ESP), 1:05:20.10; 7. Tony Martin (GER), 1:05:27.80; 8. Patrick Bevin (NZL), 1:05:37.35; 9. Vasil Kiryienka (BLR), 1:06:10.11; 10. Martin Toft Madsen (DEN), 1:06:25.96. Also in the top 50: 15. Joey Rosskopf (USA), 1:07:22.66; … 27. Tejay van Garderen (USA), 1:07:56.15

Men’s Team Time Trial (62.8 km): 1. Quick-Step Floors (BEL), 1:07:26; 2. Team Sunweb (GER), 1:07:44; 3. BMC Racing Team (USA), 1:07:45; 4. Team Sky (GBR), 1:08:11; 5. Mitchelton-Scott (AUS), 1:08:23; 6. Movistar Team (ESP), 1:08:58; 7. Trek-Segafredo (USA), 1:09:30; 8. Bora-hansgrohe (GER), 1:09:33.

Men’s U-23 Road Race (179.5 km) 1. Marc Hirschi (SUI), 4:24:05; 2. Bjorg Lambrecht (BEL), 4:24:20; 3. Jaakko Hanninen (FIN), 4:24:20; 4. Gino Mader (SUI), 4:24:40; 5. Mark Padun (UKR), 4:24:42. Also in the top 25: 25. Neilson Powless (USA), 4:28:33.
Men’s U-23 Time Trial (27.7 km): 1. Mikkel Bjerg (DEN), 32:31.05; 2. Brent van Moer (BEL), 33:04.52; 3. Mathias Norsgaard (DEN), 33:09.35; 4. Edoardo Affini (ITA), 33:15.53; 5. Ethan Hayter (GBR), 33:16.70. Also in the top 25: 7. Brandon McNulty (USA), 33:23.84; … 23. Gage Hecht (USA), 33:53.77.

Men’s Junior Road Race (131.8 km): 1. Remco Evenepoel (BEL), 3:03:49; 2. Marius Mayrhofer (GER), 3:05:14; 3. Alessandro Fancellu (ITA), 3:05:27; 4. Alexandre Balmer (SUI), 3:05:27; 5. Frederik Wandahl (DEN), 3:07:09. Also in the top 25: 10. Sean Quinn (USA), 3:07:14.

Men’s Junior Time Trial (27.7 km): 1. Evenepoel (BEL), 33:15.24; 2. Luke Plapp (AUS), 34:38.90; 3. Andrea Piccolo (ITA), 34:52.86; 4. Michel Hessmann (GER), 35:02.93; 5. Soren Waerenskjold (NOR), 35:05.54. Also in the top 25: 10. Michael Garrison (USA), 35:48.19; … 19. Riley Sheehan (USA), 36:35.92.

Women’s Road Race (155.6 km) 1. Anna van der Breggen (NED), 4:11:04; 2. Amanda Spratt (AUS), 4:14:46; 3. Tatiana Guderzo (ITA), 4:16:30; 4. Emilia Fahlin (SWE), 4:17:17; 5. Malgorzata Jasinska (POL), 4:17:17; 6. Karol-Ann Canuel (CAN), 4:17:21; 7. Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), 4:18:09; 8. Amy Pieters (NED), 4:18:09; 9. Lucinda Brand (NED), 4:18:21; 10. Ruth Winder (USA), 4:18:21. Also in the top 50: 16. Megan Guarnier (USA), 4:18:21; … 21. Katharine Hall (USA), 4:18:21; … 31. Coryn Rivera (USA), 4:19:22.

Women’s Time Trial (27.7 km): 1. Annemiek van Vleuten (NED), 35:25.36; 2. van der Breggen (NED), 34:54.35; 3. Ellen van Dijk (NED), 35:50.55; 4. Leah Kirchmann (CAN), 35:52.17; 5. Leah Thomas (USA), 35:57.75; 6. Lucinda Brand (NED), 36:07.95; 7. Amber Neben (USA), 36:12.87; 8. Karol-Ann Canuel (CAN), 36:41.22; 9. Elisa Longo Borghini (ITA), 36:42.48; 10. Tayler Wiles (USA), 36:56.52.

Women’s Team Time Trial (54.5 km): 1. Canyon SRAM Racing (GER), 1:01;46; 2. Boels-Dolmans Cycling (NED), 1:02:08; 3. Team Sunweb (NED), 1:02:15; 4. Wiggle High5 (GBR), 1:02:44; 5. Mitchelton-Scott (AUS), 1:03:16; 6. Team Virtu Cycling (DEN), 1:03:53; 7. BTC City Ljubljana (SLO), 1:04:55; 8. Valcar PBM (ITA), 1:05:22.

Women’s Junior Road Race (70.8 km): 1. Laura Stigger (AUT), 1:56:26; 2. Marie le Net (FRA), 1:56:26; 3. Simone Boilard (CAN), 1:56:26; 4. Barbara Malcotti (ITA), 1:56:26; 5. Jade Wiel (FRA), 1:56:40. Also in the top 25: 25. Katie Clouse (USA), 2:01:13.

Women’s Junior Time Trial (19.8 km): 1. Rozemarijn Ammerlaan (NED), 27:02.95; 2. Camilla Alessio (ITA), 27:09.75; 3. Elynor Backstedt (GBR), 27:20.89; 4. Pfeiffer Georgi (GBR), 27:24.84; 5. Simone Boilard (CAN), 27:27.06. Also in the top 25: Abigail Youngwerth (USA), 28:34.15.