Evenepoel kills the gold that accredits him as world champion. // EFE/EPA/DEAN LEWINS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT
Photo: EFE – DEAN LEWINS
Remco Evenepoel has offered an exhibition that will go down in history in the online test of the World Cycling and Road Championships in Wollongong (Australia), a route of 266.9 km. in which the Belgian runner dominated at his whim to end up winning by escaping and after riding alone the last 25 km.
Evenepoel, 22 years old, world champion already in the junior category in 2018 and recent winner of the Vuelta a España, carved out his victory with a movement at 74.5 km. goalkeeper who selected an escape. In his style, attacking from afar.
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Later, he underpinned the victory 40 minutes from the finish line, when the attacks in the main squad did not give them enough to hunt down the more than 30 escapees; he channeled it when he left at 34.5 by wheeling Alexey Lutsenko, and finished it off at 25 by leaving the Kazakh on the last climb to the Pleasant wall that marked the test. He also in his style, smashing his rivals with a hellish pace.
The successor to Julian Alaphilippe, winner in 2020 and 2021, was accompanied as the bearer of the rainbow jersey by the also French Christophe Laporte and the local Australian Michael Matthews, silver and bronze, by winning the sprint that the main peloton played just after hunting down the rest of the escapees that were ahead already in the last meters of the test.
A group in which the other Belgian candidate for the final victory, Wout van Aert, was the first to run out of a medal, third in the sprint and fourth at the finish line, 2 minutes and 21 seconds behind the winner. Illusions like Peter Sagan and Tadej Pogacar, also in the chasing group of 27 runners, finished seventh and nineteenth, respectively.
Another a priori favorite, the Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel, left the race shortly after the start because the night before he had an incident at his hotel with two teenagers who did not let him sleep, which led to a police arrest.
The Spanish team, which pulled the peloton for a long time and had Marc Soler attentive at moments from which he could have profited, lost all options by not filtering out any runner in the breakaway that gave wings to Evenepoel at more than 70 km . of goal. Although in the final sprint Iván García Cortina took eleventh place.
It was not a great result for those led by Pascual Momparler, but not a bad one either in view of the team that the Valencian coach was able to gather to travel to Australia.
World Champion 2022! 🇧🇪🌈🥇🔥
Dreams do come true, can’t wait to wear the Rainbow Jersey next season!! 🙏🏼
Thanks to the entire team for the amazing work today, a perfect race for us and very proud to finish it off!! 👊🏼
We are Belgium ❤️ pic.twitter.com/2mSUAp2sJT
— Remco Evenepoel (@EvenepoelRemco) September 25, 2022
A rocky start, with moves from France with Pavel Sivakov and Romain Bardet, sparked an initial 16-rider breakaway that also included Australian Ben O’Connor. In these skirmishes, the main group split in two and three of the great candidates were cut, the current champion, Alaphilippe, Pogacar and Evenepoel.
The run leveled off with the breakaway and picked up speed again at 74.5 km. in the seventh of the twelve passage through the slope of Pleasant (1,100 meters at 7.7 percent drop, sections up to 17% and the top 7 km from the finish line), the key point of the race.
There the breakaway split in two and behind them an already important group of twenty runners was formed, including Evenepoel, Nairo Quintana, Romain Bardet, Florian Senechal, Jai Handley and Jan Traknik. And, the most important thing in the strategy of the race, three French and three Belgians.
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The escapees got together and the group that came out at the head of the slope and the leading pack, with Evenpeoel and Bardet, reached almost forty runners. With a two-minute lead, it seemed clear that the new rainbow was ahead.
It was called into question by an acceleration by Frenchman Madouas, who had several teammates at the head of the race, at the head of the main pack to reduce the deficit from two to one minute. A movement that Soler was attentive to but that did not have continuity, since the peloton slowed down and the breakaway quickly recovered the two-minute lead.
REMCO ULTIMATE ATTACK
There, with the large group losing many of its options and the escape almost consolidated, it was Evenepoel’s moment, who did not hesitate. A soccer player, like Remco was, if a ball falls on him in the area, he finishes it off. This one came to the powerful Belgian almost from a volley and he finished it off, taking Lutsenko with him. And then leaving the Kazakh on the penultimate climb of the Pleasant wall.
From behind, curiously, it was Van Aert who accelerated in the peloton heading into the last lap, perhaps thinking of getting on the podium with his teammate. Despite all the people in between.
The calculation of the second great Belgian candidate was not bad, who was completely right because the main squad caught the last escapees almost over the finish line. But he lacked legs to take advantage of the opportunity, as he was outsprinted by his Jumbo teammate Visma Laporte and local hopeful Matthews. Who took the silver and the bronze. The gold was reserved for Evenepoel, a portent, and his unforgettable display of it.
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