Evenepoel Wins UCI World Championships Road Race
Remco Evenepoel has won the 2022 UCI road cycling world championships and is the new world champion.
Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel soloed to victory in the 2022 World Championships road race in a remarkable season for the 22-year-old Belgian who has won La Vuelta a Espana, Liege-Bastogne-Liege and now the world championships. Evenepoel won the 266.9-kilometer race from Helensburgh to Wollongong, Australia in 06:16:08.
The fight for the silver and bronze medals was contested in a mass sprint after a small breakaway group was caught shortly before the line. France’s Christophe Laporte finished second and local favorite MichaelMatthews (Australia) rounded out the podium.
“This was a dream of mine. It is something I’ve been dreaming off. Winning a monument, a grand tour and the world championships in one season is incredible,” world champion Evenepoel told Roadcycling.com shortly after the finish.
“I won all the races I dreamed of this year, and I don’t know if I’ll ever have another season like this again, so I want to enjoy every moment of it. It’s been a long season and it’s amazing to finish it off like this,” Evenepoel explained after having received the rainbow jersey on the podium. It is the first time a Belgian rider becomes world champion since 2012.
“After making my move and being joined by Alexey (Lutsenko), I realized that I wanted to ride alone, so I attacked again, this time on the climb, and once I had a margin I just kept pushing. On the final lap I felt my legs exploding, but I knew I was close to the finish, so I was quite confident. I got goosebumps as I approached the finish, realizing what I had achieved.”
Evenepoel initiated his quest for the gold medal by joining a select group of riders in bridging across to the main breakaway group of the day with approximately 75 kilometers to go. Once united with fellow Belgian Pieter Serry, who was part of the original breakaway, Evenepoel received great support from Serry, who took strong turns at the front of the group, thereby increasing its lead on the main peloton to more than two minutes.
Evenepoel later joined the front of the group to maintain its advantage and on the penultimate lap attacked together with Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan) as the riders approached the Mt Ousley climb, which Evenepoel then used as a launch ramp for his final attack that saw him leave Lutsenko behind and solo towards the finish line in tugged-down time trial position.
Behind Evenepoel intense riding was taking place with Lutsenko being caught by Denmark’s Matthias Skjelmose Jensen, Italy’s Lorenzo Rota, and Switzerland’s Mauro Schmid, who were chasing Evenepoel while preparing to fight for the medals. Focusing too much on their own podium chances instead of on the remaining competitors, the trio was caught by a furiously chasing peloton few hundred meters from the finish line and Laporte won the bunch sprint ahead of Matthews and Wout van Aert (Belgium).
Home crowd favorite Matthews was disappointed, yet content with his bronze medal.
“Standing on the podium in front of my home crowd here in Australia, it doesn’t get much bigger than that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t with the rainbow stripes around my chest, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. My teammates were amazing today, I rode my race and we came away third,” Matthews explained.
According to Matthews, race radios being disallowed in today’s contest had a significant effect on the outcome of the world championships road race.
“We had no idea what medal we were sprinting for, especially with no radios it’s really hard to understand where everyone is. Only in the last 500 meters we caught the final bunch that was just in front of us, so we were sprinting, but we actually had no idea which position it was for.”
Defending world champion Julian Alaphilippe worked hard to protect his world champion status in today’s race, but his recent crash and dislocated shoulder in this year’s Vuelta a Espana as well as his absence following his serious crash in Liege-Bastogne-Liege proved too much of a challenge for an always dynamic Alaphilippe. He finished today’s race 03:01 minutes behind the new world champion.
Three-time former World Champion Peter Sagan was not considered a favorite in today’s race following a substandard season. The Slovak, however, managed to finish seventh.
This year’s world championships race was initiated in Helensburgh, taking the riders along a scenic coastal route, then included a climb up the Mt Keira (7.5 km / 5.7%), before the riders reached a hilly Wollongong city circuit featuring the 1.1-kilometer Mt Pleasant ascent offering gradients of up to 13.5 percent. The weather conditions were mild in today’s race and the sun set on Wollongong as the riders reached the finish line for the last time in 18 degrees Celsius.
The medals were presented to the winners by UCI President David Lappartient who was joined on the podium by Australia’s Tour de France winner and former world champion Cadel Evans.
Evenepoel became world champion by a margin of more than two minutes, which is the largest winning margin in the world championships since 1968 where Italy’s Vittorio Adorni reached the finish line 9 minutes and 50 seconds ahead of silver medalist Herman van Springel of Belgium. Road cycling legends Raymond Poulidor and Eddy Merckx finished 7th and 8th, respectively, that year.
The 2023 UCI World Championships will be contested in and around Glasgow, Scotland. Next year’s world championships have been moved forward on the calendar and will now take place in August, shortly after the Tour de France. By moving the race to August, the UCI is hoping to draw more interest to the race from Grand Tour favorites, though this year’s September date was no hindrance for Vuelta winner Evenepoel.
The lead-up to the world championships race was marked by an unfortunate incident in which race favorite Mathieu van der Poel (the Netherlands) was arrested and detained the night before the race after having complained about loud noise in the hallway of the hotel, where teenagers were enjoying their stay in a way that is said to have made it difficult for van der Poel to sleep and relax. There was a dispute that caused local Police to arrest van der Poel. Van der Poel was later released and started the race, but abandoned after 40 kilometers.
2022 UCI World Championships Road Race Results:
|4||VAN AERT Wout||Belgium||,,|
|9||HAYTER Ethan||Great Britain||,,|
|10||SKJELMOSE JENSEN Mattias||Denmark||,,|
|11||GARCÍA CORTINA Iván||Spain||,,|
|14||TULETT Ben||Great Britain||,,|
|15||HONORÉ Mikkel Frølich||Denmark||,,|
|18||POWLESS Neilson||United States||,,|
|27||VAN BAARLE Dylan||Netherlands||,,|
|37||BYSTRØM Sven Erik||Norway||,,|
|42||ŠTYBAR Zdeněk||Czech Republic||,,|
|43||VAN HOOYDONCK Nathan||Belgium||,,|
|53||WRIGHT Fred||Great Britain||,,|
|59||KUKRLE Michael||Czech Republic||,,|
|73||SWENSON Keegan||United States||,,|
|74||IMPEY Daryl||South Africa||,,|
|78||SHEFFIELD Magnus||United States||,,|
|79||SWIFT Ben||Great Britain||,,|
|86||MCGILL Scott||United States||10:23|
|93||PEÑA Wilson Estiben||Colombia||,,|
|100||TURNER Ben||Great Britain||11:40|
|102||STEWART Jake||Great Britain||15:05|
|103||SWIFT Connor||Great Britain||,,|