WORLDS’23 Males’s RR Breakdown: Van der Poel’s Powerful, Technical Rainbow Trip!


World Highway Race Championships 5 Takeaways: Spencer Martin breaks down how one of many hardest World Highway Race Championships between traditionally nice rivals was gained. The battle got here all the way down to the 4 finest one-day riders of our time: Mads Pedersen, Tadej Pogačar, Wout van Aert and the eventual winner, Mathieu van der Poel.

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Males Elite Highway Race Highlights – 2023 UCI Biking World Championships

This Sunday, after hours of all-out racing within the streets of Glasgow, Scotland, Mathieu van der Poel soloed his first profession Elite Males’s Highway Race World Title. He completed this by attacking and dropping an elite entrance group of Mads Pedersen, Tadej Pogačar, and Wout van Aert on an absurdly technical 50-corner 14-kilometer-long metropolis circuit. Not even a crash from Van der Poel, after he slid out within the moist downhill nook with 17 kilometers remaining, might derail the dream journey. The Dutch famous person crossed the end line 1’37 forward of Van Aert, who got here in a number of seconds forward of Pogačar.

The boys’s race map and profile

Regardless of the 270-kilometer-long course, significantly its 140-kilometer-long circuit within the Glasgow metropolis middle course, wanting benign on paper and drawing criticism for its lack of pure magnificence and resemblance to a criterium course, the race produced one of the crucial all-out shows of racing seen in fashionable biking, with elite health, technical ability, and tactical nuance required to make the profitable group. The day was so demanding that by the tip of it, the reigning World Champion, Remco Evenepoel, who rode clear for a solo victory together with his uncooked energy to win final yr’s World title, was dropped resulting from his lack of technical capacity, and the gaps have been a number of the largest ever at a highway World Championships between the highest few ending positions.

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Mathieu van der Poel – The largest win of his profession and provides to his rainbow jersey assortment

2023 World Highway Race Championships Prime 5
1) Mathieu van der Poel (The Netherlands) +0
2) Wout van Aert (Belgium) +1’37
3) Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) +1’45
4) Mads Pedersen (Denmark) +1’45
5) Stefan Küng (Switzerland) +3’48

To increase on the premium subscribers-only post-race breakdown, I’ve damaged down the important thing moments and takeaways from the race beneath:

2023 World RR Championships Race Pocket book:

140km-to-go: As they enter the Glasgow metropolis circuit, the Danish group is driving a particularly exhausting tempo on the entrance, which has already strung out the sector into a protracted, single-file line. That is usually one thing you’d count on to see in a 70-minute criterium, not in the course of a six-hour-long highway race.


116.5km: Inside a couple of minutes of racing on the extraordinarily technical circuit, the peloton is already breaking apart, with the race’s strongest riders, Mads Pedersen, Tadej Pogačar, Wout van Aert, and Mathieu van der Poel, within the entrance group. Discover how Van Aert is already pulling by on the entrance, regardless of it solely thinning the group and eliminating his Belgian group’s numerical benefit, whereas Van der Poel is sitting, considerably comfortably, within the pack.


112.7km: To regulate the race and hold strikes from getting off the entrance, Van Aert’s Belgian group will get to the entrance and units a tough and regular tempo. Nonetheless, this difficult tempo retains their co-leader and defending champion, Remco Evenepoel, caught out of place and too far down the peloton. Evenepoel’s weaker technical ability reveals.


97.5km: Because of missing the flexibility to ‘float’ in the direction of the entrance like Van Aert and Van der Poel, Evenepoel realizes his solely manner of surviving the circuit is to power a small transfer off the entrance. He assaults, and whereas it appears for a second like he’s trying a particularly long-range solo transfer, just like how he gained Worlds in 2022, he quickly sits up barely and appears again, which is an indication that he needs others to bridge as much as him.


90.9km: Evenepoel’s try and power a cut up doesn’t work, and he’s quickly shuffled again and caught in a second group on the highway because the race weaves by its countless corners. Van der Poel, sensing a possibility to separate up the Belgian group and isolate Van Aert for a 1v1 battle, assaults up the steepest hill on the course with the intention to power a small group clear and hold Evenepoel and his Belgian teammates caught within the chase group.


72.7km: This tactic finally succeeds, and Van der Poel seemingly can’t consider his luck when Van Aert begins pulling by to distance his personal group of teammates caught behind. Presumably, Van Aert thinks that if he can get forward of Evenepoel, his path to victory is much extra simple. Nonetheless, this neutralizes his group energy, one of many largest benefits he has over Van der Poel. Even when he doesn’t need Evenepoel within the transfer, he’s doing pointless work and throwing away a free card to sit down on, and forcing others to tempo. Additionally, with out France represented right here, the probability they’ll maintain off the chase group is slim.


65.9km: The chase group, led by France, finally reels within the Van Aert group. Belgium instantly returns to the entrance to set a tough tempo whereas Van der Poel strikes again to relaxation within the slipstream.


64km: Belgium’s extraordinarily exhausting tempo by the technical course finally drops Evenepoel, who’s compelled to spend large quantities of power chasing again on after being gapped in each nook.


61km: The tempo on the entrance slows, and as quickly as Evenepoel returns to the entrance, he begins attacking, as soon as once more falling into the ‘off the entrance or off the again’ entice. As quickly as he’s reeled in by Pogačar, Van Aert assaults, trying to arrange the identical ‘assault, counter-attack, assault once more’ dynamic that cracked Pogačar on stage 11 of the 2022 Tour de France. Nonetheless, in contrast to that state of affairs, they’re permitting different favorites, like Van der Poel, to sit down in whereas they tire each Pogačar and themselves out with the assaults.


40.1km: With Alberto Bettiol dangling 30 seconds off the entrance, Van Aert will get clear and begins driving away from the chase group with an elite sub-group. Nonetheless, this chase group contains all of the favorites, Van der Poel, Van Aert, Pogačar, and Pedersen, which suggests Van Aert is solely driving away from his group and isolating himself towards his prime rivals.


29.9km: At one level, Van Aert is digging deep to set a particularly exhausting tempo, however not attacking to journey clear in a solo transfer, to reel in Bettiol whereas three Belgian teammates, together with Evenepoel, chase exhausting 45 seconds behind, with Van der Poel in his wheel. Even bearing in mind that he needs to be as far forward of Evenepoel as doable, this appears ill-advised, and contributes to his fatigue later within the race.


22.3km: Simply as they catch a fading Bettiol on one of many steepest pitches on the course, Van der Poel neatly assaults extraordinarily exhausting, which permits him to make use of the slowing Bettiol as a kind of display screen to gradual the response from the others. However, inside seconds, we will see that Van der Poel is solely stronger than the opposite three riders and will probably be nearly not possible for them to reel in.


16.6km: With a wholesome 34-second lead, Van der Poel slides out and crashes in a moist downhill nook. Sometimes, this may be the tip of a profitable transfer resulting from potential damage to the rider and/or gear.


16.5km: Nonetheless, impressively, Van der Poel is again up and on his bike simply six seconds after his fall, and again as much as full velocity simply seven seconds later.


16.4km: 16 seconds after Van der Poel remounts and simply 10 seconds after he’s again as much as race velocity, the Van Aert-led chase group rides by the identical nook. However, with out race radios, they seemingly do not know that Van der Poel has crashed, and now has a damaged shoe, and that they might have a sensible probability of catching him in the event that they work collectively proper right here.


End: Regardless of the damaged shoe and a torn jersey/shorts, Van der Poel simply holds off the chasers to cross the end line for his first profession elite World highway race title.


Chase group end: Exhibiting why the chase group had a lot hassle working collectively, Van Aert will get second place after using away from the others heading into the end, whereas Pogačar impressively out-sprints Pedersen for third place. This implies we get the identical prime three as we had earlier this yr on the Tour of Flanders (simply in a unique order), and it highlights simply how good these prime three riders are throughout practically each sort of terrain.


5 Key Takeaways

The primary three takeaways are my preliminary post-race ideas on Sunday after the race.

1) Mathieu van der Poel completes his transformation from careless expertise to polished champion

  • The 28-year-old famous person bounced again from a lackluster Tour de France and doubtlessly even confirmed that was half of a bigger plan by executing a tactically good race to win his first profession World highway title.
      • Outdoors of netting him a World Championship, the win means Van der Poel now has two World Titles (CX & Highway) and two Monument victories (together with runner-up finishes at E3 and Flanders) in a single season. That is an unimaginable haul for a profession, not to mention a season, and places Van der Poel into ‘rider of the yr’ conversations.’
  • The win reveals how Van der Poel has drastically advanced from a rider who raced with out forethought and full abandon to somebody who has gained a shocking quantity of tactical nuance in his one-day using. As an alternative of launching from absurd distances, he now targets a precise level on the course the place he needs to launch his race-winning transfer and works every thing backward from there.
    • Whereas he nonetheless launches ill-advised mid-race assaults right here and there, he has added a barely extra subdued technique to his sport, and has gained three of the most important one-day races of the yr by sitting again and letting others do the work for him, earlier than launching a knock-out assault.
      • For instance, the Belgian group managed the race for lengthy stretches of right now’s race and even spent important power 1-2 attacking Pogačar with Remco Evenepoel and Van Aert. On the similar time, Van der Poel sat again and allowed Pogačar and Van Aert to put on themselves out earlier than launching a brutal assault on one of many seemingly numerous brief, punchy climbs that suited his talents so effectively.

All smiles between Van Aert and Evenepoel the day earlier than the race

2) The Belgian duel technique of Wout van Aert & Remco Evenepoel fell to items late within the race

  • Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel, the 2 cornerstones of the extremely sturdy Belgian group, had disappointing days as their aggressive two-pronged technique fell aside after Evenepoel was dropped from the lead group.
  • Wout Van Aert: Van der Poel’s long-life rival added yet one more irritating second-place end at a World Championship-level highway occasion.
    • Out of six whole podium finishes at Worlds, European, and Olympic highway championship occasions, he now has 5 2nd locations and one third place.
    • This provides to his disappointing 2023, the place he has didn’t win at each main goal (Milano-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, Tour of Flanders, Tour de France) and solely has a single victory, E3, to indicate for his supreme expertise and health.
  • Nonetheless, whereas many followers and the Belgian media will painting these runner-up finishes as a whole failure, right now’s end result was seemingly the results of Van der Poel merely being stronger than Van Aert on the day.
    • The one choices we will look again on from right now is Van Aert being so keen to work when clear with a small group forward of the decreased peloton and taking it upon himself, together with Evenepoel, to assault and counter-attack Pogačar, whereas Van der Poel sat within the group.
      • Had he been extra even handed together with his power, maybe he would have had an opportunity to answer Van der Poel’s profitable transfer.
  • Remco Evenepoel: The reigning World Champion completed over 10 minutes in arrears of Van der Poel after being dropped with 35 kilometers remaining.
    • Defending his title was all the time going to be a tricky process for Evenepoel, who’s trying to stretch his peak type for the six-week interval between Worlds and the tip of the upcoming Vuelta a España, however an absence of technical abilities, not type, seemed to be the primary subject for Evenepoel at right now’s race.
      • Unable to ‘float’ inside the highest ten positions on the entrance, which is important on a 50-turn metropolis circuit, Evenepoel was compelled to sit down on the again, which takes an enormous toll resulting from having to dash out of each nook to get again on phrases with the riders within the entrance of the group, who’re in a position to undergo the turns at a a lot a lot simpler, and smoother, tempo.
      • As a result of incapability to sit down on the entrance, the 23-year-old was consistently yo-yo-ing between sitting on the again and attacking off the entrance. A rider may be capable to get away with this on a smoother or much less technical circuit, however over 140 kilometers of racing on a circuit as tough as right now’s, even a rider as gifted as Evenepoel will finally be caught out as a result of large power expenditure required by this type.
  • One does need to marvel how Evenepoel’s detour from Vuelta prep to defend his World Title will have an effect on his possibilities on the upcoming Vuelta towards top-tier GC riders who’ve had a lot smoother build-ups.

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Tadej Pogačar – The world’s most versatile rider

3) Tadej Pogačar’s third-place end on a course that didn’t significantly swimsuit him cements his standing because the world’s most versatile rider

  • Regardless of coming off a disappointing and troublesome Tour de France, Pogačar rolled as much as a race that didn’t significantly swimsuit him and bagged a massively spectacular third-place medal.
  • Coming into the day, Pogačar’s possibilities of profitable towards rather more highly effective riders like Van Aert and Van der Poel have been nearly zero on a circuit that was basically a city-center criterium and didn’t function a single climb longer than a minute.
    • Nonetheless, these slim possibilities didn’t let Pogačar cease him from attempting, and his journey to seize a medal right here reveals unimaginable bodily expertise in addition to cements his place as a real ‘racer’s racer’ that’s all the time sport to throw down, even when programs and situations don’t swimsuit him.
      • Remember that Van der Poel and Van Aert may need been in a position to finest Pogačar on right now’s circuit, which was nearly purpose-built for his or her abilities, however they’ll’t come near even difficult Pogačar on his stage-racing terrain.
  • Whereas Van der Poel may at the moment be in pole place for ‘rider of the yr’, if Pogačar can rally to win Il Lombardia on the finish of the season, he would nearly definitely need to be celebrated as 2023’s finest rider, since this would go away him with a 100% win price at one-week levels races (2/2), 4 main one-day wins, together with two monuments, a runner-up on the Tour de France and medal on the World Highway Race Championships throughout a single season.

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Mads Pedersen narrowly missed out on the rostrum

4) Mads Pedersen might have missed out on the rostrum, however his Danish group’s ways efficiently maximized his possibilities of profitable the race

  • The Dane may need narrowly missed out on the rostrum, however Pedersen put in one of the crucial spectacular rides on the day to make the profitable transfer after having his Danish group set an preliminary exhausting tempo on the circuit, realizing that the tougher the race was, the higher probability he had of being ready to win.
    • Sadly, he ran up towards three different riders who benefited from the identical dynamic, however 4th continues to be a powerful end result when going up towards a number of the largest all-around abilities within the historical past of the game.
    • Additionally, a comfort for Pedersen is that it’s troublesome to think about how he or his group might have created a state of affairs that produced a better chance of a Pedersen victory, and he was solely an in depth dash away from ending on the rostrum.

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Scott Avenue – The steepest of the brief, powerful climbs

5) The Glasgow circuit produced a number of the hardest line-to-line racing ever seen in a race of this distance

  • The ten laps of the 14-kilometer Glasgow circuit produced a number of the hardest, and most fun, line-to-line racing I’ve ever seen in a 270-kilometer-long race.
    • The truth that on a circuit that didn’t function a sustained climb longer than a minute, the margin between 1st and twentieth place was greater than eight minutes, which is much bigger than the mountainous Austrian course from 2018, ought to function yet one more reminder that metropolis circuit programs are practically all the time far tougher than anticipated when initially wanting on the profile.
  • Metropolis circuits produce harder-than-expected racing merely resulting from the truth that they create a dynamic the place everyone seems to be sprinting into and out of corners each few seconds…for hours on finish.
    • However, outdoors of that, Sunday’s race was so troublesome as a result of it suited the favorites.

      • Pedersen, Pogačar, Van Aert, and Van der Poel knew {that a} exhausting, strung-out race was good for them since it might permit them to make use of their superior bike-handling abilities to ‘float’ close to the entrance, whereas sturdy, however much less technically proficient riders, like Evenepoel, could be caught additional down the bunch, and finally dropped, resulting from this tempo.
        • In brief, a tough tempo eradicated variables between these riders and a possible win.

One of many 47 per lap corners

# Spencer Martin is the writer of the cycling-analysis e-newsletter Past the Peloton that breaks down the nuances of every race and solutions massive image questions surrounding group and rider efficiency. Enroll now to get full entry to all of the accessible content material and race breakdowns. #

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