Julian Alaphilippe is the 2020 UCI World Champion! He’s won 5 stages of the Tour de France, Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo, La Fleche Wallonne, San Sebastian, been 17 days in yellow and now will wear rainbow as the World Champion. The French have a world champion for the first time in 23 years, first since Laurent Brochard. France has only had 2 podiums in the last 20 years, Anthony Geslin in 2005 and Romain Bardet 2nd in 2018.
This year’s UCI Men’s World Championship course is a circuit of 9 laps adding to a total of 258.2km. There are two climbs that break this race apart that they hit 9 times each – the Mazzolano (2.8km at an average gradient of 5.9%, max 13%) and the Cima Gallisterna (2.7km at 6.4%, max 14%).
How it unfolded
There was of course a breakaway for the first 185km, which would be the distance in most races, but today that meant when caught there was still 70km to go and it was the French said ok we’ll take this from here led by Quentin Pacher and Nans Peters over the top of the climb and France just went to their limit in support of Julian Alaphilippe. Issue was after all that work 144 riders were still in the peloton with all the contenders still in there. Pogacar did a bike change on the flats and Belgium took over control of the race with Australia, Spain and Denmark all moving up, and Italy riding right behind.
Medzec pulled Pogacar up to the front on the climb and that meant he had to be ready for an attack because Medzec can’t go long for Pogacar and he did exactly that. The exact point where Anna van der Breggen went yesterday to make her decisive attack and took it the distance. The Belgians couldn’t match Pogacars attack, so they just stayed within themselves and tried to reel it back. Pogacar kept the lead to 15 seconds but he looked quite challenged back down on the circuit preparing for the final lap. He did continue to extend it slightly but there was good organization behind him.
On the final lap the race dynamic allowed for several teams to stay completely intact including Spain, Italy and Colombia all strong heading into he final climbs. It was such good racing you could easily forget to pause and look at the amazing scenery. Truly beautiful land the riders went through with vineyards and olive groves across these large estates and what will certainly be one of the greatest photo opportunities we’ve seen as they run across a single lane road with dropped land on either side, giving the image of an action movie.
On the first of two climbs Dumoulin, who looked bad the other day and earlier in the race bridged the gap and got to Pogacar, no love loss there after Pogacar ruined he and Jumbo Visma’s Tour de France. Then other attacks followed which would bring the race back together once again.
At that point there was still a number of teams with matches to burn, Carapaz, Van Aert, Caruso, Alaphilippe, Nibali, Hirschi, Uran, Landa. And it became a real race from there with relentless attacking. For a moment there was a 4 man break with Landa, Nibali, Uran and Van Aert as that was probably the best chance for those three but Van Aert would not do the work, figuring best odds is to defend all attacks and leave it to the sprint.
Final climb, Hirschi makes a move to win, Van Aert over him, Alaphilippe, Nibali, Roglic, Schachmann, Kwiato & Fuglsang all followed. Exactly who we expected to be there.
Alaphilippe launches an attack over the top of the final climb and makes a gap, chased by Fuglsang but he put the space on it and broke up the select group. Fuglsang, Kwiato and Van Aert chasing behind him.
5k to go it was 10 seconds gap and Alaphilippe was just full gas ahead of the chase. The gave 110% and everyone looked at each other like it was a local crit and not the rainbow jersey on the line.
Van Aert finished 2nd, the biggest favorite of the day and Belgium executed for him perfectly. Marc Hirschi continued his Tour de France momentum out leaning Michal Kwiatkowski for the final spot on the podium with, Fuglsang and Roglic just behind.
Alaphilippe will debut the rainbow band Wednesday at La Fleche Wallone where he has competed 4 times with two wins and two second places, expect fireworks.
|1||Julian Alaphilppe (France)||6:38:34|
|2||Wout Van Aert (Belgium)||0:00:24|
|3||Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)|
|4||Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland)|
|5||Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)|
|6||Primoz Roglic (Slovenia)|
|7||Michael Matthews (Australia)||0:00:53|
|8||Alejandro Valverde (Spain)|
|9||Max Schachmann (Germany)|
|10||Damiano Caruso (Italy)|