2021 World Championships in Flanders: Road Races

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Big problem with the analysis is that van Aert told Stuevens to ride for the win at 20k to go, thus Stuevens was released from all duty to look after his captain, because he effectively assumed the role once van Aert finally admitted he simply did not have the legs.

Clearly after the Tour, the Olympics, the Tour of Britain, the World's TimeTrial van Aert was overcooked and lacked the freshness to be a deciding factor, but he should have let his teammates know this before 20k to go. Perhaps that would have spared Evenepoel the fruitless effort from 50k out, which would have allowed the young protege to possibly play better cards for the tream inside 25 to go, perhaps even go with Alaphilippe to the line. By contrast Alaphilippe wisely skipped the Olympics to use the Tour of Britain to fine tune his engine, which clearly at the Worlds was firing on all cylinders. It rather seems that Wout van Aert and the Belgian team director sinned of hubris, by first in presuming that van Aert would maintain his form all the way through World's and second by relogating Evenepoel to donkey duties from 180k out in the most wastefull deployment of talent in modern cycling history.
 
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As a Belgian, I just finished crying.- :oops:

Great race though. Alaphillipe was the best and I'm not sure any tactic, besides having a WVA or MVP 100%, would have been enough to keep him from becoming WC again.

Looking back, you could argue that having remco ride for WVA was a fault. However, the French did the same with Cosnefroy and that seems to be a masterstroke of Voeckler. The winner is always right.

Let's hope it doesn't take another 20 years to have another WC in Belgium.
 
Big problem with the analysis is that van Aert told Stuevens to ride for the win at 20k to go, thus Stuevens was released from all duty to look after his captain, because he effectively assumed the role once van Aert finally admitted he simply did not have the legs.

Clearly after the Tour, the Olympics, the Tour of Britain, the World's TimeTrial van Aert was overcooked and lacked the freshness to be a deciding factor, but he should have let his teammates know this before 20k to go. Perhaps that would have spared Evenepoel the fruitless effort from 50k out, which would have allowed the young protege to possibly play better cards for the tream inside 25 to go, perhaps even go with Alaphilippe to the line. By contrast Alaphilippe wisely skipped the Olympics to use the Tour of Britain to fine tune his engine, which clearly at the Worlds was firing on all cylinders. It rather seems that Wout van Aert and the Belgian team director sinned of hubris, by first in presuming that van Aert would maintain his form all the way through World's and second by relogating Evenepoel to donkey duties from 180k out in the most wastefull deployment of talent in modern cycling history.
There was more than a month between the Olympics and the Tour of Britain, so it wasn't exactly a schedule without breaks.
 
Only let down is the horrible Belgium Fans, they should be ashamed of themselves.
To me, the bit where they did the "please slow down" gesture was all good fun, same with those people who'd written something on the road to "trick" Van Der Poel and... someone else... to go the wrong way. The booing and throwing stuff, otoh; that's *** behaviour! :mad:
Though... didn't seem to slow him down...

Julian Alaphilippe: ‘The Belgian fans asked me to slow down and weren’t very nice - that gave me extra motivation’ | Cycling Weekly
 
To me, the bit where they did the "please slow down" gesture was all good fun, same with those people who'd written something on the road to "trick" Van Der Poel and... someone else... to go the wrong way. The booing and throwing stuff, otoh; that's *** behaviour! :mad:
Though... didn't seem to slow him down...

Julian Alaphilippe: ‘The Belgian fans asked me to slow down and weren’t very nice - that gave me extra motivation’ | Cycling Weekly
If you have 100,000s of people on the side of the roads, you can absolutely expect idiots that actually know little about cycling. It's like at Alpe d'Huez.

That said, Alaphilippe got massive cheers on the podium.
 
If you have 100,000s of people on the side of the roads, you can absolutely expect idiots that actually know little about cycling. It's like at Alpe d'Huez.
Just makes that kind of behaviour - booing and stuff - even worse. Why do a few idiots have to ruin it for everyone else? I'm sure the vast majority of Belgians fans yesterday could appreciate, and acknowledge that Alaphilippe was just the best yesterday - and that Ganna was the best last Sunday. Which is also why I find the "slow down" gestures quite funny; seems like just a humourous way of asking a rival rider to "Hey, could you maybe not be so good? Give our guy a chance..."
 
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Thought the cyclingtips articles weren't bad.


My favourite part is that the French even wanted to attack earlier but Cavagna had a mechanical. :D
 
There seems to be an awful lot of hand wringing and tactical questioning going on about a race in which the clear strongest rider won by simply being the clear strongest rider.

If somebody from the second group, very good riders but outsiders, had won I could understand some tactical finger pointing among teams with top favourites, but this was a very straightforward example of a race where the strongest guy just rode away.
 
There seems to be an awful lot of hand wringing and tactical questioning going on about a race in which the clear strongest rider won by simply being the clear strongest rider.

If somebody from the second group, very good riders but outsiders, had won I could understand some tactical finger pointing among teams with top favourites, but this was a very straightforward example of a race where the strongest guy just rode away.
That strongest rider rode away specifically because the strongest team in the race made the race as hard as possible against their own best interest. They completely sabotaged themselves, and Alaphilippe winning doesn't change that in the slightest.
 
Great race, fantastic winner! What an entertainer this man is.
Well said! Just watched the last 30km. JA hugely well deserved. Just immense. To attack repeatedly like that then make it stick and ride solo to the end. Incredibly well deserved and I loved his early celebrations when he knew he had it in the bag. France rode great too. But I was still happy to see Valgren salvage a medal, always seems so strong at the worlds. Pidcock also impressed with a very strong finish.
 
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As a Belgian, I just finished crying.- :oops:

Great race though. Alaphillipe was the best and I'm not sure any tactic, besides having a WVA or MVP 100%, would have been enough to keep him from becoming WC again.

Looking back, you could argue that having remco ride for WVA was a fault. However, the French did the same with Cosnefroy and that seems to be a masterstroke of Voeckler. The winner is always right.

Let's hope it doesn't take another 20 years to have another WC in Belgium.
I feel with you Belgians. The crowds on the streets were incredible, probably not always cycling fans, but it made for a memorable atmosphere even on the tv.

The French gave up Cosnefroy (and Turgis) early (which really surprised me and he finished still pretty high, shows that he had a great day and hopefully he's indeed the next Ala ;) ), but they still had Sénéchal as a co-leader, who was spared and who Ala even was ready to work for, so it was actually not really a 1man approach.

I do see four major differences between the French and the Belgian team:

- van Aert is a great time trialer, a great climber, a big engine - but what stands out the most is that he's a non-pure sprinter who's able to outsprint pure sprinters. So the Belgians, not totally unsurprising, wanted a sprint. Therefor they rode comparatively conservative, while France knew their finishing riders would profit from a hard race, so they rode extremely active and made the race hard.

- It's obviously also a question of cycling mentality, the French riders overall still seem to very much have a thing for this active, heroic racing with "panache". It's probably especially heralded in the media and from coaches, I suppose.

- It's always hard to judge from the outside, but the French seem indeed to be more of a unit, with a rider like Cosnefroy or last year Martin willing to give everything for their team leader(s), and no bad feelings coming through.

- Alaphilippe was not the pre-race favourite. In fact, even though he seemed to be on many lists as a favourite, for many (including me) that was more a "cannot be discounted as the current world champion" than taking him actually seriously. He just didn't seem at his best before the race. And he so often attacked without any result during the year, especially during the Tour, that people simply underestimated him. I don't know how much truth is in there and how much that is an excuse from one or the other rider, but many riders like Colbrelli, Pidcock for instance said they thought Ala's moves weren't the real ones, that they looked at van Aert and van der Poel, that they thought Ala was just getting excited again and couldn't make it stick. Stuyven and van Baarle also deliberately didn't immediately follow him, but wanted to be sure first it was okay with their team. When Alaphilippe was the favourite in Innsbruck and Harrogate that didn't work out for him, but these last times, when Wout was the favourite, Ala was not only extremely strong, he also profited from his "underdog" status.
 
That strongest rider rode away specifically because the strongest team in the race made the race as hard as possible against their own best interest. They completely sabotaged themselves, and Alaphilippe winning doesn't change that in the slightest.
I think France was the first in hardening the race, as it was in their interested, Belgium bit the bait and Remco is such a great rider in this kind of parcours, all this helped to get to the result we got.

If we compare to the Olympics, where WvA was isolated in a harder parcours, there are two things worth mentioning: first at the Olympics they allowed the early group much more leeway, after, the race was much milder until the big climb, and WvA seemed to have better legs.
 
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That strongest rider rode away specifically because the strongest team in the race made the race as hard as possible against their own best interest. They completely sabotaged themselves, and Alaphilippe winning doesn't change that in the slightest.
Making the race hard wasn’t just Belgium’s decision, but as far as Belgium’s choices go, I don’t think that riding for a 70 man reduced bunch sprint lottery against a field including Caleb Ewan would have been a particularly shrewd use of Belgium’s resources. Wout just isn’t that reliable a sprinter.

They made a reasonable decision that having a real threat up the road plus both WVA and Stuyven in a smaller group finale gave them a higher overall percentage chance of winning. As it happens, Wout didn’t have it and they lost. If they’d managed to make it a 60 rider sprint and lost, there’d be countless people laughing at them for wasting so many other options.
 
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Making the race hard wasn’t just Belgium’s decision, but as far as Belgium’s choices go, I don’t think that riding for a 70 man reduced bunch sprint lottery against a field including Caleb Ewan would have been a particularly shrewd use of Belgium’s resources. Wout just isn’t that reliable a sprinter.

They made a reasonable decision that having a real threat up the road plus both WVA and Stuyven in a smaller group finale gave them a higher overall percentage chance of winning. As it happens, Wout didn’t have it and they lost. If they’d managed to make it a 60 rider sprint and lost, there’d be countless people laughing at them for wasting so many other options.
Ewan isn't enough reason to start putting Evenepoel in breakaways at 180km to go. You can say France made it hard but if Evenepoel doesn't join that group then Cort and Cosnefroy pointlessly swim away their race.

Ewan would have been reason to reduce the peloton to 40 riders on the 2nd Flandrien circuit while you keep your guys as fresh as possible while you send Evenepoel up the road. If Ewan is still there int he final 40km, then you make those hard enough to drop him, either by attacking or by drilling the pace.
 
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The Belgians made a huge mistake with this “all in for WVA” strategy. And WVA is to blame for this is as well as he was putting pressure on Remco to ride for him and not go rogue etc. the TT showed what great legs Remco had. The Belgians should have used Remco to go on the attack and smash the race to pieces and force the others to chase. At one point Remco was in front with the Belgians leading the chase from the peloton. Crazy.
 
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