2021 World Championships in Flanders: Road Races

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I never thought it mattered but I actually don't think it's fair that the defending winner's country has a rider more in their team than the other big countries.
And by big you mean a country like Denmark? :smirk:

Actually I agree with you. On the other hand, if a small country wins because they have one strong rider, it's nice if he gets at least one or two helpers...
 
I never thought it mattered but I actually don't think it's fair that the defending winner's country has a rider more in their team than the other big countries.
I agree, but really that’s the least of the unfairness built into the WCRR. Giving the strongest teams more riders is almost laughably unfair. Sagan, Costa and Hushovd should really get double credit for their wins, the only guys to manage it from teams with less than the maximum numbers since Romans Vainsteins.
 
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I agree, but really that’s the least of the unfairness built into the WCRR. Giving the strongest teams more riders is almost laughably unfair. Sagan, Costa and Hushovd should really get double credit for their wins, the only guys to manage it from teams with less than the maximum numbers since Romans Vainsteins.
Four more Slovakians would hardly make a difference, though.

But I am willing to count Sagan as a six-time winner.
 
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.
Remco Evenepoel was the strongest rider in the race. He would have won easily if they abuse him to work, instead of saving his legs until the finale. Prove me wrong.

(ps: my comment is half tongue-in-cheek, but nevertheless I believe it could hold some truth. Guess we'll never know)
 
Cycling 2021:
  • The Belgians win a race. People think they will be dominating from now on and till the end of time.
  • The Belgians lose a race. People think the Belgians are doomed.
  • The Belgians win a race. People think they will be dominating from now on and till the end of time.
  • The Belgians lose a race. People think the Belgians are doomed.
Etc.
 
Belgium and Italy played this so bad tactically deserved to lose the race to Alaphilippe.
I think this was Italy's worst WC under Cassani.
They kept missing meaningful moves and had to waste a lot of energy in the first half of the race. Part of it was bad luck but they were also unprepared for a scenario where attacks would start so early.

That said, I don't think Italy had any chance of winning this race. Hopefully Bagioli keeps improving, because at the moment we're truly missing a fuoriclasse for these one day races.
 
Oct 31, 2018
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Cycling 2021:
  • The Belgians win a race. People think they will be dominating from now on and till the end of time.
  • The Belgians lose a race. People think the Belgians are doomed.
  • The Belgians win a race. People think they will be dominating from now on and till the end of time.
  • The Belgians lose a race. People think the Belgians are doomed.
Etc.
So which one is it? Are we doomed or are we going to dominate? :oops:
It could make placing future bets a lot easier!
 
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There was something a bit Ineos like about Belgium's tactics. Race plan: ride at the front. I understand their interest in dropping potentially dangerous sprinters, but surely they should've worked out the race was far too hard for most of those riders long before Ewan was finally dropped for good. Nizzolo managed to make the final split and started working for Colbrelli even before Alaphilppe got away, pure sprinters can only do so much.

The constant high speed really added an element of randomness to the end result for everyone other than the French. Powless was the closest to Alaphilippe on the climbs after being in the break, van Baarle won the sprint for 2nd after being in the break and then trying to help VDP, Stuyven finished 4th after working for WVA.
 
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.
Agreed. The criticism of of Belgian tactics is over the top. Maybe they didn't do things exactly perfectly, but that's almost impossible unless you know exactly how everyone is feeling at every moment. There were no radios and Belgium was never going to win yesterday. That said, they might have come away with a podium if Wout had told his teammates how he was feeling earlier.
 
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.
Agree with your first sentence; the second is a bit harsh on Belgium.

If you had told me that with 30-40k to go that Belgium would have Wout and Jasper in the leading, reduced bunch, after Remco had just put in a massive effort, I think that would have been a pretty good -- not great, but pretty good -- scenario. The problem is that Wout just didn't have the legs to make the final, final selection.

Only way it could have gone better is if Campanaerts had made the final selection and was pulling the train and Remco had a bit left to go to the final 10k. But that was Remco's fault, I think, for taking charge of Cosnefroy's early move using energy he didn't need to.
 
The storngest won, BUT Belgium ensured this would be a foregone conclusion, racing nary with even a modicum of plan B. Since the strongest rider DOESN'T always win when tactics play out in favor of more complex, less straightforward, situations. Belgium could have kept Evenepoel off the coals, for instance, at least enough to save him for the last 25k of the race, to potentially tow van Aert back to Alaphilippe or keep the speed sufficiently high to intimidate attacks to arrive at a reduced sprint in Leuven. As it stood Belgium set Alaphilippe up perfectly for the blistering set of attacks we saw, without having even the chance of a valid response. Nothing to do, Belgium sinned of an unrestrained arrogance that practically piloted Alaphilippe to a crushing victory. That the Frenchman actually crushed it showed he was the strongest, but Belgium burnt too many matches before to stay viably in the fight. Steuvens 4th place was meager consolation, ultimately a violent proof of desperation.
 
Great race, most entertaining Worlds I have seen.

I don't understand why it was Evenepoel's job to follow Cosnefroy, that should have been up to someone like Teuns. There are only two reasons I can come up with, and they are both bad, one being that they felt Evenepoel was the only one dangerous enough to really make other teams, like Italy, work hard, the other being that the idea was to deliberately use up Evenepoel before the final so that he wouldn't be tempted to go rogue at some point... but that seems insanely stupid.
Imagine they had had Evenepoel with relatively fresh legs in Leuven, Alaphilippe could have attacked all day on the climbs, Stuyven and WvA would have just chilled and let Evenepoel pull him back on the flat sections.
In any case, WvA was clearly not on a great day; I wasn't sure on Smeysberg, I thought he was playing it cool then, but on the Wijnpers some 20k before the finish it became really obvious.
Alaphilippe, AKA Super Saiyan Thomas Voeckler, was from another dimension, his attacks were extremely vicious even by his standards.
Pidcock must be kicking himself that he didn't try and go with Van Baarle or Valgren, otherwise he may well have won a medal. Great ride, nonetheless.
Really happy for van Baarle, and Stybar as well. Would never have predicted him to end up in the Top 10. I would love to see him win Paris-Roubaix somehow.
 
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I think this was Italy's worst WC under Cassani.
They kept missing meaningful moves and had to waste a lot of energy in the first half of the race. Part of it was bad luck but they were also unprepared for a scenario where attacks would start so early.

That said, I don't think Italy had any chance of winning this race. Hopefully Bagioli keeps improving, because at the moment we're truly missing a fuoriclasse for these one day races.
I thought Colbrelli trying to stay with Ala on one of the latter’s 1st big uphill attacks was a clear mistake, but I’m not sure that was team strategy but rather Colbrelli’s reaction in the moment.
 
Great race, most entertaining Worlds I have seen.

I don't understand why it was Evenepoel's job to follow Cosnefroy, that should have been up to someone like Teuns. There are only two reasons I can come up with, and they are both bad, one being that they felt Evenepoel was the only one dangerous enough to really make other teams, like Italy, work hard, the other being that the idea was to deliberately use up Evenepoel before the final so that he wouldn't be tempted to go rogue at some point... but that seems insanely stupid.
Imagine they had had Evenepoel with relatively fresh legs in Leuven, Alaphilippe could have attacked all day on the climbs, Stuyven and WvA would have just chilled and let Evenepoel pull him back on the flat sections.
In any case, WvA was clearly not on a great day; I wasn't sure on Smeysberg, I thought he was playing it cool then, but on the Wijnpers some 20k before the finish it became really obvious.
Alaphilippe, AKA Super Saiyan Thomas Voeckler, was from another dimension, his attacks were extremely vicious even by his standards.
Pidcock must be kicking himself that he didn't try and go with Van Baarle or Valgren, otherwise he may well have won a medal. Great ride, nonetheless.
Really happy for van Baarle, and Stybar as well. Would never have predicted him to end up in the Top 10. I would love to see him win Paris-Roubaix somehow.
Nice analysis, but I really think Evenepoel was just following orders first of the team director and then from Van Aert in the last 50k.
 
I don't want to downgrade Alaphilippe's win, but the "there was nothing we could do, he was the strongest and would have won anyway" narrative isn't correct in my eyes, similar to how it wasn't last year. He probably was the best on these last short climbs. He was also the one to take the risk and attack. I'm not convinced that actually someone like van Baarle (amazing rider!) was closest to being able to follow, and the interviews don't really sound like it. Also, Alaphilippe just took a few seconds in the end. If there would have been a completely comprehensive chase, even more: if on the Sint-Antonius everybody had taken his attack totally serious, they would have caught him again/ never let him go. But it would have hurt them damn much, and while I'm sure that many couldn't do better, I think some, most of all Pidcock, were just like: "I'm not going to put everything into this and then someone else attacks and that's the winning move".
Well, maybe I will have to rewatch it, because I might be wrong, but I didn't get the impression a win was totally inevitable. He took advantage of the fact that on that day he was better on those climbs than van Aert and van der Poel (who were more a point of orientation), managed to get a few seconds, and then it was a case of one lone attacker / group chase again. The group didn't work badly together, but they weren't perfect either, while Ala just rode all out.
 
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.
I agree with you. I noticed the same thing in the analysis. The strategy was doomed from the beginning when they decided to burn Remco. Maybe and just maybe, Stuevens hesitated a bit to give chase to Ala. Or simply he was just too tired.

It is not easy for a professional to know or when to decide that you don't have it in your legs anymore. For professional riders like these ones that are use to go to the extreme of exhaustion and come back again and again it must be really hard to come to that point. That is the problem. At that point others that had any chance were probably working for you and are already tired. So I don't blame the Belgians for blowing it up like that. Their main flaws that could have been avoided are IMHO the following:

• Not saving Remco as your plan B: Everyone already said it. Period. No more explanation needed. How would that scenario have come out, we will never know.
• Like Chris Horner said, they didn't need to blow the race to pieces since they had a big chance for winning the sprint in a reduced field. It had some risk and it would have made for a boring race but they would have had more chance of winning.

Maybe they didn't like the chances with Colbrelli or MVdP at the sprint and decided to blow the race to pieces but they blew themselves as well. On their defense, France came with the perfect plan to blow the race to pieces from the beginning. They were really focused and I want to say that almost no one would have defeated that team on Sunday.
 
I think one theme that’s coming through is “Belgium should have rode for a sprint,” but in the end on the day, no Belgian won the sprint for his group; not Stuyven, not VanAert, not Teuns, even Campanaerts lost out to Cosnefroy.

The only Belgian without “ as his time, was Lampaert, in 61st, together with Remco 62nd.



Incidentally, I know Sonny’s been in smoking form of late, but did Italy give no consideration to giving Moscon protected status?
 
I agree with you. I noticed the same thing in the analysis. The strategy was doomed from the beginning when they decided to burn Remco. Maybe and just maybe, Stuevens hesitated a bit to give chase to Ala. Or simply he was just too tired.

It is not easy for a professional to know or when to decide that you don't have it in your legs anymore. For professional riders like these ones that are use to go to the extreme of exhaustion and come back again and again it must be really hard to come to that point. That is the problem. At that point others that had any chance were probably working for you and are already tired. So I don't blame the Belgians for blowing it up like that. Their main flaws that could have been avoided are IMHO the following:

• Not saving Remco as your plan B: Everyone already said it. Period. No more explanation needed. How would that scenario have come out, we will never know.
• Like Chris Horner said, they didn't need to blow the race to pieces since they had a big chance for winning the sprint in a reduced field. It had some risk and it would have made for a boring race but they would have had more chance of winning.

Maybe they didn't like the chances with Colbrelli or MVdP at the sprint and decided to blow the race to pieces but they blew themselves as well. On their defense, France came with the perfect plan to blow the race to pieces from the beginning. They were really focused and I want to say that almost no one would have defeated that team on Sunday.
A lucid analysis. For me Stuyvens was too tired to chase Alaphilippe, as he said that Van Aert not telling him to go for the win before 20 k to go cost him a couple of bullets previousy. If they were too scared of Colbrelli and a not in top form MVdP in a sprint, then why the hell did they only insist on plan A to shepherd Van Aert to 200 meters to go and let him rip. Hindisight is 20/20 vision, however, a couple of observations anyone could have seen as the race unfolded to change tactics. Although Van Aert himself doesn't seem to have been able to communicate till it was too late that he wasn't firing on all cylinders, his deputy number one should have been saved for the critical final ks. Is that from an error in judgment, owing to the modern performance exasperation you allude too, or not manning up to reality in the thick of it? It seems as if Belgium had a plan and when the ship was sinking the captain just decided that the whole crew would stay in the bridge and drown with him, after having already thrown the first mate into the sea. Brilliant.
 
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I think one theme that’s coming through is “Belgium should have rode for a sprint,” but in the end on the day, no Belgian won the sprint for his group; not Stuyven, not VanAert, not Teuns, even Campanaerts lost out to Cosnefroy.

The only Belgian without “ as his time, was Lampaert, in 61st, together with Remco 62nd.



Incidentally, I know Sonny’s been in smoking form of late, but did Italy give no consideration to giving Moscon protected status?
No they lost Trentin and Ballerini, from there on out Italy had been subjected to the race. Moscon was not able to make the final selection.
 

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