2021 World Championships in Flanders: Road Races

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I had high hopes for Moscon when he turned pro. His first couple of years were very promising and as you say the talent is probably there to win a big one day race. But he's got a lot of baggage and he struggles to peak at the right time, so I'm not sure Ineos is the problem. We'll see next year when he rides for Astana.
It has to be said that he rode one hell of a Giro as a domestique for Bernal.
I'm critical of how Italy raced after the Remco group was caught, they wasted Bagioli as a workhorse, just like Belgium did with Remco. Afterwards Nizzolo did the same because he didn't feel that great. Powless and Van Baarle made it in the group behind Ala after being in the same group as Bagioli and Remco.
Italy probably should have tried to attack with one of those guys while Colbrelli stays covered behind. Belgium was willing to do all the work.
That said, Ala was the strongest, you saw it when he forced the selection on that cobbled climb on the Flandrian circuit while staying seated, he didn't feel the chain.
Beating him after this kind of race would have been almost impossible, but Belgium and Italy could have gotten a medal if they played it smarter. Belgium riding behind when the Bagioli-Remco group had over 50sec was their biggest mistake, let France and the Danes wear themselfs out and if they don't manage to catch the front group you have a teamcar that should tell remco to stop pulling once you're on the city circuit.
 
Yes, exactly! No Qatarese on the podium in 2016. No Belgians on the podium - in the road races - in 2021.



By "the Danes", do you mean "Valgren"?
But but but. If you are only talking about the road races, it's 2016 being the last year a homeboy was on the podium of the RR.
Are you suggesting there was always a home rider on the podium in the RR in between (like women's / junior / U23 race)?
 
It was actually the first Smeysberg ascent at 180km to go that Alaphilippe told Cosnefroy to go, leading to the move with Remco and Cort needing 70km of hard chasing to bring back. Brian Smith on GCN did mention this moment a few times I think.

Sure Julian had the best legs but it's hard to imagine he'd have gotten away if Van Aert and co weren't so exhausted at the end. Such a satisfying champion, not just the strongest guy but the smartest too in this race
 
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But but but. If you are only talking about the road races, it's 2016 being the last year a homeboy was on the podium of the RR.
Are you suggesting there was always a home rider on the podium in the RR in between (like women's / junior / U23 race)?
Yes, I meant all the road races:
Last year: Longo Borghini - WE, 3rd.
2019: Pidcock - U23, 3rd. (I know he only crossed the line in 4th, but he did stand on the podium.
2018: Stigger - WJ, won.
2017: Kristoff - ME, 2nd.

Of course, I couldn't find any Qatari even finishing any race in 2016, but - and I hope I don't offend anyone - Belgium do have a slightly bigger cycling tradition than Qatar.
 
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it was so fun to see how France rode, by the way. They seem pretty heavy on the types of riders who are only like, third tier favorites (like Turgis and Cosnefroy, maybe Senechal) but are fully capable of tearing the race up if needed, and they definitely did that today.


I dunno if Remco actually rode well. I borderline get the impression that he was out to prove something, but if I was Belgium I'd much rather have Remco with 20k to go than have him blow up at 40k out even if the plan is WVA as team lead.
 
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 didn't think Italy actually rode that badly. Yes they missed a split with Remco in it with 180k out but on the other hand it was 180k out. They burnt Trentin but Belgium burnt Remco which was probably much worse.

Fundamentally I think both their key riders were in the red at the exact wrong time on the decisive finishing circuits.
 
Belgians!!
What has the media reaction been to this? Are they giving Van Aert a hard time? Is Remco rehabilitated?
Van Aert was not really given a hard time.
He just did not have the super legs to win the race. His 'explanation' "This proves I am also just human" was sufficient.
Only slight point of critique is that he should have maybe communicated earlier that he did not have his best day.

Evenepoel I feel like has definitely made use of the WC to gain some popularity.
Even in Belgium large part of the fans feel like he is maybe a bit arrogant and tactically dumb (especially after EC).
However I don't entirely agree with the hatred or critique he gets. He is only 21 years, always rides in the attack if he can and has already proven he can win a lot of races and I am sure he will continue to do so (also in the big races) in the upcoming years.

What I find a bit funny is that everyone was discussing if Remco should be selected because of him not being a teamplayer and willing to ride for Wout (Merckx claiming he should not be selected). And now that Wout did not win there is quite some critisicm that Belgium did not have a plan B and should have saved Remco (and others) to ride for themselves in the final.
 
Van Aert was not really given a hard time.
He just did not have the super legs to win the race. His 'explanation' "This proves I am also just human" was sufficient.
Only slight point of critique is that he should have maybe communicated earlier that he did not have his best day.

Evenepoel I feel like has definitely made use of the WC to gain some popularity.
Even in Belgium large part of the fans feel like he is maybe a bit arrogant and tactically dumb (especially after EC).
However I don't entirely agree with the hatred or critique he gets. He is only 21 years, always rides in the attack if he can and has already proven he can win a lot of races and I am sure he will continue to do so (also in the big races) in the upcoming years.

What I find a bit funny is that everyone was discussing if Remco should be selected because of him not being a teamplayer and willing to ride for Wout (Merckx claiming he should not be selected). And now that Wout did not win there is quite some critisicm that Belgium did not have a plan B and should have saved Remco (and others) to ride for themselves in the final.

For all his "unselfish" riding he wasn't there when he would have helped WVA the most. Everyone likes seeing a rider blowing himself up but it's not as if they were in Italy's boat where they had to burn off Trentin or lose.

It felt like he was out riding to prove something which isn't very "team player" at all. And it felt like Belgium didn't know if they wanted to control the race or not because of his riding.
 
For all his "unselfish" riding he wasn't there when he would have helped WVA the most. Everyone likes seeing a rider blowing himself up but it's not as if they were in Italy's boat where they had to burn off Trentin or lose.

It felt like he was out riding to prove something which isn't very "team player" at all. And it felt like Belgium didn't know if they wanted to control the race or not because of his riding.
He wasn't there because they used him up in the breaks and pushing the group at the end. How much of that was team orders and how much Remco just going really hard on his own I don't know. But the idea that he had to prove he was a team player, publicly, and for the Belgian teams to take him out as any kind of reasonable threat was just dumb. Used without all that baggage, he could have made meaningful late attacks to split the final group and forced riders to chase him down repeatedly. But they couldn't have that because they really didn't believe in him as a potential winner. The criticism is well warranted. I hope Remco has served his time in the penalty box (for what I'm not entirely sure) and they use him with some brains in the future.

Merckx of all people, to criticize a rider for "riding for himself" has to be one of the most hysterically hypocritical comments ever made in world cycling. I don't mind him or RE riding for themselves, but Eddy...come on. That's all you ever did. And rightfully so.
 
Very intense race and aggression far from the finish. Ala's series of attacks was incredible, it's so hard to repeat such ridiculous w/kg efforts. Plus he managed to keep the gap afterwards. Congrats to clearly the strongest guy out there. Story of the day: Belgians without medals! Remco was making great efforts to help Wout and make Eddy look like a fool (given his statements). I had had some doubts before but Wout made it clear that he's a human.
 
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The psyche of the Belgian team was:
  1. we have to give the people a show;
  2. we have to display how strong we are, as a team;
  3. everyone in the team has to show he did his share of the work;
so if all of the boxes above were ticked, nobody would be able to critisize the team too much, irregardless of the result. Because the Belgian audience will be happy if the race was entertaining, and if the Belgian were brave (but not smart).
There was just too much pressure of the media, the crowds,... to ride defensively. You saw, during the first laps of the Leuven circuit, Dylan Teuns getting a bit upset and angry while he tried to say to his team mates to slow down a bit (like in: "is it necessary to go this hard already? Slow down a bit"). Same can be said about Evenepoel's pace. The moment they had a minute, Evenepoel should have tried to go a bit slower, or talk with Bagioli about doing turns on the front, so he could last maybe 10K longer on the local circuit.

In the end, WvA didn't have it, and I guess he is embarrased. He (quite rightly) demanded full support, but he faltered. Question is, if he will dare to ask the same support in the future.
And Remco has built an unbelievable amount of credit to ask full support in any hilly world championship in the next 10 years. Maybe he was wasted a bit, but at the other hand, I feel it's the best investment he could do.
 
Van Aert can still demand the leadership he needs and the sort of leadership that wouldd've been great tactics last Sunday anyway. A lot depens on the courses, but Van Aert will have a better shot than Evenepoel at nearly all of them.
 
Van Aert can demand the leadership all he wants. Will he get it is the question. Here, as some people has pointed out, there were some special circumstances since it was in Belgium and they had to give the spectacle. In other country some things will be different. Specially the shared leadership from the beginning. They would probably don't have to spend as much energy at the front either. Regardless, it was a very nice full of action WC. Chapeau to the Belgians!!!
 
Eddy can say what he wants. Fundamentally he's a spectator like anyone else. If the Belgian team is that influenced by the statements of a single media connected spectator, that's their problem.
 
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So after the briefing on Friday Evenepoel went back to Vanthourenhout on Saturday for more clarification. What exactly they were expecting from him, and if in certain scenarios he was allowed to for the victory himself. They told him he wasn't. Van Aert and Stuyven were the leaders. He was only supposed to make sure Belgium never had to chase. Unbelievable considering his form the weeks before. How can you have so little flexibility on a parcours like this?
 
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So after the briefing on Friday Evenepoel went back to Vanthourenhout on Saturday for more clarification. What exactly they were expecting from him, and if in certain scenarios he was allowed to for the victory himself. They told him he wasn't. Van Aert and Stuyven were the leaders. He was only supposed to make sure Belgium never had to chase. Unbelievable considering his form the weeks before. How can you have so little flexibility on a parcours like this?
On the plus side: it wasn't bad for him to learn to obey team tactics rather than personal gain.
On the down side: both him and the Belgian squad lost their (second?) biggest chance win the race

Belgians!!
What has the media reaction been to this? Are they giving Van Aert a hard time? Is Remco rehabilitated?
Belgian media is pretty clear:

  • The coach made the mistake of only relying on WVA without even considering a plan B whilst Remco's form and riding style were perfect as a plan B.
  • WVA made the mistake of waiting until 18k before the finish to communicate his bad legs. At that point Remco was used up and Stuyven had already lost a lot of energy closing down Alaphilippe the first time. WVA should have told everyone to go their own way when he couldn't follow Alaphilippe and Colbrelli on the Smeysberg 50k's out. However, considering both his previous results and his personality this mistake will be easily forgiven by both the public and the media.
  • Remco won points by following the team tactics. He's only 21 and everyone knows there'll be several WC where an entire Belgian squad will be at his disposal.
 

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