2021 World Championships in Flanders: Road Races

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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



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.
Thanks, that's interesting. Is van Aert not getting some grief about it all being for his personal gain? I get the bit about his palmares but not sure about his personality - that seems to be all about Wout but then again we only get glimpses of that in the non-Dutch speaking world.
 
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



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.
Yes, agree.

But...I still think the main tactical error was Remco driving the early break that eventually faltered.

Setting aside Wout's legs...The idea that there was no Plan B...I don't buy that. They didn't need a Plan B: Had Remco been fresher when Alaphilippe started his attacks, he could have ridden off into the sunset for a solo win at any one of several points. How else would Remco win? But he couldn't because he was used up by then. Alternatively, he could have chased down Alaphilippe...would he have still pushed on with both Stuyven and Remco on his wheel?

This is all somewhat academic at this point, but fun to debate. What I do think is that it will not be easy for Remco to win big races against well-prepared A-list riders because of his limited skill set. But when he does, it will be EPIC!
 
I don't know where the perception is derived from that Wout has a large ego. If anything, the Flemish press has berated him in the past for not standing up for himself more - for example when having to pull 100s of kilometers in the Tour for Roglic in stages he could have won.

Maybe that constant pressure, along with winning so much, has led him to put himself in the first place some more.
 
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Thanks, that's interesting. Is van Aert not getting some grief about it all being for his personal gain? I get the bit about his palmares but not sure about his personality - that seems to be all about Wout but then again we only get glimpses of that in the non-Dutch speaking world.
Well, WVA has been the leader of the Belgian squad in both road (last 2 WC's and Olympic Games) and CX cycling (since he was 18 years old!!) and since then he brought home 7 silver medals (2 times WC TT, WC road, TT Olympic Games and 3 times CX WC) and 3 gold medals (CX WC). This is literally the first time he 'dissapointed' as a team leader and he still rode the final in Leuven.
 
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?
WvA is clearly not happy with Remco's statements yesterday in Extra Time Koers even though I feel Remco said nothing wrong.

WvA liked a few tweets criticizing Remco with one of them being from sports journalist Hans Vandeweghe stating that Eddy Merckx was right after all. Also another one which said that Remco could have refused his selection if he wanted to be allowed to go for the victory himself.
 
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Yes, agree.

But...I still think the main tactical error was Remco driving the early break that eventually faltered.

Setting aside Wout's legs...The idea that there was no Plan B...I don't buy that. They didn't need a Plan B: Had Remco been fresher when Alaphilippe started his attacks, he could have ridden off into the sunset for a solo win at any one of several points. How else would Remco win? But he couldn't because he was used up by then. Alternatively, he could have chased down Alaphilippe...would he have still pushed on with both Stuyven and Remco on his wheel?

This is all somewhat academic at this point, but fun to debate. What I do think is that it will not be easy for Remco to win big races against well-prepared A-list riders because of his limited skill set. But when he does, it will be EPIC!
He could possibly have won if the Belgians hadn't chased down the second Remco break. If that group had gotten a lead of more than a minute, then it might have ended up riding for the medals, because the other nations wouldn't have been strong enough and/or interested in catching them. And if they had been brought back anyway, then the rest of the Belgian team would have been fresher at that point. If there had been radio contact, then surely Remco wouldn't have stayed in the break and/or worked as much as he did, before they were caught, because that was just wasted energy.
 
He could possibly have won if the Belgians hadn't chased down the second Remco break. If that group had gotten a lead of more than a minute, then it might have ended up riding for the medals, because the other nations wouldn't have been strong enough and/or interested in catching them. And if they had been brought back anyway, then the rest of the Belgian team would have been fresher at that point. If there had been radio contact, then surely Remco wouldn't have stayed in the break and/or worked as much as he did, before they were caught, because that was just wasted energy.
I do wonder why Belgium decided to bring Evenepoel back there. Was there communication there? It would've been an amazing spot if they could've had Evenepoel away solo there, but he probably couldn't drop Van Baarle straight up there.

But this plan probably straight up works if you don't have Evenepoel in the first attack.
 
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I do wonder why Belgium decided to bring Evenepoel back there. Was there communication there? It would've been an amazing spot if they could've had Evenepoel away solo there, but he probably couldn't drop Van Baarle straight up there.

But this plan probably straight up works if you don't have Evenepoel in the first attack.
Evenepoel said that they probably wouldn't have chased him if they knew the group was reduced to 5 man. Due to no communication they thought the group was still way bigger.
 
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I don't know where the perception is derived from that Wout has a large ego. If anything, the Flemish press has berated him in the past for not standing up for himself more - for example when having to pull 100s of kilometers in the Tour for Roglic in stages he could have won.
What stages would that be? I take it the 100s are an exaggerated accumulation, but what is the longest Van Aert has pulled in a stage he could have won?

And since it would all be from the 2020 Tour, do you really think it makes sense to complain about that?
 
Not per se at the head of the peloton, but also shielding him in windy stages. I'm not saying that he is definitely right to want more support, but it's understandable in my view. Like I said, name other riders winning 6 stages in 3 Tours that are asked to work for a GC leader on the flat, hills and mountains.
 
Sagan for example, clearly worked hard for Contador on the cobbles of the 2015 Tour and sacrificed his own chance to win the stage. Likewise for the echelon stage. And Sagan would of course have been expected to also work for Contador in 2016 if AC didn't crash himself out of contention.

Because while both may be superstars, only one of them can win the Tour.
 
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Yes, agree.

But...I still think the main tactical error was Remco driving the early break that eventually faltered.

Setting aside Wout's legs...The idea that there was no Plan B...I don't buy that. They didn't need a Plan B: Had Remco been fresher when Alaphilippe started his attacks, he could have ridden off into the sunset for a solo win at any one of several points. How else would Remco win? But he couldn't because he was used up by then. Alternatively, he could have chased down Alaphilippe...would he have still pushed on with both Stuyven and Remco on his wheel?

This is all somewhat academic at this point, but fun to debate. What I do think is that it will not be easy for Remco to win big races against well-prepared A-list riders because of his limited skill set. But when he does, it will be EPIC!
There was a plan B.
Stuyven.
 
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?
But surely the way that RE, given his skillset, can make sure that Belgium do not have to chase is to be part of a break from which he is a threat to win.
So under no scenario was he to race for the win but he was to put himself in a position from which he could win?
Pure contradiction: the best thing he could do to help WvA win was also the best thing he could do to get the win for himself.
 
But surely the way that RE, given his skillset, can make sure that Belgium do not have to chase is to be part of a break from which he is a threat to win.
So under no scenario was he to race for the win but he was to put himself in a position from which he could win?
Pure contradiction: the best thing he could do to help WvA win was also the best thing he could do to get the win for himself.
I think the problem is that nobody trusts Evenepoel to win from a group with other riders. The best chance for him is probably going when everybody is already quite tired and he might be able to ride the others off his wheel. If he's in a break after an easy race or early on it's very difficult. So there might have been an opportunity for him if he had been saved for quite long and then around the time when Alaphilippe went, he might have been able to be in a break with some guys and then eventually break clear. To be fair that wasn't such a probably scenario in the beginning, betting on van Aert if you had to choose made more sense, but since there are a lot of strong riders in the Belgian team who could be helpers it would have been better not to totally deny Evenepoel as a contender if the situation arose.
 
I think the problem is that nobody trusts Evenepoel to win from a group with other riders. The best chance for him is probably going when everybody is already quite tired and he might be able to ride the others off his wheel. If he's in a break after an easy race or early on it's very difficult. So there might have been an opportunity for him if he had been saved for quite long and then around the time when Alaphilippe went, he might have been able to be in a break with some guys and then eventually break clear. To be fair that wasn't such a probably scenario in the beginning, betting on van Aert if you had to choose made more sense, but since there are a lot of strong riders in the Belgian team who could be helpers it would have been better not to totally deny Evenepoel as a contender if the situation arose.
To win in a sprint from a group with other riders, indeed no-one would trust him; but to pull away with some distance to go from such a group is what he would most be expected to do.

If his job was to tire other teams and protect other Belgian legs, then making himself a threat to win was precisely the way to do that.
 
I'm very late to the party but i've watched it live. I was very baffled by how quickly the action started and by how the Belgian team behaved before the 2nd Moskestraat passage. Evenepoel was for him in a great group, where i believe he would have a high chance of separating himself and go solo to the line. Time gaps weren't great (~30s) but were extending forcing the French team to pull. Why did then the Belgians basically closed down that move? It only managed to give Ala a platform to bridge to the break on Moskestraat. Some Movistar vibes in here.

When Ala threw that MVDP Siena bomb on Antoniusberg i knew he would win. The only question was if he wouldn't pull a Nibali and suddenly pop as he had a history of doing such. Congrats to Ala aka SSJ Voeckler aka ADHD Bettini aka the 4th musketeer for defending the rainbow bands in a valiant effort. One of the best WC editions i've watched with the best part being that beer being thrown at Ala ;).
 
I think the problem is that nobody trusts Evenepoel to win from a group with other riders. The best chance for him is probably going when everybody is already quite tired and he might be able to ride the others off his wheel. If he's in a break after an easy race or early on it's very difficult. So there might have been an opportunity for him if he had been saved for quite long and then around the time when Alaphilippe went, he might have been able to be in a break with some guys and then eventually break clear. To be fair that wasn't such a probably scenario in the beginning, betting on van Aert if you had to choose made more sense, but since there are a lot of strong riders in the Belgian team who could be helpers it would have been better not to totally deny Evenepoel as a contender if the situation arose.
He has 21 pro victories. Seven of those were GC's. Five were TT's. That leaves 9 other victories, none of which were a sprint. During the limited time he's been on a bike as a pro. I think he has more victories than times he's been beaten in a sprint in a break.
 
He has 21 pro victories. Seven of those were GC's. Five were TT's. That leaves 9 other victories, none of which were a sprint. During the limited time he's been on a bike as a pro. I think he has more victories than times he's been beaten in a sprint in a break.
Yeah, but the thing is the course and the field. On a rather flat course, with a huge bunch of fit and perfectly prepared classics contenders behind I wouldn't expect him to get away - unless, like I said, in the later stages, when everybody's tired and also there aren't many helpers left.
 
I'm very late to the party but i've watched it live. I was very baffled by how quickly the action started and by how the Belgian team behaved before the 2nd Moskestraat passage. Evenepoel was for him in a great group, where i believe he would have a high chance of separating himself and go solo to the line. Time gaps weren't great (~30s) but were extending forcing the French team to pull. Why did then the Belgians basically closed down that move? It only managed to give Ala a platform to bridge to the break on Moskestraat. Some Movistar vibes in here.

When Ala threw that MVDP Siena bomb on Antoniusberg i knew he would win. The only question was if he wouldn't pull a Nibali and suddenly pop as he had a history of doing such. Congrats to Ala aka SSJ Voeckler aka ADHD Bettini aka the 4th musketeer for defending the rainbow bands in a valiant effort. One of the best WC editions i've watched with the best part being that beer being thrown at Ala ;).
Well, Ala was in absolutely superb form and in hindsight would have been almost impossible to beat. That said, the team tactics of Belgium and Vantourenhout were absolutely shyte-tastic and let's just say some coaches should be fired.
 
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?
It is the most laughably bad and juvenile strategy one could execute on. And they lost. Partly that is because Wout just didn't have it, and didn't own up to that soon enough. And partly, that's because of strategy and tactics with the depth conceived of a 10 year old
 
Well, Ala was in absolutely superb form and in hindsight would have been almost impossible to beat. That said, the team tactics of Belgium and Vantourenhout were absolutely shyte-tastic and let's just say some coaches should be fired.
This.

It's a lot of fun to dissect the Belgian "strategy" after the race, but let's not lose sight of the fact that JA was simply unbeatable on the big day, with the WC on the line. Add to that a strong and motivated French squad with a proper plan.

I for one remain convinced that Remco could not have beaten Alaphilippe regardless of how the former rode the race. As I said elsewhere, JA was the only top-tier rider who could turn this last smallish bergs into race-winning moves. Brilliant ride by the repeat World Champ.
 
You don't hear any other country whining, crying, blaming and making excuses as to why they lost this race. Bit of sour grapes going on.
Nobody else was the home country with a course that, beforehand, looked to everybody to be ideal for their in-form leader. Of course they’re going to be a bit harsher on themselves than the 3 countries that got medals, or countries like the UK and US who had their best Worlds finish in a long time, or Spain/Slovenia who could just say “the course didn’t suit us,” etc etc.

And Italy have been doing a bit of introspection too, but I suspect they realize that, no matter how good his form was, Sonny was never a favorite on the level of Wout.
 
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