2021 World Championships in Flanders: Road Races

Page 71 - Get up to date with the latest news, scores & standings from the Cycling News Community.
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.
We’ll never know how a fresh Remco would have dealt with Alaphilippe in that form; I suspect you’re right and if Colbrelli could sit on Remco’s wheel and out sprint him at the Euros, at the very least Alaf needed to only do the same to win Worlds.

But that doesn’t take away from how Belgium’s tactics on the day ended up playing into Alaphilippe’s hands. France started sending attacks up the road early to make the race hard, so that Alaf’s attacks late on would stick against tired sprinters/rouleurs. And Belgium obliged them by not only putting men in those same breaks and driving them, but also by driving the chase behind as well, making the race harder and harder, and making their own sprinters (WvA and Stuyven) too tired to win sprints for minor platings at the end.
 
Reactions: VeloMaster
All those reactions are becoming ridiculous. The only way for Belgium to win was to keep a group together and launch Van Aert for a sprint. Instead they wasted their powers way too early and left Van Aert isolated in the final. The strategy wass a mess.
 
Reactions: Ripper
All those reactions are becoming ridiculous. The only way for Belgium to win was to keep a group together and launch Van Aert for a sprint. Instead they wasted their powers way too early and left Van Aert isolated in the final. The strategy wass a mess.
What you are suggesting wouldn't have resulted in a win either. Regardless of Belgian tactics, Alaphilippe would in that scenario also have kept attacking and would have dropped Van Aert with his jello legs. The only Belgian that might have been able to follow, would have been beaten in the sprint.

My view of how the Belgians could have won, has remained the same since before the race:

Spare Evenepoel until the last Flandrien loop, have him attack all out, at a point the dangerous guys who can finish it in a sprint don't feel comfortable with joining him, knowing Van Aert is in a group right behind. Going in a break at that point means losing the race if the break gets caught. Let's say 70k from the finish.

If someone like Colbrelli did decide to join anyway, have Evenepoel commit until the gap is created, then refuse to work. You have now baited "the Colbrelli" to commit to a doomed break. Two options for Evenepoel, after having rested in the back for a while, in case others are still working, try to attack again to go solo, or follow wheels and wait for the break to be caught and play his part for Wout in the final.

In case no "Colbrelli" joins Evenepoel, go all out in that break. He should be able to drop most other riders. If not, again the same tactic. Refuse to work and either wait for Wout or attack from behind when the other guys keep working.

Wout in the meanwhile does no work, it's up to the countries who will get dropped by Evenepoel in the front or don't have anyone in the front, to work in the chasing group.

If Alaphilippe now wants to attack at 55k Wout has to follow. If he can't, then Alaphilippe still has to bridge to the Evenepoel group probably on his own and burn some matches. Van Aert should at this point still have at least two guys with him to chase Alaphilippe on the flats between Overijse and Leuven if needed. But my guess would be Alaphilippe doesn't attack solo with a break in front until that break is caught. Or until much later on the local laps.

As long as Evenepoel is ahead, Van Aert doesn't do any work and he is the favorite for the sprint in case Evenepoel gets caught eventually. If Evenepoel stays ahead, he is the favorite to win solo.
 
Reactions: LucVdB
Belgium's big mistake was that the team strategy didn't account for Wout possibly having a bad day, effectively placing all their eggs in one basket; while at the same time never considering Remco as a possible alternative option in case of the former. Sending Remco on the attack at 70 k to go is a good strategy only if Wout is capable of winning the sprint should Evenepoel be cought. If Wout isn't able or willing to communicate his real status before that what do you do?

I'd thus have planned for Evenepoel to go into action during the first Leuven circuit, at which point Wout's condition should become self-evident. If he, Wout, is good, Evenepoel get's caught and he wins the sprint. If, on the other hand, Wout is not good, then Remco at least has a chance to go solo for the win, even if Ala would have likely still been in the picture in which case a Belgian win becomes very complicated. A third scenario is that Ala opens a gap, but then a fresh Evenepoel comes back on terms and counters, dropping the Frenchman and soloing for the victory. Even if this was unlikely.
 
Belgium's big mistake was that the team strategy didn't account for Wout possibly having a bad day, effectively placing all their eggs in one basket; while at the same time never considering Remco as a possible alternative option in case of the former. Sending Remco on the attack at 70 k to go is a good strategy only if Wout is capable of winning the sprint should Evenepoel be cought. If Wout isn't able or willing to communicate his real status before that what do you do?

I'd thus have planned for Evenepoel to go into action during the first Leuven circuit, at which point Wout's condition should become self-evident. If he, Wout, is good, Evenepoel get's caught and he wins the sprint. If, on the other hand, Wout is not good, then Remco at least has a chance to go solo for the win, even if Ala would have likely still been in the picture in which case a Belgian win becomes very complicated. A third scenario is that Ala opens a gap, but then a fresh Evenepoel comes back on terms and counters, dropping the Frenchman and soloing for the victory. Even if this was unlikely.
Sorry, that just seems naïve. You are now jeopardizing Evenepoel's chances in the long run, just to test whether Van Aert has the legs and for no good reason.
In my scenario, even if Van Aert has jello legs, the scenario for Evenepoel doesn't change. In case Evenepoel gets caught, he doesn't win regardless of Van Aert's form. And if Van Aert has jello legs, he doesn't win regardless of Evenepoel getting caught or not. Still, having Van Aert doing nothing in the chasing group has its impact on the race dynamics, both in the chasing group as in the break. Because nobody knows if he has jello legs or not.

If by "the first Leuven circuit" you mean the last time they enter Leuven, then i also don't agree, because at that point, i don't see him dropping Alaphilippe and Colbrelli on these short climbs. He would need to attack sooner than them, because he won't actually drop them on 150m climbs.

Your scenario would also be "in hindsight", because ahead of the race, nobody would think there would be a need to "test Van Aert's legs" to begin with.
 
Sorry, that just seems naïve. You are now jeopardizing Evenepoel's chances in the long run, just to test whether Van Aert has the legs and for no good reason.
In my scenario, even if Van Aert has jello legs, the scenario for Evenepoel doesn't change. In case Evenepoel gets caught, he doesn't win regardless of Van Aert's form. And if Van Aert has jello legs, he doesn't win regardless of Evenepoel getting caught or not. Still, having Van Aert doing nothing in the chasing group has its impact on the race dynamics, both in the chasing group as in the break. Because nobody knows if he has jello legs or not.

If by "the first Leuven circuit" you mean the last time they enter Leuven, then i also don't agree, because at that point, i don't see him dropping Alaphilippe and Colbrelli on these short climbs. He would need to attack sooner than them, because he won't actually drop them on 150m climbs.
No I meant the first time you enter my alma mater Leuven. And I was also considering just getting a medal, because if you send Evenepoel up the road at 70 k to go and he gets caught and you don't have Wout capable of winning the sprint, then you come away with nothing just as if having sent Remco up the road with 180 k to go. My scenario considers getting a result over no result at all. With Evenepoel going into action on the first Leuven lap, in my opinion, you have the possibility of either a win or a medal, whereas having him attack in the Flandrian circuit is more risky (given the possibility of Wout not haveing the legs to finish it off if he gets caught, as was the case). Only Van Aert can test his own legs. A good plan, however, considers both outcomes (good or bad legs) and the best way to mitigate eventual negative outcomes. As it was, Belgium only seemed to be prepared for good legs as far as Wout was concerened. And I have to say your strategy doesn't offer much of a guarantee for a medal if Wout can't deliver, because it's more likely Remco gets reeled back with an attack from 70 k out than 20 k out.
 
Last edited:
I re-watched the men's race to finally solve the problems that bother this world.

First, the crashes that happened in the first half of the race shaped it to a huge degree. There weren't many teams left that felt strong and had all men available to control the race. Together with the aggressive French approach and the one over-favourite that made for a specific, exciting race.

So. No, Evenepoel did, for large parts, not work for van Aert. In the first part he def. hoped for the breaks to last. He didn't only take turns, he encouraged the other riders to work with him and got even a bit frustrated when they didn't make the effort he wanted them to.
Stuyven didn't do much work for van Aert and van Aert worked a bit for Stuyven, so I'm not sure any telling him earlier to do his own race would have helped Stuyven much.
What's really eyecatching, though, is how the Belgian team doesn't have a strategy how to deal with the things which are happening. Shall they work or follow? They never seem to know. The only one who very consequently joins moves but then refuses to work is Campenaerts. Benoot's role seems also rather defined. The others don't seem to be know which pace to set - the German commentators speculate a few times about the team trying to make the race hard, preparing a long range attack from van Aert - none of that makes much sense. There is no need for van Aert of all people to do a long range attack... but at one point you could indeed think that they are preparing one. For a lot of time they are making the race hard, either by being active in the breaks (mostly Evenepoel, but also Declerq) and setting a very high pace at the front - presumably to get rid of the pure sprinters. Either that was just an intuitive reaction to the French's race, without much thinking, or they actually thought they needed to do this to get rid of people like Caleb Ewan. But if they did, it was not a very clever assessment in my eyes, because obviously enough was already done by other teams to make the race hard and also I had never believed in Ewan to survive until the end, anyway. A hard race was presumably much more against what van Aert wanted, and yet they ended up enhancing it. Was it the French's surprising behaviour? Evenepoel doing his own thing? A lack of communication and strategy talk beforehand? Probably all of it. It definitely would have helped them had they been able to say "yes, Evenepoel there in front is also our leader, if you want to, you chase" instead of "oh, well, yeah, you all already know we are only here for Wout, so..."

Anyway. How could the Italians miss the decisive moves in the earlier race? Incredible. Somehow they ended up with three guys in the final - which was very lucky. I get that they had some serious bad luck with the crashes and that they were a bit confused - but they had a bit of time to reshuffle, and still ended up not joining the moves when one top rider after the other went into the break - that could have gone differently.

Almeida, also missing the decisive moves, ended up worse. I am not sure what he did. He could at least have joined the last straw-move with Politt, but by then he had retreated again. Maybe he just wasn't on his best day anyway. Maybe he was also (similar to the Euros?) really naive in terms of positioning and race tactics.

Speaking of which. Alaphilippe, and also Cosnefroy and Madouas, showed incredible awareness. Not just that the team had a good plan - they were pretty much always positioned perfectly, and did their moves in the right moments. The only time the French totally failed was that first break-away attempt on a big, big open road... after that... I'd say "tactically, they were perfect". Alaphilippe was communicating all the time, touching everyone, talking to everyone... stark contrast to some other teams (maybe he was just talking about the snacks). But what's probably even more important - he has become so good at positioning. Wasn't that rather a weakness of him once? It's not the first race he did that in, but really, he always knows now when he can hang a bit at the back, where to save some energy, and is always at the front in the important moments, and also on the right side. His final 20k were a crazy ride, risking it all in every corner. Cosnefroy did an incredible amount of work, always initiating new moves or at least following the ones that happened. Still placed very well.

But Pidcock, indeed, is the guy I think could have won the race instead, had he clung to Alaphilippe... Well, he's young.

The Slovenians are another team whose tactics I didn't really get. In the end Mohoric was there in the final and just lacked the extra-legs, so it didn't matter much. But at times it really seemed like Tratnik was riding for Mohoric, yes, but Roglic and Pogacar were mostly doing their own, individual race, independent from that.

I didn't get the Danes' strategy, which was surely influenced by the crashes and Asgreen not feeling so well. And with Valgren on the podium the end result was not so bad. Still, why, again, did Magnus Cort join the second break? Were they so sure he wouldn't last the long distance? What exactly Asgreen was doing at times I also didn't get, one moment he seemed to ride for himself, next as a helper, next for himself, next as a helper. Who were their designated leaders? Well, whatever...

The Dutch would probably have been better off with making van Baarle a real captain from the beginning, because he really worked quite a bit before the final. Wait, does that mean I think he could have become world champion? Maybe. At least as much as more likely than Stuyven.

Powless would have profited from a stronger team and a bit of brains. But he's got it in him! He just needs to ride with a bit of sense and conserve a bit of energy. (Not too much, I like it that way.)

All in all, really great race from 160k out. Now as soon as I find the time I need to watch the Euros again.
 
I didn't get the Danes' strategy, which was surely influenced by the crashes and Asgreen not feeling so well. And with Valgren on the podium the end result was not so bad. Still, why, again, did Magnus Cort join the second break? Were they so sure he wouldn't last the long distance? What exactly Asgreen was doing at times I also didn't get, one moment he seemed to ride for himself, next as a helper, next for himself, next as a helper. Who were their designated leaders? Well, whatever...
That's probably the issue; easier to say who weren't "designated leaders": from what I recall it was - *drumroll! * - Bjerg, Kron and Würtz.
 
The really cool part of the French tactics was that Senechal had no work to do so if JA blew up and it came to the sprint he would be there and be relatively fresh. Okay, Colbrelli beat him from the small bunch but he still beat MvdP and the undisputed number one of Belgium.
Anyway the more I think of it, Quickstep road the perfect race.
 
Reactions: noob and BlueRoads

ASK THE COMMUNITY