Julian Alaphilippe defends rainbow jersey with blazing world championship ride

Alaphilippe defends 2020 title with solo move after blasting van Aert, van der Poel and stellar group of favorites off his wheel in final 20km.

Photo: Getty Images

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Julian Alaphilippe scored a stunning second world title with a huge attacking ride in Flanders on Sunday.

The Frenchman launched a series of moves through the final that blew a group of pre-race favorites, including Wout van Aert (Belgium), Sonny Colbrelli (Italy) and Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), from his wheel as he rampaged to his title defense.

“I came here relaxed and motivated this week and have worked well the past few days. I knew what I had to do, the course suited me. But even then, I never thought I’d go this far in the final,” Alaphilippe said.

“I went for it, my first attack followed by a second. And then it was giving everything … how I hurt myself. I have no words for this triumph.”

Dylan van Baarle (Netherlands) and Michael Valgren (Denmark) rounded out the podium as Belgium missed the medals after a day of dominating the action.

The 25-year-old American Neilson Powless had a standout race to finish fifth.

Alaphilippe had formed part of a stellar lead group that went into the final 30 kilometers of Leuven loops after the Frenchman forced the decisive split with 60km to go in the Flandrien section of the race. Italy, France and Belgium all had three riders in the front selection of 17, with Powless, van Aert, van der Poel, Valgren and Jasper Stuyven (Belgium) among those in the attack.

Alaphilippe laid the first of a series of world title-defending hammerblows at 20km to go, launching a huge attack on the Wijnpers climb. The Frenchman continued attacking in the kilometers afterward, and the series of accelerations saw van Aert struggle, leaving Jasper Stuyven to mark.

Powless, Valgren and van Baarle joined Stuyven in the chase behind Alaphilippe while a group of top-tier favorites including van Aert, van der Poel and Colbrelli suffered behind and were never to be seen again.

Alaphilippe began to look fatigued through the final 10km but somehow kept gaining ground over the four-strong chase group as the quartet behind began thinking about the sprint for the medals rather than making a raid on the rainbow jersey.

With the chase behind malfunctioning, Alaphilippe had the road all to himself as he soloed up the grinding finishing straight, applauding the stacked crowds as he crossed the finish line for his second world title.

Powless led out the sprint for silver 30 seconds behind the Frenchman, but van Baarle and Valgren won the photo-finish sprint to score silver and bronze.

Van der Poel, van Aert and Colbrelli followed in a group a further 50 seconds back. Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) had played a major part in the race, marking every key move and motoring in the chase groups for van Aert before blowing up at 30km to go.

Evenepoel everywhere in early moves

The race made for a firecracker as attacks started flying far earlier than expected.

Evenepoel marked out an attack from Benoit Cosnefroy (France) at 180km to go. More than a dozen riders jumped across soon after, and Evenepoel wasn’t shy in cranking the pace rather than slowing the move for van Aert in the peloton behind.

Italy was the only major nation to miss the first break and were forced to burn through matches for some 50km as they pulled back the escape group.

The Belgian squad massed to the front to exert control through the middle of the chaotic race. The entire team lined up at the front for around an hour and set a searing pace that stopped attacks. Nils Politt Germany) finally broke the deadlock at 90km to go after a series of attacks from the French.

Evenepoel was again the first to mark and 9 other riders representing all the major nations except Great Britain dashed across, but this time, the Belgian wunderkind played a more cagey game as he raced for his captain van Aert.

Alaphilippe forces the final selection on Flandrien circuit

The race started to break to bits on the Flandrien circuit. Riders fell out of the break to leave just Powless with Evenepoel and three others while the peloton fragmented behind.

Alaphilippe’s all-attacking ride kickstarted at 60km to go on the steep Bekestraat cobbled climb. The defending champ turned on the gas as van Aert and Stuyven stuck to his wheel. Van der Poel, Colbrelli, Pidcock, Stybar, Valgren and van Baarle were among those that dived across with the trio to catch the five leaders and create the extra strong lead group that went on to contest the finale.

Evenepoel continued his huge day as domestique by pulling the group through the start of the final circuits before finally blowing up, his work for van Aert done.

World Championships ME - Road Race Results

1ALAPHILIPPE JulianFrance5:56:34
2VAN BAARLE DylanNetherlands0:32
3VALGREN MichaelDenmark0:32
4STUYVEN JasperBelgium0:32
5POWLESS NeilsonUnited States0:32
6PIDCOCK ThomasGreat Britain0:49
7ŠTYBAR ZdeněkCzech Republic1:06
8VAN DER POEL MathieuNetherlands1:18
9SÉNÉCHAL FlorianFrance1:18
10COLBRELLI SonnyItaly1:18
11VAN AERT WoutBelgium1:18
12HOELGAARD MarkusNorway1:18
13MADOUAS ValentinFrance1:18
14MOHORIČ MatejSlovenia4:00
15NIZZOLO GiacomoItaly4:05
16POLITT NilsGermany5:25
17BOIVIN GuillaumeCanada5:25
18POLANC JanSlovenia5:25
19COSNEFROY BenoîtFrance5:30
20CAMPENAERTS VictorBelgium5:30
21KRISTOFF AlexanderNorway6:27
22TEUNISSEN MikeNetherlands6:27
23GARCÍA CORTINA IvánSpain6:27
24ULISSI DiegoItaly6:27
25MATTHEWS MichaelAustralia6:27
26SAGAN PeterSlovakia6:27
27TEUNS DylanBelgium6:27
28SCHÖNBERGER SebastianAustria6:27
29MOLLEMA BaukeNetherlands6:27
30MEZGEC LukaSlovenia6:27
31BENOOT TiesjBelgium6:27
32VAKOČ PetrCzech Republic6:27
33BYSTRØM Sven ErikNorway6:27
34LAENGEN Vegard StakeNorway6:27
35HAYTER EthanGreat Britain6:27
36KWIATKOWSKI MichałPoland6:27
37POGAČAR TadejSlovenia6:27
38GAMPER PatrickAustria6:27
39OLIVEIRA RuiPortugal6:27
40NYCH ArtemRussia6:31
41KÜNG StefanSwitzerland6:31
42IZAGIRRE GorkaSpain6:31
43ERVITI ImanolSpain6:31
44SERRANO GonzaloSpain6:31
45DILLIER SilvanSwitzerland6:31
46BENEDETTI CesarePoland6:31
47ALMEIDA JoãoPortugal6:31
48ROGLIČ PrimožSlovenia6:31
49ARASHIRO YukiyaJapan6:31
50KUDUS MerhawiEritrea6:31
51TILLER RasmusNorway6:31
52LIEPIŅŠ EmīlsLatvia6:31
53RODRÍGUEZ CarlosSpain6:39
54GOGL MichaelAustria6:40
55OLIVEIRA NelsonPortugal6:40
56DÉMARE ArnaudFrance6:48
57CRADDOCK LawsonUnited States6:49
58MOSCON GianniItaly6:52
59ADRIÀ RogerSpain7:04
60SKUJIŅŠ TomsLatvia7:07
61LAMPAERT YvesBelgium7:22
62EVENEPOEL RemcoBelgium7:22
63LIENHARD FabianSwitzerland15:43
64CHAVES EstebanColombia15:43
65SOTO Nelson AndrésColombia17:18
66EENKHOORN PascalNetherlands17:18
67ARNDT NikiasGermany17:18
68ZIMMERMANN GeorgGermany17:18

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.

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