September 28, 2013 (Florence, Italy) – A risky but potent move on the steep Via Salviati “wall” on the last lap paid off as Mathieu Van Der Poel (Ned) added another World championship title to his laurels.
The young flying Dutchman, also the cyclo-cross world champion, grabbed the gold by timing his final attack perfectly at the most painful part of the course – a 10-16% grade that lasted for only 600 meters. But after climbing it five times on a circuit that started in Florence, the test of his rival’s pain threshold was the key to his stunning victory as none were up to his challenge.
Van de Poel is no stranger to such climbs, and the 140.05km course he admitted suited his strenghts well. Climbing the back hills of San Domenica and Fiesole was more a question of waiting for the right moment hoping and his postion and legs were in the right place when it was time to act.
After he peeled off on the brutal ascent it became an ITT for him for the last 5.2kms as he claimed his first road race title with Mads Pedersen (DEN), winner of the Junior Paris-Roubaix, taking home the silver, and Iltjan Nika (ALB) the bronze, Albania’s first Road Worlds medal.
Van Der Poel won in 3:33:14, only three seconds ahead though he coasted the last 200 meters in happy disbelief, grabbing a Dutch flag along the way as he celebrated with glee while the peloton vied for the bunch sprint. Nika, who is also the first Albanian to win a World title in cycling, was besides himself as was the crowd noticed his accomplishment after a long day in the saddle.
Van Der Poel, from a well-known cycling pedigree, has added yet another prestigious family honor to the long list. His father, Adrie, won various Classics in road racing, and his grandfather was the legendary Raymond Poulider, who also won various one-day races, stage wins and GC podium placements in the TdF as well as winning La Vuelta.
Canada’s Henrik Pineda came out strong for the first two laps of the 16.6km loop through Fielsole and it’s Category 3 climb (which spit out over 60 riders onto the DNF list), but the gradient finally took its toll as he did not finish. Nor the did teammates Adam Jameson, Sean Mackinnon or Felix Lapointe who looked strong for most of the race. William Elliott, however, placed 104th with a time of 3:44:15 at 10:50 behind the winner.
In our interviews with them shortly after the race there’s a good feeling despite the day’s grueling effort. It was satisfying day but many of the riders took one thing home with them for next year – sometimes it’s worth taking two water bottles despite of the added weight as many complained of dehydration – interviews here.
Full results here.
Quotes from the Podium:
Mathieu Van Der Poel: “I hadn’t prepared the attack, but I understood I had to to it once I saw Bonnamour increasing the gap. The technical descent helped me a lot. During the time trials, my back hurt, today my leg hurt but it wasn’t too much of a problem. My father’s suggestions? He told me that I should wait, because the race would be tough, and so I did. It’s my third world title, but it’s the first in a road race, so it’s very special”.
Mads Pedersen: “No regrets. Today Van Der Poel was too strong. Moreover, in the last kilometres I had cramps. It was a tough day, in the end there were three of us from Denmark, and we did our best”.
Iltjan Nika: “I’m proud of winning this first medal for Albania, I hope it’s just the beginning. I live around here so I was racing at home, basically. I tried to race with the leaders, taking advantage of the work done by the other teams”.
Double Dutch treat at World Championships as Vos wins Back to Back Titles in Elite Women’s Road Race
The orange Tuscan sunset in Florence seemed tailor-made as the Dutch claimed two world titles in both races today. Marianne Vos turned on her turbos at almost the same spot as Matthieu Van Der Poel did in the morning to break away from her rivals and finish in a time of 3:44:00 to defend her title. Emma Johansson (Sweden) took home the silver while Rossella Ratto (Italy) made local tifosi proud with the bronze.
With another turn-herself-inside-out performance on the last climb of the day, Vos (NED) replicated her back-to-back Road World titles in the same fashion – attacking on the steepest incline challenging any riders who dared for the World crown. It was an almost identical move that she made on last year’s Cauberg in Valkenburg, that stripped her competitors of any hope to find a chink in her superwoman armour.
At the first part of the 140.02km race it looked calm as the peloton came into Florence from Montecatini together, but the American team had plans to set up Evelyn Stevens for the win, controlling the race and pace at over 40km/hr which by Fiesole’s second lap completely splintered the field save the Italian and Dutch teams. But Vos hasn’t won over eight world titles because she’s a push over.
After the third climb in Fiesole, the field began to split up into two chase groups when the Italians Cauz and Zorzi attacked and split the peloton. By the time they ascended the wall of pain on Via Salviati, they got reeled in and it was time for Lucina Brand (Ned) and Australia’s Tiffany Cromwell to mix it up. Canada’s Joelle Numainville and Karol-Anne Canuel made the split to the front group but their teammates were suffering from the pace.
On the penultimate lap a strong group of eight formed on the descent that would prove to be the final selection – Vos and Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands), Stevens, Johansson, Cromwell and Italy’s Ratto, Tatiana Guderzo and Elisa Longo Borghini. As the seconds ticked by a flurry of challenges saw five riders emerge for the final contenders. Johansson jumped but Vos countered with an even stronger kick and the rest was history.
Vos, who at age 26 seems to be unbeatable and despite her numerous silver medal finishes as well, has been compared to Eddy Merckx as a rider who can win at just about any type of race. “Until the last lap, I didn’t feel too confident,” said Vos. “I felt good, but on the longer climb I wasn’t the best. On the steep climb, I could attack. That’s when you can make tactical moves. I knew with one lap left, this had to be the best moment to go.”
Another major threat was Stevens (5th place), who attacked twice during the final laps, shedding off Italian team members, which actually helped Vos – but Stevens couldn’t respond to Vos’ attack as well.
The silver medalists Johansson (SWE) and bronze Ratto (ITA) tried in vain to catch Vos, but by the last 800 meters Vos knew she she had it won easily down the last flat stretch beating them by 15 seconds after Johansson battled the Italian sensation in the final sprint for the silver.
Canada’s Numainville said it so well: “Everything went out the window when the American team splintered up the field with a high pace – then we just tried to regroup.” That summed up the race today as various groups tried to bridge up or simply hold their own pace. Of 141 starters only 46 riders survived, including Canada’s Karol-Anne Canuel who finished 33rd at 7:40 behind. Lex Abrecht, Leah Kirchmann, Denise Ramsden, Veronique Fortin and Numainville gave their best until the last lap when they were pulled – check our interviews here for their perspectives on today’s race.
Qoutes from the Podium:
Marianne Vos (NED): “Winning the second Championship in the row was hard, much harder than last year, especially because the Italians made our race really tough. At the beginning of the last lap, I already knew I was going to attack on Via Salviati and not in Fiesole. I really didn’t want to lose my rainbow jersey after racing one year with it. Anna Van Der Breggen’s help was fundamental in this race.”
Emma Johansson (SWE): “Marianne’s sprint was impossible to keep for me and Rossella. We tried to catch up to her in the last kilometres, but even there she was too strong. It was hard to race on my own when the Dutch and the Italians had such strong teams, but in the end my mind and my legs worked well.”
Rossella Ratto (ITA): “At the beginning of the last lap, the other Italians and I decided that I was to be the one on Marianne’s wheel while the others would be attacking. I wanted to do well because I knew there would be a lot of Italian supporters. Riding in such a beautiful place is rare, and reaching the podium is a dream come true.”
Full results here.