Road World Championships 2021 news - Men's Road Race Follow LIVE as Wout van Aert goes for glory
Join Nick Christian for live coverage of the final event of the 2021 Road World Championships in Belgium with the men's road race. Can anyone stop home favourite Wout van Aert from taking glory? Or will we get another fairytale win like last year when it was Julian Alaphilippe took the rainbow jersey.
Belgian Wout van Aert pictured in action during the elite men road race of the UCI World Championships Road Cycling Flanders 2021, 268,3km from Antwerp to Leuven on Sunday 26 September 2021. The Worlds take place from 19 to 26 September 2021, in several c
In the sprint for the podium places, Michael Valgren hits out first, before being overwhelmed by Van Baarle. Stuyven misses out. Tom Pidcock comes through in sixth place.
The flamme rouge: He knows it
Julian Alaphilippe wags a finger at the camera. He lit up this race and has fought for every kilometre of this victory.
2.3km to go: The Sint-Antoniusberg is all that separates Julian Alaphilippe from a second set of rainbow bands.
Thomas Voeckler in the team car urges him on. It’s going to happen.
5km to go: Stuyven fights to salvage something for Belgium
It’s looking like a hometown podium place at best now, but Powless, Valgren, Van Baarle are gifting him nothing. Further back Tom Pidcock is doing his best to secure as high a finish for himself as possible.
6.6km to go: Alaphilippe is riding to glory
It’s over for group three and increasingly for group two as well. Julian Alaphilippe has found energy where it looked to be lost, as he dances up the third from last climb of the race. He’s heading to two in a row, and only the seventh rider to successfully defend the rainbows.
10km to go: Are you not entertained?
Julian Alaphilippe is laying it all on the line. The gap isn’t huge, barely more than ten seconds, but he can ride without hesitation, unlike those behind, even as he seems to be tiring. If the Belgians had a script, the defending champion is determined to rip it up. The Flemish fans boo as he goes by. 30 seconds from the front to the Van Aert group.
15.3km to go: Attack number three from Alaphilippe
On the Sint-Antoniusberg. And this time no-one seems able to go with him. Van Baarle, Stuyven, Powless, Valgren on the chase. The defending champion takes the bell.
21.5km: Madouas sets up Alaphilippe for an attack on the Wijnpers climbs
He’s determined to break this race apart. As Bagiolli, Mohoric fall out the back, Stybar, Van Baarle and Stuyven are forced to chase. Meanwhile Van Der Poel and Van Aer are looking each other from behind.
26km to go: Evenepoel pulls over
He hands over to Jasper Stuyven. Astonishing pull from Remco, answering his critics and then some today. We're entering a new phase of this race and the games are about to begin.
30km to go: How does Pidcock win this?
With two laps of Leuven to go, he’s on his own in this group. He’s relying on it coming down to a sprint, which plenty of others will be fine with, but there will be attacks that he can’t afford not to follow. That'll take a lot out of his legs. Tactically it's very tricky for him.
36km to go: 1:20 and rising for the lead group
Team cars come forward. The winner of the race is coming from these seventeen. I’m not calling it but one thing I will point to is that we haven't said much about Mathieu Van Der Poel so far, and he's up there.
48km to go: Big push on the Smeysberg from the defending champion
Huge dig from Alaphilippe which only Sonny Colbrelli can follow. The lead group regains contact on the descent.
Three riders from France, three from Belgium and three from Italy in this move. They've been riding for 220km and remain ahead of the fastest schedule by several minutes.
53km to go: The Van Aert group catches the Evenepoel group
“Go go go!” says the senior rider to the junior man, who does just that. Portugal fighting to shut things down. It’s going to be tough for them. The “peloton” is now barely bigger than the front group.
58km to go: Alaphilippe makes his move
Stybar, Colbrelli, Van Aert, Stuyven, Mohoric follows. Pidcock chasing not far behind. Portugal are fighting to close the gap.
64km to go: This move is coming back
Very much within sight for the reduced peloton over the Moskesstraat climb, tempting new attacks out of the bunch. Jan Tratnik is one rider who has been dropped, which brings the likes of Tadej Pogacar into play. Primoz Roglic is there as well and Matej Mohoric isn’t out of it either.
67km to go: Nathan Haas goes down in style
This is how it’s done:
71km to go: 50 seconds for the break
This is the ideal situation for Belgium. The only question: when does Remco Evenepoel make his move? We know he’ll go solo at some point, but how late can he afford to leave it?
This is fascinating in about twenty different ways. “Can we have the Worlds in Flanders every year?” says Rob Hatch.
84km to go: A new break has formed
Remco is in it again, along with Valentin Madouas (France), Jan Tratnik (Slovenia), Andrea Bagioli (Italy), Dylan Van Baarle (Netherlands), Mads, Wurtz Schmidt (Denmark), Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spain), Robert Stannard (Australia), Nils Politt (Germany), Rasmus Tiller (Norway), Neilson Powless (USA).
Great Britain has missed out and is the team having to chase, while maintain their key riders in as good shape for a finale as possible. The gap is 30 seconds, as we head back out to the rural hills of the Flandrien circuit.
90km to go: Attack from Nils Politt
He looks to have timed it well, as there’s some hesitation behind.
The paradox, as Adam Blythe points out, is that “everyone wants to follow but not have to chase.” That’s also what makes it an opportunity for the likes of Politt.
97km to go: 19 climbs left
More than halfway through the hills and tractor (slash terminator) Tim Declercq is back on the front up the short ascent of the St. Antoniusberg. The peloton is now well under 100 riders strong, with Team GB down to about four riders for Tom Pidcock. “Attritional” doesn’t come close to painting the picture.
107km to go: Average speed 44.4km/h
That puts the race somewhat ahead of the fastest schedule, and it’s not going to get slower from hereon. Finally Tim Declercq makes way at the front after a massive last turn. Matej Mohoric for Slovenia is well positioned.
113km to go: 36 riders out of the race so far
Including Matteo Trentin, who did all that work for his team earlier, Danny Van Poppel, Max Schachmann and Marc Hirschi.
The indefatigable Tim Declercq is back on the front of the peloton, keeping the pace high, for Belgium, while Remoc appears to be on the naughty step.
118km to go: France forcing others to chase
Cosnefroy and Turgis attack for what feels like the umpteenth time. This time Belgium have Victor Campenaerts and Jasper Stuyven following, while Great Britain leave it to Connor Swift. You can’t turn away from this race for a moment.
122km to go: Belgium policing things
As they head into town again, though strung out, the race seems to be as one. MVDP was caught on the wrong side of a split but he got away with it.
It’s been a constant parade of attacks. Every time they calm down, someone is unhappy with the new status quo and stirs the pot. Fascinating racing.
132km to go: Coming back together on the Decouxlaan
As they push over the longest climb of the race, Italy’s work appears to have paid off, with their prey almost within reach. They can take a well-earned rest for a bit now, and will Remco take a well-earned telling off?
Where will the next piece of action come from? “Come on Remco, attack!” says Adam Blythe, who lives for drama.
140km to go: Crash in the feedzone
Ryan Gibbons of South Africa takes a big hit and doesn’t look to be getting up again. Spain’s Ivan Garcia Cortina also involved. The peloton is seriously strung out, giving some idea of the monstrous speeds it's going.
144km to go: Less than 1 minute gap for the break
This is a pepperoni pizza of a world’s, the spiciest we’ve seen in some time, as the peloton pushes over the Sint-Antoniusberg climb and crosses the line in Leuven for the second time.
“I’m so happy I’ve retired” says Adam Blythe on commentary.
153km to go: Has Remco gone rogue?
Tim Declercq seemed to be remonstrating with the young Belgian for riding so hard, while Evenepoel seems unhappy with others in the group for not riding hard enough. He’s said that he’s all in for Wout van Aert, but he’s also been criticised on occasion for not being as much of a team player as he ought to be. The gap to the peloton from group two is forty seconds and Italy are really having to work hard to keep it as low as that. Matteo Trentin has been on the front for miles.
161km to go: One minute lead for the chasing group
And all the big nations bar one represented, with some proper winners involved.
Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) Magus Cort (Denmark) Ben Swift (Great Britain) Arnaud Demare (France) Benoit Cosnefroy (France) Tim Declercq (Belgium) Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) Jan Tratnik (Slovenia) Primoz Roglic (Slovenia) Nathan Haas (Australia) Brandon McNulty (USA) Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands) Imanol Erviti (Spain) Marcus Hoelgaard (Norway)
Four Belgians on the front of the bunch impeding Italian efforts to control things. This could go a long way.
168km to go: 7 climbs down 42 to go
And there are kicks being delivered all over the place. The Swiss are particularly active, along with Great Britain. Trying to make sense of what we have, and whether we have it, but it looks like we may have a very serious group of riders forming.
175km to go: A Smeysberg attack
Moments after I publish the below, Julian Alaphilippe gives his team-mate the nod and we suddenly have three riders clipped off the front on the climb. Remco follows Cosnefroy, who has Magnus Cort on his wheel. They’ve already got thirty seconds and the Italians are now seriously on the back foot. Plenty of other teams who won't be happy with this either, though.
181km to go: Moves being made
Remco Evenepoel is playing the role of policeman as the likes of the French, in the form of Benoit Cosenefroy, and the Swiss with Michael Schar come to the fore.
This race is far from predictable, and with so many lumps and bumps that can act as launchpads for attacks, it’s unlikely to settle into an easy pattern.
186km to go: Crash!
At the back of the peloton. Caused by a lapse in concentration, a touch of wheels, from the Italians. Mads Pedersen was looking behind him and had nowhere to go but over the bodies. He's up, fortunately, as his Matteo Trentin, but Davide Ballerini looks like he landed hard.
190km to go: Belgian fans are OUT
It might not be the most beautiful country in the world, but when the bike racing comes to town Belgium transforms into something magnificent.
204km to go: The state of the nation
We’re 64km in to the race and the breakaway has just passed the finish line in Leuven for the first time.
The eight riders with up the road, with a gap hovering around 4:30, are…
76 Jose Hernandez (Colombia) 105 Joel Coral Burbano (Ecuador) 113 Pavel Kochetkov (Russian Cycling Federation) 135 Patrick Gamper (Austria) 146 Rory Townsend (Ireland) 153 Oskar Nisu (Estonia) 180 Kim Magnusson (Sweden) 191 Jambaljamts Sainbayar (Mongolia)
Denmark and Belgium are sharing duties on the front of the peloton. We’re going to see a fair bit of Tim Declerq in these first few hours.
Welkom in vlaanderen
For the second blue riband event of Flanders 2021, the men’s World Championship road race.
We’ve seen some grumbling on Twitter - where else? - that the course is not as close to that of the Tour of Flanders as they might have expected. But of course it’s not. When you’ve already got the cycling world’s undivided attention for one day each year, the point of hosting another big event is to put a few more of your wares in the shop window.
Which is why the route contains none of the bigger bergs and most challenging cobbles you’ll find in De Ronde. It does
And while it is not an objectively hard course, all that means is that everyone can get round, which is more-or-less true of any elite parcours. This is nevertheless one that can easily be made to be tough, and there are certainly teams that will want it that way.
There are also those, like Australia, Colombia and Germany, who think it could come down to a sprint. And then there are the teams, one in particular, who can handle almost any scenario that unfolds.
Make no mistake, the home squad are here to win, and to win with Wout.
Unfortunately for the boys in bleu, every other country is going to do everything in their power to prevent them from doing so. Few have left out any of their highest calibre weapons.
The firepower on display today is immense.
France, though obviously seeking to defend the rainbows for Julian, have Arnaud Demare and Remi Cavagna as strong back-up options. Slovenia also have three riders who can win, though Primoz Roglic is likely to be their nominated leader.
Italy’s squad, while arguably weaker at its strongest point than that of the other big nations, contains even more options. Sonny Colbrelli is in the form of his life, but a willing wind could nod almost any of their riders into contention.
Let’s not pretend we don’t want to see a resumption of the Van Aert v Van Der Poel show, though. Expect a lot of “Kamaan Wout” signs on the side of the road today.
Grab yourself a Stella, because the next five hours are gonna be a rough and tumble rollercoaster ride where quite literally several different scenarios and outcomes are possible.
Opinion: Dramatic shift in women's cycling enhanced by greater coverage
This year, women’s cycling is the most competitive it’s ever been, and it is the most accessible it has ever been, and those two things run in correlation.
Across 2021, many of the Women’s World Tour and classics have been broadcast live, along with commentary and analysis (on Eurosport & GCN in the UK at least), though not all, and along with the huge amount of talent in the peloton, the viewing experience has improved.
By being able to watch the majority of races unfold live, audiences can see the evolution of the peloton across a season, the progress certain riders have made, the learnings and experience they gain and use in subsequent races. The way they focus on working for their team-mates in some races and challenge for the win in others, and the UCI world championships have been no different this week.
Read more of Niamh Lewis' thoughts from the women's road here.
You can watch the 2021 UCI Road World Championships live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries.