Irresistible, the young Belgian prodigy Remco Evenepoel became world cycling champion on Sunday in Wollongong (Australia) after a solo raid of more than thirty kilometers, ahead of Frenchman Christophe Laporte (2nd) and Australian Michael Matthews (3rd). ). The 22-year-old Flemish offers his country its first world title in ten years after already becoming, two weeks ago at the Vuelta, the first Belgian to win a Grand Tour since 1978.
2 min 21 sec ahead of the first peloton
He won alone with 2 min 21 sec ahead of the first peloton regulated by Christophe Laporte, after 266.9 km of a race contested under a bright sun. “I’m super happy. I dreamed of being world champion. A monument, a classic, a Grand Tour, the World…: I won everything this year, it’s incredible”, reacted the one who also won Liège-Bastogne-Liège in the spring and the Classica San Sebastian this summer.
The Belgian succeeds Frenchman Julian Alaphilippe, who had won the last two editions but could not join the fight for the top places this time.
A race marked by the retirement of Mathieu van der Poel
The race was also marked by the early abandonment of Mathieu van der Poel, one of the great favorites but who had no strength left after about thirty kilometers after being arrested by the police and passing part of the night at the police station.
The Dutchman is accused of pushing two teenage girls who were preventing him from sleeping in the hallway of his hotel room. Taken to the police station and charged with two cases of assault, he is due to appear in an Australian court on Tuesday.
The line crossed, the finger on the mouth
Evenepoel made the difference 35 kilometers from the finish by breaking out of a group of twenty-five riders who had taken control and were then about two minutes ahead of the peloton which included the main favorites, including Wout van Aert, Julian Alaphilippe and Tadej Pogacar.
Very restless since the start of the stage, impressively powerful, Evenepoel was only accompanied by the Kazakh Alexey Lutsenko, whom he then released on the penultimate climb of Mount Pleasant, on the urban circuit of Wollongong. “I felt I was the strongest, there was no time to waste on such a circuit, after that I kept pushing,” explained Evenepoel.
Switched to time trial mode, the bronze medalist in last Sunday’s time trial continued to extend his lead to earn the right to savor his exploit for a long time. He crossed the line, his finger on his mouth, as if to silence the critics, many in his country.
Revenge for Belgium
For Belgium, it’s a brilliant revenge on last year when the team had melted away at home under the pressure and the rivalry between Evenepoel and Van der Aert. The other great Flemish leader, fourth on Sunday, will therefore have to wait at least another year to hope to win the rainbow jersey that makes him dream.
“Today we ran as a team, it was for him or for me. The attack from afar paid off, we deserve it,” commented Evenepoel.
The French, who had animated the whole start of the race and had three riders in the leading group (Bardet, Sivakov, Pacher), for their part did not manage to follow but saw their efforts rewarded with the silver medal of Christopher Laporte.
“He’s a very strong runner who wins and a very strong runner who makes two. So we can’t have any regrets today”, commented Alaphilippe, positive despite the loss of his jersey. In the table of medals by nation, Belgium now has 27 titles, ahead of Italy (19) and France (10).