Home > News

World champion Julian Alaphilippe defends title in Flanders

Canadian national champion Guillaume Boivin takes 17th

French swashbuckler Julian Alaphilippe soloed to victory on Sunday’s conclusion to the Flanders 2021 road world championships amid an electric atmosphere, defending his rainbow jersey. The Frenchman was animated in the final quarter of the race and Sunday’s deserving winner. Belgian favourite Wout Van Aert finished just outside the top-10. Canadian national champion Guillaume Boivin took 17th place.

The elite men would leave Antwerp, take a 15.5 km Leuven lap, round the 31.8-km Flanders circuit, come back to Leuven for four laps, head back to the Flanders circuit and then return to Leuven for two and a half finishing laps. In all the riders faced 42 hills in exhausting 268.5 km.

An eight-man breakaway shuffled away early and elicited a strong chase group containing Remco Evenepoe and Primoz Roglic on the Overijse circuit. Both the original fugitives and the chase were brought back.

A surge from Nils Politt of Germany on the four Leuven circuits with 95 km to go created another break containing Evenepoel. Great Britain, Mark Cavendish having abandoned the race earlier, worked to bring this 11-rider group back before a return to the Flanders circuit.

The Evenepoel break had 30 seconds by the time it returned to the Smeysberg on the Flanders circuit. The Moskesstraat reduced the escapee numbers and brought the streamlined peloton closer. Belgium stayed on the front of the field, not exactly blocking for Evenepoel.

On the Bekestraat Alaphilippe attacked. Wout Van Aert, Sonny Colbrelli, Tom Pidcock, Mathieu van der Poel and several others went along. The Alaphilippe and Evenepoel groups merged with 53 km to go and the Danes worked to sew it all up, but instead Michael Valgren joined the bunch in front.

The Alaphilippe-Van Aert-van der Poel group joins the Evenepoel group with 53 km to go.

On the final passage of Smeysberg, Alaphilippe hit the gas and only Colbrelli could go with him. The duo didn’t stay clear, but the chase was put further in the rear view mirror. There were three Frenchmen, Italians and Belgians, and two Dutch riders among the 17.

With 38 km and the Leuven circuits remaining, the break’s gap was 1:17. On Sint-Antoniusberg Belgium was still driving the move, whipping the crowds into a frenzy and increasing the lead. Kilometre after kilometre, Evenepoel turned himself inside out at the front of the group for Van Aert, and after Remco popped, Italy grabbed the reins.

On Wijnpers, Alaphilippe sent a teammate on the attack, followed and then blew past him. Just as it began to come back together, the French buccaneer went again, but he couldn’t get those who joined him to work.

Alaphilippe was extremely animated on Sunday.

With 17 km to race, the Frenchman launched yet again and this time went solo. When he heard the bell he was 10 seconds ahead of a quartet of chasers. It was white-knuckle stuff as Alaphilippe stayed around 12 seconds clear on the Keizersberg before increasing his lead on the Decouxlaan.

Behind, Jasper Stuyven (Belgium), Michael Valgren (Denmark), Neilson Powless (USA) and Dylan van Baarle (The Netherlands) competed for the podium.

Alaphilippe celebrated in the final 500 metres, exhorting the crowd’s roar.

Van Baarle snagged silver and Valgren claimed the bronze.

Boivin, who had been in a second chase group, came in 17th, by far his best Worlds performance.

Next year’s World Championships take place in Wollongong, Australia.

2021 UCI Road World Championships, Elite Men’s Road Race
Gold) Julian Alaphilippe (France) 5:56:34
Silver) Dylan van Baarle (The Netherlands) +0:32
Bronze) Michael Valgren (Denmark) s.t.
17) Guillaume Boivin (Canada) +5:25