Netherlands' Mathieu van der Poel is new world road cycling champion

Mathieu van der Poel is the new world road cycling champion. He won solo on Sunday in Glasgow, Scotland, at the end of a 271.1 km road race from Edinburgh. The Dutch cyclist beat Belgian Wout van Aert, who placed second at 1:37 and Slovenia's Tadej Pogacar in third (+1:45).

After the race, 28-year-old van der Poel was pleased with the victory. "I have achieved the biggest goal of my career," he said in reaction to his first world title. "This victory means everything to me. It's fantastic. I can't believe I get to ride in the rainbow jersey for a year."

Van der Poel started his decisive attack some 22 km from the finish line when he pursued Alberto Bettiol along with van Aert, Mads Pedersen and Pogacar. "I knew I had to attack at that moment," he said. "Especially because of the succession of turns and hills. I didn't expect an immediate lead, but when I saw I had a gap, I immediately went full on, and that gave me wings."

Recovery after a crash

Even a rather heavy crash, after a slide in a sharp turn, could not keep him from victory. "At my crash, I thought it was over. I was mostly angry with myself," he said. "I didn't think I was taking risks, yet suddenly I was on the ground. To finish it then doesn't make it more beautiful, but it does make it more special. But I wouldn't have slept a few nights if it had cost me my world title."

The race began on an overcast but dry day. A group of nine riders broke away from the 195-strong peloton. Colombian Harold Tejada, Austrian Patrick Gamper, Briton Owain Doull, Australian Matthew Dinham, American Kevin Vermaerke, Irishman Rory Townsend, New Zealander Ryan Christensen, Latvian Krists Neilands and Czech Petr Kelemen had a lead of almost eight minutes when the race was interrupted by an environmental protest. It took nearly an hour before the race could restart.

Remco upset

Belgians Van Aert and Remco Evenepoel accelerated in turn with around 60 km to go. With 55 km to go, as Bettiol attacked, the rain began to fall. The tortuous circuit, with its many bends and small inclines, became slippery. A quartet of Van Aert, Pedersen, Pogacar and Van der Poel formed behind Bettiol with 42 km to go.

With 36 km to go, Evenepoel, in a second chasing group, dropped out, giving up hope of retaining his rainbow jersey. At 16 km van der Poel crashed but regained his place and entered the final lap 30 seconds ahead of Van Aert, Pogacar and Pedersen.

The final stretch

Van der Poel widened the gap further and went to the finish line with a stunning lead. This is his first world title on the road, having already won five rainbow jerseys in cyclocross. His 45 road victories include two Tours of Flanders, the Strade Bianche, Milan-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix, a stage in the Tour de France, one in the Giro d'Italia and a national championship title. This is the Netherlands' first title since Joop Zoetemelk in 1985.

Behind him, Van Aert overtook Pogacar and Pedersen to take second place. The Slovenian overtook the Dane in the sprint for third place. Switzerland's Stefan Küng took fifth place, just ahead of Jasper Stuyven. A third Belgian in the top-10 was Tiesj Benoot in ninth.



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