Worlds Wrap: Round-up from Innsbruck 2018

A look back at all the action and medals from the 2018 UCI Road World Championships

The 2018 UCI Road World Championships concluded on Sunday, with the elite men's road race bringing the curtain down on a week of racing in which 12 world titles were awarded. 

With the dust settled in Innsbruck, here is your essential round-up of the action from the 2018 Worlds. 

ELITE

Men's road race

World champion: Alejandro Valverde (Spain)
Silver: Romain Bardet (France)
Bronze: Michael Woods (Canada)

Alejandro Valverde finally has the rainbow jersey. The Spaniard had come close on so many occasions, with six medals already in his locker, but he finally fulfilled his 15-year quest on Sunday with victory in Innsbruck.

Though a few big names, such as Michal Kwiatkowski and Simon Yates, had already fallen out of contention, a sizeable group arrived at the foot of the devilishly steep Höll climb in the 258.5km race's finale. By the top, Valverde had emerged alongside Romain Bardet and Michael Woods as the leading trio, though Tom Dumoulin did manage to re-engage after the descent.

Everyone feared Valverde's sprint but no one could shake him off, and the 38-year-old opened up from 300 metres. Bardet, the odds stacked against him, produced a spirited sprint but was unable to come around Valverde, who found another kick in the final metres. The Frenchman edged out a cramping Woods for the silver medal, leaving a spent Dumoulin outside of the medals.

Winner's quote: "This is the victory that I have longed for. I have always wanted to be the world champion. I have cried many times but the truth is that it was a really emotional moment to be the world champion. I have been chasing it forever and I have got six medals but I could never take the gold. Finally getting it feels incredible."

Women's road race

World champion: Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
Silver: Amanda Spratt (Australia)
Bronze: Tatiana Guderzo (Italy)

The women's race was another case of a heavily-decorated rider finally claiming the rainbow bands after a string of near misses. Anna van der Breggen had won just about everything there is to win but a world title had somehow eluded her. With six silver medals and a bronze across the road races and time trials, she had thought it might never happen.

But she made it happen with an extraordinary display of dominance which saw her ride the final 40 kilometres alone to finish nearly four minutes ahead of the runner-up. On the second of three ascents of the Igls climb, time trial world champion Annemiek van Vleuten, who had crashed earlier on, laid the foundations for a Van der Breggen attack, ending any talk of an internal rivalry.

Van der Breggen quickly reached the lead group and then dropped them before the summit. Her lead grew and grew as she descended into town the climbed the mountain again before dropping into town once more to be crowned world champion. Amanda Spratt (Australia) also rode nearly 40km alone but the pursuit lacked any real suspense and she was a distant silver medallist, while Tatiana Guderzo (Italy) rounded out the podium.

Winner's quote: "I had a lot of second places, and so the pressure was there to win the jersey. My feelings when I crossed the finish line were mostly relief; that it had finally worked out, and I'm thankful for that."

Men's time trial

World champion: Rohan Dennis (Australia)
Silver: Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)
Bronze: Victor Campenaerts (Belgium)

This had been billed as a two-horse race but in the end there was only one in it, as Rohan Dennis blew the field away to clinch his first-ever major time trial title. The Australian had won stages in all three Grand Tours but scratched a big itch after a string of disappointments at Worlds and the Olympics.

The writing was on the wall ahead of the 5km climb mid-way through the 52.5km course, as Dennis caught the European champion Jonathan Castroviejo, who'd started 90 seconds ahead. By the top he had more than a minute over the other contender, Tom Dumoulin, and the rest of the course was a formality. After a long season, Dumoulin was far from his best, and only clung onto the silver medal by a hair, with Belgium's Victor Campenaerts surpassing expectations on the climb to claim a podium finish.

Winner's quote:"It's a dream come true, I've been chasing this since I was a junior. I've never won it in any age group so to win my first one in the seniors is really special."

Women's time trial

World champion: Annemiek van Vleuten (Netherlands)
Silver: Anna van der Breggen (Netherlands)
Bronze: Ellen van Dijk (Netherlands)

Another supposed two-horse race and in the end it was indeed Annemiek van Vleuten and Anna van der Breggen standing on the top two steps of the podium. Another widely voiced prediction was that of a Dutch clean sweep of the medals, and sure enough Ellen van Dijk collected the bronze.

Starting last, having won the title 12 months ago, Van Vleuten stormed the 27.7km course in a time of 34:25 to complete the double and add another success to what has been an extraordinary season. Van der Breggen was the only rider inside a minute, and could barely conceal her disappointment as her wait for a rainbow jersey went on.

Winner's quote: "There are not so many who have won the World Championships twice. For sure I had some pressure but I also had it last year, so it's no different. If you're here starting, you want to win. And I know how beautiful the rainbow jersey is."

Men's team time trial

World champions: Quick-Step Floors
Silver: Team Sunweb
Bronze: BMC Racing Team

The final Worlds TTT to be contested between trade teams resulted in a fourth title for Quick-Step in the event's seven-year history. With the TTT's to be raced by national teams of mixed gender from next year, some were happy to see the current format go, and even if Quick-Step didn't share that feeling, they went out with a bang.

Spearheaded by Dumoulin, 2017 champions Sunweb finished 18 seconds down on the long 62.8km course, while BMC Racing, the other team time trialling powerhouse and two-time world champions, were third at 20 seconds.

Winner's quote:"We are so happy and the feeling is incredible because we were not the top favourites. I knew we had a strong team - a lot of young riders but really talented - and at the start I had a lot of confidence that we could do a great performance. But to win is something different, especially with that time difference." (Yves Lampaert)

Women's team time trial

World champions: Canyon-SRAM
Silver: Boels Dolmans
Bronze: Team Sunweb

In the final trade-team TTT on the women's side, Canyon-SRAM put a neat full-stop to an event they have dominated over the years. They completed the 55km course in a time of 01:01:47 to claim their fifth title, having won under different names in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

2017 champions Sunweb finished in second place, 22 seconds down, while 2016 winners Boels Dolmans rounded out the podium at 28 seconds.

Winner's quote: "We didn't win one TTT this year so it was a bit of a surprise, but I think only for the others, because we knew what we could do if we had the perfect day." (Trixi Worrack)

UNDER 23

Men's road race

World champion: Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)
Silver: Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium)
Bronze: Jaakko Hanninen (Finland)

Marc Hirschi brought home the gold medal for Switzerland to provide the just rewards for a brilliant display in the U23 men's road race.

The close-to-home nation put four riders into a key seven-rider break on the descent of Igls on the second of four laps, and while Patrick Muller followed an attack from Bahrain-Merida's Mark Padun on the penultimate ascent and Gino Mader followed one from Eddie Dunbar, Hirschi responded when Belgium's Bjorg Lambrecht ripped the race to shreds on the final ascent.

Lambrecht was the strongest climber but while the rest of the field fell away he was unable to shake Hirschi and the young Finn Jaakko Hanninen. Hirschi then sprang a surprise by attacking on the descent, and he was never seen again.

Winner's quote: "It's amazing, the team did such a great job. From the beginning, we were always in the right group, we were playing a bit with the others. It's amazing, it's absolutely crazy."

Men's time trial

World champion: Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)
Silver: Brent Van Moer (Belgium)
Bronze: Mathias Norsgaard (Denmark)

Mikkel Bjerg started as the heavy favourite, having won the title in Bergen 12 months ago, and the Dane successfully pulled off the double with a convincing ride in Innsbruck.

The 19-year-old went round the 27.7km course at an average speed of 51.1kmh to win the gold medal by a convincing margin. Belgium's Brent Van Moer finished runner-up at 33 seconds, while Mathias Noorsgaard made it two Danes on the podium by claiming the bronze medals a further five seconds back.

Winner's quote: "It's unbelievable. My whole season has been about preparation for this race. I flew in here 10 days ago and just did the course every day, just got it under my skin almost. I'm super happy to pull it off."

JUNIOR

Men's road race

World champion: Remco Evenepoel (Belgium)
Silver: Marius Mayrhofer (Germany)
Bronze: Alessandro Fancellu (Italy)

All eyes were on Remco Evenepoel after his storming time trial victory earlier in the week, and the Belgian prodigy only enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a display of dominance rarely seen at any level. The 18-year-old was a class apart, and his superiority over the rest of the field was startling.

He had to do it the hard way - even if it still looked easy in the end - as he crashed ahead of the first climb. Having to restart more than a minute-and-a-half down, he made his way through the fragmented field like a pro in a sportive, and once back at the front of the race he began to dictate it, his sapped legs clearly still stronger than the rest. A flurry of attacks on the penultimate climb left him with just one for company, and by the same point on the next lap he was alone. Marius Mayrhofer (Germany)) finished second and Alessandro Fancellu (Italy) third but it almost felt like they and the rest were in a different race.

Winner's quote: "Next year I'll be a pro, so I still have to learn a lot. I'm only biking one year and a half. We'll see what the future gives. Quick-Step will be a good step for me. I hope I can grow in silence with the team."

Women's road race

World champion: Laura Stigger (Austria)
Silver: Marie Le Net (France)
Bronze: Simone Boilard (Canada)

Laura Stigger became the first ever Austrian world champion on the road when she took the junior women's road race title on Thursday. The 18-year-old had pulled on a rainbow jersey as junior XC mountainbike world champion - only a couple of weeks previously, in fact - but she was a relative novice on the road. This was, she said, only her second road race.

It didn't show, as she split the race on the Igls climb and then negotiated a tricky tactical situation to ensure she came to the finish with one rider apiece from Italy, Canada, and France. Marie Le Net was said to be the strongest sprinter - a world champion on the track - but Stigger, whose attacks had surely blunted the Frenchwoman's legs, held on to send the home fans wild.

Winner's quote: "I didn't expect to win, I just wanted to have fun on the course because it's my second road race."

Men's time trial

World champion: Remco Evenepoel (Belgium)
Silver: Lucas Plapp (Australia)
Bronze: Andrea Piccolo (Italy)

This was the first instalment in the 'Remco show'. As would be the case in the road race, it felt like the Belgian was in a league of his own. Australia's Lucas Plapp said it best when, sitting in the hotseat with the provisional best time, he saw Evenepoel's time at the intermediate checkpoint and let out an expletive in utter amazement.

Plapp won the silver medal but was some 1:23 off Evenepoel's pace, with only five riders within two minutes. In fact, Evenepoel's time would have won him the elite women's title and placed him fourth in the U23 race.

Winner's quote: "I've worked so hard for this and it really was my main goal. This is the most important one for me, I think. Especially winning for Belgium. It's so emotional for me."

Women's time trial

World champion: Rozemarijn Ammerlaan (Netherlands)
Silver: Camilla Alessio (Italy)
Bronze: Elynor Backstedt (Great Britain)

While the Dutchwomen swept the podium in the elite category, there was proof the future may still be oranje as Rozemarij Ammerlaan took the junior time trial title and the first rainbow jersey of the 2018 Worlds on Monday.

The 18-year-old, who became Dutch junior time trial champion earlier this year, completed the 20km course in a time of 27:02 to claim the title. While some of the pre-race favourites came up short - some suckered by the climb - there were a couple of surprise packages on the podium, with early-starter Camilla Alessio (Italy) the runner-up at six seconds and first-year junior Elynor Backstedt (Great Britain) third at 17 seconds.

Winner's quote: "I'm really a bit surprised. I didn't expect this, I don't have any words for this."

 

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