After a thrilling race, Eli Iserbyt (Belgium) captured the gold medal at the World Championships in the men’s under 23 category. Iserbyt beat Adam Toupalik (Czech Republic) in a two-man sprint on the former F1 car racing circuit in Heusden-Zolder. Quinten Hermans (Belgium) was a close third.
Last year 18-year-old Iserbyt was the runner-up in the World Championships race in the junior men’s category. This season, Iserbyt also won the World Cup. There was major consternation at the end of the penultimate lap when Toupalik raised his hands thinking he’d won the World Championships.
“I didn’t expect it; early on I was really bad. My heart rate was five beats lower than usual. In the end, I saw Toupalik raising his hands one lap too early and I realized his best strengths were gone. Then, on the last lap, I started to believe in it and found my good legs again. I knew Toupalik’s focus was gone, even though he bridged back up. I had to await the sprint,” Iserbyt told Sporza.
He was asked about how he suffered to keep up with Toupalik in the final lap, showing grit and determination. “That’s right. I died three to four times, but I also started to get stressed because of the crowd. My ears were hurting. Luckily we had a moment of silence at the Sacramentsberg.”
The man who thought he was world champion for almost ten seconds was able to put his mistake in perspective. The 19-year-old Czech rider created a minor gap in the penultimate lap and then started celebrating on the finishing straight. He closed the gap to the two Belgian leaders and managed to take a few metres but then got beaten in the sprint.
“I’m probably the biggest idiot in the world,” Toupalik said. “During the penultimate lap I thought it was the last lap, and I heard somebody shouting ‘last lap’ at me, but it was the penultimate lap. It was my mistake. I lose the world title. I raised my hands, but that’s sport. I learned that I have to keep my focus and check the numbers.”
After several solo victories on Saturday, the first race on Sunday had a different script. When hitting the penultimate lap of the race, there were still ten riders in contention for the rainbow jersey. Until that moment, several riders attempted a solo effort, but they were thrown backwards each time. Toon Aerts (Belgium) was the first leader on the second lap, but he slipped away a little later, on a fast corner on the descent of the Sacramentsberg. Daan Soete (Belgium) was the next Belgian rider to break free. Compatriots Quiten Hermans and Iserbyt played team tactics and protected the solo effort from Soete. Soete hit the third lap with a 17-second advantage on a chase group of eight riders. Toupalik was a little further back in a group with pre-race favourite Simon Andreassen (Denmark). The latter was the junior men's world champion of 2015, but he was never a factor in Heusden-Zolder.
First Felipe Orts (Spain), and then a strong Sieben Wouters (Netherlands), closed the gap on Soete on the third lap, and Wouters was the next rider to go alone. Three Belgian riders were still keeping him in sight and suddenly saw him hitting the asphalt early on in the fourth lap. Hermans took over the command and, before the end of the fourth lap, Toupalik bridged up. Six more riders were still close. During the penultimate lap, Iserbyt and later Gioele Bertolini (Italy) bridged up as well. Toupalik created a gap before the end of the penultimate lap and raised his hands. He then saw Iserbyt, Hermans and Bertolini riding by and needed some time to get going again.
Bertolini crashed at the foot of a fly-over at the beginning of the final lap. The Italian was passed by Toupalik and couldn’t keep up. Toupalik bridged up with the two Belgians out front and then tried to break free again, without success. The sprint was started by Toupalik and Hermans was too far to sprint along. Iserbyt bided his time and came out of the Czech’s wheel at the right time, winning the gold medal at the World Championships on home soil.
Thijs Aerts (Belgium) was best of the rest at 11 seconds before Clément Russo (France), Orts and Bertolini. Andreassen was twelfth at 1:19, just ahead of first American rider Logan Owen (USA).
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Eli Iserbyt (Belgium)||0:51:18|
|2||Adam Toupalik (Czech Republic)||0:00:01|
|3||Quinten Hermans (Belgium)||0:00:05|
|4||Thijs Aerts (Belgium)||0:00:11|
|5||Clement Russo (France)||0:00:12|
|6||Felipe Orts (Spain)||0:00:15|
|7||Gioele Bertolini (Italy)|
|8||Martijn Budding (Netherlands)||0:00:24|
|9||Sieben Wouters (Netherlands)||0:00:29|
|10||Daan Soete (Belgium)||0:01:07|
|11||Daan Hoeyberghs (Belgium)||0:01:17|
|12||Simon Andreassen (Denmark)||0:01:19|
|13||Logan Owen (United States Of America)||0:01:22|
|14||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands)||0:01:30|
|15||Nadir Colledani (Italy)||0:01:31|
|16||Johan Jacobs (Switzerland)||0:01:43|
|17||Nicolas Cleppe (Belgium)||0:01:46|
|18||Curtis White (United States Of America)||0:01:51|
|19||Gosse Van Der Meer (Netherlands)||0:01:52|
|20||Kevin Suarez Fernandez (Spain)||0:02:05|
|21||Timon Ruegg (Switzerland)||0:02:17|
|22||Felix Drumm (Germany)||0:02:18|
|23||Lucas Dubau (France)||0:02:19|
|24||Joshua Dubau (France)||0:02:28|
|25||Mathieu Morichon (France)||0:02:30|
|26||Yannick Gruner (Germany)||0:02:38|
|27||Andrew Dillman (United States Of America)||0:02:55|
|28||Yannick Peeters (Belgium)||0:03:05|
|29||Maik Van Der Heijden (Netherlands)||0:03:13|
|30||Stepan Schubert (Czech Republic)||0:03:25|
|31||Stefano Sala (Italy)||0:03:44|
|32||Marceli Boguslawski (Poland)||0:04:00|
|33||Grant Ellwood (United States Of America)||0:04:04|
|34||Toki Sawada (Japan)||0:04:07|
|35||Tobin Ortenblad (United States Of America)||0:04:20|
|36||Bartosz Mikler (Poland)||0:04:44|
|37||Simon Vozar (Slovakia)||0:04:54|
|38||Nicholas Barnes (Great Britain)||0:04:55|
|39||David Eriksson (Sweden)||0:05:05|
|40||Matej Ulik (Slovakia)||0:05:13|
|41||Henrik Jansson (Sweden)||0:05:17|
|42||Christopher Aitken (Australia)||0:05:29|
|43||Scott Smith (United States Of America)||0:05:41|
|44||Max Lindenau (Germany)||0:05:49|
|45||Nicholas Smith (Australia)||0:05:50|
|46||Ondrej Glajza (Slovakia)||0:05:59|
|47||Adrian Sirek (Czech Republic)||0:06:02|
|48||Ola Jorde (Norway)||0:06:07|
|49||Trevor O'Donnell (Canada)||0:07:16|
|50||Luc Turchi (Luxembourg)||0:07:27|
|51||Isaac Niles (Canada)||0:07:45|
|52||Davis Persevics (Latvia)|