World Championships: Hirschi wins under-23 road race

Lambrecht is second, Hanninen third

Marc Hirschi (Switzerland) soloed to victory in the men’s under-23 road race at the UCI Road World Championships, beating Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium) into second place, while Jaakko Hanninen (Finland) claimed the bronze medal.

Already winner of the European title this year, Hirschi added the rainbow jersey to his collection after he clipped away from the decisive three-man break on the sweeping descent from Igls with a little under 10 kilometres remaining.

Hirschi was part of the winning move that forged clear midway up the final climb under the impetus of Lambrecht, who already operates at WorldTour level with Lotto Soudal and lined out at the Vuelta a España in preparation for the Worlds. Lambrecht made several attempts to shake off his companions on the way up the climb, and at times appeared to complain about a lack of collaboration, but he had no response when Hirschi punched his way clear on the descent.

Hirschi picked his moment sagely, and launched a determined attack just beneath the 10km to go banner. He quickly established a lead of 11 seconds over his pursuers and held that advantage despite a fearsome fightback from Lambrecht and Hanninen on the final incline in the outskirts of Innsbruck.

By that point, Hirschi’s lead was down just 6 seconds, but he eked out his buffer once again in the final three kilometres and eventually crossed the finish line with 16 seconds in hand over Lambrecht, who out-sprinted Hanninen for silver. Gino Mäder (Switzerland) took 4th at 35 seconds, just ahead of Mark Padun (Ukraine), with a select group of chasers just behind.

“It’s amazing, the team did such a great job,” Hirschi said. “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.”

Hirschi was full value for his victory, not least because of the aggression he and his Swiss teammates had shown on a day that was marked by early caution. The rigours of the Innsbruck parcours understandably served to curb many riders’ attacking instincts in the opening 100 kilometres, but the race suddenly sparked into life on the second of four laps of the finishing circuit, when no fewer than four Swiss riders featured in a seven-man break that formed on the descent off Igls.

With 50km – or two laps – to go, the septet had a lead of 28 seconds over the peloton, but rather than commit fully to the move, the Swiss cut their cloth carefully. When Mark Padun (Ukraine) attacked on the penultimate time up Igls, Patrick Müller followed, while Hirschi and the rest gradually dropped back into the reduced peloton.

When Eddie Dunbar (Ireland) later set out in pursuit of the leading pair, Mäder was the man to follow, while Hirschi bided his time for the final lap. The formidable pace-making of Belgium’s Stef Clas helped to peg back first Dunbar and Mäder, and then Padun and Müller. When Clas swung off with 17km to go, Lambrecht began his onslaught. Try as he might, however, Lambrecht could not shake off Hirschi or Hanninen.

“I think the crucial point was our attack on the descent of the second lap, because we were then four guys on the front,” Hirschi said. “It wasn’t planned like this, because we thought the descent would be too easy to make a gap. We were four guys in the group. Patrick went with the first attack, Gino was in the second attack. I was in the peloton and I knew I could maybe win in the sprint from a small group. The plan worked perfectly, and it was amazing.”

How it unfolded

The under-23 men’s race set out from Kufstein and tackled a rolling 90 kilometres by way of the climb of Gnadenwald before taking on four laps of the finishing circuit in Innsbruck. Before the race, much attention was devoted to the riders already at WorldTour level, like Lambrecht, or on the cusp of joining that cadre, like Ivan Sosa (Colombia), and the opening hours of racing were not unlike what one might see at the top-level: an early break went clear and caution was the byword behind.

The three early escapees were Szymon Tracz (Poland), Izidor Penko (Slovenia) and Nickolas Zukowsky (Canada), though in time, the Canadian shed himself of his companions and he reached the finishing circuit with a lead of just over two minutes on the peloton. In the opening phase, Ireland and Slovenia were among the team’s keeping tabs on the break’s lead, and Zukowsky was caught with a little under 90km to go.

On the opening laps of the Innsbruck circuit, the Danish squad were prominent, with double world time trial champion Mikkel Bjerg making two attempts to trigger a break, but each effort was quickly snuffed out by the peloton.

Few riders were willing to show their hands too soon on the long climb to Igls, and instead the most mountainous Worlds in recent memory was ignited on a descent, when four Swiss riders – Hirschi, Müller, Mäder and Ruegg – went clear with Mikkel Honore (Denmark), Neilson Powless (USA) and Mark Padun (Ukraine) with a little over 50km to go.

Their collaboration lasted as long as the third haul up Igls, where Padun attacked and was joined by Müller, with the rest of the escapees opted for a more conservative approach. The Italian squad was forcing the issue in the main peloton, meanwhile, and the main casualty of their efforts was Sosa, who was surprising distanced with 40km remaining.

Lambrecht made his first stinging effort near the top of the climb to Igls, with Tour de l’Avenir Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) and Eddie Dunbar (Ireland) carefully tracking his move. The Belgian’s effort whittled the main peloton down to its bare bones and brought them up to the group containing Hirschi et al near the summit, where they trailed Padun and Müller by 15 seconds.

On the descent, Dunbar – who so impressed in his opening races at Team Sky this month – set off in pursuit of Padun and Müller. Dunbar was tracked by Mäder, who was understandably reluctant to contribute much to the pursuit of his teammate Müller, but the Irishman pressed on regardless.

At the bell, Padun and Müller had 10 seconds on Dunbar and Mäder, and 33 seconds on an elite peloton of 23 riders. Try as he might, however, Dunbar was unable to make the juncture, and he and Mäder were pegged back by Clas’ stint of pace-making on the lower slopes of the final haul up Igls.

In time, Padun and Müller’s lead crumbled, and the stage was set for Lambrecht. The Belgian duly ran through his repertoire, but it was Hirschi who stole the show, while Hanninen – who rides for French amateur squad ECSEL Saint-Etienne Loire – produced a fine cameo.

Hirschi will step up to WorldTour level at Sunweb in 2019, though the 20-year-old will still be eligible for the under-23 race when the Worlds take place in his native Switzerland in two years’ time.

“I can’t believe it, it’s so crazy, to be world champion after already being European champion,” Hirschi said. “We knew as a team we were here for the win or for sure for a medal. Now we’ve got the gold medal and we were I think the most active team in the race. It’s amazing.”

Full Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)4:24:05 
2Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium)0:00:15 
3Jaakko Hanninen (Finland)  
4Gino Mäder (Switzerland)0:00:35 
5Mark Padun (Ukraine)0:00:37 
6Jaime Castrillo Zapater (Spain)0:00:45 
7Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia)0:00:47 
8Ethan Hayter (Great Britain)  
9Patrick Müller (Switzerland)  
10James Shaw (Great Britain)  
11Jai Hindley (Australia)  
12Clement Champoussin (France)  
13Aurélien Paret Peintre (France)0:01:06 
14Georg Zimmermann (Germany)  
15Aleksandr Vlasov (Russian Federation)0:01:07 
16Samuele Battistella (Italy)  
17Robert Stannard (Australia)0:02:48 
18Stefan De Bod (South Africa)0:03:21 
19Alessandro Fedeli (Italy)  
20Edward Dunbar (Ireland)0:03:23 
21Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Denmark)0:03:46 
22Tobias S. Foss (Norway)  
23Lennard Kämna (Germany)0:03:50 
24Andrea Bagioli (Italy)  
25Neilson Powless (United States Of America)0:04:28 
26Mark Donovan (Great Britain)0:04:45 
27Valentin Madouas (France)0:04:57 
28Marcel Neuhauser (Austria)  
29Max Kanter (Germany)0:05:41 
30Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands)  
31Barnabás Peák (Hungary)  
32Wilmar Andres Paredes Zapata (Colombia)  
33Viktor Verschaeve (Belgium)  
34Adam Toupalík (Czech Republic)  
35Nikolai Cherkasov (Russian Federation)  
36Ibai Azurmendi Sagastibeltza (Spain)  
37Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)  
38Gonçalo Carvalho (Portugal)  
39Jaka Primožic (Slovenia)  
40Woldegabreal Weldu (Ethiopia)  
41Jose Felix Parra Cuerda (Spain)  
42Sean Bennett (United States Of America)  
43Thymen Arensman (Netherlands)0:05:45 
44Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Denmark)0:05:48 
45Steff Cras (Belgium)0:05:53 
46Lucas Eriksson (Sweden)0:07:57 
47Roger Adria Oliveras (Spain)0:08:35 
48Miguel Eduardo Florez Lopez (Colombia)  
49Jefferson Cepeda (Ecuador)  
50Joel Fuertes (Ecuador)  
51André Carvalho (Portugal)0:09:27 
52Michael Storer (Australia)  
53Alessandro Monaco (Italy)  
54Einer Augusto Rubio Reyes (Colombia)  
55Nicolas Prodhomme (France)0:09:54 
56Lukas Rüegg (Switzerland)  
57Kamil Malecki (Poland)0:10:47 
58Dimitri Bussard (Switzerland)  
59Torjus Sleen (Norway)  
60Jakub Otruba (Czech Republic)  
61Andreas Leknessund (Norway)  
62Florian Stork (Germany)  
63Felix Gall (Austria)  
64Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark)0:10:49 
65Attila Valter (Hungary)0:11:52 
66Luis Ricardo Villalobos Hernandez (Mexico)  
67Kévin Geniets (Luxembourg)  
68Benjamin Brkic (Austria)0:14:08 
69Stephen Williams (Great Britain)0:16:25 
70Alessandro Covi (Italy)0:16:29 
71Pit Leyder (Luxembourg)0:19:25 
72Jan Maas (Netherlands)  
73Magnus Bak Klaris (Denmark)  
74Brandon Mcnulty (United States Of America)  
75Stepan Kuriyanov (Russian Federation)  
76Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Colombia)  
77Michel Ries (Luxembourg)  
78João Almeida (Portugal)  
79Yevgeniy Gidich (Kazakhstan)  
80Ryan Christensen (New Zealand)0:21:36 
81Henok Mulueberhan (Eritrea)  
82Luc Wirtgen (Luxembourg)  
83Joseph Areruya (Rwanda)  
84Conn Mcdunphy (Ireland)  
85Charles-Etienne Chretien (Canada)  
86Jordan Antony Cardenas Villavicencio (Ecuador)  
87Márton Dina (Hungary)  
88Fernando Barcelo Aragon (Spain)  
89Maximilian Stedman (Great Britain)0:21:53 
90Idar Andersen (Norway)0:23:05 
DNFIde Schelling (Netherlands)  
DNFVictor Lafay (France)  
DNFBrent van Moer (Belgium)  
DNFDaire Feeley (Ireland)  
DNFJakub Murias (Poland)  
DNFFilip Maciejuk (Poland)  
DNFMasahiro Ishigami (Japan)  
DNFPatrick Haller (Germany)  
DNFTegshbayar Batsaikhan (Mongolia)  
DNFJonas Rutsch (Germany)  
DNFAdam Roberge (Canada)  
DNFJoab Schneiter (Switzerland)  
DNFViktor Potocki (Croatia)  
DNFJambaljamts Sainbayar (Mongolia)  
DNFMario Gamper (Austria)  
DNFDinmukhammed Ulysbayev (Kazakhstan)  
DNFGerardo Lopez Covarrubias (Mexico)  
DNFAlex Hoehn (United States Of America)  
DNFKent Main (South Africa)  
DNFAwet Habtom Tekle (Eritrea)  
DNFŽiga Horvat (Slovenia)  
DNFSamuel Hakiruwizeye (Rwanda)  
DNFMatteo Sobrero (Italy)  
DNFIvan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo (Colombia)  
DNFWilson Haro (Ecuador)  
DNFJames Mitri (New Zealand)  
DNFIgor Chzhan (Kazakhstan)  
DNFMatúš Štocek (Slovakia)  
DNFRasmus Fossum Tiller (Norway)  
DNFNickolas Zukowsky (Canada)  
DNFKakeru Omae (Japan)  
DNFJulius van Den Berg (Netherlands)  
DNFDiego Agustin Ferreyra Geldrez (Chile)  
DNFJacob Eriksson (Sweden)  
DNFVeljko Stojnic (Serbia)  
DNFOgnjen Ilic (Serbia)  
DNFNik Cemažar (Slovenia)  
DNFDenis Nekrasov (Russian Federation)  
DNFMasaki Yamamoto (Japan)  
DNFKarel Tyrpekl (Czech Republic)  
DNFTiago Antunes (Portugal)  
DNFShoi Matsuda (Japan)  
DNFZemenfes Selemun (Eritrea)  
DNFFilip Kvasina (Croatia)  
DNFDavid Jabuka (Croatia)  
DNFKa Hoo Fung (Hong Kong, China)  
DNFVladyslav Soltasiuk (Ukraine)  
DNFCyrus Monk (Australia)  
DNFFernando Augusto Finkler (Brazil)  
DNFMusa Mikayilzade (Azerbaijan)  
DNFKevin Rivera Serrano (Costa Rica)  
DNFEugenio Mirafuentes Resendez (Mexico)  
DNFDidier Munyaneza (Rwanda)  
DNFPiotr Pekala (Poland)  
DNFOmer Goldsteiin (Israel)  
DNFCallum Scotson (Australia)  
DNFOrluis Aular (Venezuela)  
DNFEdward Walsh (Canada)  
DNFDarragh O'mahony (Ireland)  
DNFSzymon Tracz (Poland)  
DNFKenny Molly (Belgium)  
DNFJose Eduardo Autran Carrillo (Chile)  
DNFJefferson Cepeda (Ecuador)  
DNFAlexandros Agrotis (Cyprus)  
DNFJonathan Brown (United States Of America)  
DNFIzidor Penko (Slovenia)  
DNFPaul Daumont (Burkina Faso)  
DNFRene Jean Paul Ukiniwabo (Rwanda)  
DNFTimur Malieiev (Ukraine)  
DNFHiu Fung Choy (Hong Kong, China)  
DNFAyumu Watanabe (Japan)  
DNFLeonel Quintero (Venezuela)  
DNFMichael O'loughlin (Ireland)  
DNFAndrej Petrovski (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)  
DNFCyril Barthe (France)  
DNFEmil Dima (Romania)  
DNFDenis Marian Vulcan (Romania)  
DNFMateo Bratic (Croatia)  
DNFErik Sandersson (Sweden)  
DNFKarim Shiraliyev (Azerbaijan)  
DNFWan Yau Vincent Lau (Hong Kong, China)  
DNFTyler Cole (Trinidad & Tabago)  
DNFŽiga Jerman (Slovenia)  
DNFSamuel Mugisha (Rwanda)  
DNFAhmed Amine Galdoune (Morocco)  
DNFOthman Harakat (Morocco)  
DNFLuke Mudgway (New Zealand)  
DNFIgnacio Alejandro Espinoza Ibarra (Chile)  

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