Valverde crowned World Champion in Innsbruck

Alejandro Valverde (Spain) sprinted to victory from an elite group of four to win the UCI Road World Championships elite men's road race in Innsbruck. The Spaniard made it away over the final climb of the day along with Romain Bardet (France) and Michael Woods (Canada), while Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands) caught the trio on the final descent.

There was a surprising lack of attacks in the finale, and Valverde took full advantage, beating Bardet and Woods into the silver and bronze medal positions.

It was the toughest Worlds course in years, with nine climbs on the menu including the brutal final hill of Höttinger Höll. It was no surprise that that 3km, 11.5% climb just 10km from the finish, would decide the race.

Michael Valgren (Denmark) took a 30-second lead onto the climb, but leading the peloton, France had other plans. Breaking away from the front of the peloton with Julian Alaphilippe, Thibaut Pinot and Bardet, they took Woods, Valverde and Gianni Moscon (Italy) with them.

After the Canadian attacked on the steepest slopes, it was just him, Bardet and Valverde up front, with Dumoulin chasing behind. The Dutchman caught on with 2km to go, setting up a grand finale.

Dumoulin attempted an ambush attack in the final kilometre, but was quickly shut down. Surprisingly, there were no attempts from the other men, with the trio happy to compete against Valverde in the sprint to the line. After that, there was only ever going to be one outcome.

Having come so close to the rainbow jersey in the past – he has four bronzes and two silvers over the 11 editions of the race he’s competed in – Valverde was understandably emotional after the finish.

"It’s incredible,” he said. "Fighting, fighting, it’s a dream. I have to thank the team because they were a ten [out of ten]. I was saving it for the sprint and the truth it’s just something incredible. This has been a dream of mine to be a world champion."

How it happened

The toughest World Championships route in years – certainly the toughest any riders on the start would’ve competed in – took in 258km from Kufstein to Innsbruck. With 4,670 vertical metres, it was the tenth hilliest Worlds in history.

60km in, Gnadenwald was the first climb of the race – a sharp introduction at 2.8km and an average of 10.1%. Six laps of the 23.8km main circuit would follow, with each one featuring the 7.9km Igls climb, averaging 5.7% with some 10% sections.

A fast sweeping descent off the climb followed the climb, and after six laps and seven climbs of Igls came the final test – Höttinger Höll. The 3.2km was the toughest test of the day, averaging 11.5% but maxing out at a ridiculous 28%. With the top coming 8km from the finish, with 5km of downhill, it would surely be the decisive point of the day.

There were attacks from the gun as riders from smaller countries looked to make their mark, knowing they wouldn’t be in contention later on. After 10km, a group made it out front, with Rob Britton (Canada), Tobias Ludvigsson (Sweden), Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), Ryan Mullen (Ireland), Daniil Fominykh (Kazakhstan) and Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway) up the road.

More riders made it across soon after, with Karel Hnik (Czech Republic), Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa), Conor Dunne (Ireland), Ilya Koshevoy (Belarus) and Laurent Didier (Luxembourg) joining the lead sextet after 20km of racing.

The advantage for the eleven leaders peaked at 19 minutes as they crested the first climb of the day at Gnadenwald. As the riders hit the circuit and the Igls climb, the first abandons of the day came, but there was nobody major among the casualties.

Heading onto the fourth climb of Igls 150km into the race, the pace and climbing was starting to show as Didier was the first from the break to drop away and several riders dropped from the peloton.

Inside the final 100km, Austria pushed on the front of the peloton, putting on a show at their home race. Meanwhile, the two Irishmen were the next to fall back from the break.

The first big news of the day came at the back of the peloton with 90km to race as reigning world champion Peter Sagan (Slovakia) was dropped. He gave the television camera a nod and smile as he did so – better luck next year, perhaps.

Great Britain started putting a man up front lap by lap, while Spain and Italy were also visible on the front of the peloton. With 80km and four climbs remaining, the gap was down to seven minutes. Up front, the break was disintegrating as they tackled Igls for the fifth time, leaving just four men with a six-minute advantage.

Primož Roglič (Slovenia) was involved in a crash at the top of the climb with 65km to go as the action kicked off up front. Italy were attacking with Dario Cataldo and Vincenzo Nibali, while Michał Kwiatkowski (Poland) was also up there, but such a move wouldn’t be allowed to get away at that point.

Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) went on the offensive 55km out. He was joined by Omar Fraile (Spain) and Damiano Caruso (Italy), though they were caught as attacks flew 10km later. In the break only two remained – Asgreen and Laengen – three minutes up the road.

Dan Martin (Ireland), Michał Kwiatkowski (Poland) and Vuelta winner Simon Yates (Great Britain) were among the big names dropped as the peloton tackled Igls for the penultimate time. At the front, Antwan Tolhoek (Netherlands) and Gianluca Brambilla (Italy) were among those trying attacks.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Alejandro Valverde (Spain)6:46:41
2Romain Bardet (France)Row 1 - Cell 2
3Michael Woods (Canada)Row 2 - Cell 2
4Tom Dumoulin (Netherlands)Row 3 - Cell 2
5Gianni Moscon (Italy)0:00:13
6Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic)0:00:43
7Michael Valgren Andersen (Denmark)Row 6 - Cell 2
8Julian Alaphilippe (France)Row 7 - Cell 2
9Thibaut Pinot (France)Row 8 - Cell 2
10Rui Costa (Portugal)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spain)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)0:00:49
13Mikel Nieve Iturralde (Spain)0:00:52
14Sam Oomen (Netherlands)0:01:21
15Nairo Quintana (Colombia)Row 14 - Cell 2
16Peter Kennaugh (Great Britain)Row 15 - Cell 2
17Jan Hirt (Czech Republic)Row 16 - Cell 2
18George Bennett (New Zealand)Row 17 - Cell 2
19Jack Haig (Australia)Row 18 - Cell 2
20Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)Row 19 - Cell 2
21Domenico Pozzovivo (Italy)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Andrey Zeits (Kazakhstan)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Ben Hermans (Belgium)0:01:32
24Simon Geschke (Germany)0:01:54
25Sergei Chernetski (Russian Federation)0:02:00
26Mathias Frank (Switzerland)0:02:10
27Steven Kruijswijk (Netherlands)Row 26 - Cell 2
28Antwan Tolhoek (Netherlands)Row 27 - Cell 2
29Dylan Teuns (Belgium)Row 28 - Cell 2
30Odd Christian Eiking (Norway)0:02:42
31Rudy Molard (France)Row 30 - Cell 2
32Sébastien Reichenbach (Switzerland)Row 31 - Cell 2
33Rigoberto Uran (Colombia)0:02:57
34Primož Roglic (Slovenia)0:04:00
35Rafal Majka (Poland)Row 34 - Cell 2
36Alexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan)Row 35 - Cell 2
37Adam Yates (Great Britain)Row 36 - Cell 2
38Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands)Row 37 - Cell 2
39Nelson Oliveira (Portugal)0:05:00
40Alessandro De Marchi (Italy)0:05:05
41Merhawi Kudus (Eritrea)0:05:44
42Xandro Meurisse (Belgium)Row 41 - Cell 2
43Vegard Stake Laengen (Norway)Row 42 - Cell 2
44David De La Cruz Melgarejo (Spain)0:05:56
45Michael Gogl (Austria)Row 44 - Cell 2
46Emanuel Buchmann (Germany)Row 45 - Cell 2
47Pavel Sivakov (Russian Federation)0:06:00
48Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Colombia)0:06:02
49Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)Row 48 - Cell 2
50Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)0:08:08
51Pavel Kochetkov (Russian Federation)Row 50 - Cell 2
52Kasper Asgreen (Denmark)0:10:22
53Franco Pellizotti (Italy)0:10:33
54Carl Fredrik Hagen (Norway)0:12:24
55Emil Nygaard Vinjebo (Denmark)0:12:57
56Lukasz Owsian (Poland)0:13:05
57Ilnur Zakarin (Russian Federation)Row 56 - Cell 2
58Tony Gallopin (France)Row 57 - Cell 2
59Patrick Konrad (Austria)Row 58 - Cell 2
60Steve Morabito (Switzerland)Row 59 - Cell 2
61Jesus Herrada (Spain)0:13:09
62Toms Skujins (Latvia)0:13:13
63Brent Bookwalter (United States Of America)0:14:23
64Damiano Caruso (Italy)Row 63 - Cell 2
65Dario Cataldo (Italy)Row 64 - Cell 2
66Hugh John Carthy (Great Britain)Row 65 - Cell 2
67Nicolas Roche (Ireland)Row 66 - Cell 2
68Tim Wellens (Belgium)Row 67 - Cell 2
69Pieter Weening (Netherlands)Row 68 - Cell 2
70Rob Power (Australia)Row 69 - Cell 2
71Richard Carapaz (Ecuador)0:14:48
72Benjamin King (United States Of America)0:15:57
73Eduardo Sepulveda (Argentina)0:16:51
74Nico Denz (Germany)0:18:17
75Gianluca Brambilla (Italy)0:19:35
76Robert Britton (Canada)0:19:37
DNFEnric Mas Nicolau (Spain)Row 76 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Clarke (Australia)Row 77 - Cell 2
DNFOmar Fraile Matarranz (Spain)Row 78 - Cell 2
DNFJonathan Castroviejo (Spain)Row 79 - Cell 2
DNFJacques Willem Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)Row 80 - Cell 2
DNFTanel Kangert (Estonia)Row 81 - Cell 2
DNFMichal Kwiatkowski (Poland)Row 82 - Cell 2
DNFWout Poels (Netherlands)Row 83 - Cell 2
DNFJesper Hansen (Denmark)Row 84 - Cell 2
DNFMarkus Hoelgaard (Norway)Row 85 - Cell 2
DNFPeter Stetina (United States Of America)Row 86 - Cell 2
DNFKilian Frankiny (Switzerland)Row 87 - Cell 2
DNFAndrey Grivko (Ukraine)Row 88 - Cell 2
DNFIldar Arslanov (Russian Federation)Row 89 - Cell 2
DNFMarcus Burghardt (Germany)Row 90 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Martin (Ireland)Row 91 - Cell 2
DNFBob Jungels (Luxembourg)Row 92 - Cell 2
DNFIlia Koshevoy (Belarus)Row 93 - Cell 2
DNFTobias Ludvigsson (Sweden)Row 94 - Cell 2
DNFKarel Hník (Czech Republic)Row 95 - Cell 2
DNFTao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain)Row 96 - Cell 2
DNFDamien Howson (Australia)Row 97 - Cell 2
DNFNicholas Jack William Schultz (Australia)Row 98 - Cell 2
DNFMatej Mohoric (Slovenia)Row 99 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Philip Yates (Great Britain)Row 100 - Cell 2
DNFSimon Špilak (Slovenia)Row 101 - Cell 2
DNFJan Polanc (Slovenia)Row 102 - Cell 2
DNFZdenek Štybar (Czech Republic)Row 103 - Cell 2
DNFFelix Grossschartner (Austria)Row 104 - Cell 2
DNFSepp Kuss (United States Of America)Row 105 - Cell 2
DNFPatrick Schelling (Switzerland)Row 106 - Cell 2
DNFMaximilian Schachmann (Germany)Row 107 - Cell 2
DNFAmanuel Ghebreigzabhier Werkilul (Eritrea)Row 108 - Cell 2
DNFAleksandr Riabushenko (Belarus)Row 109 - Cell 2
DNFDaniil Fominykh (Kazakhstan)Row 110 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Schär (Switzerland)Row 111 - Cell 2
DNFMiguel Angel Lopez Moreno (Colombia)Row 112 - Cell 2
DNFRúben Guerreiro (Portugal)Row 113 - Cell 2
DNFPaul Martens (Germany)Row 114 - Cell 2
DNFMichal Golas (Poland)Row 115 - Cell 2
DNFChristopher Hamilton (Australia)Row 116 - Cell 2
DNFEdvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)Row 117 - Cell 2
DNFWinner Andrew Anacona (Colombia)Row 118 - Cell 2
DNFConor Dunne (Ireland)Row 119 - Cell 2
DNFHideto Nakane (Japan)Row 120 - Cell 2
DNFRyan Mullen (Ireland)Row 121 - Cell 2
DNFLaurens De Plus (Belgium)Row 122 - Cell 2
DNFJhonnatan Narvaez (Ecuador)Row 123 - Cell 2
DNFTsgabu Gebremaryam Grmay (Ethiopia)Row 124 - Cell 2
DNFGregor Mühlberger (Austria)Row 125 - Cell 2
DNFJames Knox (Great Britain)Row 126 - Cell 2
DNFConnor Swift (Great Britain)Row 127 - Cell 2
DNFTiago Machado (Portugal)Row 128 - Cell 2
DNFAntoine Duchesne (Canada)Row 129 - Cell 2
DNFJosef Cerný (Czech Republic)Row 130 - Cell 2
DNFAnthony Roux (France)Row 131 - Cell 2
DNFAlexandre Geniez (France)Row 132 - Cell 2
DNFBen Gastauer (Luxembourg)Row 133 - Cell 2
DNFRory Sutherland (Australia)Row 134 - Cell 2
DNFMads Schmidt Würtz (Denmark)Row 135 - Cell 2
DNFLaurent Didier (Luxembourg)Row 136 - Cell 2
DNFGrega Bole (Slovenia)Row 137 - Cell 2
DNFJan Tratnik (Slovenia)Row 138 - Cell 2
DNFLukas Pöstlberger (Austria)Row 139 - Cell 2
DNFGeorg Preidler (Austria)Row 140 - Cell 2
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Poland)Row 141 - Cell 2
DNFMaciej Paterski (Poland)Row 142 - Cell 2
DNFPatrick Bevin (New Zealand)Row 143 - Cell 2
DNFPeter Sagan (Slovakia)Row 144 - Cell 2
DNFNikita Stalnov (Kazakhstan)Row 145 - Cell 2
DNFRohan Dennis (Australia)Row 146 - Cell 2
DNFSerge Pauwels (Belgium)Row 147 - Cell 2
DNFDion Smith (New Zealand)Row 148 - Cell 2
DNFSebastian Henao Gomez (Colombia)Row 149 - Cell 2
DNFDaniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Colombia)Row 150 - Cell 2
DNFTiesj Benoot (Belgium)Row 151 - Cell 2
DNFJosip Rumac (Croatia)Row 152 - Cell 2
DNFMatti Breschel (Denmark)Row 153 - Cell 2
DNFNicholas Dlamini (South Africa)Row 154 - Cell 2
DNFDmitrii Strakhov (Russian Federation)Row 155 - Cell 2
DNFRodrigo Contreras Pinzon (Colombia)Row 156 - Cell 2
DNFSven Erik Bystrøm (Norway)Row 157 - Cell 2
DNFMartin Haring (Slovakia)Row 158 - Cell 2
DNFTom Wirtgen (Luxembourg)Row 159 - Cell 2
DNFJuraj Sagan (Slovakia)Row 160 - Cell 2
DNFPatrik Tybor (Slovakia)Row 161 - Cell 2
DNFMichael Kukrle (Czech Republic)Row 162 - Cell 2
DNFMarek Canecky (Slovakia)Row 163 - Cell 2
DNFKrists Neilands (Latvia)Row 164 - Cell 2
DNFIan Stannard (Great Britain)Row 165 - Cell 2
DNFJean-Pierre Drucker (Luxembourg)Row 166 - Cell 2
DNFRoman Daniel Villalobos Solis (Costa Rica)Row 167 - Cell 2
DNFAndrii Bratashchuk (Ukraine)Row 168 - Cell 2
DNFWarren Barguil (France)Row 169 - Cell 2
DNFDomen Novak (Slovenia)Row 170 - Cell 2
DNFHugo Houle (Canada)Row 171 - Cell 2
DNFVasil Kiryienka (Belarus)Row 172 - Cell 2
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slovenia)Row 173 - Cell 2
DNFRein Taaramäe (Estonia)Row 174 - Cell 2
DNFIgnatas Konovalovas (Lithuania)Row 175 - Cell 2
DNFYauhen Sobal (Belarus)Row 176 - Cell 2
DNFNiklas Eg (Denmark)Row 177 - Cell 2
DNFErik Baska (Slovakia)Row 178 - Cell 2
DNFMartin Mahdar (Slovakia)Row 179 - Cell 2
DNFMohammadesmaeil Chaichiraghimi (Islamic Republic of Iran)Row 180 - Cell 2
DNFSam Bewley (New Zealand)Row 181 - Cell 2
DNFSerghei Tvetcov (Romania)Row 182 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Kirsch (Luxembourg)Row 183 - Cell 2
DNFStylianos Farantakis (Greece)Row 184 - Cell 2
DNFNorman Vahtra (Estonia)Row 185 - Cell 2
DNFHo San Chiu (Hong Kong, China)Row 186 - Cell 2
DNFNicolas Sessler (Brazil)Row 187 - Cell 2

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