World Championships: Hirschi wins under-23 road race

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

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)4:24:05
2Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium)0:00:15
3Jaakko Hanninen (Finland)Row 2 - Cell 2
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)Row 7 - Cell 2
9Patrick Müller (Switzerland)Row 8 - Cell 2
10James Shaw (Great Britain)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Jai Hindley (Australia)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Clement Champoussin (France)Row 11 - Cell 2
13Aurélien Paret Peintre (France)0:01:06
14Georg Zimmermann (Germany)Row 13 - Cell 2
15Aleksandr Vlasov (Russian Federation)0:01:07
16Samuele Battistella (Italy)Row 15 - Cell 2
17Robert Stannard (Australia)0:02:48
18Stefan De Bod (South Africa)0:03:21
19Alessandro Fedeli (Italy)Row 18 - Cell 2
20Edward Dunbar (Ireland)0:03:23
21Mikkel Frølich Honoré (Denmark)0:03:46
22Tobias S. Foss (Norway)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Lennard Kämna (Germany)0:03:50
24Andrea Bagioli (Italy)Row 23 - Cell 2
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)Row 27 - Cell 2
29Max Kanter (Germany)0:05:41
30Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands)Row 29 - Cell 2
31Barnabás Peák (Hungary)Row 30 - Cell 2
32Wilmar Andres Paredes Zapata (Colombia)Row 31 - Cell 2
33Viktor Verschaeve (Belgium)Row 32 - Cell 2
34Adam Toupalík (Czech Republic)Row 33 - Cell 2
35Nikolai Cherkasov (Russian Federation)Row 34 - Cell 2
36Ibai Azurmendi Sagastibeltza (Spain)Row 35 - Cell 2
37Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)Row 36 - Cell 2
38Gonçalo Carvalho (Portugal)Row 37 - Cell 2
39Jaka Primožic (Slovenia)Row 38 - Cell 2
40Woldegabreal Weldu (Ethiopia)Row 39 - Cell 2
41Jose Felix Parra Cuerda (Spain)Row 40 - Cell 2
42Sean Bennett (United States Of America)Row 41 - Cell 2
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)Row 47 - Cell 2
49Jefferson Cepeda (Ecuador)Row 48 - Cell 2
50Joel Fuertes (Ecuador)Row 49 - Cell 2
51André Carvalho (Portugal)0:09:27
52Michael Storer (Australia)Row 51 - Cell 2
53Alessandro Monaco (Italy)Row 52 - Cell 2
54Einer Augusto Rubio Reyes (Colombia)Row 53 - Cell 2
55Nicolas Prodhomme (France)0:09:54
56Lukas Rüegg (Switzerland)Row 55 - Cell 2
57Kamil Malecki (Poland)0:10:47
58Dimitri Bussard (Switzerland)Row 57 - Cell 2
59Torjus Sleen (Norway)Row 58 - Cell 2
60Jakub Otruba (Czech Republic)Row 59 - Cell 2
61Andreas Leknessund (Norway)Row 60 - Cell 2
62Florian Stork (Germany)Row 61 - Cell 2
63Felix Gall (Austria)Row 62 - Cell 2
64Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark)0:10:49
65Attila Valter (Hungary)0:11:52
66Luis Ricardo Villalobos Hernandez (Mexico)Row 65 - Cell 2
67Kévin Geniets (Luxembourg)Row 66 - Cell 2
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)Row 71 - Cell 2
73Magnus Bak Klaris (Denmark)Row 72 - Cell 2
74Brandon Mcnulty (United States Of America)Row 73 - Cell 2
75Stepan Kuriyanov (Russian Federation)Row 74 - Cell 2
76Alejandro Osorio Carvajal (Colombia)Row 75 - Cell 2
77Michel Ries (Luxembourg)Row 76 - Cell 2
78João Almeida (Portugal)Row 77 - Cell 2
79Yevgeniy Gidich (Kazakhstan)Row 78 - Cell 2
80Ryan Christensen (New Zealand)0:21:36
81Henok Mulueberhan (Eritrea)Row 80 - Cell 2
82Luc Wirtgen (Luxembourg)Row 81 - Cell 2
83Joseph Areruya (Rwanda)Row 82 - Cell 2
84Conn Mcdunphy (Ireland)Row 83 - Cell 2
85Charles-Etienne Chretien (Canada)Row 84 - Cell 2
86Jordan Antony Cardenas Villavicencio (Ecuador)Row 85 - Cell 2
87Márton Dina (Hungary)Row 86 - Cell 2
88Fernando Barcelo Aragon (Spain)Row 87 - Cell 2
89Maximilian Stedman (Great Britain)0:21:53
90Idar Andersen (Norway)0:23:05
DNFIde Schelling (Netherlands)Row 90 - Cell 2
DNFVictor Lafay (France)Row 91 - Cell 2
DNFBrent van Moer (Belgium)Row 92 - Cell 2
DNFDaire Feeley (Ireland)Row 93 - Cell 2
DNFJakub Murias (Poland)Row 94 - Cell 2
DNFFilip Maciejuk (Poland)Row 95 - Cell 2
DNFMasahiro Ishigami (Japan)Row 96 - Cell 2
DNFPatrick Haller (Germany)Row 97 - Cell 2
DNFTegshbayar Batsaikhan (Mongolia)Row 98 - Cell 2
DNFJonas Rutsch (Germany)Row 99 - Cell 2
DNFAdam Roberge (Canada)Row 100 - Cell 2
DNFJoab Schneiter (Switzerland)Row 101 - Cell 2
DNFViktor Potocki (Croatia)Row 102 - Cell 2
DNFJambaljamts Sainbayar (Mongolia)Row 103 - Cell 2
DNFMario Gamper (Austria)Row 104 - Cell 2
DNFDinmukhammed Ulysbayev (Kazakhstan)Row 105 - Cell 2
DNFGerardo Lopez Covarrubias (Mexico)Row 106 - Cell 2
DNFAlex Hoehn (United States Of America)Row 107 - Cell 2
DNFKent Main (South Africa)Row 108 - Cell 2
DNFAwet Habtom Tekle (Eritrea)Row 109 - Cell 2
DNFŽiga Horvat (Slovenia)Row 110 - Cell 2
DNFSamuel Hakiruwizeye (Rwanda)Row 111 - Cell 2
DNFMatteo Sobrero (Italy)Row 112 - Cell 2
DNFIvan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo (Colombia)Row 113 - Cell 2
DNFWilson Haro (Ecuador)Row 114 - Cell 2
DNFJames Mitri (New Zealand)Row 115 - Cell 2
DNFIgor Chzhan (Kazakhstan)Row 116 - Cell 2
DNFMatúš Štocek (Slovakia)Row 117 - Cell 2
DNFRasmus Fossum Tiller (Norway)Row 118 - Cell 2
DNFNickolas Zukowsky (Canada)Row 119 - Cell 2
DNFKakeru Omae (Japan)Row 120 - Cell 2
DNFJulius van Den Berg (Netherlands)Row 121 - Cell 2
DNFDiego Agustin Ferreyra Geldrez (Chile)Row 122 - Cell 2
DNFJacob Eriksson (Sweden)Row 123 - Cell 2
DNFVeljko Stojnic (Serbia)Row 124 - Cell 2
DNFOgnjen Ilic (Serbia)Row 125 - Cell 2
DNFNik Cemažar (Slovenia)Row 126 - Cell 2
DNFDenis Nekrasov (Russian Federation)Row 127 - Cell 2
DNFMasaki Yamamoto (Japan)Row 128 - Cell 2
DNFKarel Tyrpekl (Czech Republic)Row 129 - Cell 2
DNFTiago Antunes (Portugal)Row 130 - Cell 2
DNFShoi Matsuda (Japan)Row 131 - Cell 2
DNFZemenfes Selemun (Eritrea)Row 132 - Cell 2
DNFFilip Kvasina (Croatia)Row 133 - Cell 2
DNFDavid Jabuka (Croatia)Row 134 - Cell 2
DNFKa Hoo Fung (Hong Kong, China)Row 135 - Cell 2
DNFVladyslav Soltasiuk (Ukraine)Row 136 - Cell 2
DNFCyrus Monk (Australia)Row 137 - Cell 2
DNFFernando Augusto Finkler (Brazil)Row 138 - Cell 2
DNFMusa Mikayilzade (Azerbaijan)Row 139 - Cell 2
DNFKevin Rivera Serrano (Costa Rica)Row 140 - Cell 2
DNFEugenio Mirafuentes Resendez (Mexico)Row 141 - Cell 2
DNFDidier Munyaneza (Rwanda)Row 142 - Cell 2
DNFPiotr Pekala (Poland)Row 143 - Cell 2
DNFOmer Goldsteiin (Israel)Row 144 - Cell 2
DNFCallum Scotson (Australia)Row 145 - Cell 2
DNFOrluis Aular (Venezuela)Row 146 - Cell 2
DNFEdward Walsh (Canada)Row 147 - Cell 2
DNFDarragh O'mahony (Ireland)Row 148 - Cell 2
DNFSzymon Tracz (Poland)Row 149 - Cell 2
DNFKenny Molly (Belgium)Row 150 - Cell 2
DNFJose Eduardo Autran Carrillo (Chile)Row 151 - Cell 2
DNFJefferson Cepeda (Ecuador)Row 152 - Cell 2
DNFAlexandros Agrotis (Cyprus)Row 153 - Cell 2
DNFJonathan Brown (United States Of America)Row 154 - Cell 2
DNFIzidor Penko (Slovenia)Row 155 - Cell 2
DNFPaul Daumont (Burkina Faso)Row 156 - Cell 2
DNFRene Jean Paul Ukiniwabo (Rwanda)Row 157 - Cell 2
DNFTimur Malieiev (Ukraine)Row 158 - Cell 2
DNFHiu Fung Choy (Hong Kong, China)Row 159 - Cell 2
DNFAyumu Watanabe (Japan)Row 160 - Cell 2
DNFLeonel Quintero (Venezuela)Row 161 - Cell 2
DNFMichael O'loughlin (Ireland)Row 162 - Cell 2
DNFAndrej Petrovski (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)Row 163 - Cell 2
DNFCyril Barthe (France)Row 164 - Cell 2
DNFEmil Dima (Romania)Row 165 - Cell 2
DNFDenis Marian Vulcan (Romania)Row 166 - Cell 2
DNFMateo Bratic (Croatia)Row 167 - Cell 2
DNFErik Sandersson (Sweden)Row 168 - Cell 2
DNFKarim Shiraliyev (Azerbaijan)Row 169 - Cell 2
DNFWan Yau Vincent Lau (Hong Kong, China)Row 170 - Cell 2
DNFTyler Cole (Trinidad & Tabago)Row 171 - Cell 2
DNFŽiga Jerman (Slovenia)Row 172 - Cell 2
DNFSamuel Mugisha (Rwanda)Row 173 - Cell 2
DNFAhmed Amine Galdoune (Morocco)Row 174 - Cell 2
DNFOthman Harakat (Morocco)Row 175 - Cell 2
DNFLuke Mudgway (New Zealand)Row 176 - Cell 2
DNFIgnacio Alejandro Espinoza Ibarra (Chile)Row 177 - Cell 2

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