2023 is a year that has given again outstanding performances in this “golden” age that we are lucky to experience nowadays: The victories of Van der Poel in Milan-San Remo or Paris Roubaix, Evenepoel‘s exhibitions in Liege-Bastogne-Liege or San Sebastian Classic, Pogacar epic win in Tour de Flandes and his epic battles with Vingegaard in Tour de France, Roglic winning in the last time trial the Giro de Italia against the combative old lion Geraint Thomas… and on and on.
But oh, what we were able to see in Glasgow a few days ago was, maybe, the best classic one single race of the year 2023 and one that will be in the memory of cycling fans for years to come (I only remember enjoying a World Championship so much many years ago, the WC in Colombia, with Olano, Indurain and Pantani in the podium after a grueling and super exciting mountain course).
We leave you here the video if you want to watch again this historical event, and we give you some of the analysis of the race:
- The course
It was criticized by many fans and riders alike, but in the end you have to give to the organization that the course track was perfect for entertaining. With no long climbing, but with explosive obstacles disseminated in a very technical circuit with a lot of turns left and right, this race looked almost like a cyclocross race on asphalt. Positioning was the key if riders wanted to have a chance to win in the end, cause recovering positions was really really complicated.
- The riders’ attitude
It is an old saying in professional cycling that the hard a day race is depends more on the riders than on the course itself. Here in Glasgow we saw fireworks from the favorites from… 150 kms to the finish line! Alaphilippe attacking, strong teams like Denmark or Italy trying to break hostilities from the first laps in the circuit, attacks from big names like Van der Poel, Evenepoel, Pogacar, Pedersen with 100 kilometers to go… it was a marvellous madness of a race in an age where so many times spectator has to wait to the last kilometers to see some action happening.
- Italy is always there
They might not have always the strongest riders, although Trentin (sadly out cause of a crash) or Bettiol were serious contenders, but you cannot deny their compromise and their attitude as a team. They attacked when needed to attack, they worked great as a formation and Bettiol’s sneaky attack was just one lap away from giving him the victory.
The same cannot be said of other teams like Spain, pretty much disappeared without options most of the race, or even the great favourites, Belgium itself, where the team seemed fractured most of the race between defending the interests of Wout van Aert and Evenepoel trying to win his second WC in a row.
4. The big names do not disappoint
Van der Poel: He has shown in 2023 that he is probably the strongers classic races rider in the world nowadays. He has learnt how not to waste too much energy through the race and improved tactically to the point that the spots where he launches the final attacks are perfect. And of course, all that backed up with the incredible explosive power that his legs are able to carry. He was the strongest rider of the day, and not even a crash in the final kilometers could deprive him of a well deserved victory
Pogacar: If you like professional cycling, you have to like Tadej Pogacar. A man not afraid to compete and give everything both in 3 weeks races or in the most demanding classics of the year. To his disadvantage, he had to spend too much energy reacting to attacks way too far from the finish line, and in the last 2 laps he recognized that he was already suffering. But in any case, it is always a big show to see him race and attack. He does not leave anything left in his tank, and the bronze medal is a more than fair reward to his attitude and talent.
Wout van Aert: Again another silver medal for his collection. And again the feeling for many fans that, even when Van Aert is one of the biggest cycling talents arousing in the last years, he is wasting too many good chances to achieve more remarkable victories year after year. In Paris Roubais was an unfortunate puncture at the end of the last pave section. Today he just lacked the legs to follow Van der Poel in his decisive attack. For many other riders, a silver would be a fantastic result, but for Van Aert, the bittersweet feeling of another great chance missed is there. We hope that some day we can see him wearing the rainbow jersey. His talent deserves it.
Evenepoel: it is true that with such a technical track, Evenepoel did not have it easy to repeat victory in Glasgow. But from the favorites, his performance was certainly the most surprising. He got himself cut several times from the lead bunch due to bad positioning, then when it seemed like he did not have the legs, he performed a couple of strong attacks, and then again he got cut and gave up on pursuing… For much that he is one of the most talented riders out there, explosive, maybe the best time-trial specialist in the world, and a pleasure to see him attacking faraway, he should improve still a lot on his mental focus if he wants to be a consistent winners against the strongest opponents out there.