Specialized dominates the 2018 World Championships
The Tour de France has its prestige, the Giro its classy allure and the Vuelta its gruelling parcours, but no race quite matches the season-ending World Championships in terms of drama and ‘edge of your seat’ action. The 2018 edition in Innsbruck was no different. Touted as the hardest world’s course in a generation, the stage was set for one spectacular week of events and boy, did it deliver in fantastic fashion…
Against the clock
Quick-Step Floors have three TTT worlds titles to their name, but the team went into the 2018 event as something of an underdog after unexpectedly missing the podium completely last year. Up against defending champions, Team Sunweb, and the ever-disciplined BMC Racing Team, the youthful Quick-Step line-up was not expected to come out on top, but only a fool would write off the boys in blue.
By the first time check, doubts started to creep in as the six man team of Niki Terpstra, Laurens de Plus, Yves Lampaert, Bob Jungels, Maximilian Schachmann and neo-pro Kasper Asgreen only managed to clock third fastest. However, rising to second fastest at the second time check, their speed just kept on building – the six men tenacious in their attempt to bring the TTT title back into Quick-Step’s hands.
The team romped home with a winning time of 1:07:26, their blisteringly quick Shiv TT machines humming as they crossed the line, cementing themselves into the hot seats where they watched the last team finish.
Belgian road champion, Yves Lampaert, described the team’s winning effort in a post-race interview:
“The harder the TTT, the better this team gets. We knew we had to ride our limit on the climb and try to go over the top with as many riders as possible. We’ve got lots of horsepower and had some left to be fast in the final 10km.”
The missing piece of the puzzle
Despite having the Olympic and European titles to her name, two overall victories in the Giro Rosa, four Flèche Wallonne wins and two victories in Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Anna van der Breggen has never worn the rainbow stripes of world champion, despite placing in the top 10 on no less than four occasions.
The testy course in Innsbruck suited the classics star down to a tee, but she wasn’t the only one licking her lips at the announcement of the parcours. Riders like Amanda Spratt, Annemiek Van Vleuten and Katarzyna Niewiadoma were just a few who were also eager to add a rainbow jersey to their glowing collections.
Attacks flew as the peloton crossed the 100km to go marker with countless favourites keen to make the race as difficult as possible. In an astonishing display of solo excellence, van der Breggen bridged across to a strong breakaway on the penultimate climb of the day, leaving the diminished peloton eating her dust.
On her incredibly light S-Works Tarmac, the Dutch powerhouse obliterated the one-minute gap in only 2km. With a spring still in her step, van de Breggen kicked once again, dropping Amanda Spratt, the only breakaway survivor.
Yesterday a dream became reality.. World Champion🌈 There are so many people who helped me with this.. Of course a big thank you goes to my orange teammates and all the people behind the scenes #knwu staff and my @boelsdolmansct. Thank you all!! And not forgetting my family and friends for all of their support and making so much noise at the finishline ❤#innsbrucktirol2018 #knwu #teamnl
Dropping down the descent like a stone off a cliff, Anna van der Breggen soon gained an unassailable lead. Approaching the finish line all alone and with plenty of time to celebrate, her relief was unmistakable as numerous years of disappointment came flooding out.
“When I crossed the finish line it was relief that it finally worked out,” said van der Breggen. “I won it this time. I am really thankful for that.”
She beat second-place Spratt by a mammoth margin of 3:42, the largest winning margin of any World Championship road race in decades.
Don’t call me Merckx
There’s one name on the tip of everyone’s lips in the cycling world at the moment – Remco Evenepoel. The staggering fact is that the young Belgian only made the switch to cycling in 2017 having spent the majority of his teenage years pursuing a pro football career with R.S.C Anderlecht.
Of the 45 races, Evenepoel has started this season, he’s won 35. Such prolific performance has unsurprisingly garnered a huge amount of attention, particularly in Belgium where they’re now touting him as the next Eddy Merckx, though the young Belgian has other ideas:
“I don’t want to be called the new Merckx. I’m the new me.”
He certainly has a point. While his wins are very ‘cannibal-esque’ in character – effortlessly riding away from the rest of the competition – that’s where the comparisons end. You could argue that the young Belgian is even better.
After crushing the Junior Men’s Individual Time Trial at the start of the week, Evenepoel lined up for the road race as the clear favourite. A crash as the race started to hot up set alarm bells ringing, but the youngster remained calm, pacing his way back to the pack after a quick bike swap.
🇮🇹 Fresco vincitore dei campionati del mondo in linea ed a cronometro nella categoria Juniores, a soli 18 anni @remco.ev passerà professionista con la @quickstep_team nel 2019, saltando la categoria under 23. È il primo nato dopo il 2000 a diventare professionista. Prossimo vincitore di un GT? ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ 🇬🇧 A fresh winner in the road race and in the time trial at world championships in the Juniores category, at just 18 he will pass professionist with the @quickstep_team in 2019, skipping the under 23 category. He is the first born after 2000 to become a professional. Next winner of a GT? 🔥 Tag someone who should watch it! ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ 👍🏼 Be sure to follow @baserunningtriathlon (my second page) and @ale_emmei (my private profile). 👉🏻 Tag your photos #StrongCycling for a chance to be featured! ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ #RemcoEvenepoel #Evenepoel #QuickStep #QuickstepFloors #TheWolfPack #InnsbruckTirol2018 #Innsbruck2018 #WorldChampion #Specialized #Bike #MTB #Bikes #InstaBike #BikeRide #OutsideIsFree #Fixie #Cyclist #CyclingPhotos #FromWhereIRide #Rapha #InstaCycling #wymtm #StravaPhoto #baaw #Ciclista #BikeLovers #CycleLife #ProCycling #LightBro ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖
Fuelled by adrenaline, Evenepoel then began to toy with the head of the race, launching attack after attack until one finally stuck. Only one rider could match him – Germany’s Marius Mayrhofer – but even he succumbed to the might of Evenepoel in the end. The Belgian crossed the line 1:25 ahead of the German, lifting his S-Works Tarmac aloft in celebration.
At only 18 years of age, Evenepoel becomes one of the youngest riders in a generation to make the step up to the pro ranks, having signed a two-year contract with super team Quick-Step Floors where we’re confident he’ll continue his winning ways.
With over 100 pro wins and now three sets of rainbow stripes within the Specialized ranks, there’s little doubting the winning credentials of our bikes. Make sure you check out the rest of our road cycling range here.
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