The Moment The Race Was Won: World Championships

Kwiatkowski attack Ponferrada world championships Spain 2014

Michał Kwiatkowski drops the last of a four man group on the final climb of the Mirador above Ponferrada. He’d slipped the bunch on the descent with risky move, both for his safety on wet roads but tactically as there were four riders to get in his way up ahead. He seemed to take a breather before accelerating again and now solo he was never caught again. This was the moment the race was won.

Four riders went up the road, surprisingly few given the bunch was going to huddle in the rain, a rare chance for some to get on TV as they weren’t going to feature otherwise. It meant little to watch and you suspected a significant share of the audience for the first four hours comprised immobile hospital patients with limbs in traction, the remote just out of reach. The action was confined to crashes, with Vincenzo Nibali The Shark in dire straits after a fall plus the Norwegian team car hit a tree badly injuring the occupants and a spectator.

Little happened in the race for a long time. The Polish conformed to the stereotype of Europe’s hard workers by toiling on the front of the bunch for lap after lap. It wasn’t a fierce pace but it was visible presence. While they took up the tempo everyone else sat tight.

With four laps to go Fabio Aru upped the tempo on the Confederación climb and it had the effect of poking a hornet’s nest. Suddenly the bunch buzzed as if the race started after 10 neutralised laps. Seemingly because there’s nothing neutral about 10 laps in the rain. Aru was joined by Peter Kennaugh and a whole drawer full of what the French call “second knives” or secondary lieutenants and captains. Australia missed the move and chased. Tony Martin then went solo but it was too early for him to strike out alone so who was he working for, his German team mates or OPQS colleagues? Kwiatkowsi was sat tight, often with a bodyguard like Michał Gołaś.

Three laps to go and about 90 riders were left in the mix and a lap later only a few more had been ejected as the pace started to rise, jumping above 41km/h a lap for the first time. Giovanni Visconti struck out alone with Peter Kennaugh in pursuit and it seemed like the Italian and British had a plan. The same for the Swiss with Michael Albasini covering plenty of moves and making up for the Swiss team’s minimal presence.

With a lap left a move containing Alessandro de Marchi, Cyril Gautier and Michael Valgren was joined by Vasil Kiryienka. De Marchi was getting angry with Gautier for not working but Valgren was good, aged 22 he’s won the Tour of Denmark this year but having the strength to power a break after 240km is equally impressive. The quarted led by 40 seconds at the bell. If they weren’t a threat they were a problem. Why? Because anyone behind trying to surge clear of the bunch would have to ride across to the breakaway only to find four flagging riders sitting on their wheel like wet baggage. Spain took up the chase, for them the foot of the final climb was the finish line, they had to launch Valverde clear of the sprinters over the Mirador climb.

The last time up the Confederación climb saw no moves but the tension was obvious, as if one rider standing on the pedals was enough to make ten more do the same in case he was going to jump.

Michal Kwiatkowksi Ponferrada 2014

Then came the descent and with 7km to go, a sneak attack by Kwiatkowski. This wasn’t an all out, guns blazing “look at me” move. He accelerated off the front and, tucked low, quickly took a few seconds as he threaded through the bends. Over the dam and the Pole was halfway between the bunch and the De Marchi-powered quartet. He quickly got across to them and seemed to sit on the back rather than blast past. A breather? It seemed so as he went to work, powering up the climb with Valgren the last to pop.

Over the top and Kwiatkowski led by less than 10 seconds but behind the chasing group was a perfect cocktail of tired legs, rivalry and marking. Philippe Gilbert had put in trademark move over the final climb but this was marked and on the descent he was working for Greg Van Avermaet while Alejandro Valverde was accompanied by compatriot and arch rival Joaquim Rodriguez. The Belgian and Spanish tandem also had Tony Gallopin and Simon Gerrans with them, two riders you don’t take to the line for free. These chasers made few calculations but a couple of hesitant pulls was all that was needed as  Kwiatkowski descended just as you’d expect from someone with ski in their name, nor did he wilt on the run in into Ponferrada. The chasers started their sprint knowing silver was the best they could get. Kwiatkowsi had time to sit up, kiss the eagle on his jersey and take a proud win.

World Championships cycling 2014 winner Kwiatkowski

The Verdict
A thrilling finale after a long race that required endurance from riders and spectators alike. Michał Kwiatkowski went when others were waiting and took a deserved win to finish a hard day’s team work. Sometimes the title of champion can be accidental, the winner of a late season race is labelled the world’s best but Kwiatkowski is surely the moral winner today as there’s no little doubting the manner of his win nor that he’ll be a good world champion in 2015 both as a champion on the bike and an ambassador off it. Some will have to spell his name right – with the ł – but there’s an easy way to avoid mispronouncing his name. Just call him “The World Champion”.

2014 has been a great year for him with a very strong spring but he returned to racing at the Dauphiné and was burned out and it’s taken the rest of the season to get things together. A strong Tour of Britain and then an altitude training camp in Italy helped shape the win. It ends a big year for Polish cycling following Rafał Majka’s Tour success and it’s Poland’s first pro World Championship win on the road after amateur titles for Joachim Halupczok in 1989 and Lech Piasecki in 1985 when the Iron Curtain prevented them from racing with the pros.

The way the race all came down to the final climb lent it an air of Milan-Sanremo, if the climbing wasn’t hard the distance did the selection. We saw the shorter races often end in sprints but the 250km did what was required. Instead of Sanremo the final podium was a replica of the 2014 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Alejandro Valverde gets his sixth world championship medal but still no gold, a record to outdo Raymond Poulidor. Simon Gerrans perhaps paid the price of his status and was unable to pounce at the end. But both should be satisfied with the result given the long list of names close behind. Their break made it while the bunch sprint won by Alexander Kristoff ahead of John Degenkolb and Nacer Bouhanni suggested another medal combination.

Ponferrada world championships podium 2014 tęcza polska

1 Michał Kwiatkowski (Poland) 6:29:07
2 Simon Gerrans (Australia) 0:00:01
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain)
4 Matti Breschel (Denmark)
5 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
6 Tony Gallopin (France)
7 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) 6:29:11
8 Alexander Kristoff (Norway) 6:29:14
9 John Degenkolb (Germany)
10 Nacer Bouhanni (France)

106 thoughts on “The Moment The Race Was Won: World Championships”

  1. Well deserved win for someone who had decided beforehand on his best tactic, and executed it to perfection. A brave move. I am sure Kwiakowski will be a worthy world champion,

  2. It really was an action packed finale. I held my breath when Kwiatkowski sat up before the finish line… Phew…
    Thanks for your articles – as always, they are much appreciated and enjoyed.

  3. “… you suspected a significant share of the audience for the first four hours comprised immobile hospital patients with limbs in traction, the remote just out of reach.” Brilliant!

    But in seriousness, I was very bummer Cancellara didn’t win the gold he’s so deservedly earned.

  4. Sensational Kwiatkowski!! A well-deserved championship by a rider who will wear the stripes well!
    Poland’s plan for the race was perfectly executed and they have much to be proud of. First Polish champion, and a young one, though not the youngest historically.

    Karel Kaers was a Belgian cyclist who in 1934 became the youngest world road champion, winning at the age of 20.

    Refreshing to not have the gold go to one of the big guns predicted to take it. On dry roads, Gerrans was the overall favorite and just missed his opportunity. Valverde must be so tired of evading the gold of late, but after a heavy season of racing should also be happy to have stood on the podium at all.

    Where was Cancellara? No TV or online viewing so no idea of his position during the last 40 kilometers or so. Same with Swift, where was he? One Brit (Froome) cracked early to help pace him, but he’s been showing fatigue since the Vuelta.

    Fantastic race! Kwiatkowski, IMO, will not be cursed by the stripes!

    • Cancellara was in the reduced peloton. he was close to the front when gerrans and valverde went, but obviously couldnt follow. you then cold briefly see him in the bunch, looked like suffering.

      • Swift was in the sprinters bunch, but I think he just cruised in. He was never going to take on Kwia over the climb and hoping for a reduced bunch sprint.

        Fab should have gone earlier maybe?

  5. Gotta confess to thinking that move was doomed. Surely the rest would roll up on them all and it would be a wild ride down to a huge bunch sprint. Kwiatkowski’s name will be spelled correctly now as folks will be typing it quite often. A deserved win in my (worthless) opinion though the Italians deserve some credit for (finally) animating the race. I hope to be at Richmond next year in-person.

    • 1 Michal Kwiatkowski (Poland) 6:29:07
      2 Simon Gerrans (Australia) 0:00:01
      3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain)
      4 Matti Breschel (Denmark)
      5 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
      6 Tony Gallopin (France)
      7 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) 0:00:04
      8 Alexander Kristoff (Norway) 0:00:07
      9 John Degenkolb (Germany)
      10 Nacer Bouhanni (France)
      11 Fabian Cancellara (Switzerland)
      12 Ben Swift (Great Britain)
      13 Sonny Colbrelli (Italy)
      14 Michael Matthews (Australia)
      15 Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania)

      Haven’t found a single statement by Cancellara post-race. No surprise there. I think his crown is being chipped away as he ages and younger riders emerge.

      “To be honest with you, I felt like I wanted to cry when I crossed the finish line,” Gerrans admitted in the press room afterwards, a silver medal around his neck. “To be so close to the world title and to see it slip away in the final few kilometers … I knew I had good legs. If things had unfolded a little bit differently in the final I could have been racing for the victory.. All in all, I’m happy with the way I raced. But to come second in a big race like this, especially a Worlds, is disappointing in a way too.” – CN

      • Gerrans is amazing. He apparently believes that everyone else will tow him to the last 250 meters. The way in which he avoided doing a single turn in pursuit of Kwia was appalling.

          • This goes for MK, too…
            After writing my commentary below, I had the occasion to watch again the last part of the race, and…: *no*!

            Unless you were there and saw more than was showed on TV, Gerrans never pulled in the last flat 2km section, while Valverde put in a very strong turn. Generally speaking, during *the group chase*, that is the 2’40” from the top of the climb (not including Valverde’s attacks on the climb) to the last stretch to the line, when Gilbert started a very long “gregario” turn to launch GVA’s sprint (1’20”, not included), Valverde was pulling on the front for 1’15” divided in three turns, Gilbert for 48″ in two turns, both Gerrans and Breschel for 18″ divided in two turns each. More or less (there are 20″ in which Valverde and Gerrans take a turn, but we can’t know if one of them worked more: I ascribed 10″ each). That would be 47% Valverde, 30% Gilbert, 11% each Gerrans and Breschel.
            Even if we include Gilbert’s long final work (which, in my opinion, is not theoretically correct, because it was a different situation, then), there’s a big difference between Valverde and the rest: Gilbert 53%, Valverde 31%, Gerrans and Breschel 8%.
            Van Avermaet didn’t work but had the right not to do so (one may wonder if it was a good idea, and the final result would say ‘yes’; if anything, he should have attacked various kms before), while Gallopin was the most blatant wheelsucker ;-)… or, more probably, he was just exhausted.

            Anyway, both Gilbert and Valverde were proactive, taking their shifts to rise the group’s speed and working on flat terrain, too, whereas Gerrans and Breschel entered their turn only during the descent and also appeared to be rapidly reducing speed (Gerrans, for example, goes very soon in aerodynamic position and stops pedalling), thus forcing the “enthusiast chasers” to come on the front.

            Because of these data, I must slightly reconsider my position: maybe Gerrans was feeling that Valverde was stronger. I still think that the Australian would have won, and hence should have given at least one shift in the flat and get his gold medal, but perhaps Gerrans’ perception was one of insecurity.
            Instead, the end of my previous commentary (below) is totally out of place, biased by prejudice. For once, Valverde wasn’t a wheelsucker. Rather, he played all his cards quite well, at least in the final six or seven minutes of the race…

          • “Not pulling” is what happened at the end of the Women’s Race as well. Made for painful watching, seeing the 4-rider group of Armitstead, Vos et al look at each other, refuse to pull each other along, and theh get swallowed by the riders behind to finish nowhere in particular. Peculiar sight, as tired as they would have been I think they’d have made in ahead of the bunch if they hadn’t basically stopped.

          • Since Gerrans was the fastest rider of the group (and the strongest rider in this particular moment, I would add, at least looking at the way he speeded up the last climb, showing total control despite of the attacks…), it was up to him to work on the front, once Belgium made their move.
            First of all, indeed, it’s up to the riders who have teammates to lead the chase or whatever (they can decide to share work, to sacrifice one rider for another, or even to alternate attacks, but in any case the rivals will wait to see how does the strongest team manage the situation – and rightly so).
            Then, if a rider clearly has more chances to win, he must know that if he doesn’t work first (and seriously), the chase won’t, either.
            The chasing group tends to remain in a dynamic stall until a more or less balanced equilibrium in terms of chances to win is found.
            Obviously it’s not that simple and very much depends on riders’ psychology (and lack of time), but to express it in a kind of “videogame” simplification, if in a group a rider has a bigger chance of winning, the others won’t work until he has tired himself pulling the group enough… to give them some hope.
            Thus, a truly canny rider *works* – sometime even a bit more than the others – but trying to keep his chances slightly higher than the rest.
            Clearly, it’s very difficult, especially because you don’t have perfect information about your rivals, and maybe the forces are levelled, so you feel that whatever you do (even a small turn on the front), your chances will fall below par; or maybe you consider that your rivals won’t work with you whatever effort you do. Or you may even be thinking that, on the contrary, they’ll work in any case, although you’re stronger, so why bother?
            That said, I suspect that yesterday Gerrans would have overcome Valverde even if the Australian had given a couple of stronger turns on the front (not like Gilbert, i. e. *gregario style*, but just a couple of more determined pulls). These turns would have helped to catch Kwiatkowski but, more than everything, would have – maybe – unblocked the stall (“Gerrans is working *hard*, so he’ll maybe get tired, so we can work a little and still have a chance to pass him, and anyway if Gerrans is a bit more tired, to catch Kwiatkowski may mean gold…”).
            I don’t blame Gerrans at all (no need to say he can and must ride as he thinks it’s better to win), but I feel that he lost a great occasion because he was riding as if he was in a group of twenty in a hilly/uphill final where everyone is eager to attack or to chase, while he’s just trying to take cover, to survive and to arrive to the final sprint. Whereas yesterday he was in a wholly different situation… it was an handbook case, but he just lacked this particular *small-chase-where-you-are-way-faster* handbook.
            Curiously enough, he made a classical “perfect Valverde”, but in Gerrans’ case I think that it is much more justifiable because actually he doesn’t find himself very often in these situations, while Valverde has got a vast experience of trial-and-error in the field.
            It must be said that Gerrans may have overrated Valverde’s speed, but *this* would have really been an error: if you’re competing for gold, you must have your top rivals studied, and Valverde’s year says he’s started winning with long range attacks, he’s got better uphill, he has improved his stamina in the GTs, but he’s way less explosive. Or was Gerrans hoping that Valverde would… pull the chase? …Daydreaming 🙂
            (wheelsuckers should at least recognize one another :-P)

        • At the risk of putting a stick in the hornet’s nest, if Gerrans would have done what Gilbert did, I suspect the places would simply end up switched with perhaps Gilbert getting silver and Gerrans 7th. Isn’t the trick with these types to get the other guy to do the work so you’re fresh at the crucial run-in to the line? I guess it’s easy to identify with the big, strong (and dumb) guys who tow the victors to the line, only to be beaten in the final sprint? To win you have to risk losing, which is what I thought would happen to Kwiatkowski..but his gamble paid off and to that I say BRAVO!

          • i love finishes like these, they make cycling such an exciting sport (also these tactical sprints out of a reduced group) you not only have to have the legs, no you have to outsmart the others and today kwiatkowski outsmarted them all.

          • There is only one medal that counts in the worlds, and that is the gold medal.
            I was quite frustrated not seeing Gerrans or Valverde taking one final turn. Aming for a silver or bronze medal in the final stretch of the world championship feels wrong for me. In this case I was really happy with what Gilbert did. Gambling and losing.
            And really disliked how Van Avermaet was sprinted towards the fences. Oh, how I loved to see him in the top three.

      • Gerrans can’t cry too much – he needed to bring back Kwiat just as much as the other chasers, his timid contributions to bringing him back disrupted the chase.

        From the way Kwiat slowed down and milked the applause in the final 300m, i would say even a meaningful chase behind would have been futile. If needed, Kwiat could have started his sprint instead of rolling across the line like he did.

        Worthy champion.

  6. Kudos to Michał Kwiatkowski for a smart and gutsy win. Polish fans will be very proud, first a win in the Tour of Poland and now a world champion what a truly remarkable season for the young Pole!

    P.S. “Kwiatkowski descended just as you’d expect from someone with ski in their name” LOL.

  7. It looked like he posted up way too soon. Was this just foreshortening from the camera, or did he really risk it all, like Zabel in Milan San Remo years ago?

    • It did look a little risky on the coverage didn’t it – he finished a mere second ahead of Gerrans and the others in the end. It would have been a bit more had he not sat up.

  8. Nice write up, but where is the article about the women’s race?

    From your Brian Cookson article “All of the UCI’s commissions, their word for committees, feature a woman. Symbolic for now as it’s too early to see more changes.”

    Still too early to see some equality?

    • Good point. I was about to compliment INRNG for by far the best race report on the Men’s Elite Road Race that I’ve read so far, but now I’m beginning to wonder if INRNG has a blind spot.

    • Similarly for the preview I had a comment asking where the women’s preview was and as mentioned then, it’s a subject I’ll return to, worth discussing. For now this is only a niche blog, as opposed a news service with staff on duty, nor a governing body with a remit to uphold. Besides I was busy racing yesterday so couldn’t see the race, yet alone write it up.

      If any readers want to do a write-up of the women’s race on their blog or they’ve have already done so, get in touch and I can share the links.

      • unbelievable that you should have to defend yourself on this issue. Naturally, you should write about whatever you see fit (or not).

        What you do write is always a fantastic accompaniment to a bowl of porridge down here in New Zealand. On the occasions that I flick through and there’s not a new post, I’m momentarily disappointed, but there’s plenty of other (not quite so well written) stuff on the internet to read.

        Great to hear you were out racing.

      • Ha! – I love it that your one man blog is so good, that folks think its a full service commercial website they can moan about. Keep on keeping on Inrng. Amazing how you (and Cosmo) can produce all this stuff of consistently higher quality than the pro news sites…

      • If someone were writing a blog this good about women’s cycling, I’d read it with great attention. But this is your blog, and you should do what you wish. I’m grateful to learn from you.

        However, since you were racing yesterday, if your name turns out to be Pauline, the laugh is going to be on us! I hope you had a good, safe, and fun race, at any rate.

      • I’d love to do one but..

        a) I don’t have a blog
        b) I could never write it as well or as informed as you do (or indeed as others out there do)
        c) I definitely couldn’t come up with masterpieces like “Vincenzo Nibali The Shark in dire straits”! 🙂

        More seriously though, I’d take it as a compliment that people do ask about women’s racing. I mean, I found myself thinking similarly in that it would be great to read a parallel write up about the women’s race, simply because of the quality of your preview and analysis of the men’s race.

        That said, I think everyone here appreciates how much work it takes to do a blog like this (or at least I hope they do), and therefore it’s also appreciated that it’s just impossible to cover everything in road-cycling.

        In short, just carry on doing what you do so brilliantly and if there’s ever an odd article or two on women’s racing in the future, well that would be a bonus 🙂

      • I’ll confess the ‘subject I’ll return to worth discussing’ is making me a bit nervous. This is mostly me being repeatedly burned in the past–you seem pretty level-headed and sensible–but I’ve seen otherwise sensible people cover utterly /wrong/ reasons for not giving women more coverage under nice words like ‘discussion’. I’m also worried that when it does come, any points worth talking about will be overwhelmed by comments from absolute twits like Anonymous below… oy.

        THAT SAID, I know this is a personal blog, not a news site, and I’d rather you stick with what you prefer to write about and what you have time for. (I just checked three women’s cycling blogs and none of them have a write-up either–evidently time is thin on the ground for everybody)

        • We’ll see, it’s really down to time and focus. I get a few “why don’t you cover women’s racing” and the same if not more for cyclo-cross. So a post to explain this can help, at least I can refer email enquiries to something already written.

          • The choice of coverage being a matter of time and focus is pretty much what I thought was the case. Having a post to refer to is definitely a good idea! I apologise if my comment was overly accusatory.

      • You’re trolling, but…

        The women’s WC road race took a very long time to warm up, the men’s took a couple of hours more.

        And the World Cup racing this year (when we’ve been able to see it) has been very exciting.

      • euro: Did you even watch the women’s racing this year or are you just making rude comments like,
        “…it isn’t even worth mentioning?”

        Comparing men’s racing to women’s racing is like apples and oranges. Men have roughly 30% more muscle mass and more lung capacity than women. So the races will never look the same, but you need to watch more women’s races if you think that they are “…dull and devoid of action…”

        Become truly informed before you offend more than 50% of Europe’s population. You can check that fact, ignoramus.

  9. Surely Kwiatkowski owes Rafał Majka a few beers as the latter’s haul of UCI points (along with his own) helped Poland to qualify the maximum number of riders, thus allowing the team to chase moves and control the tempo while keeping the eventual winner fresh.

    • Very good point – the points/riders system is often overlooked but Majka played a huge part in the outcome today. Early on the Poles looked like they were burning themselves out, but in hindsight they were 100% committed to their man and their plan and it worked out perfectly.

      • Initially I thought (through the blurry pictures of a pirate feed off of RAI) that the Swiss was pulling, and then I remembered that they don’t have that many riders in the race. When Podiumcafe commenters confirmed that it was the Poles that was strutting their stuff, my initial thought was it was a pointless show of strenght. Happy to be proven wrong. They were betting that Flower had the legs to beat Sagan, Valverde, Gerrans, Kristoff, Cancellara, Gilbert, Van Avermaet, Degenkolb, Nibali and came up with aces. Amazing.

      • Agreed. For the Polish looked like they were doing too much work too early but importantly with nine riders they could afford to use some and later on in the race Kwiatkowski had a team mate next to him or in front so he was helped all the time. Plus there was Tony Martin too.

    • Here is the thing on the Poles. Sure, they all worked for Kwiatkowski and they did a hell of a job. But in the process they also upped their own value as well.

  10. Living across the pond, just want to congratulate Brent Bookwalter on a fine race today. He finished seven seconds down with Kristoff, Degenkolb, Bouhanni, Cancellara, Swift and that group of 22 riders.
    Bookwalter is a super domestique in so many races that he falls well below the radar, but his talents should give him more opportunities to win races on his own.

  11. As Michel Wuyts said post-race “we might do better to start the broadcast with 80km to go, then it would seem like a flurry of attacks.” The early break still had 10min on the peloton, so I went for a 70km ride of my own, and made it back with 12km to go, plenty of time to see Kwiatek’s winning move unfold. Bialo czerwoni!

    Post-race he said that he’d watched the U23 race, and indeed his move was similar to Sven Eric Bystrom’s. OPQS team boss Patrick Lefevre – glad to have rainbow stripes in the team after failing to defend the TTT and ITT – also revealed that Kwiatkowski did an extra hour of training with the Belgian team during the week during which Tom Boonen advised him, “if the weather is bad, you need to have your team on the front”, and he was put up in their team hotel as the accommodations for the Polish team were “terrible.”

    It made me wonder how much the trade teams support their riders vs. what national federations provide in terms of material, personnel, mechanical support, etc.? Insight INRNG?

    I would also like to see coverage of the women’s race – there are some incredible athletes and champions in the pro peloton (it’s not just the Marianne Vos show).

    • “It made me wonder how much the trade teams support their riders vs. what national federations provide in terms of material, personnel, mechanical support, etc.? Insight INRNG?”

      Yes please, x2 for this. I was trying to explain to my girlfriend while watching how it was different to the Pro Tour – any insight into logistical support would be lovely please INRNG, also is what happened with Wegelius and Southam ditching Hammond in 2005(?) still a common thing?

      As an aside, solid ride by Ben Swift, and Kennaugh worked hard too. As for the other Brits, well, Luke Rowe got a mention but besides that I didn’t really notice much. Also, dunno about anyone else, but I watched from fairly early in the race on BBC Red Button, and I think it was a world feed? Whoever the commentary team were, inspired choice. I never caught the name of the female commentator, but she was superb. However, when the BBC coverage proper started on BBC2 they shut down the other feed and gave us Rob Hayles. Dreary. So very dreary.

      • During Sporza’s race coverage they interviewed the press officer of the Belgian team. He said there were 60 people working in total to support both the men’s, women’s and junior/u23 selections. All these selections need to ride at different times, meaning different schedules for nutrition and massage and mechanics that need to work on a plethora of parts (since they’re all riding their own bikes).

        So on one hand the support can seem bigger than your everyday WT classic or stage race, but I guess when you divide the support crew per nation over the number of competing athletes it’s actually smaller.

        ALso, I think I saw some footage during live broadcasting of mechanics/support crew from Estonia and Poland standing or working together. It might have been a coincidence, but I guess it could make sense that federations with small budgets share costs and infrastructure in logistics/support.

    • For the pro race there’s a lot of pro team support. Poland used the CCC Polsat team bus, the French had the Europcar bus and it’s driver, the same with many other teams. There are national selectors and coaching staff plus mechanics for some teams but others are borrowed or contracted from pro teams. There’s a big grey area as the hotel choices above explain and all along pro team managers are doing business and signing riders. All this happens but I don’t have the list of which team used which bus, the mechanics working for a team etc.

      • GB=Team Sky
        Aus = OGE
        Spain = primarily MOV
        Kazakhstan – AST
        etc etc.

        Its how it works out. Doesn’t matter how sneery one is about one particular nation, its how it is for a good few of the nations.

        As for Brailsford, I’m no fan of his but you’ll find if you read up on the subject that he doesn’t devise the race strategies. Yday it would have been Rod Ellingworth, same as it’s been for the last few years including Copenhagen in 2011.

  12. 1) Very good race. But it needed two more laps, would’ve been much better. The Worlds should be longer than in Hinault’s time, not shorter.
    2) Very happy about Poland’s and Kwiatkowski’s victory. This is how you earn the rainbow jersey. With sacrifice, risk, and pluck. And attacking when no one else would. Like Roche in 1987.
    3) Very happy about Gerrans’ defeat. This dubious, late-flourishing rider, epitomises parasite racing. He was the fastest sprinter in his group, and should have worked harder than anyone. He didn’t have the heart for it, as he’s always focused into wheelsucking and trying to find a good slipstream, and therefore deserves to lose. He’s already won far too much. His failures are good for cycling. Offensive, adventurous cycling, that is.
    4) Sad but angry at Belgium, Spain and Italy. They tried, had the strongest teams, but failed miserably. Not because of what they did in the last lap or two. They lost because they didn’t ride hard enough from the beginning of the race, which was ridden way too slowly for them. They arrived to the last 40km with too much unused manpower, which was of no avail from then on. They should have pulled and pulled and pulled until only their leaders were left in the bunch, alongisde perhaps another 15-20 riders. There’s no point in economizing teammate energy in this race.
    5) “Second knife” is a Spanish expression, although “second sword” would be a better translation. It’s a bullfighting expression. The second “matador” (“killer”, or “bullfighter”) of a corrida is the “segundo espada” (“second sword”).

    • Your point 4 is very vaild. Pre-race Froome had said GB were going to make the race really hard, as did Spain. But when Poland took control, everyone else just let them do the work. But as INRNG points out, the pace wasn’t relentless – which meant there was a larger group still there at the end, as opposed to last year. Again, Poland as a whole team played it perfectly for their strengths.

  13. I don’t want to sound vain here but today I passed the Strava segment and it turned out I was better that World Champion :-). He’s low top 10 there…

  14. I agree mostly with your report of the race, Inrng. Thanks for another nice read!
    First of all I think the UCI is to blame for how that race unfolded. That course was by far not selective enough. Climbs as wide as a German Autobahn and descents where you could hardly make a real difference. Even Andy Schleck would have been able to negotiate that descent in the wet without losing time.
    The rainbow jersey is such a special price, the WC wears it a whole year, so the race course designers should make sure we have a worthy winner. Luckily, Kwiatkowski is that. But the race could also have been won by a pure sprinter. And those guys typically already win so much throughout the year, I don’t need to see some of them in the rainbow jersey.
    There were so many riders left in the peloton in the last lap. That alone is telling.
    Then the teams adapted their strategy and team composition to the nature of the course and decided that we will see a bunch sprint or at least a sprint of fast men. So they brought their fast men – if they have them – and raced accordingly. That was to be expected way before race day so I don’t see the point of complaining now that most teams did not provide us with a worthy WC race. There were some WC races in the past that I watched right from the beginning but I deliberately only joined the party with less than 80 ks to go this time because it was evident how the race would turn out. And this was still too early.
    What I have not understood so far is why no one followed MK’s (his full name is too complicated) move. For six hours nearly everybody concentrates on the last lap and then someone who must be considered a real contender manages to sneak away in such an easy descent but still no one reacts? Strange! And even after that when he had joined the escape no one reacted. Australia, Germany, Belgium, Norway they were all so stuck to their strategies of either attacking on the very last climb or going with that attack there that they were not willing (or allowed) to stray from that strategy and react to MK’s attack. This total lack of inflexibility really astounded me. When Gilbert went on the Mirador and others reacted you could see that they still had a lot of firepower in their legs as could be expected. So, it was not that they could not go with MK they did not want to when he rode away.
    Simon Gerrans, as much as I like that guy as a person, lost the race because he stuck to his plan like some fresh French bitumen to your bike’s tires. Not that bad for me, so maybe I can see him in his nice Australian champion jersey for another year.
    To me MK’s biggest feat and race-winning performance today was to understand that total lack of flexibility of his competition, see the big chance it offered for him and to put this conclusion into action. It’s up for dispute if we saw the strongest rider win today but we most probably saw the smartest guy. The one to foresee the moment when the race could be won.

    • “But the race could also have been won by a pure sprinter. ”

      I beg to differ. Mark Cavendish and Marcel Kittel could not have won this race. Kristoff, Degenkolb and Bouhanni are not pure sprinters, and could have, if the endgame had played out a little bit differently, been sprinting for the podium instead of places 8-10.

      I really liked the course in Ponferrada. But I like the classic Milano-Sanremo course (only with 3 capi, Cipressa and Poggio) too. Very unpredictable and the tension skyrocketing towards the end.

      • Bouhanni himself apparently begs to differ. That’s what he said after the race: “I can not say I missed a golden opportunity because there were five or six riders better than me on the last climb,” Bouhanni told L’Équipe. “I hope to come back at a course for the pure sprinters, like in two years in Qatar.”

        But that’s academic. Courses like this should not be used for the Worlds IMHO. On a course like this the winner might not be predictable but the racing is. As it is in MSR.

  15. Not the most exciting race until the last hour or so, but absolutely the right result on the day and a gripping finish. Also maybe a lesson to the occasionally tactically naive (ie. Sagan and Cancellara) in how to engineer a winning break when brute force alone won’t work. Chapeaux to Kwiatkowski – clever move, brilliantly executed. I hope we’ll see plenty of that rainbow jersey next year as he seems to be getting stronger and smarter every year.

  16. Thanx for a nice race report!
    I had the luck to be in ponferrada wacthing the race with two good friends – I guess this is one of the few sports where you ara better of watching from the sofa 🙂
    from what we saw it was the Polish team working on the early laps – the polish fans setting the the standard with Polish beers near the top of the Mirador – and kwiatowski winning – what seen a well deserved win from the little of actual cycling we saw.
    I personally hoped for Cancelara – and was happily surprised by the Danish team – with Valgren working well & Brechel’s 4th place.
    Sagan and D.Martin seemed the be struggling from early on – will be curious to read their comments…
    we saw the ambulances of what I understand was a hard crash from the Norwegian team – sad to say but the driving from some of the official did not allways seem all that respopnsible – I guess there is a lot of stress and what not – but narrow and wet roads with spectators crossing all the time are not 80+kmp in my book.
    nice to see the faces of so many of the guys we normally cheer of TV.
    congrats to kwaitowski…

  17. and one question:
    How does the quota per country work out – 3 swiss riders and for example 5 maroccans – if there is a former post about this issue I be gratefull for a link…

  18. Kwiatkowski didn’t do altitude camp in Italy after Britain; he had no time.
    He raced Plouay, then Britain, then Worlds TTT. My guess is that he did altitude right before Pluouay the latest. Makes more sense from many points of view.

  19. I could see a Great World Championships course in UK in next 5-6 yrs. Strong support roadside. Selective course. Obviously it needs to get away from Europe for a bit. Spread the love. Looks like the piddly Tour of Britain is proving a useful training tool in the run up to WC . Gutsy ride from MK and the whole Polish outfit.

    • Watching the crowds did make me think “they’d be 3 deep all the way in the UK”.

      As an aside, has there ever been a mountain top finish for the WC?

      • The Duitama course in Colombia in 1995 was a wild one, a huge climb every lap but no “summit finish”. 1989 in Chambéry also included the lower part of the Col du Granier every lap, certainly no mountain top finish but steep roads and hairpins.

        • I think it would be great if Colombia could get the WC again in the next few years. If I remember correctly there was a huge turnout in 1995.

          Colombia also seems like a good location for a new World Tour race. I think it could take place after the Tour de San Luis?

          • The Colombian town of Tunja, fiefdom of Nairo Quintana, is interested in bidding.

            But the price is very high, the UCI asks for a large fee (several million Euros) and then there are lot of costs on top to get the roads in order, provide hotels etc.

  20. A worthy winner indeed. Just goes to show if you want to win a world championship then ride the Tour of Britain! Longer stages and shorter transfers this year, so I understand.

    At 24yrs old, does that make MK the youngest word champion since, err, Pharmstrong?

  21. Kwiatkowski reinforced his growing reputation with “canny” racing tactics.

    Gerrans reinforced his growing reputation with “canny” racing tactics.

  22. Could it be that the Polish team bought in more on Kwiatkowski than the Spanish or Italian teams bought in on their designated rider (if they had only one)?
    Maybe the other teams weren’t willing to toughen the race enough earlier because too many of the workers had aspirations for glory?
    Sometimes too many talents can hurt the final goal.

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