The ‘best world championships ever’ the organisers are saying – but I guess they would say that?

It was certainly a good race; and if last year’s race in Copenhagen was a model of GB team work for Cav, then this year was all about Belgium and ‘Phil.’

Having walked the parcours and seen all of the road races up to and including the U23 end in a bunch sprint, I thought that it would be a bunch sprint. The parcours weren’t as tough as we all thought – the surfaces were good and two bergs apart, it was very fast.

But when I saw Marianne Vos win on Saturday afternoon, I got to thinking; ‘Gilbert could do the same thing, maybe?

And so it proved.

Phil’s all smiles as he tells the journalists that the weight of the jesey won’t be felt until the Giro diLombardia.

I walked a good chunk of the course on Sunday – it’s always the best way to get a real feel for things and to get the pictures that the photogs on the motorbikes miss.

Sagan is introduced to the crowd in Maastricht.
YMCA! Gilbert, Roelandts and Vansummeren practice their dance moves for the Christmas team night out.

The Cauberg was insanely busy, it took an age to get down there; behind the barriers on both sides of the road were two tidal streams of people, one going up and one going down.

Large numbers of people on the two climbs.

The top of all the walls beside the pavement were lined with seated fans – making a kick in the ear a very real danger.

Most of the folk are in great spirits, and there’s no bother.

I latched on to a huge – yes, bigger than me – Belgian guy in a shell suit; he did a fine lead out job for me taking me through the traffic jams at the crossing points without drama.

The fans were everywhere on the Cauberg, clinging to the hillside like Brazilian gold prospectors.

A member of the Flandrian Foreign Legion.

But one thing about the fans from the flatlands is that when they set out to have fun, nothing will distract them from that objective. They have no inhibitions, dressing in ever more preposterous outfits – personally it’s not my ‘thing’ but if they add colour and don’t knock anyone off then there’s no problem.

Guess which country these guys are supporting.

And as Dave said; ‘there’ll be a high absentee rate in Belgium on Monday.

The other thing that occurs to you when you’re amidst all this beautiful madness is; ‘how are they going to replicate this in the middle of the desert in Qatar?

The old school of thought was that the Worlds should predominantly be held in the Heartlands of Belgium, France, Italy, The Netherlands and Spain – with the likes of South America or Australia getting them every decade.

That made sense to me; even last year in Copenhagen, it wasn’t right, just too conservative.

The race is a celebration and you need those mad Heartland fans and supporters clubs to give it just the right vibe.

And as I walked down the Cauberg, I spotted a banner for next year’s GP Jean-Pierre Monsere – you won’t see banners like that in Qatar.

For those of you who are too young to remember, Jean-Pierre – ‘Jempi’ – was a brilliant, charismatic Belgian rider who won the Worlds in Leicester in 1970.

Tragically he died with the rainbow jersey on his back at just 22 years-of-age in a crash during the Grote Jaarmarktprijs in Retie in March 1971 after a head on collision with a car.

That sort of legend simply doesn’t exist outside the Heartland.

Contador appeared relaxed at the start.
Chavanel looked cool chatting to the media.
The Hot Favourite giving an interview before the start.

The sport has to take root, grow and flower – you can force blooms quickly in a hothouse, but they’re not robust flowers.

The ‘Mondialisation/Globalisation’ obsession is about one thing – money.

The races in China, Utah and Colorado are all too big, too glam, too quick – if the board of directors/politics change they’ll be dropped like hot potatoes. If you’re from my generation then you’ll remember the Coors Classic, Red Zinger, Dupont Tour, Tour de Trump and Wincanton Classic…

Sorry, ranting, move on.

Cavendish worked hard in the first third of the race to keep the break pegged at a reasonable gap.
Froom packed at the same time as Wiggo.
Wiggo packed just as the race was hotting up.
Wiggins was in no mood to hang about as the paparazzi gave chase.

Race-wise, Cav and Brad were obviously just ‘showing the colours’ for GB before their early retirals.

But Steve Cummings, Ian Stannard and Jonathan Tiernan Locke were all part of the race, proper.

Steve Cummings – machine.

Cummings and Stannard are big strong men with proven track records, but Tiernan Locke was apparently riding through the 200 K barrier for the first time.

For him to make the top 20 in his first Worlds was a ride of real quality. I think that he’s a young man headed for the very top.

JTL will be riding for Sky next season and will have plenty more chances to shine at the top level.

But the day belonged to Belgium – virtually every picture I took of the peloton throughout the day had Belgian riders at or near the front.

The Belgians drive up the Cauberg.
GB mass near the front, but it’s Belgium pulling.
Phil Gilbert looks comfortable in the front half of the peloton.

It was also good for the sport to see young men like Timmy Duggan, Alex Howes and Simon Clark unfazed by being up against the biggest names in the sport and making the race the epic which it was.

Flecha was active for most of the day.
Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark) looked good, until he packed.

If Gilbert and the Belgian’s were beyond criticism and stuck tightly to the script, all was not so rosy in the Spanish camp.

I’m a Freire fan, but his comments that if Valverde had waited then he ‘Oscarito’ would have won, seem off the mark.

Valv and Oscar are together at this stage at least.

Valverde had to react as the situation demanded, had he waited I think there’s little chance Spain would have made the podium.

Fast Phil is the 4th World Champion to be racing for BMC.
Valverde took Bronze.

And were GB working for Eddy BH or just Jonathan Tiernan Locke – you’d have to ask David Brailsford on that one.

EBH rolls in as the Dutch fans look to see where there men are.

That’s my gallivanting done for this season – at least ‘til the Six Days (and for Grenoble make that ‘Four’) kick off.

But John Young is off to Lombardia next week and if we’re lucky then he’ll send us some of his photography – which is becoming ever more pro and for which we thank him for his contributions from the Worlds.

See you at the Trossachs time trial in October?

We haven’t heard anyone say they don’t think that Fast Phil is a worthy winner.


Results - The “World Road Championships 2012 - Mens' Road Race

Mens' Result

1 Philippe Gilbert (Belgium) 6:10:41
2 Edvald Boasson Hagen (Norway) 0:00:04
3 Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spain) 0:00:05
4 John Degenkolb (Germany)
5 Lars Boom (Netherlands)
6 Allan Davis (Australia)
7 Thomas Voeckler (France)
8 Ramunas Navardauskas (Lithuania)
9 Sergio Luis Henao Montoya (Colombia)
10 Oscar Freire Gomez (Spain)
11 Rui Costa (Portugal)
12 Tom Boonen (Belgium)
13 Oscar Gatto (Italy)
14 Peter Sagan (Slovakia)
15 Fredrik Carl Wilhelm Kessiakoff (Sweden)
16 Koen De Kort (Netherlands)
17 Michael Albasini (Switzerland)
18 Assan Bazayev (Kazakhstan)
19 Jonathan Tiernan-Locke (Great Britain)
20 Lars Petter Nordhaug (Norway)
21 Simon Gerrans (Australia)
22 Stefan Denifl (Austria)
23 Rigoberto Uran Uran (Colombia)
24 Daniel Moreno Fernandez (Spain)
25 Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium)
26 Bjorn Leukemans (Belgium)
27 Fabian Wegmann (Germany)
28 Alexandr Kolobnev (Russian Federation)
29 Vincenzo Nibali (Italy)
30 Andre Fernando S. Martins Cardoso (Portugal) 0:00:17
31 Andriy Grivko (Ukraine)
32 Robert Gesink (Netherlands)
33 Daniel Martin (Ireland)
34 Nicolas Roche (Ireland)
35 Jurgen Roelandts (Belgium)
36 Ian Stannard (Great Britain) 0:00:53
37 Paul Martens (Germany)
38 Alberto Contador Velasco (Spain)
39 Joaquim Rodriguez Oliver (Spain)
40 Yury Trofimov (Russian Federation) 0:01:01
41 Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Spain) 0:01:37
42 David Tanner (Australia)
43 Andrew Talansky (United States of America) 0:01:54
44 Rene Mandri (Estonia) 0:02:21
45 Gustav Larsson (Sweden)
46 Marek Rutkiewicz (Poland)
47 Carlos Alberto Betancur Gomez (Colombia)
48 Bauke Mollema (Netherlands)
49 Rafael Andriato (Brazil)
50 Michael Schär (Switzerland)
51 Gatis Smukulis (Latvia)
52 Chris Anker Sorensen (Denmark)
53 Jaroslaw Marycz (Poland)
54 Takashi Miyazawa (Japan)
55 Karsten Kroon (Netherlands)
56 Tom Jelte Slagter (Netherlands)
57 Sylvain Chavanel (France)
58 Radoslav Rogina (Croatia)
59 Jan Barta (Czech Republic)
60 Ben Swift (Great Britain)
61 Michal Golas (Poland)
62 Jean-Pierre Drucker (Luxembourg)
63 Mathias Frank (Switzerland)
64 Alex Howes (United States of America)
65 Vladimir Gusev (Russian Federation)
66 Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)
67 Steve Morabito (Switzerland)
68 Winner Anacona Gomez (Colombia)
69 Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas (Colombia)
70 Stephen Cummings (Great Britain)
71 Sergio Paulinho PRO
72 Simon Geschke (Germany)
73 Heinrich Haussler (Australia)
74 Moreno Moser (Italy) 0:02:34
75 Luca Paolini (Italy) 0:02:46
76 Rinaldo Nocentini (Italy)
77 Marco Marcato (Italy)
78 Simon Clarke (Australia) 0:02:53
79 Johannes Frohlinger (Germany)
80 Christian Knees (Germany)
81 Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spain)
82 Borut Bozic (Slovenia)
83 David Veilleux (Canada)
84 Mickael Delage (France)
85 Diego Ulissi (Italy)
86 Eduard Vorganov (Russian Federation)
87 Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine) 0:03:11
88 Luke Rowe (Great Britain) 0:05:46
89 Vladimir Isaichev (Russian Federation)
90 Gianni Meersman (Belgium) 0:08:10
91 Matej Jurco (Slovakia) 0:08:55
92 Carlos Oyarzun (Chile)
93 Aliaksandr Kuchynski (Belarus)
94 Siarhei Papok (Belarus)
95 Stefan Histrov (Bulgaria)
96 Evaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania)
97 Carlos Jose Ochoa (Venezuela)
98 Taylor Phinney (United States of America)
99 Peter Kusztor (Hungary)
100 Bertjan Lindeman (Netherlands)
101 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland)
102 Jacek Morajko (Poland)
103 Brent Bookwalter (United States of America)
104 Frantisek Rabon (Czech Republic)
105 Ronan Mc Laughlin (Ireland)
106 Matthias Brandle (Austria)
107 Milan Kadlec (Czech Republic)
108 Ryder Hesjedal (Canada)
109 Georgi Petrov Georgiev (Bulgaria)
110 Francois Parisien (Canada)
111 Marcus Burghardt (Germany)
112 Thomas Lovkvist (Sweden)
113 Leopold Konig (Czech Republic)
114 Tanel Kangert (Estonia)
115 Jure Kocjan (Slovenia)
116 Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)
117 Kristijan Durasek (Croatia)
118 Jacques Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)
119 Laurens Ten Dam (Netherlands)
120 Matteo Trentin (Italy) 0:09:44
121 Andrey Amador Bakkazakova (Costa Rica) 0:10:23
122 Jonathan Castroviejo Nicolas (Spain)

DNF Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)
DNF Kristijan Koren (Slovenia)
DNF Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia)
DNF Grega Bole (Slovenia)
DNF Vasil Kiryienka (Belarus)
DNF Sergey Firsanov (Russian Federation)
DNF Dmitriy Muravyev (Kazakhstan)
DNF Dario Cataldo (Italy)
DNF Pablo Lastras Garcia (Spain)
DNF Rein Taaramae (Estonia)
DNF Jay Robert Thomson (South Africa)
DNF Wesley Sulzberger (Australia)
DNF Adam Hansen (Australia)
DNF Jerome Coppel (France)
DNF Vincent Jerome (France)
DNF Yukiya Arashiro (Japan)
DNF Christopher Horner (United States of America)
DNF Tejay van Garderen (United States of America)
DNF Tony Gallopin (France)
DNF Kevin De Weert (Belgium)
DNF Ignatas Konovalovas (Lithuania)
DNF Gabriel Rasch (Norway)
DNF Jonathan Monsalve (Venezuela)
DNF Maxime Bouet (France)
DNF Martin Grashev (Bulgaria)
DNF Gregory Rast (Switzerland)
DNF Oliver Zaugg (Switzerland)
DNF Bruno Pires (Portugal)
DNF Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic)
DNF Miguel Angel Rubiano Chavez (Colombia)
DNF Fabio Andres Duarte Arevalo (Colombia)
DNF Arthur Vichot (France)
DNF Richie Porte (Australia)
DNF Timothy Duggan (United States of America)
DNF Michael Matthews (Australia)
DNF Ying Hon Yeung (Hong Kong, China)
DNF Johan Vansummeren (Belgium)
DNF Matthew Busche (United States of America)
DNF Vladimir Miholjevic (Croatia)
DNF Marko Kump (Slovenia)
DNF Fabricio Ferrari Barcelo (Uruguay)
DNF Julian Dean (New Zealand)
DNF Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine)
DNF Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (South Africa)
DNF Vitaliy Buts (Ukraine)
DNF Denys Kostyuk (Ukraine)
DNF Daniel Schorn (Austria)
DNF Alexsandr Dyachenko (Kazakhstan)
DNF Luka Mezgec (Slovenia)
DNF Hayden Roulston (New Zealand)
DNF Fumiyuki Beppu (Japan)
DNF Lucas Euser (United States of America)
DNF Jorge Martin Montenegro (Argentina)
DNF Dmytro Krivtsov (Ukraine)
DNF Juraj Sagan (Slovakia)
DNF Maros Kovac (Slovakia)
DNF Tomasz Marczynski (Poland)
DNF Alexandr Pliuschin (Republic of Moldova)
DNF Ben Gastauer (Luxembourg)
DNF Jeremy Roy (France)
DNF Peter Velits (Slovakia)
DNF Matti Breschel (Denmark)
DNF Christopher Froome (Great Britain)
DNF Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain)
DNF Jesse Sergent (New Zealand)
DNF Tomas Aurelio Gil Martinez (Venezuela)
DNF Stanislav Kozubek (Czech Republic)
DNF Maximiliano Ariel Richeze (Argentina)
DNF Dries Devenyns (Belgium)
DNF Laurent Didier (Luxembourg)
DNF Enzo Moyano (Argentina)
DNF Shinichi Fukushima (Japan)
DNF Yukihiro Doi (Japan)
DNF Alex Dowsett (Great Britain)
DNF Aleksejs Saramotins (Latvia)
DNF Mauricio Muller (Argentina)
DNF Hichem Chaabane (Algeria)
DNF Mark Cavendish (Great Britain)
DNF Yusuke Hatanaka (Japan)
DNF Amir Rusli (Malaysia)
DNF Svein Tuft (Canada)
DNF Sea Keong Loh (Malaysia)
DNF Martin Velits (Slovakia)
DNF Nebojsa Jovanovic (Serbia)
DNF Elchin Asadov (Azerbaijan)