On Saturday, September 25 and Sunday, September 26, the cycling world watched as the best road riders went head-to-head at the in the road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium, to determine who would wear the coveted rainbow jerseys into the next season.
It proved a tough battle for American cyclists this year, but the results saw faces both familiar and new crowned world champions. Here’s who won.
Women’s Elite Road Race
In the elite women’s race on Saturday, which covered 157.7K, Italy’s Elisa Balsamo, 23, narrowly outsprinted Marianne Vos to take the win—her first at world championships. Katarzyna Niewiadoma placed third, while last year’s world champion Anna van der Breggen came in 89th place.
“I’m totally speechless, it’s unbelievable,” Balsamo said after her win, as reported by the UCI. “I need some days or maybe months to realize this! This jersey, it’s a dream. My team was so, so good. Without them, this jersey wasn’t possible. They did a perfect lead-out and I really believed in them. After the last corner, I switched off my brain and just thought I had to go full gas until the line.”
As for the American women, Coryn Rivera had the best result with a strong tenth place finish. Ruth Winder wasn’t too far behind in 21st place, followed by Kristen Faulkner in 52nd, Leah Thomas in 56th, Tayler Wiles in 71st, and Lauren Stephens in 106th.
Men’s Elite Road Race
The elite men’s race on Sunday featured a 268.3K course and a grueling 42 climbs. Julian Alaphilippe took the victory for a second year in a row, making him the first Frenchman to do so. Alaphilippe attacked multiple times throughout the race and at last broke free of any other riders with less than 19K to go. He finished 32 seconds ahead of the closest riders, with Dylan van Baarle finishing second and Michael Valgren Hundahl finishing third.
“I really hurt myself in the final lap,” Alaphilippe said after the race, according to the UCI. “I was thinking about my kid. There were also many Belgian supporters who wanted Wout van Aert to come back and it pushed me. It was very hard; it’s a huge emotion. I know what it means to spend a year with the rainbow jersey. I was relaxed, I just wanted to do well and help the team. I knew I had good legs. The course suited me and I made a selection.”
American Neilson Powless took fifth place as he finished in the group trying to chase down Alaphilippe—a great result for the 25-year-old. Lawson Craddock took 57th place, while the remaining Americans Brandon McNulty, Matteo Jorgenson, Robin Carpenter, and Quinn Simmons all received a DNF.