Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) was hotly tipped to take the first men’s UCI gravel world championships in Citadella, Italy, on Sunday but instead it was his trade-team Alpecin-Deceuninck teammate Gianni Vermeersch who pulled off a brilliant win.
Vermeersch and Italian rider Daniel Oss broke clear about 80km into the 194km event and carved a lead of more than 5 minutes. And while riders such as Van der Poel, Nathan Haas (Australia), Davide Ballerini (Italy) and many others tried to chase, their efforts were neither sufficiently coordinated nor sustained to make a real impression on that time gap.
- Gianni Vermeersch drops Daniel Oss to win inaugural UCI gravel world championships
- Pauline Ferrand-Prévot wins UCI gravel world championships to take fourth world title of season
The two leaders retained enough of their advantage to make sure of the top medals, with Vermeersch then securing gold with a solo move inside the closing seven kilometers.
Top photographer Kristof Ramon catalogued the day’s action; check out the gallery below for images from what was a stunning race.
The start of the first UCI Gravel World Championships was held in Veneto in Italy. The pace was high as the riders fought for positions early.
All eyes were on Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands), the cyclocross and classics star, who was aiming to take a different rainbow jersey after missing out in Australia a fortnight earlier.
Miguel Ángel López (Colombia) rode Il Lombardia the day before the gravel world championships, but showed little fatigue when he and Magnus Cort (Denmark) went on the attack early.
Triple road world champion Peter Sagan hasn’t been at his best this season, but suggested beforehand that he could contend for another type of rainbow jersey. That proved unfounded with the Slovakian finishing in 14th place.
The course was spectacular for the inaugural 2022 UCI Gravel World Championships, with the Italian countryside proving a stunning backdrop.
Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) and Daniel Oss (Italy) made their move approximately 80km into the race and opened up what proved to be a very solid advantage over their competitors.
Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) did a lot of chasing.
The Dutchman dragged groups along but would not manage to bridge to the two leaders.
Gianni Vermeersch and Daniel Oss were fully committed and worked well together.
The duo race past the historic walls of Citadella, drawing closer and closer to the finish line and the medals.
Vermeersch ultimately made his move with about eight kilometers remaining, building a race-winning lead over Oss.
The Belgian celebrated a huge career moment, saying that the event made it possible for him to take a world title that would not otherwise have been on the cards.
He was embraced by third-placed Van der Poel, who races alongside him the rest of the season as part of the Alpecin-Deceuninck squad.
Oss, Vermeersch and Van der Poel celebrate their medals on the final podium.