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He and Gianni Vermeersch attacked approximately 80km into the race and built a race-winning advantage over their rivals, staying out front until the end.
Vermeersch ultimately dropped the Italian approximately 8km from the finish and soloed in 43 seconds clear for the gold. Oss trailed in for silver, but was nevertheless left enthusing about his experience.
“We are here really to discover, I think, a new world. A new way of riding a bike,” he said after the five-hour race. “Nobody knows at the start line what is going to happen, and we discover kilometer by kilometer.
“The rule is attack, because when you don’t know what you can do, just attack and look at what is going on.”
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Oss has taken strong results during his career, including victory in the 2010 Giro del Veneto and second on a stage of the 2013 Giro d’Italia, but for much of the past decade or more he has ridden for other riders. He has helped the likes of Peter Sagan to big successes, and has settled into the role of domestique.
However he found himself in the spotlight on Sunday, riding powerfully and going close to what would have been an unexpected world championship victory.
He explained how the move went:
“It was just after a couple of attacks, and some tricky corners where, if you gain one meter, the tenth guy is suddenly 100m behind, and, if you push on, you put everyone under stress. We rode together for 154 km.
“I was in shape because it is the last period of the season. I stopped in July and then I work out for the last races.
“This is new. I had really nice company during this long, long breakaway, I think it was the longest in my life. But he [Vermeersch] was stronger, just this. So he deserved it. He went out in the technical part in the last 10k, really bumpy, and I was [feeling] crampy and my head was a bit foggy. But I am really happy.”
Oss exits the worlds re-energized, both in terms of his career and also in terms of the sport.
He and many other road riders will see things in a different way as a result of their experience, recognizing that gravel is an important part of the sport’s future evolution. He was clear about that in his post-race assessment, speaking in glowing terms about this newer wing of the sport.
“The message, really, is this is the new world of riding the bike.”