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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Logan Owen just missed a podium spot in the world championships on Saturday. The American placed fourth in the junior road race, matching his finish in the cyclo-cross title fight — both times suffering at the hands of Dutch rival Mathieu van der Poel.
“I’ve raced against him all my life, every European race I’ve really ever done. I’ve only been able to beat him once on the road,” Owen told VeloNews. “I really wanted to win ‘cross worlds, I really wanted to win worlds here. I knew I had the legs, I just took the wrong moment to go.”
Owen saw Van der Poel fly away going up the main climb to Fiesole, north of Florence. He sat back and thought about the silver, but was unable to find a clear path. He said that he was blocked when an Italian changed lanes.
“I just missed the podium by maybe half a bike length,” he said.
Doubts filled Owen’s mind. He considered the work of Team USA, how Zeke Mostov made a huge effort to put him in an earlier breakaway.
“I took my chances, tried to go early,” he said. “I bridged to the breakaway with two laps to go. I had Zeke drive it for me, knowing I had good legs. I stayed away, then finally, van der Poel caught on over the top.”
There’s that name again. Van der Poel is the son of Adri, winner of the Tour of Flanders and Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the grandson of Raymond Poulidor, five times second overall at the Tour de France.
Van der Poel won the cyclo-cross world championships in 2012. He defended it this year in Kentucky, holding off Owen.
Owen looked up at the clouds and over towards Fiesole.
“It’s a hard man’s course,” he said. “You got to be able to go uphill to be able to do well. You have to be able to ride the descents well because that’s a lot of the race. It’s really technical, it’s a real hard man’s course.”
Van der Poel said that those ‘cross skills helped him deal with the technical descents. And based on what Owen saw from him this year, the American was not surprised when the Dutchman won.
“I knew he’d be a favorite coming into the day. He has a really good kick on that steep climb,” Owen said. “I’m happy with the ride, though. I just wish I could finally get on the podium. I’ll try again next year when I’m in the under-23 ranks.”