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Setting off from Edinburgh at 9:30am local time, the race saw the riders tackle a 271 kilometre route, 124 km’s of these being a transfer to guide the riders from the start line to the 10 finishing circuits in Glasgow.

The World Championships is special in a number of ways, one of those being riders representing their nation rather than contracted team along with the fact riders do not have access to race radio’s.

Riding for your nation means that rivals now become teammates and can create some interesting team dynamics, especially obvious in the opening stages of this year's race.

As the neutral rolled out of town Joao Almeida got into trouble on Edinburgh’s cobbled streets. Coming into contact with the ground and sustaining cuts to his left hand he was left chasing for the next 30 minutes. Usually if a rider has problems during the neutral zone the procedure is usually for the neutral zone to be extended to allow the rider to get back into the peloton, however this was not the case today and with Almeida’s teammates likely unaware of his problems he was left with a tough chase to get back to the peloton.

With Almeida in chase the peloton was not waiting around, with riders desperately trying to make it into the breakaway. It took 40 minutes until a group of 9 finally got away, including representatives from Great Britain in the form of Owain Doull and Ireland with Rory Townsend. The seven other riders included: Patrick Gamper (Austria), Matthew Dinham (Australia), Harold Tejada (Colombia), Kevin Vermaerke (USA), Ryan Christensen (New Zealand), Krists Neilands (Latvia) and Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic).

A furiously fast first hour, with an average speed of 50.3km/h thanks to the flurry of attacks. At this point the break of 9 had built up a healthy advantage of 6.5 minutes but with just under 250 kilometres to go would they hang on?

In addition to the 9 riders out front there were a number of attacks from other fortune seekers in the peloton such as the group of 3 made up of George Bennett (New Zealand), Eric Fagúndez (Uruguay) and Rien Schuurhuis (Vatican City) who went clear in charge of the front 9.

The attacks kept coming thick and fast and put some of the big teams under pressure and it wasn’t long before Belgium, France and Slovenia started to commit riders to the chase. Even with the chase starting to take shape the breaks gap continued to grow, with 200 km to go the gap was at over 8 minutes.

One of the big talking points of the day came at 191.8 km to go when the race was neutralised. Rumerous stirred on social media regarding the exact details but it was clear a group of protestors had blocked the road. The break of 9 were first to reach the blockage, with the peloton arriving 9 minutes later. Close to an hour later and with the blockage finally cleared the race was allowed to restart.

With the highest point of the race, Crow Road summiting only around 15 km from the restart the pace was on in the bunch. Narrow, tight twisty country roads characterised the run in, leading to a chaotic run into the foot of the climb. Belgium and Australia were the two nations to really take up the chase.

The speed of the chase did lead to some splits occurring in the bunch, the most noticeable rider to get caught out being Mathieu van der Poel, luckily for him he did manage to close the gap a few kilometres later on the climb up to the summit.

As Glasgow started to close in the gap to the break fell under the 5 minute mark for the first time with the help of Denmark’s Michael Mørkøv. Dead 90 degree corners and short, punchy climbs scattered over the 14km finishing circuit meant positioning was crucial. As the peloton approached the finish line for the first time the riders were completely lined out, with 30 seconds separating the front of the bunch to the rear. Were any riders going to be caught out by poor positioning?

Peter Sagan was one rider to miss out on the splits occurring on the first few laps as the gas was really starting to be turned on. With just over 130 km to go Julian Alaphilippe started to light up the race as he attacked up one of the finishing circuit climbs.

Alaphilippe was soon brought back and Lorenzo Rota (Italy), Mattia Skelmose (Denmark) and Tobias Johannessen (Norway) counter attacked over the top leaving Victor Campenaerts of Belgium to chase hard.

7 laps to go and with the breakaways lead down to 3 minutes the peloton seemed to settle for the first time since the restart. Remco Evenepoel sat dangerously far back in the bunch whilst Wout van Aert and Tadej Pogacar both prominent at the pointy end of the peloton.

As Denmark took up the front of the peloton with just over 100 km to go the pace proved too much for many riders, including the Brits Sam Watson, Luke Rowe and Fred Wright along with both Jasper Philipsen and Allaphilpe who were all dropped from the main group.

170 km deep into the race and 100 km still left to race the average speed stood at 49km/h, the pace proving too much for even more riders such as Kasper Asgreen, one of the pre race favourites.

With 96 km to go it was the defending champion, Remco Evenpoel who put in his first attack, however it looked to only be a test of the legs as he soon sat up.

The Italians were quick to respond to Evenpoel’s attack with Matteo Trentin who took charge through the park and whittled the group down even further. With nowhere to hide Mathieu van der Poel attacked over the top for the first time, with 90 km still to go and the gap to the breakaway less than 25 seconds Evenepoel’s initial attack could have been a bluff as he was the big favourite to miss the move.

With USA's Kevin Vermaerke attacking off the front of the breakaway to lead the race solo the attacks continued to come from within the peloton pursuing. With no team radios and with very few nations represented with multi riders in the peloton cohesion and fluidity within the group started to break down.

This created lulls in pace and opened up the opportunity for attacks after attacks. Constant attacks rather than a fluid, through and off motion has the capability to sap energy from your legs like nothing else. However, cyclocross and explosive riders love these styles of efforts, especially Van der Poel who laid his cards completely on the table with 5.5 laps to go by putting in a massive attack.

Wout van Aert glued to his wheel was able to follow with Pogacar, Bettiol, Pedersen and Matthew Dinham who was in the early break were also able to keep up, plus Vermaerke who was caught over the top of the park climb.

All was not to be as lack of cohesion in the group and riders all looking at one another meant the main peloton of approximately 30 riders were soon on their tail.

Evenpoel, Bettiol and Pogacar were the next riders to try their luck with just over 50km to go.

As the rain started to fall Bettiol managed to open up a gap to the chasing group. With the moves that had already come and tired legs in the bunch Bettiol’s gap grew and grew. With the circuit becoming slipperier by the minute and the advantage Bettiol had over the chasing bunch by being able to pick his own pace and lines through the corners meant he was able to extend his gap even further.

As the rain continued to pour Jhonatan Narváez came down hard into one of the final corners and gaps started to open up in the bunch as riders became more and more cautious. The cyclocross riders however seized their opportunity and with just over 40km to go Van Aert really started to drive the pace on the front taking Van der Poel, Pogacar and Pedersen with him. With the gap from Bettiol to the four dropping from 50 to 20 seconds in a matter of kilometres it looked like Bettiol’s hopes of a rainbow jersey could be over. However, without a sports director in his ear to let him know the situation on the road and the four chasers still not committing 100%, Bettiol’s lead still held with under 30 km to go.

With 25 km to go and the rain started to hammer down once again Remco Evenepoel, the defending World Champion was the latest to suffer, taking caution through the corners he gradually lost time to the riders in front and as the metres opened up he was the latest rider to be dropped from the peloton. One of the riders who had really lit the race up early on and out of respect of last years result it was good to see him battle on for the next few laps even if he was unable to challenge the win.

As the chasing quartet closed the gap to Bettiol even further, Van der Poel attacked over the top, quickly opening up a 6 second gap to the 3 chasers with no one able to follow. Pedersen initially was the one to lead the chase but with Pogacar and Van Aert both weary to come through the time gap quickly opened up even more.

Inside 20 km’s to go and the chasing trio lacked cohesion paying into the favour of Van der Poel who now had a gap of 30 seconds, who was 100% committed to the win.

16km to go and it looked like Mathieu van der Poel had the rainbow stripes in his sight. But no, it wouldn’t be a World Champs without drama.

Coming hot into one of the wet and slippery corners the Dutch solo leader came down. Van der Poel’s front wheel slid out, sending him flying into the barriers and his bike more importantly sliding along the tarmac rear derailleur side down. Luckily a quick glance over and the bike was fine, however a broken boa on his shoe and a ripped up skinsuit did have the opportunity to ruin the party.

It wouldn't be long until the chasing trio were on him, however ripping the boa off and filled with adrenaline it wasn’t long before the Dutch man was back on the charge in search of glory.

30 seconds, 45 seconds, 60 seconds, 90 seconds, the gap continued to grow from the gritted faced Van der Poel to the disheartened chasers behind. As the kilometres ticked by, the certainty of the race looked more and more set, although the final lap wasn’t without its scares. Rounding one of the final few corners Van der Poel very nearly ended up in the railings once again.

Behind the fight for second was on. Van Aert and Pedersen both known for their sprinting capabilities meant Pogacar had to try his luck elsewhere, every climb he tried to drop the other two but there was nowhere he was able to drop his two rivals.

All focus at this point was on the solo leader, Mathieu van der Poel, as he carefully navigated the final few corners and the noise of the fans filled Glasgow the Dutch rider triumphed.

Mathieu van der Poel is your 2023 World Champion.

Behind Wout van Aert managed to slip away from the other two coming into the final few corners to snatch second place 1.37 minutes behind Van der Poel whilst Pogacar surprised Pedersen to take the final spot on the podium.

With only 51 finishers, the last of those being Tobias Halland Johannessen over 14 minutes down on the winner, could this have been the most attritional World Champs we have ever had? Quite possibly, but one thing we can all agree on is that Mathieu van der Poel was a well deserved winner

Top Ten:

1. Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) 6'07'27"

2. Wout van Aert (Belgium) +1'37"

3. Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia) +1'45"

4. Mads Pedersen (Denmark) "

5. Stefan Kung (Switzerland) +3'48"

6. Jasper Stuyven (Belgium) "

7. Matthew Dinham (Australia) "

8. Toms Skujins (Latvia) "

9. Tiesj Benoot (Belgium) "

10. Alberto Bettiol +4'03"

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