With about 12 km to go in the 199.8 km race, Laporte, who rides for Jumbo-Visma, escaped from a select group of riders that included the race favourites, Wout van Aert of Belgium, another Jumbo rider, and Mads Pedersen of Denmark. He managed to open a gap of 15 seconds on the group and held that lead until the bottom of the climb leading to the finish line.
Van Aert and his Belgian compatriot Arnaud De Lie and Olav Kooij of the Netherlands then took up the chase, getting ever closer as they approached the top of the short but steep Col du VAM (400 m @ 9.6%, with ramps of over 12%). The road dipped then before a final ascent of 200 m to the line. With 100 m left to race, it looked as if van Aert and Kooij would pass the Frenchman but he found another gear in his legs and they tired. “I thought until the final 50 meters that I could catch him,” a disappointed van Aert said, “But then my legs started to explode and he had something left. We underestimated him.”
Laporte was, of course, delighted. “It’s hard to believe,” he said. “It was a crazy final. I felt good and I thought, ‘Ok, if I go to the sprint with guys like De Lie and van Aert, it will be hard to win. I tried and it worked.” He dedicated his victory to his family and to Jumbo-Visma teammate Nathan Van Hooydonck who nearly died in a car crash after suffering a heart attack and has been forced to retire.
As for van Aert, who fell a bike length short of the title, this was his eighth second place of the season and the 20th in two years. “It leaves mixed feelings,” he said. “On the one hand, it’s nice that I’m always there, but this year I’m not quite there. I’m confident things will be different in the future.”
The result, with Kooij finishing in third, was yet another confirmation of this year’s domination of men’s road racing by the Dutch Jumbo-Visma team who won all three 2023 Grand Tours and filled the three podium places in this race.
The women’s team SD Worckx registered a similar triumph in Saturday’s women’s road race as Bredewold finished ahead of her trade teammates Lorena Wiebes (Netherlands) and Lotte Kopecky (Belgium).
With 10.4 km to go in the 129.6 km race, Bredewold – like Laporte – broke away on her own from a breakaway of some 15 women that contained all the pre-race favourites – including defending champion Lorena Wiebes, Demi Vollering (both of the Netherlands as well), world road race champion Kopecky and Katarzyna Niewiadoma (Poland) and, thanks to the indecision of her pursuers, held them off to take her first major professional victory.
The lack of resolve on the part of the pursuing group was largely due to the presence of Wiebes and several other Dutch riders so Kopecky was caught between a rock and a hard place: either wait for Bredewold to tire and then attack or help bring the powerful Wiebes towards the finish. Kopecky chose the first option but fell 4 seconds short at the finish. Worse, she was nipped at the line by Wiebes and had to contend herself with the bronze medal.
Bredewold was over the moon after the finish. “I think I’m still dreaming, I really can’t believe it,” she said. “It was actually not the plan to attack on the last lap. We were just so in attack mode and I saw the moment. I went and I thought, ‘Wait, this was not the plan,’ but then I made the [mental] switch. I thought I’d keep pushing as long as I can. [This jersey] means everything.”
The race began with a moment of unintentional comedy as the race organisers’ lead car took a wrong turn in the neutral zone, and everyone was held up for nearly 10 minutes as the error was corrected. The first half of the course was flat, with only occasional crosswinds to trouble the peloton. But then the riders took 5 laps of a circuit that included the Col du VAM.
The strong Dutch team controlled most of the race, as had been expected, and there were few attempts to break away. The race did not truly begin until Switzerland’s Marlen Reusser, who had won her third consecutive European ITT championship four days earlier, took off on her own. But the Dutch managed to contain every attempt to open a gap and then played their game of cat and mouse with their rivals as Bredewold raced away.
Women’s road race results
- Mischa Bredewold (Netherlands), 3:04:13
- Lorena Wiebes (Netherlands), 0:04
- Lotte Kopecky (Belgium), “
- Pfeiffer Georgi (Great Britain), 0:08
- Silvia Persico (Italy), 0:09
- Elise Chabbey (Switzerland), “
- Liane Lippert (Germany), “
- Anna Henderson (Great Britain), 0:10
- Juliette Labous (France), 0:11
- Demi Vollering (Netherlands), 0:12
Men’s road race results
- Christophe Laporte (France), 4:15:51’
- Wout van Aert (Belgium), “
- Olav Kooij (Netherlands), “
- Arnaud De Lie (Belgium), 0:01
- Mike Teunissen (Netherlands), 0:09
- Rasmus Tiller (Norway), “
- Mads Pedersen (Denmark), 0:13
- John Degenkolb (Germany), 0:15
- Andreas Kron (Denmark), 0:39
- Florian Sénéchal (France), 0:41