The most brutal World Championship course this century. Few would disagree.
The leafy, fast Valkenberg from the 2016 World Cup could barely be traced as deep midwinter schlamm made a weekend of racing for everyone to remember. Add to this a venue within a couple of hours’ drive of much of Belgium and Holland, and an iconic venue. One to enjoy and savour, but quite honestly one to be thankful you weren’t racing. According to the UCI, 38,392 spectators attended the 5 races over the weekend. With 12,656 on Saturday and a whopping 25,736 on Sunday, it’s clear to see that the heartlands still love men’s racing much more. Time creeps on.
Two golds for GB out of three on the first day were sublime. Quite why the UCI still sleeps in cloud cuckoo land about women’s cycling is beyond almost everyone – and it’s a great shame for GB in particular that the lack of a Junior Women’s race denied GB of a third gold. Hattie Harnden’s 4th place in the U23s – as a Junior woman – was ride of the weekend for me. A rare jour sans for prodigy Tom Pidcock meant that the GB party didn’t continue into day two, but that mattered little.
It was sad that the Dutch hosts couldn’t take a gold, especially after MvdP’s dominant season, but Wout’s racing was incredibly smooth for the conditions and he deserved no less than his third Rainbow Jersey.