Filippo Baroncini triumphant in men's Under-23 road race at World Championships

The Italian star launched a brutal attack late on to take the U23 title

Filippo Baroncini winning the U23 World Championships road race
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Filippo Baroncini used the penultimate climb of the men's under-23 road race at the World Championships to storm to victory in Leuven.

Baroncini (Italy) kicked unbelievably hard with 5km to go with nobody able to follow the 21-year old. He held on solo all the way to the line with an exceptional sprint by the Eritrean Biniam Ghirmay to second taking his nations first ever medal at the World Championships.

The day was peppered with constant crashes, even in the neutral zone with the final half of the race filled with wave after wave of attacks. But it was Baroncini's move that was the decisive one.

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Lewis Askey was the best placed British rider after taking a very solid fifth place on the day.

How it happened

The day started in the city of Antwerp with an extremely technical route ahead including 20 climbs over the 161.1km course to Leuven taking in laps of two circuits.

Even in the very long neutral zone there were multiple crashes which delayed the start of the race by over 15 minutes. The crashed continued as the nerves were high on the technical Belgian roads in the Brabant part of Flanders.

Three riders went up the road with New Zealand’s Logan Currie joined by Gleb Karpenko (Estonia) and Adam Ward (Ireland). Currie was by far the strongest as he distanced Karpenko on the first climb. On the second, Ward was distanced.

The second climb was the brutal Moskesstraat that is cobbled and peaks at around 18 per cent.

Men's U23 road race profile

(Image credit: Flanders 2021/UCI)

Unfortunately for Currie, he was sent down the wrong road coming up to the next climb which meant he was caught by a counter attack out of the peloton by Huge Page (France) as Askey tried to bridge on the cobbled Bekestraat catching Currie also. 

Oddly, as Luca Colnaghi (Italy) bridged across, the French came to the front of the peloton and they brought the break back even though Page was in the break and looked strong. Page even looked like he was asking why his team-mates were chasing with 60km to go.

After this, the race calmed down with the Dutch, British, Eritreans and the Danish controlled with 53km to go, however, on the penultimate climb of the day of the Veeweldestraat there was a fresh attack from Will Blume Levy (Denmark) that was followed by Natnael Tesfatsion (Eritrea), but that move was seen as too dangerous and was brought back.

The Spanish started to keep the pace high as the group continued to whittle down on the testing Flandrien Circuit with 50km to go. The final climb on the Flandrien circuit, the Smeysberg saw a move by Giro d’Italia stage winner Mauro Schmid (Switzerland), but he wasn’t given an inch.

That stretched the bunch out even more with multiple riders losing touch including Burkina Faso’s Paul Daumont with 45km to go.

More moves continued to kick off with wave after wave of moves to try and get away including Schmid yet again. 

Jarrad Drizners (Australia), Kevin Vermaerke (USA), Finn Fisher-Black (New Zealand), Fabio Costa (Portugal), Daan Hoole (Netherlands), Anders Halland Johannessen (Norway), Tomas Kopecky (Czech Republic), Colnaghi and Schmid were in the leading group.

They were being chased by the duo of Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kazakhstan) and Kevin Vauquelin (France) with Xabier Azparrin (Spain) chasing solo as the race re-entered Leuven. The gaps were not big at all, with 12, 25 and 40 seconds being the gaps to the chasing groups from the front.

Fedorov and Vauquelin made it to the lead group with 26km to go as Belgium started to chase the leaders, which brought the gap down to 33 seconds. Denmark also joined the chasing. Azparrin was swallowed up by the bunch as a few moves tried to get away but failed.

Fisher-Black tried a move at the front but he didn’t get far. As they then got onto the Decouxlaan climb he went out the back thanks to a dig by Schmid. Fisher-Black was then completely dropped. Schmid went again on the St. Antoniusberg and he got a gap. 

He had seven seconds on the rest of the break going into the final lap.

Back in the peloton a new move went away led by Florian Vermeersch (Belgium) including British rider, Ethan Vernon.

With 10km to the Netherlands took full control of the peloton bringing everyone but Schmid back as they looked to set up their sprinter Kooij.

Arthur Kluckers (Luxembourg) attacked solo out of the peloton and he bridged across on the next climb with 6km to go with him attacking over the top. Baroncini attacked hard and caught both leaders, dropping them and going solo with 5km to go. 

The Italian had 10 seconds with 3km to go as Germany and Belgium joined the panicked chase.

But it was not enough. Baroncini soloed to the win with an phenomenally powerful sprint by Ghirmay to take second and beat the Dutch sprinter of Kooij.

UCI Road World Championships 2021 U23 men's road race, Antwerp to Leuven (161.1km)

1. Filippo Baroncini (Italy), in 3-37-36
2. Biniam Ghirmay (Eritrea), at 2 seconds
3. Olav Kooij (Netherlands)
4. Michele Gazzoli (Italy)
5. Lewis Askey (Great Britain)
6. Thibau Nys (Belgium)
7. Luca Colnaghi (Italy)
8. Paul Penhoët (France)
9. Vinicius Rangel (Brazil)
10. Luke Lamperti (USA), all at the same time.

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Tim Bonville-Ginn

Hi, I'm one of Cycling Weekly's content writers for the web team responsible for writing stories on racing, tech, updating evergreen pages as well as the weekly email newsletter. Proud Yorkshireman from the UK's answer to Flanders, Calderdale, go check out the cobbled climbs!

I started watching cycling back in 2010, before all the hype around London 2012 and Bradley Wiggins at the Tour de France. In fact, it was Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck's battle in the fog up the Tourmalet on stage 17 of the Tour de France.

It took me a few more years to get into the journalism side of things, but I had a good idea I wanted to get into cycling journalism by the end of year nine at school and started doing voluntary work soon after. This got me a chance to go to the London Six Days, Tour de Yorkshire and the Tour of Britain to name a few before eventually joining Eurosport's online team while I was at uni, where I studied journalism. Eurosport gave me the opportunity to work at the world championships in Harrogate back in the awful weather.

After various bar jobs, I managed to get my way into Cycling Weekly in late February of 2020 where I mostly write about racing and everything around that as it's what I specialise in but don't be surprised to see my name on other news stories.

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