Road World Championships 2021: Strava data shows brutality of race around Flanders

Remco Evenepoel, Michael Valgren, Dylan van Baarle and more posted their rides to the site

The UCI Road World Championships 2021 in Leuven, Belgium
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The UCI Road World Championships elite men's road race was, as ever, a brutal race full of attacks with an outstanding ride by Julian Alaphilippe to take the win - But what do the rider's Strava rides tell us about the race?

While Alaphilippe himself does not appear to have Strava, other riders involved in the race absolutely do. 

However, not all are willing to share power data with only Remco Evenepoel and Michael Valgren, who finished third on the day, happy to do so out of the top names.

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Valgren came into the race off the back of two impressive wins at the Giro della Toscana and the Coppa Sabatini in Italy after not taking a win since 2018, but he could not quite manage to turn that form into a Worlds title victory as he took third.

The Danish rider rode 276.96km in 6-12-41 averaging 266 watts (3.75w/kg) with a peak of 1183w on the course around the Flanders region of Belgian. Valgren held 619w (8.69w/kg) for a minute on the Veeweidestraat climb in the 224th kilometre, and his best 20-minute power for the race was 360w (5w/kg), which came at the end of the race.

Michael Valgren's ride posted to Strava

(Image credit: Strava)

Michael Valgren power curve Flanders 2021

(Image credit: Strava)

Over the final two kilometres, where he was battling for second place with Dylan van Baarle, Jasper Stuyven and Neilson Powless he was averaging 333w with a peak of 1134w in the final seated sprint to the line where he managed to take third behind Van Baarle.

Here his heart rate was averaging 170bpm with a peak of 178bpm and a max speed of 55.4km/h.

Other riders had completely different roles during the race with Evenepoel coming into the event as the super-domestique deluxe for Wout van Aert, despite criticism from Eddy Merckx saying he would not work well in the Belgian team.

Evenepoel proved Merckx wrong by putting in a monster ride on the front of the group, riding himself to an almost complete stop after helping Van Aert and Stuyven.

The young Belgian star gave his all and held some big power on his ride. He managed to hold over 700 watts (11.34w/kg) for a minute with 907w (14.63w/kg) held for 30 seconds. 

Remco Evenepoel's ride

(Image credit: Strava)

Evenepoel's peak power was 1084w (17.48w/kg) with an average of 252w (4.05w/kg) on his 266.08km ride, taking him 6-01-29 to complete. He averaged 44.2km/h throughout the day maxing at 85km/h.

The 21-year-old put in a huge ride over the second and final lap of the Flandrien circuit before drilling the pace onto the final couple of laps around Leuven as he split the peloton to bits on the testing climbs.

Between kilometres 200 and 245, Evenepoel averaged 288w with a peak of 745w holding an average cadence of 96rpm and speed of 44.2km/h.

Multiple other riders did upload their rides to Strava, however they withheld their power data unfortunately.

Some of those top riders were second place on the day, Dylan van Baarle, sixth place Tom Pidcock, pre-race favourite Wout van Aert and Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar among others.

All four averaged around 44km/h during the race as they all battled to try and be up there for the win. In the end, Pogačar did not have his best day finishing in 37th with team-mates Matej Mohorič (14th) and Luka Mezgec (30th) finishing ahead of him. 

Van Aert, despite looking like he would bulldozer the competition in the build-up to the race, did not have the legs to stay with Alaphilippe and co with him finishing outside the top 10 in 11th place. 

The likes of Van Aert and Van Baarle will now likely be looking at Paris-Roubaix, which takes place on Sunday, October 3 after it was rescheduled due to Covid-19.

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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.

When not writing stories for the site, I don't really switch off my cycling side as I watch every race that is televised as well as being a rider myself and a regular user of the game Pro Cycling Manager. Maybe too regular.

My bike is a well used Specialized Tarmac SL4 when out on my local roads back in West Yorkshire as well as in northern Hampshire with the hills and mountains being my preferred terrain.