Freeman Cebu Sports

What in the Worlds!

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

The 2019 World Cycling Championships held last week in Yorkshire, England, was not just exciting but controversial.

While there are a lot of single day races, and the top five are called monuments, I’d say that none are bigger in terms of worldwide prestige than the World Championships. While the Tour de France champion gets to wear the yellow jersey at the end of the three week event, and of course during social events and obligations, the World Champion is given a rainbow tunic, a snow white jersey with horizontal rainbow-colored bands around the chest.

So whats so special with the “arc en ciel” (rainbow) jersey of the Worlds is that the champion gets to wear to wear the jersey during races for the duration of his/her reign for 12 months. Not only that, the champions jersey is so distinguishable in the peloton, that it could be a very viable way of endorsing a product.

In the 1990 Worlds held in Utsunomiya, Japan, Norwegian rider Dag-Otto Luaritzen was in a breakaway with Belgian rider Dirk de Wolf when de Wolf looked back and accidentally brought down Lauritzen. After the race, Lauritzen rued the thought that he lost at least $1 million worth of endorsement because of that crash. Which brings us the so called, “curse” of the rainbow jersey. The winner that year wasn’t de Wolf, but his teammate that he turned his head to, Rudey Dhaenens. Dhaenens didn’t enjoy the financial windfall since he was asked to retire for health reasons. He would die with years later from a car crash.

The main event is the Mens Elite category. Since it was held last night, and my deadline is Sunday noon, I can only prognosticate- that my podium will be Dutchman Matthiue van der Poel, Phillipe Gilbert and Peter Sagan. There are plenty of favorites for this race but I choose with my heart not with head.

Last years route in Innsbruck, Austria was mountainous while this year its more like rolling. But based on the previous events, it was a brutal route. The Elite Women was won by Dutchwoman Annimiek van Vleuten, after a solo escape of 106km!!! Yes, Virginia, thats racing from Cebu City to Bogo, solo! I don’t think that feat would be upended soon, no way. And to give you a better perspective, she was chased but the top riders in the world who could do nothing. She would finish the 150km race in 4h 6m. What was more amazing was that his lead never went up beyond two and a half minutes for the 100km. Just an amazing athlete, Annimiek van Vleuten!!!

The agony of defeat was clearly etched on the face of Nils Eeckhoff, who finished first in the sprint in the Mens U23 road race but was DQ’d 15 minutes later for illegall drafting behind a team car. Eeckhoff had crashed heavily  with 130km to go and dislocated his shoulder in the accident. Normally, the UCI Jury would simply look the other way in cases like this but for whatever reason, they started to review the video and found that Eeckhoff sinned. Anyway, I don’t think the jury would have investigated the incident if there wasn’t a complainant. The way the newly installed champion Samuel Batistella of Italy disrespectfully and arrogantly replied to the questions post-disqualification, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Italian Federation was the one who complained.

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