Mathieu van der Poel became the first Dutch world road race champion for nearly 40 years with a masterful ride around the rain-drenched streets of Glasgow on Sunday.
The 28-year-old attacked from a small lead group on the penultimate circuit of the twisty, 14.3-km city course, leaving rivals Tadej Pogacar, Wout van Aert and Mads Pedersen trailing.
Van der Poel stepped on the pedals to pull away but with 15km remaining he endured a heart-in-the-mouth moment when he slithered off his bike into railings on a greasy right-hand corner, leaving him with a ripped shirt and damaged shoe.
He calmly remounted and managed to extend his lead to more than a minute in front of huge crowds, many in Dutch colours.
Avoiding any more scares on the final lap, he weaved his way through the 43 tight corners and raised his arms aloft, looking to the skies as he crossed the line in George Square.
The Classics specialist and five-time cyclocross world champion is the first Dutchman to win the rainbow jersey in the road race since Joop Zoetemelk in 1985.
Van Aert had to settle for a fourth world silver medal on the road with Pogacar outsprinting Pedersen for bronze.
“Maybe this completes my career in my opinion, it’s maybe my biggest victory on the road and I cannot imagine riding in the rainbows for a year,” Van der Poel said.
“When I went away, I didn’t expect to have a gap but then when I saw nobody was following it gave me wings and I was just flying around the course. Until the crash. For a moment I thought it was over.”
The first Dutch champion in 3️⃣8️⃣ years! 🇳🇱
The magnificent Mathieu van der Poel wins gold in the Men’s Elite Road Race! 🥇 pic.twitter.com/Yx4GxcK2oE
— Eurosport (@eurosport) August 6, 2023