Gianni Vermeersch wins Gravel World Championships

He landed the inaugural UCI Gravel World Championships

Vermeersh becomes the first men’s Gravel World Champion after early breakaway with Daniel Oss (Photo: Instagram)

Gianni Vermeersch (Belgium) and Daniel Oss (Italy) had spent over 140km off the front of a race that was ultimately dominated by riders from the WorldTour, who filled the first nine places on the standings, with pre-race favourite Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands) winning the sprint for the bronze medal ahead of Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) on the final lap of the finishing circuit in Cittadella.

Vermeersch has had the misfortune to be a contemporary of both Van der Poel and Wout van Aert on the cyclo-cross circuit, a fact of life that had effectively put the rainbow jersey in the discipline beyond his reach.

In the Veneto on Sunday, however, the Belgian was full value for what he acknowledged was the biggest win of his career on any terrain. Vermeersch’s road endurance helped him cruise into a five-minute lead with Oss, while his aptitude in cyclo-cross was a key factor as he put his breakaway companion in difficulty on one of the final off-road sectors with 7.5km remaining.

On the final haul into Cittadella, Van der Poel eased clear with Van Avermaet, and he duly outkicked the former Olympic champion to take bronze, 1:28 down on Vermeersch. U23 road world champion Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kazakhstan) was fifth at 1:39 ahead of Cort and De Marchi, with Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic), Davide Ballerini (Italy) and Andreas Stokbro (Denmark) completing the top 10.

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