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Belgium’s Evenepoel goes solo to win road race world title

Belgium’s Remco Evenepoel backed up victory at the Vuelta a Espana by storming to the world road race title on Sunday with a spectacular solo ride to claim a first rainbow jersey.

The 22-year-old finished 2min 21sec ahead of Frenchman Christophe Laporte after an epic 266.9 kilometre (165.4 miles) slog around the coastal city of Wollongong south of Sydney. 

Australia’s Michael Matthews was third after a last-gasp sprint. Pre-race favourite Wout van Aert was fourth.

Another favourite, Dutch star Mathieu van der Poel, abandoned the race early after he was arrested and charged with common assault late Saturday following an alleged altercation with two teenage girls.

French defending champion Julian Alaphilippe was 51st while Slovenian two-time Tour de France winner Tadej Pogacar came 19th.

“After a long season it’s amazing to finish like this,” said Evenepoel after his 6hrs 16min endurance test. “I’m super-happy I had the legs today, it’s something I’ve been dreaming of.”

Evenepoel launched a massive attack with 35 kilometres left and only Alexey Lutsenko stayed with him, then he went off again on a climb nine kilometres later to leave the Kazakh in his wake.

He entered the final 17.2-kilometre lap with a 1min 10secs lead and put his head down for solo ride to the finish, becoming the first Belgium winner since Philippe Gilbert in 2012.

Already the winner of the Vuelta a Espana World Tour event in September, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege earlier in the year, his victory capped a massively successful season for Evenepoel.

The event brought down the curtain on a nine-day championships which included junior, under-23s and senior races for both men and women, as well as a mixed-team event.

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