ALSO READ. Vlad Van Mechelen sprints to bronze in junior road race, German Herzog is the new world champion
The 18-year-old from Bertem belonged to an extensive circle of favourites, a status he had achieved by finishing a very regular season. But for Van Mechelen and his Belgian teammates, the race could hardly have started worse with, among other things, a crash and withdrawal for Duarte Marivoet. “Indeed! I didn’t know what had happened myself, but I quickly wondered where my ‘guests’ were”, said Van Mechelen. “I saw Max (Place, red) driving once, but otherwise I didn’t see anyone. However, that made no difference at all. Everyone raced for themselves today, there was also little that teammates could do. In the final only the leaders remained, almost everyone was alone.”
In the final rounds it was very hard. Van Mechelen seemed to end up in a lost position a number of times. “But I’ve always remained calm,” he said. “We were all at our limit. Whenever I had to leave a gap, I immediately clicked and pictured that I had to drive as fast as possible to the next corner. On the last lap I saw two more guys ahead of me and I knew: ‘There goes my medal’. That helped me to drive even faster to the next corner. Yes, this was a very tough match but I also had ‘one in a million legs‘, superb legs! I quickly felt that I could follow the real climbers quite well, although the last two climbs were incredibly tough.”
In the end, Van Mechelen won the sprint from a group of eleven. Our compatriot launched his sprint late and came from behind. It turned out to be a conscious choice. “The tailwind, the fatigue and our little junior acceleration made me decide that I could do better from the back. Then I could see who would start the sprint. Anyway, I knew a lot of guys would fall silent. I wanted to avoid that. Of course I am happy with my bronze medal. I hadn’t put a place on what I wanted beforehand, but now I dare to say it: I could only be happy with a medal.”
Development Team DSM
The bronze medalist will join the DSM training team next season. “I had a team around me in recent years,” it sounded. “People from the union such as Erwin Koninkx and federal doctor Van Der Mieren. For my training courses I have been working for three years with Fred Vandervennet, the first trainer of Remco Evenepoel. These are all people who know what they’re doing, but I’m going to have to say goodbye to them now. That’s the way it goes! Why DSM now? They have proven that they know how to deal with young riders. They are going to train me, they are going to guide me. I wanted a team that knows how to make a rider. I trust them, I hope to start a good story there. That at DSM often riders drop out, but that doesn’t deter me. I have openly chatted with them about it. They explained what the problems were, how specific they are. And above all, those were issues that arise at the core of the World Tour. The team is also learning every day. I want to become the best version of myself in the future and I am sure that DSM can help me with that.”
ALSO READ. Vlad Van Mechelen, World Cup favorite among the juniors and son of Cisco Kid: “With those songs, my dad earned a Porsche”
Father Francis Van Mechelen had stayed behind in Belgium. Years ago he caused a furore as a producer with projects such as Cisco Kid and the group Dynamite. “Whether I have created my own name”, the medalist wondered. “I don’t think this was necessary because I never thought of myself as the son of. My father hasn’t been such a superstar now, has he. He’s unfortunately not here because he hasn’t been feeling too well the last few days and then a long journey isn’t the best thing to do. My mother Erika is here.