Van Vleuten, Pogačar, SD Worx dominant in the 2021 UCI WorldTours!

The 2021 professional road season drew to a close on 31 October with the 10th and final stage of the Tour Cycliste International de la Guadeloupe. Frenchman Stefan Bennett (Team Pro Immo Nicolas Roux) won the overall classification.

Three weeks earlier, Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) had beaten Fausto Masnada (Deceuninck – Quick-Step) in the last event of the 2021 UCI WorldTour, Il Lombardia.

Meanwhile, he 2021 UCI Women’s WorldTour came to an end in the Netherlands on Saturday 23 October with the Miron Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe, where Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) dominated Elena Cecchini (SD Worx) in the last sprint of the season.

UCI Women’s WorldTour: Van Vleuten and Team SD Worx rule

After 18 events, from Strade Bianche Donne in March until the UCI Women’s WorldTour Ronde van Drenthe last weekend, Movistar Team’s Annemiek van Vleuten (3,177 pts) dominated the UCI Women’s WorldTour (UCIWWT) Individual Ranking ahead of Demi Vollering of Team SD Worx (2,563 pts) and Trek Segafredo's Elisa Longo Borghini (2,509 pts). Succeeding Lizzie Deignan (Trek-Segafredo), Van Vleuten also won in 2018 and thus becomes the first rider to win the UCI Women’s WorldTour twice.

Van Vleuten’s last competitive outing was in the maiden Paris-Roubaix Femmes, where she suffered a fractured pelvis, among other injuries. She is already back on her bike, has sold outfits for the benefit of the student cycling club in Wageningen (the Netherlands), and is planning a trip to Colombia in December. In her off-season, Van Vleuten remains virtually unstoppable. Just like she was during the season on her bike.

In 2021, the Dutch star has accumulated 12 wins in 38 days of racing. Four of those victories came in the UCI Women’s WorldTour: after soloing to victory in the Ronde van Vlaanderen – Tour des Flandres - 10 years after her first success in the Belgian cobbled Monument - she went on to win the Donostia San Sebastian Klasikoa Women, the Ladies Tour of Norway and the Ceratizit Challenge by La Vuelta.

A tireless attacker, Van Vleuten also took the silver medal in the road race of the Olympic Games, and gold in the individual time trial.

Van Vleuten was not the only Dutch cyclist to shine this season, as highlighted by the UCI Women’s WorldTour Team Ranking, headed by Team SD Worx. The squad had five riders in the top 25 of the UCI WWT Individual Ranking, four of them Dutch (Demi Vollering, Anna van der Breggen, Chantal van den Broek-Black and Amy Pieters) along with South African Ashleigh Moolman-Pasio. Team SD Worx are back on top of the UCI WWT Team Ranking they dominated in the first four seasons of the UCI Women’s WorldTour (2016-19), when the team was known as Boels-Dolmans Cycling Team. Van der Breggen is now moving into a sports director position, but the future is looking bright for the Dutch squad which also has some rising talents such as New Zealander Niamh Fisher-Black, winner of the 2021 UCI Women’s WorldTour Youth Ranking.

The 21-year-old rider shone in the Spring Classics, winning the Youth Classification at the Amstel Gold Race Ladies Edition, and finishing in the top three of the Youth Classification at Liège-Bastogne-Liège Femmes (2nd) and La Flèche Wallonne Féminine (3rd). Fisher-Black also proved herself in the two UCI WWT stage races she entered this year, finishing 12th overall in both the Vuelta a Burgos Feminas and the Ladies Tour of Norway.

Pogi, Rogla, Wout and Loulou, the heroes of 2021

In the men’s ranks, Pogačar’s many achievements this season, most notably on the roads of the UCI WorldTour, allowed him to take the reins of the UCI World Ranking and succeed his compatriot Primož Roglič, winner in 2020. Three riders each have 13 victories in 2021; Pogačar leads with 5,363 pts, from his closest rivals in the UCI World Ranking, Wout van Aert (4,382 pts) and Roglič (3,924 pts).

Winner of the Tour de France for the second year in a row, the Slovenian (who turned 23 at the end of September) participated in three more UCI WorldTour stage races this year: he won the UAE Tour, conquered Tirreno-Adriatico, and finished 3rd in the Itzulia Basque Country. A couple of weeks before the Tour, ‘Pogi’ also shone at home as he won the Tour of Slovenia (part of the UCI ProSeries).

In addition to seven stages and four overall standings, Pogačar’s extended range of talents saw him take two one-day races, both among the most sought-after successes in the sport: Liège-Bastogne-Liège, in the Belgian spring, and Il Lombardia, when falling leaves mark the autumn in Italy.

His triumphs come with a spectacular badge of honour: Pogačar is only the third rider ever to claim the Tour de France and two Monuments in the same season, after Fausto Coppi (1949) and Eddy Merckx (1971 and 1972). Winner of the 2021 UCI Stage Race World Ranking ahead of Roglič (who most notably won La Vuelta Ciclista a España for the third successive year) and Ineos Grenadiers’ Egan Bernal (who returned to his Grand Tour winning habits in the Giro d’Italia), Pogačar is also 3rd in the 2021 UCI One Day Race World Ranking.

Only Wout van Aert and Julian Alaphilippe outperformed Pogačar in the Classics. The Belgian all-rounder dominates the 2021 UCI One Day Race World Ranking with his victories in Gent-Wevelgem in Flanders Fields, Amstel Gold Race and the road race of the Belgian National Championships, as well as podium finishes in Milano-Sanremo, the road race of the Olympic Games and the individual time trial of the UCI Road World Championships. Winner of his third La Flèche Wallonne, Alaphilippe had his most notable performance of the season when he retained his rainbow stripes by winning a second successive road race in the UCI Road World Championships.

Backed by young ‘Wolves’ such as João Almeida, Remco Evenepoel and Kasper Asgreen, Alaphilippe has led Deceuninck – Quick-Step to the top of the team standings. The Belgian squad reclaims the crown they had won in 2019 and lost to Jumbo-Visma in 2020. The Dutch team takes third spot this year, behind Ineos Grenadiers. Belgium dominates the Nation Ranking, ahead of Slovenia and France.