Kata Blanka Vas sprints to fourth place for best under-23 rider at World Championships

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If the UCI Road World Championships were held with equality in all age categories for men and women, then Kata Blanka Vas could very well have left Flanders 2021 with a rainbow jersey draped over her shoulders. .

The Hungarian was the first female Under-23 to cross the finish line in Saturday’s elite women’s road race, a result which – from 2022 – could see the runner in that position rewarded as a U23 world champion in a sort of compromise between the current setup and one that would involve a full U23 women’s race to match the men.

In the end, Vas finished in fourth place, narrowly failing to become the youngest female road race medalist since Amalie Dideriksen’s victory in 2016. The 20-year-old multidisciplinary – who practices mountain biking and cyclo-cross as well as road – just beaten to the finish line by Poland’s Kasia Niewiadoma at the end of the 157.7 kilometer race, only her eighth day of road racing this season.

The result is a repeat of the result of her major goal of the season – the cross-country mountain bike race at the Tokyo Olympics, where she finished in fourth place behind an all-Swiss podium. Vas said after the race, however, that she was very happy with the result.

“I got the fourth place, I just lost the podium. After the Olympics I think I can be satisfied because I’m not that experienced on the road and I’m also young so I think I can be happy with my result, ”she said. noted.

“I don’t have any teammates here so I just wanted to be in front at the finish and then hoped I could get a good result. That was the tactic.

“It was a surprise, I think, because I never raced before the Olympics in the elite category, just in U23. I felt I could finish in the top 10 but made it in the top 5 so I’m surprised. I think it went well. “

Vas rode for team Doltcini-Van Eyck until March when she moved on to powerful Dutch team SD Worx. With much of her summer devoted to mountain biking – competing in UCI World Cups, Olympics and World Championships, where she finished fifth – Vas made her debut with the team at the Ceratizit Challenge in La Vuelta in September.

In Spain, she finished ninth overall, before winning silver in the Under-23 road race at the European Championships two weeks ago. The 20-year-old said she enjoyed her time with the team and wanted to do more on the road in 2022.

“I was in the Vuelta with the team, and I really enjoyed it, so I learned something but not so much because it was just a race,” she said. “It’s not the same race, and I’ve never run this kind of race so I haven’t been here, so yeah, I think I have to learn a lot.

“It gave me a lot of motivation. I think I will be doing a lot of road races next season because I really enjoyed it.”

After completing her second elite world championship, Vas, which is undoubtedly one to watch for the future, will now return to off-road racing for the cyclo-cross season, where she will travel to the United States for the to throw. during the Waterloo and Fayetteville rounds of the UCI World Cup.


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