The young Belgian did a perfect race Sunday afternoon.
William Junior Lecerf prevailed at the 95th edition of the U23 Il Lombardia after a full gas day of racing, delivering what is arguably the biggest victory of Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team this season.
The race started and finished in Oggiono, and the 170.6km route comprised three hard climbs, all stacked in the final 55 kilometers: the mythical Madonna del Ghisallo (8.7km, 5.4%), Muro dell’Alpino (1.1km, 10.1%) and Marconaga di Ello (1.5km, 8.1%). The last of these was topped just five kilometers from the line by race leaders Lecerf and Archie Ryan (Jumbo-Visma Development Team) with a healthy advantage over the chasers. Before that, the Belgian produced an amazing effort to catch the Irishman, who had been at the front for a good chunk of the race, bridging across with twenty kilometers left.
On the finishing straight, despite having to lead out, William unleashed a sensational sprint and kept the power for around 200 meters, edging out the Irishman on his way to becoming only the third Belgian rider to triumph at the U23 Il Lombardia. It was another major result for the 20-year-old from Halle, who this season came third overall at the Tour de Rwanda before concluding top ten at a string of prestigious stage races: Girobio, Tour Alsace and Tour de l’Avenir.
“It feels truly amazing to win what is one of the oldest races on the U23 scene, an event with such a rich history. We came here with a strong team and with a plan, and although it wasn’t easy, we pulled it off and we can be proud of this. I had excellent legs, felt good the entire day, and made my move at the right moment, bridging across to the rider in the front. We worked well together, and in the sprint I was just stronger, despite starting early. I am very happy with this success”, William said after Soudal Quick-Step Devo Team’s 29th victory of the season.
Photo credit: ©Wout Beel