Italian Samuele Battistella wins the Under-23 World Road Race Championships, beating Stefan Bisseger of Switzerland and Tom Pidcock of Great Britain into second and third respectively.
The event was marred by the decision to disqualify Nils Eekhoff, the person who crossed the finish line first, for drafting, although he wasn’t the only person to be disqualified, as Katie Clouse of USA had been disqualified in the Junior Women’s Road Race earlier in the day.
That aside, the race was one of epic proportions with pouring rain, driving winds, crashes and attacks, and was entertaining from the outset.
The early breakaway saw thirteen riders get a gap which would reach around a minute before the group would dwindle to four before swelling in numbers when the peloton split into groups in the crosswinds over Greenhow, with Pidcock one of the main riders driving the split.
Pidcock had been involved in a crash with around 67km which had exacerbated the injury that he had sustained at the Tour de l’Avenir in August.
Sajnok of Poland instigated a couple of attacks towards the end of the race, with the final selection comprising Bisseger, Battistella, Foss, Pidcock and Sajnok. Sajnok’s efforts would ultimately prove too much as he was dropped on the final lap.
The final four looked precarious as the gap between them and the chasers hovered around 10 seconds, with Eekhoff, Columbia’s Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia and Denmark’s Andreas Lorentz Kron joining the quartet with about 4km to go (Higuita Garcia and Kron would eventually finish 4th and 5th in the adjusted results).
The seven leaders entered the finishing straight together on the final lap with Pidcock looking the favourite for the sprint finish until around 150m to go when his earlier efforts to get back on looked to creep up on him and Eekhoff, Battistella and Bisseger overtook him to grab the podium spots initially. The final result was then adjusted to reflect Eekhoff’s disqualification.
Note: three riders were disqualified for drafting today, and their respective teams were fined 200 Swiss Francs each. Those riders were Alexander Konychev of Italy, Andreas Nielsen of Denmark and Nils Eekhoff of the Netherlands.
I didn’t understand what had happened at first, and when I was told, I can’t describe how it felt to become the world champion and to receive the jersey. I am very, very happy. I’m sorry for Eekhoff because he was the winner of the sprint but this is cycling and we have to abide by the commissaire’s decision. I am looking forward to becoming a professional rider now and this win will give me confidence.
This isn’t how I wanted to win a medal and I feel really sorry for Eekhoff but rules are rules. Maybe his group wouldn’t have caught us if he hadn’t had been drafting, so that did affect the race. I’m still disappointed that I didn’t win but at least I got to enjoy the crowd on the podium, and I got a medal in my home World Championships. The fans were amazing today and this was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
There’s never a dull moment at these Championships and it’s been an incredible day. The commissaires deliberated for a long time after the men’s race and they wouldn’t have taken that decision to disqualify the initial winner lightly. It was great news for Samuele, and great news for Tom, but obviously not for Nils. You have to feel for the poor guy, but rules need to be obeyed and sport wouldn’t work without them.
Tom crashed hard onto his knee today so that was a really brave performance by him to even to get into contention.
Doncaster did itself proud as a host location today, just as they always have done at the Tour de Yorkshire. I don’t know who was more excited at the start; the riders for the incredible reception they received, or the 1,000+ schoolchildren who went wild to welcome them. It’s been a similar buzz during the entire Championships and we’re gearing up for a massive weekend. These next two days are the pinnacle of the entire cycling season there’s thousands of people arriving into Yorkshire every hour now and the atmosphere will be electric.
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