Tue, Oct 01, 2019 - Page 16 News List

Pedersen springs a surprise at worlds

AFP, HARROGATE, England

Mads Pedersen of Denmark celebrates winning the elite men’s road race at the UCI Road Cycling World Championships in Harrogate, England, on Sunday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Denmark’s Mads Pedersen on Sunday sprung a huge surprise when he emerged from a rain-drenched Yorkshire road race with cycling’s world title.

After 261km and over 6 hours, 27 minutes of exhausting racing in hostile conditions that took a huge toll on the field, the 23-year-old unleashed an astonishing late burst. He left a devastated Italian Matteo Trentin and Stefan Kung of Switzerland trailing in the silver and bronze positions.

“That’s an unbelievable day I didn’t expect this morning,” the Trek-Segafredo rider said.

“It was just survive, survive, survive. Then hope for the best in the sprint,” said Pedersen, who was far from favorite to beat Italian 30-year-old Trentin, usually a crack in the sprints. “When I saw the finish line, I thought: ‘Anything can happen.’”

The race was shortened as relentless overnight rain took its toll on the narrow roads through the Yorkshire dales, flooding an iconic hilly section of the route that featured in the 2014 Tour de France which was cut out altogether.

In the brutal conditions, only 46 of the 182 starters crossed the finish line. The rain also turned the Harrogate fan park into a quagmire and grounded the TV helicopters.

Dutch 24-year-old Mathieu van der Poel will have a hard time forgetting the Yorkshire weather, too.

The bookies pre-race favorite had looked set for victory with a lap to go, but cracked, suddenly and spectacularly.

“You have to keep in front, keep focused and keep going,” Pedersen said.

Three-time world champion Peter Sagan left his pursuit too late as the Slovak tried to bridge the gap with 5km remaining.

“Oh well,” said the nonchalant Sagan, who finished fifth and could have become the first ever four-time world road race champion.

“[It was a] good decision for these guys to attack. For me I thought it was too far to go,” said Sagan of the attack led from 31km out by Italian Gianni Moscon of Team Ineos, who came fourth. “The Germans and Belgians thought they would control the race, but it didn’t happen like that.”

Last year’s Tour de France champion Geraint Thomas took part even though he was off form and dropped out after a few of the nine laps of the treacherous Harrogate circuit.

“Wet, cold and not quite the feeling in the legs that I hoped for. It was a tough day out there,” Thomas said. “It’s not a nice feeling — in a home world championships... The atmosphere, the crowd was really good. This is something we’ll remember for sure.”

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