Ed Roadside: It was cold and wet on Sunday for the men’s World championships in Yorkshire on Sunday – It took a hard man to see it through, and that man was… Ed Hood! The riders also had a lot to do with the day, but at least they had exercise to keep them warm, Ed only had a few ‘Roadside ‘ bars. It was an exciting, if damp day; here is how Ed saw it go down.
A tough winner on a tough day
Denmark’s Mads Pedersen drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished, out-sprinting one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy – the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day. He’s Denmark’s first Elite Champion of the World.
The press wanted the champ!
In third spot was the tall, handsome young man who forced the break, former World Pursuit Champion and Swiss Time Trial Champion Stefan Küng.
Pedersen, Moscon and strongman Stefan Küng
In fourth spot was Trentin’s Italia team mate, Gianni Moscow who was in the Küng break but cracked.
Moscon worked hard for Trentin
But the man who cracked in most spectacular style was the man who many felt was world champion in waiting with a lap to go – even the Belgians in the bar I had to take shelter in – Mathieu Van Der Poel. The young talent reckoned he’d eaten enough but hadn’t bargained on the cold which ate into everyone as they hammered around the sodden streets of Harrogate.
It wasn’t quite what Mathieu had in mind for the finish
Küng blasted it on the final climb
It’s arguable that it was VDP who won the medals for Messrs. Pedersen, Trentin and Küng with his power house spells dragging them clear, out of the clutches of the Belgian and French teams,
I can’t actually remember the last time the Worlds was won with a move which went clear before the last lap. But on this day it was a ‘Paris-Roubaix-esque’ situation where the chasers are just as damn wasted as those in the break.
‘Next year Mathieu’
Fifth place went to the irrepressible Peter Sagan who, by his own admission got it wrong, thinking the race would come together on the last lap for a sprint; like it usually does – but not today. His late chase to bridge to the banditos up front came, well, just too late.
Sagan got it wrong
It was another Dane who took sixth, Michael Valgren – reminding us of his talent and the strength of the men in red and white.
Strength in the Danish camp – Valgren and Fuglsang
We reckoned in our preview of the race that ‘an old warhorse’ like Degenkolb or Kristoff May well flourish on such a long, tough parcours – never mind the horror weather on the day. Kristoff took seventh and the German 15th.
Just the right sort of day for Kristoff
The look on Degenkolb’s face says it all
Leeds, 07:30 am and the best bike riders on the planet are here among the old sandstone Victorians and ultra-modern glass buildings under a sky just waiting to deliver. The crowd recognises some of the stars; but Spanish fans apart there’s little of the Vuelta-esque pagan Baladolatory for the man who will remain world champion until the 09:00 am roll out. But today was not for a ‘man of the south’ – there was no sunshine to warm the bones on this day and it was appropriate that we had a Norse winner.
Not a day for the Murcian
Slovakia’s Sagan is much in demand, Martin is at the front of the crush to get the good shots but risks being trampled by feral photogs desperate for the big shot.
It didn’t end in a sprint as Mr. Sagan tought
Home Boy and Sky/Ineos stalwart, Ian Stannard always has time for us; he’s here to do a job for Ben Swift he tells us and not fazed by the course change, he’d actually prefer if the whole race was on the circuit; avoiding the moorland climbs.
Ian Stannard – Another hard-man
Albeit he reckons the circuit is wearing on for being ‘dodgy.’ Another old friend, Kiwi Jack Bauer has no big pretentious, ‘with such a small team we have to work off the back of the big nations,’ he tells us.
Up beat Bauer
Big Irish man, Connor Dunn won’t be in the early break today, he’s on ‘bottle duty’ for Sam Bennett; Ireland is, ‘all for Sam,’ today, he tells Martin.
Dunn ‘All for Sam’
Looking relaxed is the man we tipped for the time trial champs, but it didn’t happen – big Suisse, Stefan Küng, he’d be smiling still at the day’s end.
Stefan Küng – Man of the Match?
Whilst his Swiss team mate Silvan Dillier was already thinking about all those kilometres he’d spend in the 11 man break which splashed through the floods and dominated the TV screens until the circuits.
Silvan Dillier made the first break
Trentin looked cool, calm and collected – not the vision of dejection we saw on the podium.
There was a lot of money on Trentin
The killer climbs of Harrogate
The circuits were savage, lumpy, technical, wet, cold and wearing. We lost two race favourites for the price of one when Gilbert went down, Evenepoel went back for him and neither got back.
Evenepoel nearly brought Philippe Gilbert back to the race, but it wasn’t to be
It wasn’t long until Phil Gil was pedalling along the narrow ‘escape’ lane back to the busses, not the way he’d have liked his Deceuninck – Quick-Step days to end.
One crash and that was it for Gilbert
Latvian Champion and 2015 UCi AmericasTour winner, Tom Skujins finished 21st, his face told the story of a day of unrelenting misery.
Latvian champion – Tom Skujins
After we saw Alaphilippe in action in the Canadian WorldTour races, we rather felt the little Frenchman wasn’t on his best game – the Harrogate circuit soon finds these things out; here he reflects on 28th place.
Alaphilippe wasn’t the same man we saw in July
Aussie fast man, Michael Matthews did have form in Canada but he was another spurned by Lady Harrogate, he was almost in tears as he rode away from 24th place.
Tears for the Australian
The mighty Belgian squadra with four potential winners could do no better than eighth from GVA who slipped quietly away through the crush to safety of the Belgian team bus.
You might have missed Van Avermaet
Ben Swift’s boyish visage looked much older at the end of this race; twice a podium finisher in the Primavera and fifth in the Bergen Worlds, we’d expected more than 32nd from him – but then so did he on a day where the cold just bit harder and harder as the laps counted down.
Swift, but not on a day like this
The man who many expected would be King – me included – cut a picture of total dejection, pale and avoiding all eye contact, his gaze on the wet tar. But with his talent, the day will surely come for Mathieu Van Der Poel?
But this was a day for the Viking Raiders from the North with three men in the top 12: Pedersen, Valgren and Fuglsang.
A day for the Danes
As we say in Copenhagen; “Tillykke!”
It was November 2005 when Ed Hood first penned a piece for PEZ, on US legend Mike Neel. Since then he’s covered all of the Grand Tours and Monuments for PEZ and has an article count in excess of 1,700 in the archive. He was a Scottish champion cyclist himself – many years and kilograms ago – and still owns a Klein Attitude, Dura Ace carbon Giant and a Fixie. He and fellow Scot and PEZ contributor Martin Williamson run the Scottish site www.veloveritas.co.uk where more of his musings on our sport can be found.