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Ed’s WORLDS’19 Yorkshire Rainbow Rant!

Ed’s World Champs Round Up: Ed Hood’s raincoat is nearly dry from Sunday’s men’s road race and he has warmed up enough to take pen in hand and sum-up what the 2019 Yorkshire World championships meant to him. Stunning success, worthy winners and a stupid event Ed covers it all.

Not a bad Worlds for the US

Let’s start our Worlds review with a bit of controversy:
The Mixed Relay Time Trial: for me this is not a race which deserves to carry a world title; and yes I know we had a Scotsman on the podium – but it’s a novelty, nothing more. The four man 100 kilometre team time trial for nations was a man’s race, not for the faint hearted – bring it back for the top 10 rated UCI WorldTour and national teams. That would be a REAL bike race.

‘Not a real race’

Next up we had the Junior Men’s Time Trial with Italy’s Antonio Tiberi displaying cool and presence of mind beyond his years, calmly resting his bike on the team car bonnet as he changed machines after a ‘mechanical’ straight off the start ramp, then went on to win. It’s a race with a good pedigree, going back to the year 2000, winners include Marcel Kittel (twice), Taylor Phinney – both men we never really saw the best of – Bob Jungels and Remco Evenepoel.

Italy’s Antonio Tiberi – Big future

Russia’s Aigul Gareeva won the Junior Ladies TT with Britain’s Elynor Backstedt – yes, daughter of Paris-Roubaix winner, Magnus – picking up her second successive bronze in this event. This is a more recent addition to the UCI roster, first being run in 2007 with the girl who would win Tuesday’s ladies TT, Chloe Dygert the most notable name on the winner’s roster.

Aigul Gareeva

The Individual U23 TT went to Danish specialist Mikkel Bjerg for a remarkable third time. He’s never at his best for the European or National TT Championships; but you don’t get a rainbow jersey for those. He’s also twice Danish Hour record holder with 52.311 and 53.73; but the latter distance has been usurped by his countryman and chrono rival, Martin Toft Madsen with 53.975. Bjerg must surely go for the world record at either Aguascalientes or the new speed Nirvana; 2,558 metres high Cochabamba in Bolivia – especially with a three year deal with affluent UAE Team Emirates.

Mikkel Bjerg

Not the best weather

The Ladies TT went to aforementioned Chloe Dygert by a stunning 1:32 over just 30 kilometres. Amber Neben beat her for the US title but Dygert won the Pan Am Games TT in Lima before a total whitewash of the four stage Colorado Classic, winning every stage and classification – perhaps that was a clue about her form?

Chloe Dygert – Woman’s TT champ

The Elite TT was the first race we were roadside for; it was a bit of a bind, driving south from Scotland to collect our credentials at the Media Centre in Harrogate we passed the start town of Northallerton on our way south, only to have to drive back north again. In my race preview I joked that eventual winner Rohan Dennis – a man who hadn’t pinned a number on in two months may be holed up in a cave somewhere in isolation getting body and mind right for 54 kilometres in Yorkshire in late September.

2nd place for Remco Evenepoel – Last year a junior

I wasn’t so far off the mark with this greyhound of a man spending a lot of time in virtual isolation with just his sports psychologist for company. ‘Back in the day’ it would have been impossible for a man who hadn’t raced since July to think about winning this race but now that it’s ‘all about the watts’. . .

Second year in a row for Rohan Dennis

How we laughed when we saw the bearded Russians in ‘Breaking Away’ – or was it ‘American Flyers’? Now we have bearded winners in the Junior Road Race championships on a day which started sunny but let itself down with miserable rain on the finishing circuit. Winner, Quinn Simmons of the USA seemed not to notice. He’s a beast of a lad; his continental palmarès look like this for 2019: the U23 Gent-Wevelgem, a stage and the GG in the Belgium’s Keizer des Juniores in September, two stages and the GC in the Swiss GP Ruebililand at the end of August, a stage and the points classification in the Swiss Tour du Pays de Vaud in June and the three stages and the GC in the Dutch SPiE Internationale Juniorendriedaagse in May. No ‘surprise’ winner then.

Quinn Simmons – Another gold for the US

The U23 Road Race was another which the weather gods did not shine upon with the finish circuit made even trickier with slick surfaces. When we first heard of Orangeman Nils Eekhoff’s declasse there was a lot of sympathy and chat of ‘harsh decisions’ – but when the UCI released a video of the big Dutchman revving out in top gear behind the team car for at least two minutes it certainly changed my mind.

Samuele Battistella – Not the bast way to become a World champion:

Italy’s Samuele Battistella is surprisingly, the first ‘azzuri’ winner in the event’s 14 year history, a surprise, given Italy is a hotbed for U23 racing with teams like Zalf and Colpack run along WorldTour lines.

U23 highlights

The Junior Ladies Road Race was another US triumph with US Champion and Gent-Wevelgem runner-up, Megan Jastrab besting Belgian Champion, Julie De Wilde in a race we didn’t manage to see due to the logistics involved and the horrors of the English Midlands motorways.

Another Rainbow jersey for the US

Saturday’s Ladies Road Race saw one of the hi-lites of the series with 36 year-old Dutchwoman Annemiek Van Vleuten – she of the horror crash at the Rio Olympics – disappearing up the road with 100 kilometres to go never to be seen again. Leeds finest, the late, great – who gets my bet for the best female rider, ever – would have been proud of this move.

Van Vleuten – A happy winner

TT winner Chloe Dygert tried to bridge up on the circuits but exploded and was in a state of distress at the finish, unable to stand with just fourth place to show for her efforts.

Women’s race highlights

The BIG one; the Elite Road Race – we were lulled into a false sense of security with just low cloud and murk at the Leeds city centre roll out but as soon as the ribbon was cut, down it came, in sheets. And like the Terminator, it absolutely did not stop, ever. Martin and I bought umbrellas, that’s how bad it was. And I cracked, having to miss a lap or two ensconced in a warm bar, watching the race on TV.

Even umbrellas had to be bought

Yes, it rained

Mads Pedersen? His winning the dour GP Isbergues the weekend prior was a clue that the form was good, I picked up on that result but thought that form would get lodged in Jakob Fuglsang’s account. The Worlds is usually all about the last lap – but not this one. Fortune favoured the brave and none were braver than Mathieu Van Der Poel, burning huge watts to drag the desperados clear.

Van der Poel was strong until….

But the weather gods were watching carefully and whilst Van Der Poel and Trentin thought they were coping, the truth was that with every lap the rain and cold were hard at work on both of them. Pedersen was strongest on a day when, like Billy Paul said; ‘only the strong survive.’ And my bet is he’ll be a good World Champion. . .

The Men’s Road Race:

No, not Ed’s new hat

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.

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