The Danes go Mads as Pedersen takes the title
A perfectly timed attack by a rider that no one had mentioned as a potential race winner took the Men Elite Road Race by storm today, as Mads Pedersen of Denmark rode the Danes to their first ever world championship road race victory.
A wet and windy spell led to the changing of the route for the Men Elite Road Race and, thanks to the weather, it led to a real war of attrition and an exciting day's racing, leaving the winning rider Mads Pedersen so deserving of the world title.
The peloton was wary of potential breakaway threats from the get go and reined a few in early into the race, but with 240km to go a break stuck and including some very talented riders including Nairo Quintana and 2019 Vuelta a España winner, Primož Roglič.
It was a tiring and testing day and the peloton was being pulled hard by a surprise name. Time Trial World Champion Rohan Dennis (Aus), who would be released of his contract with Bahrain-Merida just after the race end, put in a tremendous shift at the front helped out by Julien Bernard (Fra). The Australian rider is a real talent, so it will be very interesting to see where he goes next.
The break continued to gain time with the peloton leaving them to it for a while but they were all back together as they raced into Harrogate.
The first visit to Parliament Street would see a crash that would seriously affect one of the pre-race favourites. Philippe Gilbert, who many thought had a real shot at the title suffered a heavy fall – Belgian teammate Remco Evenepoel helped the rider onto his new bike and tried to bring him back into the bunch but it was to no avail, with both riders ending up abandoning after the effort.
As the number of Harrogate circuit trips decreased, many riders called it a day to take an early shower after a really tough outing, including reigning champion Alejandro Valverde.
However, the riders that were left, whose legs felt good, started to make decisive moves and the Dutch pushed to the front of the bunch, bringing heavy favourite Mathieu van der Poel with them.
Lawson Craddock (USA) and Stefan Küng (SUI) then broke away taking a 30 second advantage with them and with the rain relentlessly pouring it became apparent that a breakaway could stay away if it had the right riders in it. Sensing this Mads Pedersen (Den), Mike Teunessen (Ned) and Giovanni Moscon (Ita) all followed the move.
A move which would be followed by Mathieu van der Poel and 2018 European Road Race Champion, Matteo Trentin.
It would turn out to be the winning move, although no one could’ve predicted the rider whose winning move it was.
It was primed for 24-year-old van der Poel who would cap off his amazing debut road racing season with a world championship win, the script was written – until it wasn’t.
On a fairly unassuming stretch of road, the cyclocross world champion’s legs gave up on him and the peloton swiftly swallowed him up in their chase attempt.
Moscon was next to be dropped and it was thought he had done enough to allow teammate Matteo Trentin to sprint for the win, however Pedersen was still looking strong.
Peter Sagan mounted a challenge of his own, matched by Danish rider Michael Valgren but the pair left it too late as it became a three-horse race between the breakaway group for the world title and a chance at immortality.
Switzerland’s Küng had been out front since 60km to go and it was showing on his face. As the three leading riders rode up Parliament Street it was time for someone to show their hand.
Trentin smelt blood around 200m out and backed himself for the win, Keung knew his race was run but Pedersen would not back down and the 23-year-old found enough in his legs to counter the attack and blow past the Italian, taking home Denmark’s first ever Elite Men Road Race world title in spectacular fashion.
What a day, what a ride, what a story and what a world championships.
Yorkshire: where champions are made.