Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway) secured his country’s first gold medal in the under-23 men’s road race since Kurt Asle Arvesen in 1997 with victory on Friday at the World Championships in Ponferrada. Caleb Ewan (Australia) secured silver with Kristoffer Skjerping capping an excellent team performance for Norway with the bronze medal.
"It was unbelievable. I felt really good the whole time. I took it easy in the beginning to save my legs for the final, and I put in the right move at the right time,” a beaming Bystrom said at the line.
Bystrom – who will ride for Katusha in 2015 – attacked on the final climb of the race and overhauled an attack from Brayan Stiven Ramirez (Colombia) before descending to the finish in Ponferrada, where he managed to hold off the peloton by seven seconds.
Twenty-four hours after the UCI confirmed that Norway would host the Worlds in 2017, the country’s under-23 team put in a performance well beyond their years. It was as calculating and as professional as any elite performance could dream to be with the six-man team holding their firepower back into the inevitable sort out on the final two laps of the race.
It was Australia who looked to control the race almost from the start – with a team trial performance reminiscent of Great Britain’s in the 2012 Olympic Games road race. And just as with that race, rival teams waited until the final set of climbs before unleashing their attacks.
Australia appeared to run out of men on the final climb, understandable given their earlier efforts, but Ewan was still able to sprint to silver after a late attack from Fernando Gaviria (Colombia) was neutralized.
There was no team willing or able to overhaul a determined Bystrom with the 22-year-old demonstrating his fine descending skills all the way to the line.
"I put all my power into the last climb, and then went full gas and nobody could follow me,” Bystrom said. “I went super fast on the downhill and in the end I just kept it going.
“It was a nervous peloton, especially in the beginning, so I stayed at the back of the peloton. It's always like that at the Worlds. In the end it's more serious.”
Sondre Hoist Enger finished fifth to give Norway their third rider in the top five.
How it unfolded
With the time trials a distant memory and the junior women’s field having already enjoyed their battle on the Ponferadda course, it was time for the men’s under-23 nations to deliver over their 182-kilometre race.
Often these races can provide unpredictability in the early stages and with so many teams looking to make an early impression, and anticipate the latter moves, the race began at a frenetic pace.
It took a full lap before Sebastian Schonberger (Austria), Adil Barbari (Algeria) and Roman Kustadinchev (Russia) moved centre stage and established the first significant break of the race. Barbari, the weakest descender of the trio, often had to scamper back to his companions after each downhill section but the group worked well together and built up a solid lead peaking at 2:30 as the early laps clicked by.
Australia was willing to control the pace of the peloton and they appeared to race on autopilot as they held the leaders at bay. With just a six-man team - five if you discount that Ewan was saving his legs for the sprint – it was a dangerous tactic. There were brief moments of collaboration between the Australians and some of their rivals but with four laps to go and with a dangerous counter attack of Willem Jakobus Smit (South Africa), Lennard Hofstede (Netherlands), Tilegen Maidos (Kazakhstan), Jose Luis Rodriguez (Chile) and Ruben Zepuntke (Germany) going clear, Ewan’s men were forced to open the throttle.
Zepuntke and Hofstede were the strongest from their move and they soon joined up with Schonberger and Kustadinchev after Barbari had lost contact.
With three laps to go, the newly formed break had less than a minute over the peloton with a keen-looking Pierre-Roger Latour (France) in between.
If Australia were feeling the pressure they weren’t showing it. Even when from Louis Meintjes (South Africa), who impressed at the Vuelta a España, jumped clear with two laps remaining, Ewan’s team sat tight, perhaps relieved that such a dangerous rival was willing to burn himself out so quickly.
The MTN rider was quickly overtaking the early break but even his Vuelta legs couldn’t hold off the inevitable and he was quickly caught by a 16-man counter attack. Three Dutch riders, two from France, two Germans and a cluster of other nations represented: this was Australia’s biggest threat yet. Meanwhile the Norwegians waited as Ewan’s men gave chase.
Kevin Ledanois (France) danced clear from the leading break with one lap to go but like Meintjes he was caught on the long climb. Spain offered their first foray of the race when Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spain) and Joaquim Silva (Portugal) went clear but the race came back together with just the final sharp climb before the plunge to the line.
Ramirez looked impressive when he attacked and Gianni Moscon (Italy) was unlucky to crash as he gave chase but on the final climb the Colombian tightened up and he could only watch on as Sven Erik Bystrom stormed out from the bunch, and then a select attacking group.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway)||4:32:39|
|2||Caleb Ewan (Australia)||0:00:07|
|3||Kristoffer Skjerping (Norway)|
|4||Tiesj Benoot (Belgium)|
|5||Sondre Holst Enger (Norway)|
|6||Iuri Filosi (Italy)|
|7||Bohorquez Sanchez (Colombia)|
|8||Ilya Davidenok (Kazakhstan)|
|9||Silvio Herklotz (Germany)|
|10||Mathieu Van Der Poel (Netherlands)|
|11||Dion Smith (New Zealand)|
|12||Fabian Lienhard (Switzerland)|
|13||Tanner Putt (United States Of America)|
|14||Timo Roosen (Netherlands)|
|15||Luka Pibernik (Slovenia)|
|16||Joaquim Silva (Portugal)|
|17||Odd Christian Eiking (Norway)|
|18||Miguel Angel Benito Diez (Spain)|
|19||Owain Doull (Great Britain)|
|20||Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Colombia)|
|21||Mike Teunissen (Netherlands)|
|22||Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark)|
|23||Artem Nych (Russian Federation)|
|24||Markus Hoelgaard (Norway)|
|25||Merhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin (Eritrea)|
|26||Miguel Angel Lopez (Colombia)|
|27||Thomas Boudat (France)|
|28||Louis Meintjes (South Africa)|
|29||Dylan Teuns (Belgium)|
|30||Sam Oomen (Netherlands)|
|31||James Oram (New Zealand)|
|32||Sindre Skjoestad Lunke (Norway)|
|33||Jasper De Buyst (Belgium)|
|34||Scott Davies (Great Britain)|
|35||Robert Power (Australia)|
|36||Brayan Stiven Ramirez Chacon (Colombia)|
|37||Gregor Muhlberger (Austria)|
|38||Loic Vliegen (Belgium)|
|39||Floris De Tier (Belgium)|
|40||Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spain)||0:00:20|
|41||Emanuel Buchmann (Germany)||0:00:22|
|42||Luca Chirico (Italy)||0:00:36|
|43||Simon Pellaud (Switzerland)||0:00:42|
|44||Anasse Ait El Abdia (Morocco)|
|45||Oleg Zemlyakov (Kazakhstan)|
|46||Rafael Ferreira Reis (Portugal)||0:01:03|
|47||Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kazakhstan)|
|48||Felix Grossschartner (Austria)|
|49||Mario Gonzalez Salas (Spain)|
|50||Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Denmark)||0:01:11|
|51||Gianni Moscon (Italy)||0:01:13|
|52||Luis Enrique Davila (Mexico)||0:02:01|
|53||Federico Zurlo (Italy)|
|54||Roniel Campos (Venezuela)|
|55||Yonder Godoy (Venezuela)|
|56||Alexander Foliforov (Russian Federation)|
|57||Robin Carpenter (United States Of America)||0:02:31|
|58||Caio Godoy Ormenese (Brazil)|
|59||Alexey Vermeulen (United States Of America)||0:02:48|
|60||Iltjan Nika (Albania)||0:03:46|
|61||Lukas Spengler (Switzerland)|
|62||Davide Martinelli (Italy)|
|63||Ryan Mullen (Ireland)|
|64||Mario Vogt (Germany)|
|65||Thery Schir (Switzerland)|
|66||Marc Soler Gimenez (Spain)|
|67||Jack Haig (Australia)|
|68||Maxat Ayazbayev (Kazakhstan)|
|69||Quentin Jauregui (France)|
|70||Jeremy Leveau (France)|
|71||Michael Gogl (Austria)|
|72||Conor Dunne (Ireland)||0:05:11|
|73||Krists Neilands (Latvia)||0:06:10|
|74||Logan Owen (United States Of America)|
|75||Ruben Guerreiro (Portugal)|
|76||Aleksey Rybalkin (Russian Federation)|
|77||Milos Borisavljevic (Serbia)|
|78||Samuel Spokes (Australia)||0:08:34|
|79||Kevin Ledanois (France)||0:08:42|
|80||Ricardo Ferreira (Portugal)||0:09:18|
|81||Jan Dieteren (Germany)|
|82||Alex Kirsch (Luxembourg)||0:10:34|
|83||Stefan Kueng (Switzerland)|
|84||Erik Baska (Slovakia)|
|85||Arakdiusz Owsian (Poland)|
|86||Aliaksandr Riabushenko (Belarus)|
|87||Sebastian Schonberger (Austria)||0:11:48|
|88||Roman Kustadinchev (Russian Federation)|
|89||Metkel Eyob (Eritrea)|
|90||Samir Jabrayilov (Azerbaijan)|
|91||Gasper Katrasnik (Slovenia)|
|92||Bartosz Warchol (Poland)|
|93||Lukas Postlberger (Austria)|
|94||Matej Razingar (Slovenia)|
|95||Aleksandr Komin (Russian Federation)|
|96||Pierre-Roger Latour (France)|
|97||Ignacio Prado (Mexico)|
|98||Domen Novak (Slovenia)|
|99||Carlos Ramirez (Colombia)|
|100||Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Poland)|
|101||Jack Wilson (Ireland)|
|102||Ruben Zepuntke (Germany)|
|103||Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain)|
|104||Lennard Hofstede (Netherlands)|
|105||Alex Peters (Great Britain)|
|106||Matti Manninen (Finland)|
|107||Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)|
|108||Vadim Galeyev (Kazakhstan)||0:11:54|
|109||Meron Teshome Hagos (Eritrea)||0:18:24|
|110||Rok Korosec (Slovenia)||0:19:07|
|111||Serkan Balkan (Turkey)||0:20:24|
|112||Jeison Elias Vega Solano (Costa Rica)|
|113||Nikolai Shumov (Belarus)||0:20:47|
|114||Willem Jakobus Smit (South Africa)|
|115||Salaheddine Mraouni (Morocco)|
|116||Abderrahmane Mansouri (Algeria)||0:21:27|
|117||Abdenour Yahmi (Algeria)|