Johan Price-Pejtersen let out a roar as he crossed the finish line in Bruges, knowing he was the winner of the U23 men’s time trial at the UCI Road World Championships. “For Chris!” he shouted as he sped past the cameras beyond the finish line, before the emotions continued to flow on the podium.
This was a title dedicated to his compatriot Chris Anker Sørensen, the former pro who was tragically killed on Saturday after being hit by a vehicle while riding his bike in Flanders, where he was covering the Worlds for Danish television.
“For me it’s very emotional. We’ve all the heard the tragic news and for me today was about paying respect for his work. That is what I wanted to honour today," Price-Pejtersen said.
The tributes that flooded in from all corners of the world over the weekend were testament to the standing of a rider who retired in 2018 after 11 years at the top level. In the wake of his triumph on Tuesday, Price-Pejtersen emphasised just how important a figure Sørensen was in Danish cycling, and in Denmark as a whole.
“He’s just so much more than a bike rider,” Price-Pejtersen said. “The thing is, in Denmark Chris is more than just known in our community of bike riders; he has transcended the sport. He’s known in the general public. He is loved by the Danish population.
“He has a great factor of promoting cycling as something fun and interesting, because of his interviews and his honesty. He’s been a huge influence for us youngsters, leading the way in making cycling popular, so we can be inspired to start or believe in the pro life. He’s really been a big influence on everybody, not just in cycling but also the general public. It’s a big loss, unfortunately.”
Price-Pejtersen underlined his status as one of the hottest time trialling prospects in the sport with his victory on Monday, which came two weeks after he clinched the European title. As bizarre as it may sound, that victory in Trento didn’t fill him with confidence, but rather with self-doubt.
“It sounds a bit hard to say but I had a bad day that day. I exploded on the way home and didn’t do a consistent pace. It was a very positive split, which is not ideal,” he explained. “I really doubted today my pace and what I could do.
“Today I decided to go for the first 15km with something I knew I could hold to the end, and then to see at the first split if I had the feeling in the legs to maintain that pace or turn it up a notch. Luckily, I had the pace in the legs to open the engine and put on some firepower in the end. That’s what I did, and luckily it was enough.”
Price-Pejtersen’s victory comes two years after he made global headlines as the rider who made a splash landing in the Yorkshire deluge during the U23 time trial at the 2019 World Championships. That was his second year as a U23 and this is his last, although he is technically already a professional with the Uno-X team.
He has stuck to a largely U23 race programme this year but has another year on his contract with the Norwegian team, although he remained coy on his future plans.
“It’s always exciting when you win like this; you prove yourself and that hopefully brings some opportunities with it,” he said. “At the same time, I’m currently with Uno-X. I’ve been enjoying it there but we’ll see what the future brings. It’s always hard to say anything about it.”
Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick joined Cyclingnews after a work experience stint in 2015 and hasn't left. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.
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