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Wet World Championships weather a blessing and curse for men's U23, junior riders

The rain soaked the under-23 road race
The rain-soaked start of the men's under-23 road race (Image credit: Getty Images)

The sunny days of the UCI Road World Championships time trials disappeared on Friday, the rain spitting for the start of the 135.6km road race in the morning and then delivering a soaking for the start of the men's U23 category. The wet roads of the already technical circuit proved to be a nightmare for some riders but a dream for others.

"Perfect," was Søren Wærenskjold description for the weather. The Norwegian may have won the U23 time trial in fine conditions earlier this week but inclement conditions were just what he wanted for the road race.

"I was hoping to for it to be even colder and even more wind but it was nice because it was going a little bit more steady. I think if it were dry, then it would be even harder in the climb."

Wærenskjold came third, winning the sprint from the chase of the break of two, winner Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kazakhstan) and Mathias Vacek (Czech Republic), to take an unexpected second medal this week, with the rider having warned his father this morning not to even expect a top ten.

Men’s junior winner Emil Herzog (Germany) who won in a two-up sprint certainly didn’t mind that the rain was falling when he lined up on the 17.1km course, which had some 30 corners.

"I like the course here in Australia and I also like it when its raining because everything gets a bit more technical and I know that my technical skills are quite good and it is a bit better to get some gaps in the descent and the corners," said Herzog as he talked to the media after taking out the title. 

Some of his fellow junior riders, however, didn’t appear to enjoy the course or conditions anywhere near as much, particularly not those who hit the tarmac.

There were 46 riders on the DNF list in the junior race, among then time trial winner Joshua Tarling (Great Britain) who crashed early, along with time trial silver medalist Hamish McKenzie (Australia). Despite sporting a ripped shorts and jersey that left huge red wounds on his thigh and back exposed he rejoined the field and finish in 37th place.

The DNF list was long too in the men's U23 as the attritional course and weather combined, with 59 riders failing to finish, and those who did formed a wet, grit and grime covered shivering procession through the finish area.

"It's never easy to race with a weather like that when especially it's raining from the start because everyone wants to take the position the roads are slippery, everyone is fighting for position," said the new U23 world title holder.

"But it wasn't only me who suffered from that weather. The entire peloton also had the same conditions."

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Production editor

Simone joined the team as Production Editor based in Australia at the start of the 2021 season, having previously worked as Australian Editor at Ella CyclingTips and as a correspondent for Reuters and Bloomberg.