Worlds: Bystrom solos to gold in U23 road race

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.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway)4:32:39
2Caleb Ewan (Australia)0:00:07
3Kristoffer Skjerping (Norway)Row 2 - Cell 2
4Tiesj Benoot (Belgium)Row 3 - Cell 2
5Sondre Holst Enger (Norway)Row 4 - Cell 2
6Iuri Filosi (Italy)Row 5 - Cell 2
7Bohorquez Sanchez (Colombia)Row 6 - Cell 2
8Ilya Davidenok (Kazakhstan)Row 7 - Cell 2
9Silvio Herklotz (Germany)Row 8 - Cell 2
10Mathieu Van Der Poel (Netherlands)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Dion Smith (New Zealand)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Fabian Lienhard (Switzerland)Row 11 - Cell 2
13Tanner Putt (United States Of America)Row 12 - Cell 2
14Timo Roosen (Netherlands)Row 13 - Cell 2
15Luka Pibernik (Slovenia)Row 14 - Cell 2
16Joaquim Silva (Portugal)Row 15 - Cell 2
17Odd Christian Eiking (Norway)Row 16 - Cell 2
18Miguel Angel Benito Diez (Spain)Row 17 - Cell 2
19Owain Doull (Great Britain)Row 18 - Cell 2
20Fernando Gaviria Rendon (Colombia)Row 19 - Cell 2
21Mike Teunissen (Netherlands)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Magnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Artem Nych (Russian Federation)Row 22 - Cell 2
24Markus Hoelgaard (Norway)Row 23 - Cell 2
25Merhawi Kudus Ghebremedhin (Eritrea)Row 24 - Cell 2
26Miguel Angel Lopez (Colombia)Row 25 - Cell 2
27Thomas Boudat (France)Row 26 - Cell 2
28Louis Meintjes (South Africa)Row 27 - Cell 2
29Dylan Teuns (Belgium)Row 28 - Cell 2
30Sam Oomen (Netherlands)Row 29 - Cell 2
31James Oram (New Zealand)Row 30 - Cell 2
32Sindre Skjoestad Lunke (Norway)Row 31 - Cell 2
33Jasper De Buyst (Belgium)Row 32 - Cell 2
34Scott Davies (Great Britain)Row 33 - Cell 2
35Robert Power (Australia)Row 34 - Cell 2
36Brayan Stiven Ramirez Chacon (Colombia)Row 35 - Cell 2
37Gregor Muhlberger (Austria)Row 36 - Cell 2
38Loic Vliegen (Belgium)Row 37 - Cell 2
39Floris De Tier (Belgium)Row 38 - Cell 2
40Mikel Iturria Segurola (Spain)0:00:20
41Emanuel Buchmann (Germany)0:00:22
42Luca Chirico (Italy)0:00:36
43Simon Pellaud (Switzerland)0:00:42
44Anasse Ait El Abdia (Morocco)Row 43 - Cell 2
45Oleg Zemlyakov (Kazakhstan)Row 44 - Cell 2
46Rafael Ferreira Reis (Portugal)0:01:03
47Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kazakhstan)Row 46 - Cell 2
48Felix Grossschartner (Austria)Row 47 - Cell 2
49Mario Gonzalez Salas (Spain)Row 48 - Cell 2
50Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Denmark)0:01:11
51Gianni Moscon (Italy)0:01:13
52Luis Enrique Davila (Mexico)0:02:01
53Federico Zurlo (Italy)Row 52 - Cell 2
54Roniel Campos (Venezuela)Row 53 - Cell 2
55Yonder Godoy (Venezuela)Row 54 - Cell 2
56Alexander Foliforov (Russian Federation)Row 55 - Cell 2
57Robin Carpenter (United States Of America)0:02:31
58Caio Godoy Ormenese (Brazil)Row 57 - Cell 2
59Alexey Vermeulen (United States Of America)0:02:48
60Iltjan Nika (Albania)0:03:46
61Lukas Spengler (Switzerland)Row 60 - Cell 2
62Davide Martinelli (Italy)Row 61 - Cell 2
63Ryan Mullen (Ireland)Row 62 - Cell 2
64Mario Vogt (Germany)Row 63 - Cell 2
65Thery Schir (Switzerland)Row 64 - Cell 2
66Marc Soler Gimenez (Spain)Row 65 - Cell 2
67Jack Haig (Australia)Row 66 - Cell 2
68Maxat Ayazbayev (Kazakhstan)Row 67 - Cell 2
69Quentin Jauregui (France)Row 68 - Cell 2
70Jeremy Leveau (France)Row 69 - Cell 2
71Michael Gogl (Austria)Row 70 - Cell 2
72Conor Dunne (Ireland)0:05:11
73Krists Neilands (Latvia)0:06:10
74Logan Owen (United States Of America)Row 73 - Cell 2
75Ruben Guerreiro (Portugal)Row 74 - Cell 2
76Aleksey Rybalkin (Russian Federation)Row 75 - Cell 2
77Milos Borisavljevic (Serbia)Row 76 - Cell 2
78Samuel Spokes (Australia)0:08:34
79Kevin Ledanois (France)0:08:42
80Ricardo Ferreira (Portugal)0:09:18
81Jan Dieteren (Germany)Row 80 - Cell 2
82Alex Kirsch (Luxembourg)0:10:34
83Stefan Kueng (Switzerland)Row 82 - Cell 2
84Erik Baska (Slovakia)Row 83 - Cell 2
85Arakdiusz Owsian (Poland)Row 84 - Cell 2
86Aliaksandr Riabushenko (Belarus)Row 85 - Cell 2
87Sebastian Schonberger (Austria)0:11:48
88Roman Kustadinchev (Russian Federation)Row 87 - Cell 2
89Metkel Eyob (Eritrea)Row 88 - Cell 2
90Samir Jabrayilov (Azerbaijan)Row 89 - Cell 2
91Gasper Katrasnik (Slovenia)Row 90 - Cell 2
92Bartosz Warchol (Poland)Row 91 - Cell 2
93Lukas Postlberger (Austria)Row 92 - Cell 2
94Matej Razingar (Slovenia)Row 93 - Cell 2
95Aleksandr Komin (Russian Federation)Row 94 - Cell 2
96Pierre-Roger Latour (France)Row 95 - Cell 2
97Ignacio Prado (Mexico)Row 96 - Cell 2
98Domen Novak (Slovenia)Row 97 - Cell 2
99Carlos Ramirez (Colombia)Row 98 - Cell 2
100Przemyslaw Kasperkiewicz (Poland)Row 99 - Cell 2
101Jack Wilson (Ireland)Row 100 - Cell 2
102Ruben Zepuntke (Germany)Row 101 - Cell 2
103Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain)Row 102 - Cell 2
104Lennard Hofstede (Netherlands)Row 103 - Cell 2
105Alex Peters (Great Britain)Row 104 - Cell 2
106Matti Manninen (Finland)Row 105 - Cell 2
107Soren Kragh Andersen (Denmark)Row 106 - Cell 2
108Vadim Galeyev (Kazakhstan)0:11:54
109Meron Teshome Hagos (Eritrea)0:18:24
110Rok Korosec (Slovenia)0:19:07
111Serkan Balkan (Turkey)0:20:24
112Jeison Elias Vega Solano (Costa Rica)Row 111 - Cell 2
113Nikolai Shumov (Belarus)0:20:47
114Willem Jakobus Smit (South Africa)Row 113 - Cell 2
115Salaheddine Mraouni (Morocco)Row 114 - Cell 2
116Abderrahmane Mansouri (Algeria)0:21:27
117Abdenour Yahmi (Algeria)Row 116 - Cell 2

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