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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

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

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