Benoit Cosnefroy (France) claimed victory in the men's U23 road race at the 2017 World Championships, beating Germany's Lennard Kämna in a two-up sprint at the end of a breathless 191 kilometres of racing in Bergen.
The 21-year-old, who turned pro with the AG2R-La Mondiale team at the beginning of August, attacked from a chase group towards the end of the final descent of Salmon Hill, with Kämna having gone solo just before the climb had started.
The duo managed to escape the advances of the chasers in the final few kilometres and Cosnefroy opened up the sprint and comfortably held off Kämna.
The reduced peloton crossed the line just three seconds down, Denmark's Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Denmark) clinching the bronze medal.
For Cosnefroy, it was the culmination of a remarkable week and few months. After signing the pro contract with AG2R he wasted no time in grabbing his first victory last weekend at the GP d'Isbergues – in a two-up sprint that no doubt served him well here.
He is the fourth Frenchman to win the U23 world title, after Romain Sicard (2009), Arnaud Démare (2011), and Kevin Ledanois (2015). However, as a rider who already rides at WorldTour level, he will have no opportunity to race with the rainbow jersey next year.
"There was no protected rider. We were a strong collective and we could have probably all have won the world title. We worked together to do the best race possible and it worked out," said Cosnefroy.
"I didn't know my rival that well and just focused on myself and not on him, I hoped to win and focused on winning the sprint."
The final lap
The 191km route was based on 10 laps of the rolling 19.1km Bergen circuit that features in all the road races at these World Championships. Salmon Hill is the centerpiece, a climb of 1.4km at a gradient of 6.5 per cent that tops out 11 kilometres from the line – roughly five of which are downhill.
Despite constant movements and developments on the opening nine laps, the peloton – though by now down to little more than 60 riders – was all together as they took the bell for the final lap.
After a flurry of early attacks, Cosnefroy found himself in a chase group of nine riders behind his teammate Benjamin Thomas. As the road kicked up ahead of the climb, Thomas was caught, leaving five out front with a slim lead – but then Kämna attacked from the peloton and was over to them in no time.
It wasn't long before the German kicked again, using his time trialling skills to forge clear on the flat and take a handful of seconds onto Salmon Hill. He dug in on the climb and took 10 seconds over the top, by which point Cosnefroy was in a chasing group that had expanded to seven.
He soon rolled the dice with some daring descending and bridged over to Kämna, with the pair well aware they needed to go all-in to stand a chance of a medal.
Colombian's Wilmar Paredes was the last of the chasing group to be caught by the pack, as Spain's Ivan García Cortina, who rides for Bahrain-Merida, tried to bridge over – but his ship had already sailed.
In a nailbiting finale that bodes well for the elite road races this weekend, the peloton, led predominantly by Denmark as last year's champion and home rider Kristoffer Halvorsen had been dropped earlier, was only 15 seconds back throughout the final few kilometres.
Kämna attacked Cosnefroy briefly with 3.7km to go but otherwise they traded turns all the way to the final few hundred metres. By that point the pack was bearing down but there was enough time to take a breath before playing out the sprint. Cosnefroy used his GP d'Isbergues experience to take on the responsibility and drive for the line, with Kämna unable to come round.
The early moves
As is often the case with the U23 road race, it was a fast and frenetic day in the saddle, with the race situation and complexion constantly changing. A six-rider breakaway – containing the prodigious Russian Pavel Sivakov – went clear on the opening lap and they were later joined by several more riders.
They opened up a lead of 2:30 after a couple of laps, and there was calm in the peloton all the way to the half-way point.
The race really came to life courtesy of Brandon McNulty, who had finished runner-up in the U23 time trial. He attacked from the peloton and closed in on the break. The peloton reacted and were drawing ever closer, too, but McNulty made the catch and went to the front of what was now a reduced lead group.
It was the fourth to last lap and as the climb of Salmon Hill began the race was almost back together, but McNulty accelerated again and dragged a group clear. In there were: Jai Hindley (Australia), Pavel Sivakov (Russia), Rasmus Fossum Tiller (Norway), Patrick Muller (Switzerland), Gustav Hoog (Sweden). They were soon joined by Scott Davies (Great Britain) and Yevgeniy Gidich (Kazakhstan) to make it eight.
They opened up a lead of 1:30 before there was a reaction from the peloton, with nine riders – including two Spaniards – settling into a chase group. On the third to last ascent of Salmon Hill, McNulty and Hoog were dropped from the lead group as the chasing group was caught by the peloton and Spain took up the reins.
Going into the penultimate lap there were now six in the lead with an advantage of 30 seconds, but it was all back together by to lower slopes of Salmon Hill as the leaders looked at each other. Belgian climber Bjorg Lambrecht attacked over the top but was caught on the descent, as the peloton strung out towards Bergen and the bell.
Davies, with Britain now thinking about the sprint for Oli Wood, was back on the front setting a fast tempo to control the strung-out bunch. He pulled over as the bell sounded, and the attacks came thick and fast, with Cosnefroy emerging from the chaos to take a huge victory.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Benoit Cosnefroy (France)||4:48:23|
|2||Lennard Kamna (Germany)|
|3||Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Denmark)||0:00:03|
|4||Oliver Wood (Great Britain)|
|5||Vincenzo Albanese (Italy)|
|6||Damien Touze (France)|
|7||Max Kanter (Germany)|
|8||Michal Paluta (Poland)|
|9||Mark Downey (Ireland)|
|10||Anders Skaarseth (Norway)|
|11||German Nicolas Tivani Perez (Argentina)|
|12||Patrick Muller (Switzerland)|
|13||Stylianos Farantakis (Greece)|
|14||Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)|
|15||Bjorg Lambrecht (Belgium)|
|16||Aleksandr Riabushenko (Belarus)|
|17||Wilmar Andres Paredes Zapata (Colombia)|
|18||Giovanni Carboni (Italy)|
|19||Emiel Planckaert (Belgium)|
|20||Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia)|
|21||Ivan Garcia Cortina (Spain)|
|22||Callum Scotson (Australia)|
|23||Pavel Sivakov (Russian Federation)|
|24||Lucas Eriksson (Sweden)|
|25||Jon Irisarri Rincon (Spain)|
|26||Jaakko Hanninen (Finland)|
|27||Rasmus Fossum Tiller (Norway)|
|28||Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands)|
|29||Valentin Madouas (France)|
|30||Michael Storer (Australia)|
|31||Kevin Geniets (Luxembourg)|
|32||Stan Dewulf (Belgium)|
|33||Mauricio Moreira (Uruguay)|
|34||Michal Schlegel (Czech Republic)|
|35||Casper Pedersen (Denmark)|
|36||Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Colombia)|
|37||Artem Nych (Russian Federation)|
|38||James Shaw (Great Britain)|
|39||Jonas Gregaard Wilsly (Denmark)|
|40||Mark Stewart (Great Britain)||0:00:20|
|41||Alvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (Colombia)||0:01:01|
|42||Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)|
|43||Ziga Jerman (Slovenia)||0:01:04|
|44||Robert Stannard (Australia)|
|45||Piotr Brozyna (Poland)|
|46||Hayato Okamoto (Japan)||0:01:50|
|46||Dusan Rajovic (Serbia)|
|48||Gasper Katrasnik (Slovenia)|
|49||Izidor Penko (Slovenia)|
|50||Kamil Malecki (Poland)|
|51||Yuriy Natarov (Kazakhstan)|
|52||Lukas Ruegg (Switzerland)|
|53||Joris Nieuwenhuis (Netherlands)|
|54||William Barta (United States Of America)|
|55||Anatolii Budiak (Ukraine)|
|56||Kasper Asgreen (Denmark)|
|57||Johannes Schinnagel (Germany)|
|58||Edoardo Affini (Italy)|
|59||Takeaki Amezawa (Japan)|
|60||Nicola Conci (Italy)||0:01:55|
|61||Tom Wirtgen (Luxembourg)||0:02:16|
|62||Gino Mader (Switzerland)||0:02:50|
|63||Nikolai Cherkasov (Russian Federation)||0:03:00|
|64||Jai Hindley (Australia)|
|65||Petr Rikunov (Russian Federation)||0:04:44|
|66||Yevgeniy Gidich (Kazakhstan)|
|67||Francisco Campos (Portugal)|
|68||Benjamin Thomas (France)||0:06:11|
|69||Daire Feeley (Ireland)||0:06:23|
|70||Franck Bonnamour (France)|
|71||Jeremy Lecroq (France)|
|72||Mikkel Froelich Honore (Denmark)|
|73||Grigoriy Shtein (Kazakhstan)|
|74||Roman Lehky (Czech Republic)|
|75||Patrick Gamper (Austria)|
|76||Vadim Pronskiy (Kazakhstan)|
|77||Karl Patrick Lauk (Estonia)|
|78||Luke Mudgway (New Zealand)|
|79||Matic Groselj (Slovenia)|
|80||Hector Carretero (Spain)|
|81||Ole Forfang (Norway)|
|82||Dmitrii Strakhov (Russian Federation)|
|83||Erik Sandersson (Sweden)|
|84||Sam Dobbs (New Zealand)|
|85||Kristoffer Halvorsen (Norway)|
|86||Piet Allegaert (Belgium)|
|87||Florian Nowak (Germany)|
|88||Tobias S. Foss (Norway)|
|89||James Knox (Great Britain)||0:06:28|
|90||Alan Banaszek (Poland)||0:07:34|
|91||Soufiane Sahbaoui (Morocco)|
|92||Neilson Powless (United States Of America)|
|93||Nickolas Zukowsky (Canada)|
|94||Sergio Samitier Samitier (Spain)|
|95||Scott Davies (Great Britain)||0:09:16|
|96||André Carvalho (Portugal)|
|97||Ethan Hayter (Great Britain)|
|98||Jakub Otruba (Czech Republic)|
|99||Jasper Philipsen (Belgium)|
|100||Barnabas Peak (Hungary)|
|101||Ivo Oliveira (Portugal)|
|102||Justin Oien (United States Of America)|
|103||Zahiri Abderrahim (Morocco)|
|104||Mohcine El Kouraji (Morocco)||0:11:07|
|105||Andrej Petrovski (Macedonia)|
|106||Pit Leyder (Luxembourg)|
|107||Szymon Sajnok (Poland)|
|108||Julius Van Den Berg (Netherlands)|
|109||Bram Welten (Netherlands)|
|110||Senne Leysen (Belgium)|
|111||Atsushi Oka (Japan)||0:13:24|
|112||Dinmukhammed Ulysbayev (Kazakhstan)||0:16:13|
|113||Gustav Hoog (Sweden)|
|114||Matteo Moschetti (Italy)|
|115||Jan Andrej Cully (Slovakia)||0:17:04|
|116||Awet Habtom Tekle (Eritrea)|
|117||Darragh O'mahony (Ireland)|
|118||Abderrahmane Mansouri (Algeria)|
|119||Orluis Aular (Venezuela)|
|120||Syver Westgaard Waersted (Norway)|
|121||Regan Gough (New Zealand)|
|DNF||Jack Burke (Canada)|
|DNF||Benjamin Brkic (Austria)|
|DNF||Yahor Shpakouski (Belarus)|
|DNF||Brandon Mcnulty (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Jaime Castrillo Zapater (Spain)|
|DNF||Jason Andrey Huertas Araya (Costa Rica)|
|DNF||Patrick Haller (Germany)|
|DNF||Mykyta Zubenko (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Ka Hoo Fung (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Ian Garrison (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Eriks Toms Gavars (Latvia)|
|DNF||Luis Ricardo Villalobos Hernandez (Mexico)|
|DNF||Markus Freiberger (Austria)|
|DNF||Uladzimir Harakhavik (Belarus)|
|DNF||Rei Onodera (Japan)|
|DNF||Andreas Miltiadis (Cyprus)|
|DNF||Islam Mansouri (Algeria)|
|DNF||Tegshbayar Batsaikhan (Mongolia)|
|DNF||Yacine Hamza (Algeria)|
|DNF||Ilya Volkau (Belarus)|
|DNF||Adam Stenson (Ireland)|
|DNF||Saymon Musie Mehari (Eritrea)|
|DNF||Norman Vahtra (Estonia)|
|DNF||Vasili Strokau (Belarus)|
|DNF||Klavs Rubenis (Latvia)|
|DNF||Samuel Mugisha (Rwanda)|
|DNF||Jose Fernandes (Portugal)|
|DNF||Daniel Moricz (Hungary)|
|DNF||Elgun Alizada (Azerbaijan)|
|DNF||El Mehdi Chokri (Morocco)|
|DNF||Alexander Cowan (Canada)|
|DNF||Janos Zsombor Pelikan (Hungary)|
|DNF||Pier-Andre Cote (Canada)|
|DNF||Marc-Antoine Soucy (Canada)|
|DNF||Matthew Teggart (Ireland)|
|DNF||Matias Alejandro Munoz Tapia (Chile)|
|DNF||Karl-Arnold Vendelin (Estonia)|
|DNF||John Anderson Rodriguez Salazar (Colombia)|
|DNF||Masaki Yamamoto (Japan)|
|DNF||Nikolay Genov (Bulgaria)|
|DNF||Joseph Areruya (Rwanda)|
|DNF||Musa Mikayilzade (Azerbaijan)|
|DNF||Zemenfes Selemun (Eritrea)|
|DNF||Daniel Jara Rodriguez (Costa Rica)|
|DNF||Mehari Tesfatsion (Eritrea)|
|DNF||Zisis Soulios (Greece)|
|DNF||Vitaliy Novakovskyi (Ukraine)|
|DNF||Tomas Contte (Argentina)|
|DNF||Silver Maoma (Estonia)|
|DNF||Fabio Jakobsen (Netherlands)|
|DNF||Joni Kanerva (Finland)|
|DNF||Victor Langellotti (Monaco)|
|DNF||Attila Valter (Hungary)|
|DNF||Roy Roukoz (Lebanon)|
|DNF||Omer Goldshtein (Israel)|
|DNS||Christofer Jurado Lopez (Panama)|
|DNS||Charles Kagimu (Uganda)|
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