World Championships: Mads Pedersen wins elite men's rainbow jersey

Report

Mads Pedersen emerged victorious at the UCI Road World Championships elite men's road race in a brutally wet, cold and and treacherous six plus hours of racing, smartly making the winning breakaway and then handily out-sprinting Matteo Trentin (Italy) and Stefan Küng (Switzerland).

"It's unbelievable. I didn't expect this when we started this morning. It was an unbelievable day," Pedersen said. "It's every rider's dream to wear this jersey and for me to do it now, it's unbelievable."

It was a race of attrition, luck and good timing in Yorkshire, with flooding forcing the UCI to shorten the race by 23.5km. The race was still plenty selective with many pre-race favourites including defending champion Alejandro Valverde (Spain) abandoning the race.

Küng initiated the breakaway on the fifth to last lap, with Pedersen bridging across before being joined by Gianni Moscon (Italy) and then Trentin and Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands).

Van der Poel cracked on the last lap, while Moscon lost contact on the final trip up Oak Beck with 5km to go, leaving three men fighting for the medals. Trentin waited until he saw the 200m to go sign and opened up his sprint, but found only cold, dead legs when it mattered most.

Pedersen powered past him to snatch the rainbow jersey, the first Danish men's winner in history. The 23-year-old said he only attacked to work for teammate Jakob Fuglsang, but when Belgium could not reel in the attack he took his chances.

"The plan was to get me out in the early final (laps) and then Belgium and Fuglsang would come from behind. But in the end, they didn't follow Van der Poel and Trentin when they came to my group. Then it was just survive, survive, survive and then hope for the best in the sprint," Pedersen said.

"I just hoped that when I saw the finish line all the pain would be gone and I could do a good sprint. It's six and a half hours on the bike, and everyone is on the limit. Anything could happen in that sprint.

"You have to be focussed the whole day and stay in front - but it's one of the last races of the season so it's just about being focussed for six and a half hours, not have any bad luck and hope for the best."

How it unfolded

The worst-case scenario played out in Yorkshire for the elite men's road race, with heavy rain and flooding forcing the UCI to shorten the race by 23.5km and bypass two climbs in the Yorkshire Dales.

It was so cold and wet, the peloton looked like they were out on a training run, with leg warmers, long-fingered gloves and a mishmash of trade team rain caps clashing with the national team kits.

It was a day for the hard men, and group of heavy hitters went clear in the early kilometres after a fast start, with 11 men away after 25km, including Nairo Quintana (Colombia), Richard Carapaz (Colombia), Primoz Roglic (Slovenia), Jan Polanc (Slovenia), Magnus Cort (Denmark), Petr Vakoc (Czech Republic), Silvan Dillier (Switzerland), Maciej Bodnar (Poland), Jonas Koch (Germany), Hugo Houle (Canada) and Alex Howes (USA).

They built up more than four minutes over the peloton that was afflicted with punctures, crashes, mechanicals and misery. Favourite Mathieu van der Poel had a flat, Pavel Sivakov and Tadej Pogacar tangled and crashed, Ben Gastauer (Luxembourg) was run into by the Irish team car and needed a new bike.

Belgium sacrificed Remco Evenepoel to help Philippe Gilbert get back on after a crash at the start of the nine finishing circuits, but neither rider made it to the finish.

Other big names abandoned in the finishing circuits, with Ireland losing both Dan Martin and Sam Bennett. With six laps to go, defending champion Alejandro Valverde (Spain) was dropped and abandoned. It was more tired legs and frozen bodies that led to the attrition rather than aggressive racing.

The peloton encountered one very deep puddle

The peloton encountered one very deep puddle (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Closing laps, time for attacks

With five laps to go, the USA's Lawson Craddock attacked and was joined by Stefan Kung (Switzerland) and they began to forge a small gap.

The move seemed to settle the peloton a bit, as France, Italy and Belgium amassed on the front of the bunch and led through a much-needed feed zone. Pre-race favourite Alexey Lutsenko, who suffered several mechanicals, dropped out of the race with 53km to go.

Although the rain let up somewhat, the course was still treacherous as Michael Albasini (Switzerland) found out when he hit a drain cover and crashed with 47km to go.

As the chaos disrupted the bunch, Mads Pederson (Denmark) attacked out of the peloton and bridged to the two leaders. He came with such speed that Craddock could not hang on and was forced to chase with Dutchman Mike Teunissen before again losing touch and going backwards.

Gianni Moscon (Italy) set off in pursuit of the leaders, passing Craddock. Under the banner for three laps to go, Teunissen had joined Pederson and Küng while Italian soon clawed his way up to the group. The peloton, led by Oliver Naesen (Belgium) loomed not too far back at 20 seconds.

The gap went out to 27 seconds before Nils Politt (Germany) launched an attack, and he was closely marked by Belgium's Dylan Teuns, and soon joined by Lukas Pöstlberger (Austria) and Dani Martinez (Colombia).

With 33km to go, Van der Poel made his move, leaping out of the peloton and ploughing past the first chasers with Matteo Trentin (Italy). Martinez hung on for a time but dropped back, as Van der Poel and Trentin joined the trio ahead.

Just 30km to go and it was Van der Poel, Moscon, Pedersen, Küng and Trentin - advantage Italy.

Another counterattack came from the peloton with Gorka Izagirre (Spain) joined by Toms Skujins (Latvia) and Carlos Betancur (Colombia) at 12 seconds with two laps to go, the peloton at 25 seconds and the cold British rain pounding harder on the race.

The storm dampened the motivation of the chasers, and the gaps began to widen as Trentin and Van der Poel took big pulls with 25km remaining.

Tim Wellens (Belgium) came to the front to reel in the attackers, but stronger pulls by the leaders saw the gap yawn out to 51 seconds with 20km to go with the Izagirre group in sight of the peloton.

It was a precarious situation for the peloton with Van Avermaet, Alaphilippe and Sagan still biding their time. Finally, Alberto Bettiol (Italy) pegged back the Izagirre trio on the Oak Beck ascent, but still the gap persisted.

Trentin, Van der Poel, Küng and Moscon on the move

Trentin, Van der Poel, Küng and Moscon on the move (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Final lap, Van der Poel cracks

With one lap to go, the leaders had 48 seconds and although Moscon had a moment of weakness, he fought his way back in and set to work for Trentin.

Six full hours into the race, the rain had let up, leaving a dank mist hanging over the elite men's race. The rain vests were unzipped and discarded as the heat of pure effort shielded the riders from the cold.

Inexplicably, with 12.7km to go, Van der Poel cracked - his inexperience in this length of a race finally coming back to bite him. Advantage Italy, with a 50 per cent make up in the leading group and a minute on the bunch.

Desperation rose in the peloton as the kilometres ticked down and still the gap would not close. Germany tried but simply could not make a dent.

Küng pushed the pace up Oak Beck and cracked Moscon, leaving all the medals at the front of the race. His face a rictus of pain, the Swiss rider seemed to put Pedersen into some difficulty but made no dent in Trentin's reservoir of strength.

Peter Sagan (Slovakia) attacked out of the peloton with 4km to go but it was far too late. Trentin parked himself on the back of the lead group with 2km to go, just biding his time for the finish line to come into sight.

But when the sprint came the Italian, who on any other occasion should have been the obvious winner, had nothing left in his legs and Pedersen powered past to the finish line to make history as the first Danish winner in the men's race three years after Amalie Dideriksen became the country's first elite world champion.

Results

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Pos.Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mads Pedersen (Denmark) 6:27:28
2Matteo Trentin (Italy)
3Stefan Kung (Switzerland) 0:00:02
4Gianni Moscon (Italy) 0:00:17
5Peter Sagan (Slovakia) 0:00:43
6Michael Valgren Andersen (Denmark) 0:00:45
7Alexander Kristoff (Norway) 0:01:10
8Greg van Avermaet (Belgium)
9Gorka Izagirre Insausti (Spain)
10Rui Costa (Portugal)
11Sonny Colbrelli (Italy)
12Jakob Fuglsang (Denmark)
13Zdenek Stybar (Czech Republic)
14Carlos Betancur (Colombia)
15John Degenkolb (Germany)
16Ion Izagirre Insausti (Spain) 0:01:14
17Amund Grondahl Jansen (Norway)
18Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia)
19Nils Politt (Germany) 0:01:22
20Niki Terpstra (Netherlands)
21Toms Skujins (Latvia) 0:01:46
22Michael Albasini (Switzerland) 0:01:48
23Tony Gallopin (France) 0:01:50
24Michael Matthews (Australia) 0:01:57
25Alberto Bettiol (Italy)
26Tao Geoghegan Hart (Great Britain) 0:02:20
27Marc Hirschi (Switzerland)
28Julian Alaphilippe (France) 0:02:26
29Daniel Felipe Martinez Poveda (Colombia) 0:03:59
30Felix Grossschartner (Austria)
31Ben Swift (Great Britain) 0:06:38
32Yves Lampaert (Belgium) 0:07:48
33Oliver Naesen (Belgium) 0:08:07
34Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway)
35Tim Wellens (Belgium)
36Mike Teunissen (Netherlands)
37Dylan Teuns (Belgium)
38Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio (Colombia)
39Andrey Amador (Costa Rica)
40Chad Haga (United States Of America) 0:10:27
41Neilson Powless (United States Of America)
42Benoit Cosnefroy (France) 0:10:52
43Mathieu van der Poel (Netherlands)
44Imanol Erviti (Spain) 0:14:48
45Lucas Eriksson (Sweden)
46Petr Vakoc (Czech Republic) 0:19:25
DNFJack Haig (Australia)
DNFLukas Postlberger (Austria)
DNFFlorian Senechal (France)
DNFDylan van Baarle (Netherlands)
DNFAdam Yates (Great Britain)
DNFPatrick Konrad (Austria)
DNFMarco Haller (Austria)
DNFBauke Mollema (Netherlands)
DNFLuka Pibernik (Slovenia)
DNFAleksandr Riabushenko (Belarus)
DNFNikias Arndt (Germany)
DNFDavide Cimolai (Italy)
DNFJuraj Sagan (Slovakia)
DNFMagnus Cort Nielsen (Denmark)
DNFAlvaro Jose Hodeg Chagui (Colombia)
DNFEdvald Boasson Hagen (Norway)
DNFMichael Woods (Canada)
DNFChristophe Laporte (France)
DNFMichal Golas (Poland)
DNFNathan Haas (Australia)
DNFMarc Soler (Spain)
DNFPascal Ackermann (Germany)
DNFRuben Guerreiro (Portugal)
DNFAlex Kirsch (Luxembourg)
DNFAlo Jakin (Estonia)
DNFLawson Craddock G (United States Of America)
DNFSimon Clarke (Australia)
DNFLuke Durbridge (Australia)
DNFHermann Pernsteiner (Austria)
DNFGiovanni Visconti (Italy)
DNFAlexey Lutsenko (Kazakhstan)
DNFGrega Bole (Slovenia)
DNFSimon Geschke (Germany)
DNFGeraint Thomas (Great Britain)
DNFMichael Morkov (Denmark)
DNFJonathan Caicedo (Ecuador)
DNFRemi Cavagna (France)
DNFLuis Leon Sanchez (Spain)
DNFSalvatore Puccio (Italy)
DNFChristopher Juul Jensen (Denmark)
DNFJack Bauer (New Zealand)
DNFPieter Weening (Netherlands)
DNFRafal Majka (Poland)
DNFPawel Poljanski (Poland)
DNFJasha Sutterlin (Germany)
DNFLukasz Wisniowski (Poland)
DNFNicolas Jonathan Castroviejo (Spain)
DNFJosef Cerny (Czech Republic)
DNFKasper Asgreen (Denmark)
DNFSam Bennett (Ireland)
DNFDanilo Wyss (Switzerland)
DNFBenjamin Perry (Canada)
DNFEduard-michael Grosu (Romania)
DNFEmils Liepins (Latvia)
DNFRory Townsend (Ireland)
DNFMatej Mohoric (Slovenia)
DNFAnthony Roux (France)
DNFDiego Ulissi (Italy)
DNFBob Jungels (Luxembourg)
DNFJose Rojas (Spain)
DNFYukiya Arashiro (Japan)
DNFJonas Koch (Germany)
DNFMitchell Docker (Australia)
DNFMichael Schar (Switzerland)
DNFCasper Phillip Pedersen (Denmark)
DNFPavel Sivakov (Russian Federation)
DNFEduardo Sepulveda (Argentina)
DNFSebastian Henao Gomez (Colombia)
DNFCarl Fredrik Hagen (Norway)
DNFDion Smith (New Zealand)
DNFSebastian Langeveld (Netherlands)
DNFMarcus Burghardt (Germany)
DNFAleksandr Vlasov (Russian Federation)
DNFHugo Houle (Canada)
DNFOwain Doull (Great Britain)
DNFAlejandro Valverde (Spain)
DNFTim Declercq (Belgium)
DNFAlex Howes (United States Of America)
DNFSergei Chernetskii (Russian Federation)
DNFZhandos Bizhigitov (Kazakhstan)
DNFNairo Quintana (Colombia)
DNFGediminas Bagdonas (Lithuania)
DNFConor Dunne (Ireland)
DNFMichael Gogl (Austria)
DNFErik Baska (Slovakia)
DNFJames Piccoli (Canada)
DNFJan Polanc (Slovenia)
DNFStylianos Farantakis (Greece)
DNFTanel Kangert (Estonia)
DNFKim Magnusson (Sweden)
DNFEdward Dunbar (Ireland)
DNFJose Goncalves (Portugal)
DNFRemco Evenepoel (Belgium)
DNFStepan Kuriyanov (Russian Federation)
DNFJulien Bernard (France)
DNFDavid Per (Slovenia)
DNFYevgeniy Gidich (Kazakhstan)
DNFDmitriy Gruzdev (Kazakhstan)
DNFBen Gastauer (Luxembourg)
DNFSilvan Dillier (Switzerland)
DNFNicholas Dlamini (South Africa)
DNFRui Oliveira (Portugal)
DNFMaciej Bodnar (Poland)
DNFRein Taaramae (Estonia)
DNFIan Stannard (Great Britain)
DNFKrists Neilands (Latvia)
DNFVegard Stake Laengen (Norway)
DNFEvaldas Siskevicius (Lithuania)
DNFShane Archbold (New Zealand)
DNFJan Barta (Czech Republic)
DNFHideto Nakane (Japan)
DNFPrimoz Roglic (Slovenia)
DNFPhilippe Gilbert (Belgium)
DNFJos van Emden (Netherlands)
DNFDaniel Martin (Ireland)
DNFYuriy Natarov (Kazakhstan)
DNFGuillaume Boivin (Canada)
DNFRory Sutherland (Australia)
DNFDaryl Impey (South Africa)
DNFMihkel Raim (Estonia)
DNFNelson Oliveira (Portugal)
DNFRichard Carapaz (Ecuador)
DNFFrantisek Sisr (Czech Republic)
DNFTom Wirtgen (Luxembourg)
DNFJuan Sebastian Molano Benavides (Colombia)
DNFPolychronis Tzortzakis (Greece)
DNFAntoine Duchesne (Canada)
DNFAntonio Barac (Croatia)
DNFJan Andrej Cully (Slovakia)
DNFPeter Kusztor (Hungary)
DNFRoman Kreuziger (Czech Republic)
DNFDmitrii Strakhov (Russian Federation)
DNFJhonatan Manuel Narvaez Prado (Ecuador)
DNFJefferson Cepeda (Ecuador)
DNFStefan de Bod (South Africa)
DNFRyan Mullen (Ireland)
DNFRohan Dennis (Australia)
DNFIvan Garcia Cortina (Spain)
DNFJan Tratnik (Slovenia)
DNFLukasz Owsian (Poland)
DNFAlexander Evtushenko (Russian Federation)
DNFNatnael Berhane (Eritrea)
DNFMekseb Debesay (Eritrea)
DNFMerhawi Kudus (Eritrea)
DNFDaniel Teklehaimanot (Eritrea)
DNFPatrick Bevin (New Zealand)
DNFVasil Kiryienka (Belarus)
DNFMarton Dina (Hungary)
DNFDirk Coetzee (Namibia)
DNSJay Robert Thomson (South Africa)