Hello and welcome to the Cyclingnews live coverage of the Under 23 men's road race
The under-23 peloton has assembled in Doncaster and is negotiating the neutralised zone ahead of today's slightly shortened 173km road race. The event is composed of a 135km point-to-point section, before two laps of the finishing circuit in Harrogate rather than the three that were orginally planned.
Jasper Philipsen may have stepped up to WorldTour level this season but the UAE Team Emirates rider is still only 21 and has opted to line out in the under-23. He told Cyclingnews beforehand that his WorldTour experience won't make life any easier on the road this afternoon. Read more here.
Last year's champion Marc Hirschi (Switzerland) is also still underage to compete and he lined out in the under-23 time trial on Tuesday, but the Sunweb man is not in action this afternoon. He will form part of the Swiss team for the elite men's road race on Sunday.
An already interminable, Vuelta a Espana-esque neutralised zone was lengthened still further as Ian Garrison (USA) suffered a mechanical, but the flag has now dropped and the under-23 men's road race is underway.
The peloton is strung out in a long line in these opening kilometres, but as yet no escape has taken shape.
Two riders have managed to open a small gap over the peloton in these opening kilometres. Matis Louvel (France) and Patrick Gamper (Austria) have broken away, but there are a couple of small chasing groups just behind them, and the peloton is not content to let them go just yet.
Louvel and Gamper have a gap of around 15 seconds or so over a very active peloton. This race has yet to settle into a discernible pattern.
Samuel Mugisha (Rwanda) is now attempting to bridge across alone to the two escapees, while Germany appear to be placing some semblance of order on the head of the peloton.
Gamper and Louvel have 20 seconds in hand on the lone chaser Mugisha, with the peloton a little further behind.
The opening 90 kilometres or so are relatively flat, but the terrain becomes rather more rugged on the approach to Ripon. The climb to Greenhow comes after 118km, and the race hits the finishing circuit in Harrogate after 145km. There follow two laps of the 13.9km circuit.
Patrick Gamper (Switzterland) and Matis Louvel (France) have 31 seconds in hand on the peloton, which has brought back Mugisha.
Matis Louvel rides for VC Rouen and is a stagiaire at Groupama-FDJ at the end of this season. Gamper rides for the Tirol KTM Continental team.
A light drizzle is falling as the Netherlands and Norway lead the peloton, 30 seconds down on the two escapees. At the back, Andreas Nielsen (Denmark) pauses to have his stem tightened and calmly rejoins the race.
The rain is falling a little more heavily now, as Louvel and Gamper's advantage is pinned back by the peloton. The gap drops suddenly to 10 seconds.
The efforts of the Netherlands and Norway have brought back our two early escapees. Gruppo compatto.
Conditions have turned rather more grizzly. Rain is now cascading from the skies and a stiff breeze is blowing from the left-hand side of the road, though the high hedges and ditches on the roadside may limit the prospect of echelons.
The Italian, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish squads are all placed en masse towards the head of the peloton. There is a long, long way to the finish, but vigilance is the byword even at this early juncture.
Norway are very active in forcing the pace at the head of the peloton. Their squad includes Tour de l'Avenir winner Tobias Foss, who will move to WorldTour level with Jumbo-Visma next year.
Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Norway) and Patrick Haller (Germany) have attacked and opened a small gap over the peloton. With their teammates blocking behind, this duo has a chance to establish a decent lead.
Haller looks repeatedly over his shoulder, mindful that some reinforcements are on the cusp of bridging across. Johan Jacobs (Switzerland), Alessandro Covi (Italy), Marijn van den Berg (Netherlands), Stuart Balfour (Great Britain) and Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic) are closing in.
There are seven riders from seven different countries at the head of the race with a small lead over the peloton: Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Norway), Patrick Haller (Germany)Johan Jacobs (Switzerland), Alessandro Covi (Italy), Marijn van den Berg (Netherlands), Stuart Balfour (Great Britain) and Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic).
Ben Healy (Ireland) is one of two riders trying to bridge across to the escapees. It is notable that there is no Belgian representative in the move, and hence Jasper Philipsen's teammates have come to the head of the peloton to lead the chase.
Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Poland) and Ben Healy (Ireland) have bridged across to the break, leaving nine riders at the head of the race.
A crash in the peloton, meanwhile, sees 2017 Paris-Roubaix espoirs winner Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) and Lance Haidet (USA) among the riders to come down. They have both remounted and are giving chase to the peloton.
Up front, meanwhile, the break could swell to 13 riders, as Stan Dewulf (Belgium), Ludvik Aspelund Holstad (Norway), Andreas Kron (Denmark) and Fred Wright (Great Britain) are on the cusp of bridging across.
13 riders at the front with 15 seconds in hand on the bunch: Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Norway), Patrick Haller (Germany), Johan Jacobs (Switzerland), Alessandro Covi (Italy), Marijn van den Berg (Netherlands), Stuart Balfour (Great Britain), Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic), Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Poland), Ben Healy (Ireland), Stan Dewulf (Belgium), Ludvik Aspelund Holstad (Norway), Andreas Kron (Denmark) and Fred Wright (Great Britain).
Almost all of the major nations have a representative in the break, and Norway and Great Britain have two riders apiece. It begs a question: who is going to chase in the peloton?
For now, the United States are setting the tempo in the bunch, which is 15 seconds down on the break of 13 riders.
AG2R La Mondiale stagiaire Matteo Jorgenson is putting in a fine shift for the United States at the head of the bunch, and his efforts are keeping the break's lead at a manageable 15 seconds or so.
At first, it appeared that the 13-man break wasn't quite as cohesive as it could be but after dropping to 6 seconds, their has extended once again towards 20.
And then there were twelve. Hvideberg suffers a mechanical issue and he has to sit up and wait for the bunch. 23 seconds the gap.
The United States are having to do all the pace-making alone in the peloton, and the gap is growing accordingly. The 12 escapees have 26 seconds in hand on the bunch.
Rain continues to fall steadily over the peloton as the pass through a sodden Tadcaster, 33 seconds down on the escapees.
A crash in the peloton sees Francisco Galvan (Spain) among the fallers, and it looks as though his race is over.
The break's lead stretches out to 40 seconds. The United States squad are chasing en masse at the head of the peloton, but it looks like they will need some help to pin back this escape.
A reminder of our twelve escapees, who have 43 in hand on the peloton: Patrick Haller (Germany), Johan Jacobs (Switzerland), Alessandro Covi (Italy), Marijn van den Berg (Netherlands), Stuart Balfour (Great Britain), Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic), Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Poland), Ben Healy (Ireland), Stan Dewulf (Belgium), Ludvik Aspelund Holstad (Norway), Andreas Kron (Denmark) and Fred Wright (Great Britain).
Into the final 100km for the dozen leaders, who now have 48 seconds in hand on the peloton, where only the United States are chasing.
Ian Garrison, Matteo Jorgenson Brandon McNulty and Kevin Vermaerke are still at the head of the bunch for the United States, and their combined efforts have kept the break's lead at 48 seconds.
Ben Healy (Ireland) is contributing well to this 12-man move at the head of the race, which now has 55 seconds on the bunch. The Irishman beat Morten Hulgaard (Denmark) and Matteo Jorgenson (USA) to victory on stage 5 of the recent Tour de l'Avenir in Saint-Julien-Chapteuil.
Finally an ally of circumstance for the United States, as France put a man on the front of the peloton to aid in the chase effort. The gap to the break has edged out to 1 minute.
A mechanical issue in the peloton for Alexander Konyshev (Italy), son of Katusha-Alpecin directeur sportif and two-time Worlds medallist Dimitri. Konyshev Senior took silver for the USSR behind Greg LeMond in Chambery in 1989 and bronze for Russia behind Gianni Bugno and Laurent Jalabert in Benidorm three years later.
The twelve escapees are approaching Ripon and the more rugged part of this under-23 men's course. Local favourite Tom Pidcock has two teammates in this break, Stuart Balfour and Steve Wright. 1:04 the gap to the bunch.
Patrick Haller (Germany), Johan Jacobs (Switzerland), Alessandro Covi (Italy), Marijn van den Berg (Netherlands), Stuart Balfour (Great Britain), Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic), Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Poland), Ben Healy (Ireland), Stan Dewulf (Belgium), Ludvik Aspelund Holstad (Norway), Andreas Kron (Denmark) and Fred Wright (Great Britain).
Peloton at 1:05
The rain has abated and the sun has poked through the clouds. The lead of the 12 escapees has stabilised at a little over a minute as they approach Ripon.
The escapees come through the feed zone as they approach more rolling terrain on the road towards Greenhow Hill.
France and the United States continue to set the tempo in the bunch, 1:01 behind our dozen leaders.
The break are hitting the succession of unclassified climbs that lead towards Greenhow Hill, and Steve Wright feels the strain, perhaps due to an issue with his gears. The Briton has been distanced by his companions.
A crash in the peloton sees a number of riders come down. Brent Van Moer (Belgium) is among the fallers. He remounts and gives chase, but a few other riders look as though their races are over.
Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) is among the riders who were held up by the crash. It's not clear if the Briton was a faller, but he is having to use up a lot of energy to give chase to the rear of the peloton.
The escapees, meanwhile, have a lead of 52 seconds over the now reduced peloton. Pidcock has successfully latched onto the back of the bunch, but there isn't much scope to recover from here to the finishing circuit.
Pidcock stops and changes his bike, which suggests he might have come down. He is quickly up and running, and back in contact with the back of the bunch.
After his earlier mechanical issues, Steve Wright is also back in contact with the break. The 12-man move has a lead of 55 seconds on the peloton.
Yet another crash in the peloton sees two riders end up in the ditch. There is a palpable nervousness in the bunch at this juncture, it seems almost contagious.
The leaders are continuing to collaborate well out in front, but they have never been able to stretch their buffer much above one minute due to the American chasing. The gap stands at 48 seconds.
Jorgenson's efforts have told and the American has dropped off from the pelootn. Ian Garrison now takes up the chase for the United States, 46 seconds down on the break.
There's an injection of pace from Norway in the peloton ahead of the 4km ascent of Greenhow Hill (average gradient 6.7%), and the break's lead has dropped to 40 seconds.
In the break, Alessandro Covi (Italy) accelerates as the climb begins.
Brandon McNulty forces in the pace in the main peloton in a bid to close the gap to the break.
Covi's attack has been pegged back and now Dewulf sets the tempo on the front of the break, 30 seconds ahead of the bunch.
Dewulf's efforts have splintered the break. Only Covi, Balfour and Kron can follow the Lotto Soudal man.
The peloton is in the process of picking off the remnants of the break on the climb, including Ben Healy, Haller and Van den Berg. Only four riders remain in front: Covi, Kron, Dewulf and Balfour.
With a kilometre or so to the top of Greenhow Hill, the four leaders have 36 seconds in hand on the peloton.
Stan Dewulf (Belgium), Alessandro Covi (Italy), Stuart Balfour (Great Britain) and Andreas Lorentz Kron (Denmark)
Peloton at 0:30
A number of riders have been trying to jump across to the escapees on the ridge across the top of Greenhow Hill. Brandon McNulty has snuffed out several moves, and Sergio Higuita (Colombia) is also prominent in this bunch of 60 or so riders, who are 30 seconds down on the break.
The German squad hit the front en masse on the false flat over the top of the climb, and the bunch has split into shards. The break's lead, meanwhile, is down to just 20 seconds or so.
The bunch has split into two distinct groups. Tom Pidcock is in the front half, which is opening its advantage over the second part of the peloton, which seems to contain the American riders and Jasper Philipsen.
The four escapees have been caught by the Pidcock group, leaving around 25 riders at the head of the race. Germany, Denmark and Norway are all represented. It appears the United States have been caught out.
Jasper Philipsen is in the second group on the road, which is 30 seconds down on the front group, which is being driven by Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway.
Sergio Higuita is among the riders in the front group of 24 or so. They have 31 seconds in hand on the chasing group, which is being led once again by the United States.
The combined efforts of Kazkhstan and the United States are helping to shave the front group's lead. 24 seconds the gap. It could all come back together by the time they reach the finishing circuit. Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) calls front greater collaboration in the front group as he sees the gap dwindle.
Neither group is particularly cohesive, but the chasers can't quite close the gap. 16 seconds the advantage.
The riders in the front group are: Bissegger, Schmid (Switzerland), Anderson, Foss, Sleen (Norway), Battistella (Italy), Dewulf, Van Wilder (Belgium), Bjerg, Kron (Denmark), Burgaudeau (France), Heinschke, Rutsch, Zimmermann (Germany), Eekhoff, Eenkhoorn, Schelling (Netherlands), Balfour, Stewart (Great Britain), Higuita (Colombia), Groves (Australia), Sajnok (Poland)
Kevin Geniets (Luxembourg) has almost succeeded in bridging across the front group on the approach to the first approach to the finish line in Harrogate. The chasers, meanwhile, are at 17 seconds.
With two laps of the finishing circuit to go, a group of 22 riders have 17 seconds in hand on the chasers. The men still in contention for the rainbow jersey are: The riders in the front group are: Bissegger, Schmid (Switzerland), Anderson, Foss, Sleen (Norway), Battistella (Italy), Dewulf, Van Wilder (Belgium), Bjerg, Kron (Denmark), Burgaudeau (France), Heinschke, Rutsch, Zimmermann (Germany), Eekhoff, Eenkhoorn, Schelling (Netherlands), Balfour, Stewart, Pidcock (Great Britain), Higuita (Colombia), Groves (Australia), Sajnok (Poland), Geniets (Luxembourg).
Idar Andersen (Norway) and Szymon Sajnok (Poland) have attacked from the front group and opened a lead of 15 seconds or so.
Idar Andersen (Norway) and Szymon Sajnok (Poland)
Chasing group at 0:22
Philipsen group at 0:50
Mikkel Bjerg attempts to breathe life into the chase effort as Andersen and Sajnok defend a buffer of 20 seconds or so over their immediate pursuers.
The two escapees hit Oak Beck climb with a lead of 18 seconds, but their buffer is immediately slashed when Battistella attacks from the chasing group.
Battistella is joined by Bissigger and they have bridged across to the two leaders on the climb. Tom Pidcock is now trying to pull a determined chasing group across to them.
Six riders are in front over the other side of Oak Beck: Battistella, Bissegger, Pidcock, Foss, Andersen and Sajnok. They have a small lead over the chasers.
This is a rather elite six-man group in front, featuring Tom Pidcock (Great Britain), Tobias Foss (Norway), Idar Andersen (Norway), Samuele Battistella (Italy), Szymon Sajnok (Poland) and Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland). They have 10 seconds in hand on Bjerg and the chasers. The Philipsen group is now out of the running, more than a minute back.
The leading sextet are leaning a little on the Norwegian duo for the time being. Andersen appears to be riding on behalf of Tour de l'Avenir winner Foss.
Foss is certainly Norway's only option now. Andersen punctures on the drag up Parliament Street, leaving only five riders in front as they take the bell for the final lap.
Situation with one lap to go
Tom Pidcock (Great Britain), Tobias Foss (Norway), Samuele Battistella (Italy), Szymon Sajnok (Poland) and Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland)
Chasers at 0:16
Pidcock's bloodied knee suggests that he was indeed a faller in one of the earlier crashes, but the Briton is contributing strongly here. The leading quintet have 23 seconds in hand on the Higuita-led chasing group as darkness and more rain begin to fall over Harrogate.
The break's lead stretches out to 25 seconds, and it looks as though the world champion will come from this quintet: Tom Pidcock (Great Britain), Tobias Foss (Norway), Idar Andersen (Norway), Samuele Battistella (Italy), Szymon Sajnok (Poland) and Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland).
Not for the first time on this finishing circuit, Battistella gesticulates searching for greater collaboration in the break. A tiring Sajnok appears to be the focus of his ire.
Battistella was the most impressive performer on the last time up Oak Beck, and one wonders if the Italian will look to make the difference there on the final lap.
Kron, Zimmermann, Eekhoff and Higuita have formed a four-man chase group but their pursuit seems a forlorn one. Their deficit is 28 seconds with a little under 9km to go.
Bissgger, Foss, Battistella, Pidcock and Sajnok are drawing closer to the Oak Beck climb, with a lead of 23 seconds over the chasers.
The leading quintet are growing ever more tentative in their turns at the front, but they remain 23 seconds clear of the chasers. The rain has stopped and the setting sun is just about burning through the gloom on this Harrogate circuit.
Bissegger accelerates on Oak Beck climb and opens a small gap on Pidcock, Foss and Battistella. Sajnok is distanced.
Foss, Pidcock and Battistella have bridged across to Bissegger. There are four riders in front. Sajnok is caught by the Higuita group.
A moment of distraction for Bissegger, who unclips and has to put a foot down, but he manages to right himself and chase back on. Still four riders in front. A bemused Battistella, who was almost brought down, seems to ask Bissegger what precisely he was doing.
Pidcock, Foss, Bissegger and Battistella are now just 12 seconds clear of the Higuita group...
Higuita, Kron and Eekhoff are closing in rapidly on the four leaders. Their race isn't run yet... 13 seconds the gap.
Foss, Pidcock, Battistella and Bissegger carry a lead of just 9 seconds over the three chasers as they enter the final 3km.
Foss takes a long turn on the front and then swings over and looks for assistance from his companions. The Higuita-propelled chasing trio is just 5 seconds behind.
Foss hits the front again and ups the pace on the drop towards the bottom of the drag that leads back up to the finish.
Beneath the flamme rouge, the four leaders have stalled, and it looks as though Higuita et al are going to make contact in the final kilometre...
Seven riders will tackle the drag up Parliament Street together as the Higuita group make the junction.
Kron tries to take a flyer before the drag to the finish begins and the Dane might end up having to lead out the sprint.
Bissegger and Eekhoff lead into the final 300m, almost in slow motion...
Higuita opens the sprint and then Pidcock kicks for home...
Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) is under-23 world champion.
Samuele Battistella (Italy) takes silver ahead of Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland).
Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) had to settle for 4th ahead of Sergio Higuita (Colombia). Kron and Foss rounded out the 7-man uphill sprint.
Eekhoff has been at the Sunweb development squad since 2017 and will step up to WorldTour level full-time with the team in 2020. Winner of the espoirs Paris-Roubaix in 2017, he signs off on his amateur career with the biggest title of them all.
Eekhoff was canny enough to allow a very eager Higuita do the bulk of the chasing on that breathless final lap, and then he showed admirable calm when he found himself forced onto the front of the seven-man group in the finishing straight. The Dutchman refused to panic and maintained his position, waiting for Higuita and Pidcock to open their efforts. When they did, he began his own sprint, and he kept his gear turning over when everyone else faded.
Battistella was closing rapidly in those final 50 metres, but the Italian came from too far back and a mite too late, and he has to settle for silver. He will ride in the WorldTour for Team NTT (currently Dimension Data) in 2020.
Bronze medallist Stefan Bissegger, meanwhile, will also be in the WorldTour next year, in the colours of EF Education First.
1 Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) 03:53:52
2 Samuele Battistella (Italy)
3 Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland)
4 Thomas Pidcock (Great Britain)
5 Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Colombia)
6 Andreas Lorentz Kron (Denmark)
7 Tobias s Foss (Norway)
8 Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands) 00:00:28
9 Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)
10 Mathieu Burgaudeau (France)
World champion Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) speaks: “It’s absolutely amazing. I can’t really describe it yet. I can’t believe it yet. It’s an amazing feeling.
“I waited quite long. I had a crash earlier in the day and I didn’t feel so good but then on the local circuit I started to feel my legs were just really good. Then I was thinking I shouldn’t wait for the sprint but a group was already away, so I thought there was only a small chance it would come together again. I just went for it and raced with my heart, and, yeah, I got a good group and we managed to make it across to the front group.
“In the sprint, I got in the first position, but I just waited, waited, and looked. When I saw the guy from Colombia going, I thought, ok, this is good to go in the wheel and then go over. It’s great."
The official results have yet to be published and the podium ceremony has yet to take place, with word reaching us that the "results are under investigation." The race jury are still deliberating on what they saw in the final kilometres.
Tuttobici suggests that the race jury may in fact be studying footage of Eekhoff's return to the peloton following his crash with 128km to go. We await confirmation.
If that is indeed the case, one has to question why action - if required - wasn't taken during the race, especially considering the incident apparently in question took place so far from the finish.
Eekhoff has been spotted riding away from the podium area in tears. We await formal confirmation, but it appears that Samuele Battistella is the under-23 champion of the world.
We await a formal communique from the UCI, but given that the Dutch contingent has left the podium area, it seems that Samuele Battistella (Italy) is the world champion in Eekhoff's place. Stefan Bissegger takes silver and Tom Pidcock claims bronze.
This is a most remarkable sequence of events. The commissaires have refused entreaties to speak from journalists at the finish area. We think Eekhoff has been disqualified for taking a tow from a team car after a crash with 128.5km remaining, but the UCI are never much given to explaining decisions promptly and clearly.
Rai television have reported that Eekhoff's GPS data are what aroused concern from the race jury, with the Dutchman suggested to have reached speeds beyond what should have been possible on a bike as he chased back on after his crash. Again, this information comes with the caveat that we are still without formal confirmation of the decision, far less the rationale, from the race jury.
Eekhoff is the second Dutch rider to be disqualified from the podium of the under-23 Worlds. In Zolder in 2002, Hans Dekkers placed second behind Francesco Chicchi - and was even awarded the silver medal - before he was disqualified for irregularities in the sprint.
You can read more on this developing story about Eekhoff's disqualification here.
1 Samuele Battistella (Italy) 03:53:52
2 Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland)
3 Thomas Pidcock (Great Britain)
4 Sergio Andres Higuita Garcia (Colombia)
5 Andreas Lorentz Kron (Denmark)
6 Tobias s Foss (Norway)
7 Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands) 00:00:28
8 Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)
9 Mathieu Burgaudeau (France)
10 Torjus Sleen (Norway)
Battistella, meanwhile, becomes the first Italian rider to win the under-23 Worlds since Francesco Chicchi in 2002. The azzurri had previously dominated the event following its introduction in Lugano in 1996, winning rainbow jerseys through Giuliano Figueras (1996), Ivan Basso (1998) and Leonardo Giorandi (1999). They swept the podium in both 1996 and 1998, with Paolo Bettini also placing 4th in Lugano in 1996.
Samuele Battistella speaks of his delayed rainbow jersey: "I can’t believe it. I’m sorry for Eekhoff but I’m happy for myself and the Italian national team. With 30k to go, I didn’t think I’d manage to get on the podium. I attacked on the circuit because I had good legs and when there were only five of us left, I realised that my chances had improved. The sprint was messy. I started late. When I finished, I was very angry at not winning but also happy with second. Now that I’m wearing this jersey, I feel a joy that I cannot explain."
The UCI's official communique lists the disqualification of Nils Eekhoff, Andreas Nielsen (Denmark) and Alexander Konychev (Italy) for prolonged drafting on a team car.
That's it for our live coverage of the U23 men's road race. Tune in again on Saturday and Sunday for the elite road races.
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