Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands) may have won the sprint in the U23 road race at the Road World Championships in Harrogate from an elite seven-man group in a rain-soaked Harrogate. But almost an hour after the finish, the jury relegated the Dutchman for drafting off the national team car following a mid-race crash.
Samuele Battistella (Italy) was crowned the new World Champion, with Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) and Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) elevated one spot to silver and bronze, respectively.
The decision marred a thrilling finale which saw two small groups – who had escaped at 20km and 10km from the finish - merge heading into the final kilometre.
The seven leaders, which included Sergio Higuita (Colombia) and Tom Pidcock (Great Britain) played a cat-and-mouse game, almost slowing to a stop on the uphill rise to the line.
Eekhoff had been part of a three-man chase group along with Higuita and Andreas Kron (Denmark), which slipped away from the peloton 10km out. The trio set out in pursuit of Pidcock, Battistella, Bissegger and Tour de l'Avenir winner Tobias Foss, hanging around 20 seconds back for much of the run-in.
The closing kilometres saw the chasers, led by multiple surges from Higuita on the inclines, close in, and both groups came together heading under the flamme rouge.
With single riders from each nation in the lead group, there was no teamwork to think about, and the run to the line was a mix of wit and power. Higuita went up the barriers on the right, and Pidcock on the left, but it was the brute force of Eekhoff that prevailed, while Battistella and Bissegger jumped out into the wind to take second and third.
Unfortunately for Eekhoff, the jury's review of the race proceedings with the newly introduced video referree led to his disqualification as well as that of Alexander Konychev (Italy).
How it unfolded
A largely flat opening 100km kicked off proceedings at the 173km race, before the route got hilly around Harrogate. Climbing began after the feed zone, and the climb of Greenhow Hill (3.4km at 7.8 per cent) was the major obstacle before the peloton would reach the Harrogate circuit for two laps to finish the race.
The peloton was strung out to start the race, as attacks flew early on. Matis Louvel (France) and Patrick Gamper (Austria) were the first riders to get away, leaving the peloton behind after 10km of racing. Not that the move lasted long, however, with the combined efforts of the Netherlands and Norway bringin the duo back after 25km.
The wet weather, which held off for much of the morning's junior women's race, returned early on for the U23 men as rain and winds battered the peloton. Not put off by the grimi conditions, Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Norway) and Patrick Haller (Germany) struck out with 137km to go.
A group of other riders – Johan Jacobs (Switzerland), Alessandro Covi (Italy), Marijn van den Berg (Netherlands), Stuart Balfour (Great Britain) and Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic) – quickly bridged across and got a small gap of around 15 seconds on the peloton.
Ben Healy (Ireland) and Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Poland) made it across soon after, and then Kron, Stan Dewulf (Belgium), Ludvik Aspelund Holstad (Norway) and Fred Wright (Great Britain) joined them to make it 13 men up front.
The group's advantage reached out to 40 seconds as they made it to the 100km to go mark, though Hvideberg wasn't there, having suffered a mechanical issue. Further back, USA controlled the peloton with Matteo Jorgenson, Brandon McNulty and Kevin Vermaerke all up there.
France chipped in with some assistance as the hills started, as the gap to the break edged out to over a minute. Meanwhile, a series of crashes in the peloton saw several riders end their race, and Pidcock among those held up.
Out front, the break split up on the tough climb of Greenhow Hill, with Covi and Dewulf pushed the pace. Nearing the top of the summit, the duo remained out front, 40 seconds up on the peloton, along with Healy and Van den Berg.
Back in the peloton, Germany took over from the USA on the false flat at the top of the climb, driving the peloton in the wind and splitting it up in the process. A number of different nations were represented in the front group, though the Americans and Jasper Philipsen (Belgium) had all missed the move.
Notable names up front included Pidcock, Dewulf (both with two teammates), Higuita, U23 world time trial champion Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) and Tour de l'Avenir winner Tobias Foss, who also had two Norwegian teammates with him. The Dutch and German squads also had three men up front.
As they tackled the shallow descent from Greenhow to Harrogate with 45km to race, the 23-man front group enjoyed a 35-second advantage over the 28-man chase group. Both groups proved to be less than cohesive, though a concerted effort by Kazakhstan closed the gap to within 20 seconds during the battle that raged over the next 15 kilometres.
With the second group lying within sight of the leaders but never quite making the junction, a number of riders took it upon themselves to jump across as the riders hit the finishing circuits in Harrogate.
Idar Andersen (Norway) and Szymon Sajnok (Poland) went on the attack on the first lap, 24km from the line. The pair got a 20-second gap on the lead group whlie the chase group lay a further 30 seconds back.
The duo swelled to a sextet with 19km to race, as Foss, Pidcock, Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) and Samuele Battistella (Italy) bridged across to the two leaders. By that point, it was over for the Americans in chase group, who had all but given up on making it back to the front of the race.
Heading into the final lap under pouring rain, the six men were reduced to five as Andersen stopped with a puncture. The remaining leaders crossed the line 16 seconds up on the chasers, who were far from cohesive in their chase efforts.
As a result, the gap grew to 30 seconds with 10km to race, and a chase group emerged as Higuita pushed on along with Kron, Georg Zimmermann (Germany) and Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands).
Bissegger put in the first big attack from the lead group on the climb of Harlow Moor Road, 6km from the finish. The move saw Sajnok drop, but the Swiss was soon rejoined by Pidcock, Battistella and Foss. Shortly after, Bissegger almost hit the deck after touching wheels with the Brit.
The Higuita-led chase powered up the climb, closing to within 15 seconds of the leaders with 4km to race. With the leaders visible up the road, there was a clear carrot for the chase group, and with 1.5km to go the two groups merged as they reached the final kilometre.
There, it was Eekhoff who proved the strongest man but Battistella who became world champion.
|Pos.||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Samuele Battistella (Italy)||3:53:52|
|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)||0:00:38|
|8||Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)|
|9||Mathieu Burgaudeau (France)|
|10||Torjus Sleen (Norway)|
|11||Stan Dewulf (Belgium)|
|12||Georg Zimmermann (Germany)|
|13||Kevin Geniets (Luxembourg)|
|14||Kaden Groves (Australia)|
|15||Jonas Rutsch (Germany)||0:00:40|
|16||Morten Hulgaard (Denmark)|
|17||Szymon Sajnok (Poland)||0:00:42|
|18||Jake Stewart (Great Britain)||0:00:52|
|19||Ilan van Wilder (Belgium)||0:01:28|
|20||Ide Schelling (Netherlands)||0:01:32|
|21||Mauro Schmid (Switzerland)||0:02:01|
|22||Vadim Pronskiy (Kazakhstan)||0:02:55|
|23||Robin Froidevaux (Switzerland)||0:03:02|
|24||Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kazakhstan)|
|25||Tilen Finkst (Slovenia)|
|26||Nickolas Zukowsky (Canada)|
|27||Simon Guglielmi (France)|
|28||Fred Wright (Great Britain)|
|29||Matus Stocek (Slovakia)|
|30||Andre Carvalho (Portugal)|
|31||Attila Valter (Hungary)|
|32||Masahiro Ishigami (Japan)|
|33||Stanislaw Aniolkowski (Poland)|
|34||Daan Hoole (Netherlands)|
|35||Barnabas Peak (Hungary)|
|36||Johan Jacobs (Switzerland)|
|37||Aljaz Jarc (Slovenia)||0:03:06|
|38||Jakub Otruba (Czech Republic)||0:03:07|
|39||Stuart Balfour (Great Britain)|
|40||Ziga Jerman (Slovenia)|
|41||Kevin Vermaerke (United States Of America)||0:03:12|
|42||Jasper Philipsen (Belgium)||0:05:08|
|43||Idar Andersen (Norway)||0:05:11|
|44||Leon Heinschke (Germany)|
|45||Joel Suter (Switzerland)||0:05:21|
|46||Markus Wildauer (Austria)||0:07:44|
|47||Patrick Haller (Germany)||0:07:46|
|48||Alessandro Covi (Italy)||0:08:27|
|49||Gleb Brussenskiy (Kazakhstan)||0:10:08|
|50||Ben Healy (Ireland)||0:10:34|
|51||Miguel Heidemann (Germany)|
|52||Filip Maciejuk (Poland)|
|53||Harrison Sweeny (Australia)||0:10:39|
|54||Markus Pajur (Estonia)||0:12:11|
|55||Den Berg Marijn Van (Netherlands)||0:12:42|
|56||Luc Wirtgen (Luxembourg)|
|57||Carlos Salgueiro (Portugal)|
|58||Juan Fernando Calle Hurtado (Colombia)|
|59||Jens Reynders (Belgium)|
|60||Patrick Gamper (Austria)|
|61||Tomas Barta (Czech Republic)|
|62||Mathias Norsgaard Jorgensen (Denmark)|
|63||Siim Kiskonen (Estonia)|
|64||Julian David Molano Benavides (Colombia)|
|65||Inigo Elosegui Momene (Spain)|
|66||Valerii Fatkullin (Russian Federation)|
|67||Venantas Lasinis (Lithuania)|
|68||Stefan Kolb (Austria)|
|69||Jaka Primozic (Slovenia)|
|70||Gregorio Ferri (Italy)|
|71||Matthew Walls (Great Britain)|
|72||Szymon Krawczyk (Poland)|
|73||Henok Mulueberhan (Eritrea)|
|74||Adam Karl (Hungary)|
|75||Artur Sowinski (Poland)|
|76||Joao Almeida (Portugal)|
|77||Evan Burtnik (Canada)|
|78||Giovanni Aleotti (Italy)|
|79||Oscar Bazan Claveles (Argentina)|
|80||Theo Delacroix (France)|
|81||Roger Adria Oliveras (Spain)|
|82||Gleb Kugaevski (Russian Federation)|
|83||Marc Oliver Pritzen (South Africa)|
|84||Laurent Gervais (Canada)|
|85||Paul Wright (New Zealand)|
|86||Petr Rikunov (Russian Federation)|
|87||Martin Bugge Urianstad (Norway)|
|88||Ludvik Aspelund Holstad (Norway)|
|89||Xianjing Lyu (People's Republic of China)|
|90||Ian Garrison (United States Of America)|
|91||Eddy Fine (France)|
|92||Arthur Kluckers (Luxembourg)|
|93||Jaakko Hanninen (Finland)|
|94||Vitor Zucco Schizzi (Brazil)|
|95||Colin Heiderscheid (Luxembourg)|
|96||Michel Ries (Luxembourg)|
|97||Jonas Iversby Hvideberg (Norway)|
|98||Daniel Dina (Hungary)|
|99||Veljko Stojnic (Serbia)||0:12:47|
|100||Matis Louvel (France)||0:12:55|
|101||Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic)||0:15:53|
|102||Mikhail Fokin (Russian Federation)||0:18:02|
|103||Adam Foltan (Slovakia)||0:20:35|
|104||Lukas Kubis (Slovakia)|
|105||Matteo Jorgenson (United States Of America)|
|106||Jason Oosthuizen (South Africa)|
|107||Samuel Jenner (Australia)|
|108||Luis Enrique Lopez (Honduras)|
|109||Nicholas White (Australia)|
|110||Biniam Girmay Hailu (Eritrea)|
|111||Ziga Horvat (Slovenia)||0:20:37|
|112||Shunsuke Imamura (Japan)|
|113||Ka hoo Fung (Hong Kong, China)||0:25:03|
|DNF||Moise Mugisha (Rwanda)|
|DNF||Valentin Ferron (France)|
|DNF||Liam Magennis (Australia)|
|DNF||Brandon Mcnulty (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Byron Munton (South Africa)|
|DNF||James Fouche (New Zealand)|
|DNF||Brent van Moer (Belgium)|
|DNF||Alberto Dainese (Italy)|
|DNF||Stan van Tricht (Belgium)|
|DNF||Jacob Hindsgaul Madsen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Andreas Nielsen (Denmark)|
|DNF||Francisco Galvan Fernandez (Spain)|
|DNF||Carmelo Urbano Fontiveros (Spain)|
|DNF||Daniel Habtemichael (Eritrea)|
|DNF||Natnael Tesfazion (Eritrea)|
|DNF||Nicolas David Gomez Jaramillo (Colombia)|
|DNF||Emanuel Duarte (Portugal)|
|DNF||Tobias Bayer (Austria)|
|DNF||Karl Patrick Lauk (Estonia)|
|DNF||Shoi Matsuda (Japan)|
|DNF||Erik Fetter (Hungary)|
|DNF||Samuel Mugisha (Rwanda)|
|DNF||Ethan Batt (New Zealand)|
|DNF||Jose Eduardo Autran Carrillo (Chile)|
|DNF||Guillermo Andres Beltran Santillana (Chile)|
|DNF||Diego Agustin Ferreyra Geldrez (Chile)|
|DNF||Lance Haidet (United States Of America)|
|DNF||Jose Luciano Martinez Ronconi (Argentina)|
|DNF||Paul Daumont (Burkina Faso)|
|DNF||Tyler Cole (Trinidad & Tabago)|
|DNF||Yahor Shpakouski (Belarus)|
|DNF||Erik Bergstrom Frisk (Sweden)|
|DNF||Jacob Eriksson (Sweden)|
|DNF||Hugo Forssell (Sweden)|
|DNF||Emil Lindgren (Sweden)|
|DNF||Ognjen Ilic (Serbia)|
|DNF||Lorant Balazsi (Romania)|
|DNF||Emil Dima (Romania)|
|DNF||Pier Andre Cote (Canada)|
|DNF||Hasani Hennis AIA|
|DNF||Kwan lok Choi (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Pak Hang Ng (Hong Kong, China)|
|DNF||Kai Kwong Tso (Hong Kong, China)|
|DSQ||Alexander Konychev (Italy)|
|DSQ||Nils Eekhoff (Netherlands)|
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