Monday, March 4, 2024

World Road Championships – Mads Pederson surprises to win the Elite Mens’ Road Race

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Denmark’s Mads Pederson drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished.

He has out-sprinted one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy – the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day.

Mads Pederson
Mads Pederson in the media scrum. Photo©Ed Hood
Mads Pederson
Mads Pederson takes an unexpected win at the World Road championships. Photo©Martin Williamson
Mads Pederson
Silver medallist Matteo Trentin (r) concentrates on a tricky descent on the 2nd lap of the finishing circuit. Photo©Martin Williamson

In third spot was the tall, handsome young man who forced the break, former World Pursuit Champion and Swiss Time Trial Champion Stefan Küng.

Mads Pederson
Stefan Küng. Photo©Martin Williamson

In fourth spot was Trentin’s Italia team mate, Gianni Moscon who was in the Küng break but cracked.

Mads Pederson
Gianni Moscon leads the break on the 7th lap. Photo©Martin Williamson

But the man who cracked in most spectacular style was the man who many felt was world champion in waiting with a lap to go – even the Belgians in the bar I had to take shelter in – Mathieu Van Der Poel.

The young talent reckoned he’d eaten enough but hadn’t bargained on the cold which ate into everyone as they hammered around the sodden streets of Harrogate.

Mads Pederson
The break on lap seven of nine. Photo©Martin Williamson

It’s arguable that it was VDP who won the medals for Messrs. Pedersen, Trentin and Küng with his power house spells dragging them clear, out of the clutches of the Belgian and French teams.

I can’t actually remember the last time the Worlds was won with a move which went clear before the last lap.

But on this day it was a ‘Paris-Roubaix-esque’ situation where the chasers are just as damn wasted as those in the break.

Mads Pederson
Mathieu Van Der Poel drives the break. Photo©Martin Williamson

Fifth place went to the irrepressible Peter Sagan who, by his own admission got it wrong, thinking the race would come together on the last lap for a sprint; like it usually does – but not today.

His late chase to bridge to the banditos up front came, well, just too late.

Mads Pederson
Peter Sagan tried in vain to get across to the break. Photo©Martin Williamson

It was another Dane who took sixth, Michael Valgren – reminding us of his talent and the strength of the men in red and white.

Wet and cold, from start to finish today. Photo©Martin Williamson

We reckoned before the race that ‘an old warhorse’ like Degenkolb or Kristoff may well flourish on such a long, tough parcours – never mind the horror weather endured on the day.

Kristoff took seventh and the German 15th.

Mads Pederson
Alexander Kristoff. Photo©Martin Williamson

* * *

Leeds, 07:30 am and the best bike riders on the planet are here among the old sandstone Victorians and ultra-modern glass buildings under a sky just waiting to deliver.

One of two impressive carved and gilded clocks by Potts & Sons projecting on brackets from each side of the Civic Hall. Photo©Martin Williamson
Mads Pederson
John Degenkolb shares a joke with (trade) teammate, Frenchman Julien Bernard. Photo©Martin Williamson
Riders signed a car bonnet, to be auctioned later. Photo©Martin Williamson

The crowd recognises some of the stars; but Spanish fans apart there’s little of the Vuelta-esque pagan idolatory for the man who will remain world champion until the 09:00 am roll out, Alejandro Valverde.

But today was not for a ‘man of the south’ – there was no sunshine to warm the bones on this day and it was appropriate that we had a Norse winner.

Mads Pederson
Alejandro Valverde. Photo©Ed Hood