The Moment The World Championships Were Won

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A hard day, possibly the hardest of the year, and a race and a result shaped by the weather. In the final moments Mads Pedersen was the strongest.

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It wasn’t just rain, it was a weather alert with local flooding and the course had to be changed on the morning of the race with less of the Dales and more of the finishing circuit: 20km less and reduced climbing. It caused havoc with the TV coverage although a fuelling issue with a helicopter compounded this. Above all it soaked riders to the bone, it stole body heat, it burned calories, it frayed nerves on a tricky circuit. It was a day when for ducks to seek shelter, let alone for humans to race 260km.

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The peloton looked jumbled with plenty of anything-goes wardrobe choices as riders donned a mix of national team clothing and where they didn’t have the right options, items borrowed from their pro teams and personal stash. The race had a lively start with Dan Martin attacking and then grand tour riders Primož Roglič, Nairo Quintana and Richard Carapaz in the breakaway. This wasn’t the usual long range raid of riders looking to make a name for themselves, perhaps it was just a way to keep warm.

France and Belgium lead the chase but it was all rather obvious on their part, they were using up riders. France’s new coach is Thomas Voeckler and the once-wily racer wasn’t deploying any complicated tactics here. The Belgians came undone when Philippe Gilbert was caught in a crash and Remco Evenepoel tried to encourage him but they were done.

Lawson Craddock attacked with just under 60km to go and was joined by Stefan Küng. The American didn’t last long, but Küng was soon joined by Mads Pedersen, Gianni Moscon and Mike Teunissen. It was an obvious test move, in Pedersen’s own words the plan was to attack so his compatriots Michael Valgren and Jacob Fuglsang could sit tight. Moscon and Teunissen were playing similar roles for their respective leaders Matteo Trentin and Mathieu van der Poel. Still Moscon’s presence upped the tension, the pantomime villain who threatened to win.

With 35km to go the French “shook they coconut tree” as they say only for Nils Politt to attack, draw a couple of riders clear and reduce the lead quartet to a slender lead, it looked like it was over for them. More so when Mike Teunissen cracked and this seemed to give Dutch teammate van der Poel the green light to make his move with 33km to go. He launched and only Trentin could follow as Julian Alaphilippe turned his head around to look for help in chasing that never came.

Van der Poel and Trentin got across to Küng, Moscon and Pedersen to form a strong quintet, all sharing the work and the kind of big engines that were too much to pull back. Behind the Belgians led the chase but Dylan Teuns and and Tim Wellens are attacking riders for hilly courses and now tasked with chasing stalwarts of any time time trial and the gap duly grew.

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Van der Poel looked the most able by virtue of his attack, it was his jump that distanced everyone else but with 10km to go suddenly he was looking down at his bike as if there was a problem with the front mech but this was no mechanical. He cracked and it was so sudden, as if the Man With The Hammer had landed a direct blow. It was an implosion rather than the fade we saw with Peter Sagan in the final kilometres to Roubaix.

Suddenly Matteo Trentin looked to be in the box seat and certainly the fastest on paper. Only that paper wasn’t just damp, the ink had run and it was reverting to a mushy pulp. On the last long climb of the circuit Küng didn’t quite attack but put in a big grind which dropped Gianni Moscon and for a moment Pedersen was losing ground too but the Dane clawed his way back.

It left three riders assured of a medal. Between Pedersen, Küng and Trentin normally you’d bet the ranch on Trentin but minutes ago you thought this was van der Poel’s race. This was no normal sprint on a normal day. Indeed this wasn’t really a sprint, more a test of reserves after enduring a cold shower for over six hours. Trentin launched late and quiclly looked to have the jump with his first few pedal strokes but then couldn’t keep going and Pedersen closed in and passed him. The Italian slumped back down in the saddle and the Dane won by a clear margin.

The Verdict
A lively end to a good series of road races in Yorkshire. The weather shaped everything and if Mads Pedersen wasn’t the obvious winner – the very last of yesterday’s one chainring picks as a rider capable of lasting right to the end of tough races, like when he made the podium in the Tour of Flanders last year – he was the strongest rider left at the finish. He could sprint when van der Poel had cracked and Trentin was frozen and all the rest were out of the picture and so he feels like a satisfying winner rather than fluke.

The next time many riders don a national jersey it’ll be in the suburbs of Tokyo for the Olympics and with a strong chance of stifling heat and humidity, the likes few in the peloton have experienced. Pedersen won’t be there but he’s got plenty to look forward to instead, just 23 and now world champion, a step up from the silver medal in the junior worlds of Florence in 2013 when only a certain Mathieu van der Poel beat him.

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125 thoughts on “The Moment The World Championships Were Won”

  1. Well picked (Mads with one chain ring). He’s done some powerful performances and has the form to do a good ride. Though until MVDP cracked it looked like it was his to lose.

    Sagan was massively disappointed not to have competed for the finale and said he missed the move because he thought the chasers would be brought back. He obviously hadn’t been watching the races in the early part of the week as bunch sprints were on the cards.

    The WC coughs up ‘strange’ winners like this because the national teams just don’t control the race in the same way. In fact it always seems as if the ‘favourites’ struggle because the onus is on one or two teams to chase everything down, but with limited staff to do so. Much more collusion needs to take place between teams if they’re going to drag strong breakaways back.

    Disappointed that team GB were so dismal. Teo Ghegan-Hart needs to work on his interview technique. I know it’s tough out there but when the man with the microphone asks you what the crowds were like just say ‘the support was awesome, they really help keep you going’. The poor buggers have been stood in the rain for hours on end and should be recognised even if you could only feel misery made real in the form of sodden shoes and damp bib shorts.

    • Trentin fired then misfired. He started his sprint early but with 150m or more still to go he found he couldn’t sustain it. Despite appearances earlier, Pedersen still had enough zip to go past him.

      Go easy on Tao, I think his brain had switched to self-preservation mode. There was no spark, no eye contact, he was probably too drained to think straight. The interviewer should have left him be. Swifty was disappointed not to perform better on home turf but he couldn’t really find anything to say either. I’m all for riders slugging it out in bad weather but 6½ hours riding in the rain, splashing through lakes and rivers in those temperatures is not the way to get an exciting race.

      • Several riders gave almost incoherent interviews in different languages, they were tired and very cold, the most lucid was France’s Cosnefroy who, while shivering, said something along the lines of “I’m not going to say anything lucid, I’m hypothermic and hypoglaecaemic, this isn’t going to be a good interview”. TGH is normally very eloquant and polished in front of a mic, so he too must have been iced.

        • That was plain to see, but they asked Ben Swift the same question and he made comment on the fact that the crowd support was great albeit that he had trailed the main peloton after cracking and so perhaps was a bit more aware. My point is that you just say it even if you don’t mean it. He’s young. He’ll learn. I’m not attacking him, just saying that it’s a bread and butter answer that doesn’t require much thought. I mean when I get off the bike after a hard ride I struggle to be sensible so God only knows what it’s like to try to give a coherent comment, let alone be eloquent and insightful. I note that Mads didn’t really give much insight into his thoughts on the sprint, when he must have been worried about Trentin sitting on his wheel.

          • “My point is that you just say it even if you don’t mean it” – Why on earth? If a rider’s spent 6.5 hours soaked to the bone, freezing, grinding away to stay in contention, so that by the time they cross the finish line they are so deep in the hole that the home crowd means nothing, why wouldn’t you want to hear the unvarnished truth of that? People regularly complain about media trained automatons burping out the same old cliches after races, and here you are positively requesting more of that! Geoghegan-Hart doesn’t owe the crowd some patronising false acknowledgement because they made the effort to come out and watch him suffer. The truth is more respectful to them, and most would much prefer it I suspect.

          • Because you should be grateful if people have come out to see you. Even if in the moment you don’t feel it. You know what the right answer should be. I mean I doubt that the journalist had waited 6 hours to find out the answer to that question, but it’s a soft question to help loosen the interviewee up a little. Help them with answering questions after a tough race. It’s a ‘gimme me’ of a question!
            If you think it would be right for him to disrespect the fans that had waited for him in the rain then that’s your opinion. Maybe he should have declined an interview. Sounds like you dislike them making stock answers, but immediately after a race you’re not at your most eloquent.
            If Tao doesn’t appreciate the fans then he’s probably misunderstood a large model for sport. Cycling certainly doesn’t live by road side audiences, but it certainly wouldn’t be the same without them. As someone else has said he did eventually thank the fans, but someone needs to pull him aside and have a small word about responding to filler questions – they’re not the taxing ones.

          • I was incoherent after the race and I was wrapped head to foot in gortex and fueled by a generous supply of sausage rolls and hot tea…it was horrendous out there. The scenes at the finish line were like some apocalyptic festival, mud and shivering souls everywhere. Many people thought trentin had won due to overloaded network and confusing commentary. It was carnage but a memorable experience that’s for sure! Riders will have dug deep into their reserves so will be interesting to see how they perform in the autumn classics.

          • On Sunday I arrived in Harrogate just in time to see Valverde riding back to the team bus, and once I’d got over the ‘was that really him’ moment, my first thought was ‘Lombardy’. Wasn’t a day to ride all the way to the line if you’ve got anything else to aim for this season

          • Are you interested in the sport or are you interested in studied answers of riders to stupid questions after 6 hours of racing? “How do you feel??”
            Oh, the poor souls who stood in the rain for 6 hours, and nobody praises them. What about the people who RODE these 6 hours in the rain?

      • “Go easy on Tao, I think his brain had switched to self-preservation mode. There was no spark, no eye contact”

        Sounds like a normal TGH interview then…

    • All the interviews were all over place, in fact i didn’t think it was fair to even stop them as as you could see some of them visibly shaking and they needed a warm shower and change of clothes.

      It was incredibly tough out there, it is similar to when they interview a boxer just after he has been knocked out – it is not going to be coherent

      • That was my thought – I know cycling is essentially a business of entertainment and the press need quotes etc. But it seemed pretty cold-hearted to stop any riders for interviews immediately after the race. Let them shower, warm up and get some dry clothes on first and then interview them an hour later…
        Pederson looked utterly freezing up on the podium too – he seemed happy to be awarded the jersey not because it was the rainbow stripes, but because it was an extra layer!!

  2. Look at the photos from the race: Everyone is in rainjackets, gabbas, wind wests etc. Except the winner who rode in long sleeves and nothing else. Today it paid to be tolerant to grim weather. What a great win!
    Rainbow curse or not? Personally I can see him win classics next year, he gets better as the race gets longer and he obviously thrives in bad weather plus the added confidence from this win. What a rider

        • I was there and can confirm that the rain did ease/become more patchy towards the end of the race – and may well have varied around the loop. Saying that, I didn’t take my coat off until we were leaving but did at least dispense with the hood. I’ve not seen any photos that paint an inaccurate picture of the day, and looking back at mine I see riders in a variety of levels of clothing – just as I would on many a club ride round Yorkshire.

          We did jokingly say at one point that the winner may be the last rider prepared to stay out on a bike

      • You’re probably right the weather did not play into deciding this race.

        I still Come here to read quality articles, but thanks for reminding me why i don’t post in the talkback anymore

    • just out of interest what did this bring to the race that deserves a yes?

      I’m not arguing, I’m all for revisions to cycling to make it a better sport I’m just curious why the elation as I can’t see what benefit was had here?

      I actually thought the race was poor and would have preferred a far shorter more explosive affair, the women’s races when on the same weekend’s as the mens often seem better and I appreciate the difference in levels of money/ability to focus on the sport fill time etc mean the variety in levels is more apparent in the women’s peloton, but I’m still edging toward thinking shorter races are better for everyone, including the riders who I really don’t see the point of forcing to suffer as they did today.

      • Should say was gutted to see Trentin lose out but also very happy for Pedersen to win and confirm the talent of last years Flanders after an indifferent season.

        I realise my arguments above might be doing riders like him out of opportunities, but I’m in it for the spectacle not watching men suffer pointlessly for hours on end.

      • It brought us that nice moment inside 10k to go when the Italian team car raced up to the break to scream at Trentin for wasting energy and put Moscon on the front.

      • In this particular race, I thought it was poorer for not having radios. I think the chase group weren’t aware how far in front the lead group were and we’re therefore content to wait to attack (those who could still attack). Radios would have told the riders about the gap and this may have encouraged a more aggressive race earlier. Alternatively everyone was knackered and gave everything. With the possible exception of Sagan and (understandably) Valgren who both looked impressively fresh.

        • There was a time gap moto on the course, but the only time I saw it in the men’s race was on the opposite point on the circuit to where the main race would have been at the time. Not sure what that was all about.

    • To those who argue for reduced teams, no race radios and the fog of war, this is what you get – a lottery where any good rider can have his day in the sun, no irony intended.
      Pedersen lasted well, raced well, and got a deserved win. No question of that.
      But the World Champion?
      Very odd. I don’t like how cycling can throw up misnomers like this.
      That’s not to be disrespectful to the Dane but he needs to have a big season next year to justify the rainbow bands.

      • I agree with this – feel like the way you’ve phrased it might make it sound like you’re not up for the surprises and the random nature of a lot of cycle races, but I get what you’re saying and do agree – not sure whether reduced teams/radios play into this exactly – overall though I’m with you.

        Although think Pedersen might be little better than we realise right now…

        • So a shorter race to ensure a bunch finish that Sagan wins so everyone can have a hard on for him next year? The worlds has always been long and cycling has always been hard. You can’t compare men’s and women’s cycling because women’s is essentially amateur with one professional country who win everything at a canter (the Dutch). The worlds is regularly the best race of the year, it definitely isn’t broken so let’s not suggest a load of half arsed fixes to ensures a famous winner to keep social media happy.

      • I certainly don’t want to start a discussion about the pros and cons of race radios, but I’d argue that Pedersen surely is no accidental winner. He has proven to being the strongest out there. At least of those who tried.
        And anyone who did not go with the move of Trentin and MvdP has to have a close look at himself in the mirror tomorrow and asked himself: Did I really have the legs to go with those guys?

        Sagan’s TV attack was telling. Did he only realize it was party time when he he heard the lap bell? If you really want to win a race then at least show some intent and contribute. He won two WCs by sucking wheels all day. Did he really think it’ll happen a third time? That’s at least how I understand his interview answer.

        And everyone else was just spent. They said so and you could also see it in their attempts to sprint.

        We have a most worthy winner. Not accidentally someone who says he’ll remain living and training in the rain and cold in Denmark as those are the conditions he’ll also face in the races he loves the most.

        • No argument that Pedersen was the worthy winner.
          But I’m watching the athletics World Championships and contrasting the gravitas of its winners with the cycling today.
          It’s like the athletics changes the 4 x 400m relay to 3 x 440m on a cinder track – you get a worthy winner but it may not be the one you’re expecting?

        • Thank you and well said. On a brutal day Mads crossed the finish line first. That is the only justification he needs to wear the rainbow stripes.

      • But isn’t that exactly the beauty of cycling and one day racing? Wouldn’t it be boring if the favourite always won? In a GT the favourites generally rise to the top and that’s fair but in one day racing the unpredictability is absolute part of the appeal, no?

        • Yes. And also it’s not like Pedersen is Matt Hayman when he won Roubaix. He’s 23, he’s already finished 2nd at Flanders. He could win classics for the next 10 years and this will look like a normal part of his palmares.

      • Fine, I’ll take it vs a formulaic procession until the last few kilometers. Despite the lack of radio one team executed their orders perfectly on the day, losing only because their leader lacked that little extra at the end.
        Finally, the rainbow jersey winner needs to do nothing to “justify” his jersey – it was put on his shoulders purely for his performance on the day the jersey was on offer – Sunday, September 29, 2019.

        • Which *one* team executed orders perfectly?

          The Netherlands? Rider in early break, protected rider in late break who lacked that little extra at the end.

          Switzerland? Rider in early break, rider in late break, rider in chase group, lacked that little extra at the end and finished on podium.

          Italy? Two riders in late break including protected rider who lacked that little extra at the end and finished on podium.

          Denmark? Rider in early break, protected riders in chase group, rider in late break who had that little extra at the end and finished on top of podium.

          Obviously Denmark didn’t execute orders.

      • I looked back over the past winners, 10 years in fact and I find no “misnomers” as you mention. Long and tough it was, as it should be because it’s a hard sport for hard men. Mads Pedersen was not on every pundits possible winners list but on the day, in those conditions under the WC rules, he was the best and is the World Champion.

        • Just to defend Ecky Thump there:
          I don’t think he was saying Mads P is undeserving, I think in the cold light of day he would admit that his phrasing was just slightly off on that point and any dismissiveness in the direction of Mads was just a reaction to a poor race – Ecky is aware as everyone who reads this blog is that he’s likely to be a talent we see a lot of in the coming years, similar to Kwiato when he won.

          I think both of us are just saying the race was poor – and whilst all sports can be boring, and I watch a lot of cycling reveling in the slow build – this race felt boring for reasons that it didn’t need to be as the course was good, the current riders are great, and the weather always throws up surprises. So it should have been good, but instead we ended up with 50 riders too tired to do anything because they’d been forced to ride themselves into the ground beyond the point that’s entertaining for spectators.

          Just to defend myself:
          I think the idea of watching a procession till the end is almost exactly what I’m arguing against, as that’s almost what we had till then final 45 mins yesterday and have had with two of the three Sagan wins. It is also rarely what you have with shorter races as dramatically more riders think they have a chance. I think I acknowledged men’s and women’s cycling has a difference in levels of due to funding but that does not mean you can’t draw any lessons from women’s cycling being consistently more entertaining in the last few years. I honestly believe all sports need to be open to change and development and despite cycling being by far my favourite sport, I feel it, almost more than any other major sport, needs to find a way to give fans a better overall package.

          Yesterday’s race just felt like a great example of why, as there was no need for it to be as poor as it was as the rest of weeks races proved.

          • “the course was good, the current riders are great, and the weather always throws up surprises. So it should have been good, but instead we ended up with 50 riders too tired to do anything because they’d been forced to ride themselves into the ground beyond the point that’s entertaining for spectators.”

            So it was the weather’s fault because it was wet and cold. You can’t really legislate for that and you’ll just have to accept that as a fan your Sunday afternoon wasn’t as exciting as it might have been had in been sunny and 20 degrees. It doesn’t mean the whole sport needs an overhaul.

          • Sorry you’ve misunderstood – I’m saying the weather was part of the recipe what for what should have been a better race – bad weather is great for surprises usually.

            I’m perfectly happy to accept when races don’t fire as mentioned above, and happily watch hours of build-up to not much in cycling. My issue here is it could have been better, and probably should have been as there were a lot of things in its favour. I just feel like overall cycling can be better and the reason for a bug bear here is yesterday felt like a good example of cycling shooting itself in the foot when it could have been attracting new fans.

          • I don’t understand anything oldDave is advocating for. Riders get ground to extenuation, and the best, those able to dig deepest, beyond anything they’ve been able to train for, survive. That’s cycling.

          • Agh okay. Well I’ll take that. Fair enough. I just think it could and should have been better. I’m not saying that from the perspective of a newbie to cycling, nor someone who craves WWE/UFC like entertainment – I watch a slightly stupid amount of excitement and find there are certain races, or types of races that are too regularly poor and I think it’s too easy to say ‘that’s just cycling’, I feel as fans it’s fair to demand more when we know how good cycling can be.

          • “we ended up with 50 riders too tired to do anything because they’d been forced to ride themselves into the ground beyond the point that’s entertaining for spectators”.

            Oddly enough, this spectator isn’t complaining about the entertainment value of the day, nor I think will most of the others who were out watching. Around me, some people did come and go, although that had as much to do with the need to go and warm up as lack of entertainment. Besides, leaving the course gave a chance to bump into riders heading back to the buses – my favorite photo of the day was of the back of a departing Quintana.

            Regarding the racing, I don’t understand what anyone is complaining about, except perhaps that it wasn’t the biggest names in the race with a chance of a win at the end. Part of the reason for a long race like this is to be attritional, to leave just the strongest riders at the end. Except for Gilbert, I’m not aware of any big names who had their race ended by crash or mechanical. The make up of the lead group changed from lap to lap and the eventual winner wasn’t the rider I expected, even when Trentin opened up the sprint. Others had the chance to be there but either missed or were no longer strong enough to make the right move

            Just the opposite of the women’s race the previous day where the winning move was made at just over 100km to go, where each time van Vleuten passed us she looked completely comfortable on the bike and yet the only spectators I saw leaving before the final pass were Lizzie Deignan’s grandparents.

            Different, but all entertaining

          • Zephyrus I think you hit the nail on the head. So often the anticipation is that this rider or that rider will blow the competition away. The keg is full of powder and the fuse is just waiting to be lit – but sometimes the fuse on your barrel is damp, or powder leads to another barrel, so you’re disappointed when the fireworks don’t go off like you wanted.
            Had MVDP jumped and not faded, most people would have been whooping and hollering about his excellent ride, and what a truly great young prospect he is (while studiously avoiding any comparison to Merckx), and how he read the race perfectly. I suppose because he faded away, and none of the other big names (Alaphilippe being the most notable) were anonymous it didn’t feel like a triumphant win, more like exploiting a rare opportunity.
            Also, it wasn’t like riders were being blown out the back of some steam rollering peloton, with incredible attacks whittling away competitors. Conditions just seemed to steal the combativeness from the day, and the limped off the back. GT’s disappearance from the race was noted but not seen.
            If Trentin had won I think there would still be this sense of deflation among some fans.
            It’s unfair because Pedersen rode a great race. He won the sprint like a champ.

      • No. This is not what you get because of lack of radio. You can be sure every team has staff around the course yelling info and instructions. This also was not a lottery. It was an extremely hard race of attrition that favoured slightly different riders than you would normally see.

        If the spring classics are in typical spring weather, we’ll surely see Pedersen on the front. His 2nd place in RVV 2018 already showed he can be up there.

        • Yes, I’m not convinced that a lack of radios had any effect on this race whatsoever. The teams that missed the move – Belgium, France, Australia etc – knew exactly what the situation was, what the time gaps were. There was no chaotic confusion caused by a lack of communication. They knew exactly what they needed to do, but the race was so tough & attritional, that they simply couldn’t do it!

      • What you described is the essence of the World Championships. One day for all the marbles. At least with Pedersen we have have a Champion who spends the whole season on the road. Would the cycling world be happy if van see Poel won and places the jersey in this closet for the year. Maybe taking it out for a few days in the spring? I think this further underscores the generational shift and an exciting group of young riders who given a chance are winning big races. Honoring the rainbow jersey is always a difficult task, many great riders have failed for one reason or another. Hopefully, he continues to grow without the burden of the jersey creating unrealistic expectations.

        • We’ll see how Pedersen gets on next season, and whether he assumes a greater role than Classics domestique to Degenkolb and Stuyven.
          But I do feel the contrast with the athletics World Championship is telling; their winners are invariably the best of the best and a title is a confirmation of an athlete’s form over the year.
          Pedersen has done relatively little of note in a Trek Segafredo team whose Spring Classics campaign was a disappointment.
          His place at the front of the race was, by his own admission, as tactical support to Fugelsang.
          And if you wish to criticise Sagan, consider also the strength of his 4 man team compared to the Danish 8.
          It’s not even a race of equal chance.
          Cycling already has huge unknown variables in the weather and it’s terrible record of crashes.
          To further cloud the situation with extra race length, no radios and uneven team sizes can make it even more of a lottery.

          • “But I do feel the contrast with the athletics World Championship is telling; their winners are invariably the best of the best and a title is a confirmation of an athlete’s form over the year.”
            I feel like the dominance and confirmation of a winner, especially in a day and age where doping is still beating the testers is more a confirmation of a regime which allows the competitor to get away with it (Denifl was only popped because of an investigation not a blood test). When you consider that Jamaica did no out of competition doping before the last olympics and the way their sprinters cleaned up on the track there’s a strong correlation. So I’m stoked that three unfancied riders competed their hearts out in Harrogate. I feel like the IAAF deserve their empty stadiums as a sign of how corrupt it’s become. So please do not hold it out to me as a shining example of competition.

          • The tactics of cycling and the huge variance of skillsets make it impossible for a single race to determine who the single best cyclist of the year is. Egan Bernal and Thibaut Pinot likely would have had no chance to win today. Mads Pedersen is never going to win the Tour de France. Many sprinters didn’t even enter last year’s Worlds because the course was set up as more of a “GC Worlds”. The one Cavendish won was very blatantly set up as a “Sprinters Worlds”.

            Somehow the UCI Worlds remain a well respected event. It’s impossible to compare the varied skillsets of cycling with the enormously specialized skills that athletes excel in. There are a hundred ways to be a “good cyclist”, and just one way to be a good javelin athlete.

  3. Thanks for the write-up, it was a great race to watch (but looked utterly miserable to ride), at least once things started to liven up in the last 60km. Gutted for Gilbert, hard not to think that was his last shot at a second jersey, but I’d be delighted to be proved wrong!

    One minor typo: “satisfyig”

    Curious why you say Pedersen won’t be there in Tokyo — have Denmark failed to qualify any spaces, or are you saying the course doesn’t suit him well enough to even try and take the start?

  4. Have to say I’m pleased for the young Dane – the pedigree is there if not the stacked palmares (yet) and it takes a lot to qualify in the wunderkind category in 2019. Look forward to seeing him at the pointy end in the cobbled classics next year.

    • If only to see him sprint again!

      I want to know if he a) has a handy sprint (GVA style) b) has a decent sprint after a long hard day c) pulled out the only good sprint he’ll ever do at the moment it mattered the most!

      • Michael Valgren said that he’s a fast sprinter, which suggests a).
        But I too very much hope we’ll see him unleash it numerous times over the next few years!

  5. It took a hard man to even finish that course today and Pedersen is obviously a tough cookie. I think he’ll be one of those world champions that doesn’t win much in the stripes but by the end of his career he’ll probably have a very handy palmares.
    I hope today gave people of sunnier climbs an indication of what it’s like to be a cyclist in the north of England! I often watch cycling on TV (skiing has the same effect) and feel quite bitter about the unbroken blue sky and windless conditions on screen (like at the worlds last year)!

    • So you live there? My condolences 😉 No, just kidding. Riding in the rain is much nicer than riding on snowy, icey roads.

      But I’d like to know what’s wrong with the water management / drainage on those roads in Yorkshire? I mean it rained for hours during the night and the day but I didn’t see any really hard rain that would have let to floodings like those we saw on TV in other countries in the EU where it regularly rains. Even if it has already rained for days I can always ride my road bike in the flats or in the mountains and still wouldn’t have to deal with any dangerous puddles like those that you ostensibly can encounter right after the next corner.

      • Those country lanes are more or less ditchless, and when the fields around them are completely sogged that’s what you get. It’s Land Rover terrain up there.

      • I don’t know what it’s been like in the rest of Europe but we have had very high levels of rainfall in the last week or so which were a result of the hurricane in the Caribbean/US. The weather was unusual.

        I can’t pretend to know what the weather was like up in Harrogate in particular. Rain does not show up very well with the way the cameras, but most spectators had their umbrellas up all day which suggests it was raining all day.

        Drains which are already full do not drain well.

        • The average September rainfall for Leeds is 45mm. The total for September this year is over 100mm. That doesn’t sound too bad. However, the first half of the month was very dry. The end of the dry period was the second day of the World Champinships. So the actual rainfall in the last week has probably been 6-8 times the regular intensity waterlogging the hills. The waterfall which featured prominently in the coverage of the climb up to Cray yesterday is in a limestone area, and is normally dry!

        • Yes it was raining hard all the night before and all day in Yorkshire. In fact it started to rain consistently from just as the Elite Women’s race finished on Saturday. I watched from opposite the feed zone and some of the riders were so cold they could not get off their bikes to abandon without help – literally being carried away into their tents. LL Sanchez, Valverde, even Bob Jungels looked totally spent, soaked and miserable.

      • It’s a combination of the rain running straight off the steep, already waterlogged hillsides and the inadequate road drains being already full from the rain all week or blocked through lack of maintenance.

      • The leaves block the drains this time of year. Also the hills are short and steep so the roads are twisty, and there are many valley streams/rivers that quickly overflow. The Pennines are mostly treeless so there’s quick runoff that causes fast erosion, making investment not worthwhile. (Orographic rainfall can be locally intense on the tops, which immediately runs into the valleys.) Many locals have 4x4s and/or tractors that they buy or share with each other anyway.

      • First off, the weather was exceptional – it was the wettest day of the year, after a week of very heavy rains that had already left the ground saturated. Even so, the roads on the finishing circuit (main roads and city streets) were fine. The only “water management / drainage” problems were out in the country, and that’s not at all surprising – those are minor rural roads, which see very little traffic apart from farm vehicles and don’t have much money spent on them. (You could ride for several hours on those roads in the middle of summer and see no more than a handful of cars.) You also get a huge amount of run-off from the surrounding fields, and if you ride in Britain you quickly get used to seeing small rivers running down rural roads at this time of year. But it’s usually only the tiny country lanes that are problematic; the major roads in the same area were fine yesterday, despite the conditions.

        The bigger question is whether or not it was prudent to plan a Worlds course on such small roads so late in the year, when there was always a fair chance the weather would be poor. But personally I think there’s something to be said for holding a British Worlds on the same type of roads that British cyclists usually ride on. The riders had a very tough day yesterday, but most of us have ridden through worse.

    • Someone’s gotta be WAY into it to ride in those conditions regularly – really tough or crazy. I used to remark when I moved to Iowa, USA that had I been born there probably would have taken up something like wrestling instead of cycling!
      Growing up in Southern California made cycling so much more inviting, especially decades ago when there were far fewer motorists sitting behind the steering wheel and trying to do something else while driving.

      • Yorkshire is absolutely fantastic cycling country. The weather is not that severe often enough for anyone to ride in those conditions regularly, no matter how tough or crazy they are (and some are certainly both!). You have to wrap up in the winter, and in the summer it’s not always blue sky, it’s often windy and grey, but the roads and the scenery make it very inviting, even for the entirely rational, somewhat soft, cyclist!

        • Can echo that, Yorkshire is fantastic to live and cycle in although I would prefer more favourable weather!!

          The Dales is fantastic place to cycle with some challenging routes with beautiful scenery

  6. Pederson seemed like a deserving winner (as would have Kung and Trentin).

    It seems that the world championships are frequently super long and hard affairs. I totally like this in the spring classics, but I wonder if this doesn’t limit many deserving racers, that race, and train for shorter races much of the year. Furthermore, given the elements, it was just brutal, they really should have shortened the course much more given the rain and cold.

    As much as these are world-class athletes is it really healthy to race for that long?

    • I don’t see the race format as being a problem.

      This was proper road cycling – a contest against the course, the conditions and the opposition riders! The legends of the sport were made in the gladiatorial contests of the Classics (including the World Championship) and the great mountain stages of the grand tours, not in 140km sprint days of minor stage races. It’s only fitting that the greatest feats are repaid with the greatest prizes.

      For those riders who were defeated by the course/conditions (or were coping with the course/conditions but dropped by the opposition) there was the option every 14km to hop off at the team pits. It’s not like it was a grand tour mountain stage where they had to finish the stage inside the time limit to be able to start the next day.

      Riders who train for easier races don’t need a World Championship to be crafted to suit them as they have plenty of other races to pick from, and an advantage over the great tough riders in those shorter races. Look at all the potential wins that Annemiek van Vleuten gives up thanks to her focus on the Giro Rosa and the World Championship.

    • The current people involved in pro cycling LOVE to look back at the epic moments of cycling’s glory days “when men were men and shorts were wool” and racers pressed on despite some horrible conditions: rain, snow, mud, etc. They use those images to promote the current sport but too often they’re unwilling to suffer in those conditions themselves.
      Somehow the stars of the past managed to race for longer distances than these, despite not having 6.8 kg electronically shifted bicycles, a fully-equipped follow car and a massive staff to do everything for them except (maybe) wipe their b–t’s after a toilet visit. Everyone who lined up at the start pretty much knew that they were in-f0r..that’s why they cash the fat paychecks for racing on bicycles!

      • This is less to do with the men of the past being harder, and more to do with the sport itself changing. People used to race Paris-Brest-Paris as a competitive race. People also used to struggle to climb the Passo del Turchino, something which can’t even unhitch a sprinter these days.

      • What I think Larry is meaning is that pro cycling is still banking on the glory of past riders doing Paris-Brest or climbing a muddy unpaved Stelvio with tubulars across their shoulders, and that the “sport itself changing” is doing so in the wrong (lightened, epic-deprived) direction.

  7. For sure the weather was rough, but heavy rains in that region should not have come as a complete surprise to the organizers. So, then, why was there so much water pooling up throughout the course? Somebody must’ve forgotten to consider possible flooding and drainage contingencies for the roadway in the event of heavy rain showers. Glad for Mads, but not the racing I was hoping to see!

    • The level of rain has been unusual. It was the remains of the hurricane weather pattern that hit the US earlier this month. Some places have been hit with a months worth of rain in one day. You can’t legislate for that, just like the Caribbean and US could do little to prevent the destruction the hurricane caused. It’s nothing to do with the organisers and was totally unforeseeable. Yes, it rains in England, but not usually like this.

      If the WCs had happened two weeks earlier we were in a period of drought, and it had been unusually dry. It’s the problem you get with the climate change.

      • Good answer this. Obvs agree. Cycle race organisers can’t do much to reirigate hundreds of acres of farm land. And sometimes you just gotta take a chance to try and feature your best climbs and landscape. Shame they were dropped.

  8. Remember that glorious blue sky week in Bergen? All that customary Bergen rain ended up in Yorkshire on top of Yorkshire’s own.
    Hopefully the money side of things are as lofty as Bergen’s is abyssal.

    • The money side of everything sounds very interesting – I was genuinely surprised the championship wasn’t seen as a loss leader to host towns? A showcase basically… only just heard about Bergen’s money woes.

      If the champs are meant to be a way of driving revenue for a host during that week does this mean the UCI need a rethink? Northern euro towns hosting in late Sept seems like a bad idea, as does shutting down a town for a week? How can the do it so it earns the town back what it costs to put on? (Doesn’t the UCI charge £4m for it as a start?)
      Interested to know you views on this INRNG?

      • The UCI collects a hosting fee but the host town can make money on TV broadcasts, merchandising, and sometimes they have had ticket sales for VIP zones, the finish line etc, signing up sponsors, plus hotel bookings etc etc. But as we see there’s not a lot of towns queuing up to host the championships precisely because of the cost/benefit.

        • Very interesting – I feel so sorry for the UCI, the way cycling’s developed over the last century it seems they have been left with so little power whilst being across so many variants of the sport that they’re unable to do much aside from the very basic, and worse than that it seems as though putting down long-term developments for them as a body is tough as there’s so little revenue coming in anyway…

          If you think about with the UCI will be in twenty years, it kinda feels like exactly the same place as now?

          I wonder what could be done to aid the World Champs as a money making venture and the UCI as the central body to a growing and healthy sport?

          I’d love to be on a panel trying to figure that out!

  9. Van der Poel cracking the way he did was a big surprising moment, just listening to some comments by Francois Thomazeau where I got the impression (I might be wrong) that he felt that Van der Poel was arrogant and had a big ego as if he can do as he wishes if he wants to win in Merckx-esq way. Thought it was interesting as I know top level riders will obviously have these traits to a certain extent but François seemed to think this will probably be a good thing for him to sort of ground him a little bit.

  10. Sagan had to go with van see Poel. Simple. That was the move that shaped the final. I don’t think anyone watching the race thought they were coming back. Tactical error or he did not have the legs in that moment. Shame. He seemed lively in his final effort.

    • Most likely he assumed that the Belgians and French still had strength and would bring back a break that they had missed. Called it wrong. Sagan gets accused of wheelsucking in the Worlds but Slovakia is hardly one of the big teams which can really help him out with chasing down breaks too much.

      Final effort was most likely to secure as high a placing as possible- and possibly a medal if one of the break riders completely bonked on the final climbs or started trackstanding. Kristoff winning the consolation sprint was underrated – he was my favorite if the race ended with a reduced bunch.

  11. Wow, just wow. I ama lucky to live in Yorkshire* and yesterday, indeed the whole event, was ace.

    The conditions were awful. Not sure if outside of the Northern UK, Scandinavia and maybe some other places you appreciate the gnawing on your energy that trying to stay warm in such wet conditions can take. It saps, slowly, certainly and leaves you empty. Tea, not coffee and cafe stops to refuel.

    The best man won. A surprise, for sure, but not off the radar. Well done Mads. The World’s have to be long, a change I don’t wish to see is to make them short and explosive. The first 200k tested and many dropped away. The strong and lucky survived.

    I loved meeting Belgian’s and Basques on the train, Columbians and Finn’s,more Belgians and Dutch in the pub. Fantastic end the the season.

    *Never ask an Englishman where he is from. If he is from Yorkshire he will soon tell you and if not he will be just embarrassed (thanks to someone else).

    • Just wanted to apologise if any negativity above seemed directed at any one who attended’s enjoyment – this wasn’t intended and really interested to read experiences of those who were there, thank you for posting.

      I was really interested to read the comment of enjoying the mens race more than the womens as a spectator, on tv I had the converse experience, and not just because of the signal issues, but I was on the edge of my seat as the gap held at just under a minute from AVV to the Lizzie group, and right up until the end was interested to see where the medals went. The men’s on the other hand just felt like torture, with hours of nothing and as soon the break had 50seconds (having seen Alap couldn’t match VDP’s acceleration) I had the race as good as over with too many of the favourites unable to give much to the show. Even if the winner was a surprise, riders falling away through exhaustion to me is less interesting than being able to trade blows and show their talent.

      It was a great course though, and it’s great to hear of people’s enjoyment – overall the week was great and Yorkshire seems to be absolutely nailing it as the home of British cycling. As a UK cycling fan I think we owe them a great thank you for all the time and effort put in to make it happen.

      My gripes above are only directed as the format of a few mens races (and the UCI not the Yorkshire organisers) not being well thought through enough to deliver TV entertainment that warrants the time investment and is inviting for new fans. Milan San Remo is another of my bug bears.

        • This is a wind up right? 5 hours for 10mins max of entertainment? It’s rubbish… only the die hards can enjoy MSR, and my whole argument is too much of cycling is for the die hards, the sport needs to be more accessible.

    • Tim’s Yorkshire pride is touching and make no mistake the week of cycling was great (the bad weather made them all the better in my opinion).

      But he’s getting a bit carried away in his excitement. I’m an Englishman, born in London and definitely not embarrassed of that. I’d imagine you’d get the same response across the country too.

  12. Curious about those who said it was a poor race – high quality riders in breaks, the race fragmenting in the final 60 km, wild conditions everyone seems to wish for Roubaix, a long range move that worked, the bonking of van der Poel indicating the toughness of the race and the tactical suspense of smaller national teams trying to control a race. I enjoyed it (although less so early in the race after cycling to buttertubs to watch it there…).

    Does surprise me that the favourites rarely cooperate and form alliances to chase when moves are missed – Sagan, GVA, Alaphilippe, Kristoff etc didn’t seem to put their noses in the wind. From the comfort of the sofa, there was a point (10 km?) when it was obvious that the distance and smaller team meant the domestiques weren’t up to bringing the break back. Alternatively, perhaps everyone was already on the limit or too cold? Surely none of those guys cares about 7th?

    • I thought the race was tactically fascinating in the last two hours. Just the way that break got more and more dangerous until it reached a critical point and blew up was great tension. That’s cycling- you race in the rain in miserable conditions for two hours, and then you have a 20 second window on a climb to properly read the race, know that you *must* follow this attack, and hope you have the legs to do it. Alaphillipe didn’t do the former (apparently the French weren’t lying when they said he wasn’t the best for miserable conditions- remember him cracking late in a wet LBL versus Fugelsang this year), and Sagan didn’t do the latter. If it was that easy, more riders would have made it to the winning break.

  13. Don’t really see how this race was a lottery – perhaps one of the unlikelier people in the final break won, but sometimes you don’t have the legs and the other guy does. Trentin and Van der Poel, the two pre-race favorites bridged to the break, and once that happened it was the fault of anyone who didn’t see the danger in letting it go up the road. Only truly unlucky break was Gilbert, and that was down to a silly peloton crash which can occur in perfect conditions.

    At the end, Belgium misplayed their hand, France didn’t have strength when they needed it, and Sagan wagered wrong about the Belgians and French successfully chasing down a break. That kind of thing doesn’t need rain and cold to happen.

  14. Thanks for this review as always! I was on the course and great to watch it unfold. The riders looked absolutely sick of the weather.

    One question I hope you can explain. Why will Pederson not be riding the Olympics?


  15. On the women’s race: Anyone care to speculate why AvV raced on different rim heights?
    – A service replacement earlier on?
    -Better aerodynamics?
    -Stiffer laterally in the back?
    -In aticipation of having to time trial for a long time?

  16. Just a stupid question: with all the high tech clothing materials out there and the emphasis on marginal gains, why is any pro rider not wearing sufficiently warm, water-resistant clothing to battle the elements? They knew the course was shortened due to the downpours, so dress for it. Seems like this facet to race prep was missed.

    • My equally stupid and very tentative – if that is the word – answer: modern high tech clothing materials are indeed a marvel to all of us who can remember what we wore twenty years ago. They can indeed make a tremendous difference for a middle aged man in lycra and a certain amount of disposable income, but I don’t think we are there yet where you can dress to stay warm and comfortably dry when your priority is to avoid overheating and dehydration at all costs.
      In other words, what is fairly simple to achieve for a hobby cyclist on a six-hour ride in pouring rain and cold wind is something that is not a viable option for a pro riders in certain weather conditions. I don’t think everyone who for example DNFed on Sunday had somehow missed the forecast or failed to understand what it meant.
      Besides, the time factor is crucial. Two or even four hours is one thing – both for the rider and the gear – but six hours is quite another thing,

      • Regardless of how high tech the kit is when you’re riding in constant rain it is very difficult to keep completely dry on a bike in conditions like that especially when bike doesn’t have mudguards with water spraying up from wheels.

        Materials that are lightweight will do a job for so long to keep water out, but to try keep completely warm and dry would be at the cost of additional layers which would mean riders would overheat and basically use more energy – so comes at a cost

  17. Yup, but the other thing to remember is that this was national team kit, not trade team. There will be a number of nations (especially the smaller ones) who ordered jerseys, shorts and wind-jackets only. This is why we saw so many trade-team foul-weather items on riders, but some of them will not have thought to bring anything other than the bundle of federation kit they were sent?

    • Those who did not prepare their kit options properly will have learned a valuable lesson about professionalism, and learned it in a manner which should be sufficient to ensure the lesson won’t be quickly forgotten.

      • I repeat: it is fairly easy for Johnny Sunday-Rider to prepare a proper kit option for a two-hour hard (for him) effort or a six-hour long endurance ride. Johnny may be led to assume that a pro rider who suffered or retired because of the weather conditions on Sunday had failed to do his homework or did not have the experience and the knowhow Johnny has. There is a nice feel good factor about this explanation, if I may say so.
        I’m no pro rider myself – don’t look so surprised! – but I am fairly certain that there is a reason why they don’t dress properly for the conditions. And I have a suspicion that those who finished the race had not prepared a more proper kit, they just enjoyed the benefit of having a slightly different physiology from those who didn’t. (Of coutse there were some among the latter who had simply erred,)
        At the very least I think we have to admit we are merely speculating!

  18. I’m not going to make this really wordy, but to anyone who questions the merits of Pederson’s rainbow jersey – give me a break! You clearly don’t recognise how tough he is, or how strong he is, and that at the end of this race, clearly the strongest person won.

    That’s the beauty of our sport, there are so many variables that create different types of winners at different times. This is just the type of WC that we’ve missed for years – a truly hard race that only the best at inclement weather could survive and win!

    The man rode in shorts and skinsuit! Proves that he was made to conquer these conditions.

  19. Well said, CA 🙂
    I read a bunch of old grumpy men who’se own favorites wasn’t strong or good enough to play a part of the race. Sorry guys it was raining, sorry it was cold, sorry it was too long……….
    Mads Pedersen was the best in Sundays WC-race, he won….!!! It’s embarrasing to read the grumpy old mens excuses for this and that and …. grow up you bad loosers!!

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