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Gallery: A Mads week of racing at the Yorkshire World Championships

30 Sep 2019

Words: Joe Robinson Photography: Chris Auld

What a week, Yorkshire, what a week. The rain came, and devastation reigned as favourites Mathieu van der Poel, Lizzie Deignan, Tom Pidcock and Anna van der Breggen saw their chances dripping down the drain. 

It was instead a week for the likes of Mads Pedersen, Rohan Dennis, young Americans and Annemiek van Vleuten, cheered on by an army of fans lining the streets, determined no matter how bad the weather got.

It all started as we all expected. On a wet Sunday in Harrogate, a time trial won by the Dutch, this time the inaugural Mixed Relay Team Time Trial.

Three men, three women, those draped in orange were just too fast for the rest. Great Britain managed a brave third as Elisa Longo Borghini's mechanical broke Italian hearts.

Untimely mechanicals and riding off-course were not enough to stop Italy's Antonio Tiberi and Russia's Aigul Gareeva being crowned the respective men's and women's Junior Time Trial champions. Both oversaw adversity and misfortune to take their titles. 

Adversity was again the name of the game for the under-23 men as they tackled a waterlogged time trial from Ripon to Harrogate.

Hungary's Atilla Valter and Denmark's Johan Price-Pejtersen went viral as they caused a huge splash with their crashes on course but it was twice-defending champion Mikkel Berg who powered to an unprecedented third title.

For the elite women in the afternoon, the weather had improved although the atmosphere was suitably moody for the changing of the guard that took place.

At just 22-years-old, Chloe Dygert-Owen of the USA proved a world apart from the field, eventually beating Van Vleuten by 92 seconds. The Dutchwoman, however, would get her revenge.

There was no changing of the guard in the final time trial of the week as Rohan Dennis proved not racing for 10 weeks means little in the test against the clock.

He defended his rainbow title despite the controversy surrounding his clothing, bike and the fact - which nobody knew - that he was riding without a team for 2020.

Cheers of 'USA, USA' echoed around Harrogate and understandably so. It turns out they produce handy junior racers across the pond with both Quinn Simmons and Megan Jastrab winning the men's and women's events with ease.

Cheers, unfortunately, quickly turned to jeers as it seems any event the UCI is involved in cannot fail to contain a certain amount of controversy.

This time it was the decision to disqualify Nils Eekhoff of the Netherlands for drafting a team car during the Under-23 men's road race. The decision came after he had crossed the line with his arms aloft in the air.

The scenes of Eekhoff realising he was no longer champion were harrowing. Sure, what he did was against the rules of cycling and the disqualification, by the letter of the law, was justified.

But the fact that almost every professional bike rider has come down on the side of Eekhoff is telling.

Also, spare a thought for Samuele Battistella of Italy who replaced Eekhoff as champion as you have to think history may forget him.

A rare moment of sunshine shone down onto the elite women's road race. Deignan was afforded her moment in the sun, leading the race as it headed through her home town of Otley.

It was her only moment of glory on home roads, however, as the excitement got all too much for Deignan. She chased down any and every move, eventually blowing up as the race entered Harrogate. A valiant attempt by the home rider.

Somebody who did not let the excitement of the day get to her was Van Vleuten. Even when she found herself all alone with 105km to go, she contained herself, riding at a level she knew she could hold until the finish line.

It was a level that saw Van Vleuten finish two minutes ahead of her nearest rival and compatriot Anna van der Breggen in a performance that is rightly being heralded as one of the greatest of all time.

So then came the blue ribbon event, the men's elite road race. At 285km with over 3,5000m of climbing, it was always going to be brutal. Nobody expected what eventually happened.

Overnight rain saw the course shortened by 20km with Buttertubs and Gritton Moor taken from proceedings. This should have made life easier but that was not to be.

If anything, life was made harder as the rain lashed down on the peloton for the entire day. The favourites wilted as it was time for a new hero to arise.

All around us were unfamiliar faces as underdog Pedersen eventually took home rainbow. It should have been Trentin's to lose. With 10km to go, with 5km to go, with 200m to go, it was still Trentin's. 

But 280km in the pouring rain and freezing weather do strange things to a cyclist (just ask Van der Poel), and it was the 23-year-old Dane who reigned supreme.

Below are our favourite images from photographer Chris Auld that tell the story of the Yorkshire World Championships better than any words can. Enjoy!