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Weather conditions dominate as Mikkel Bjerg wins third U23 time trial World Championships

Heavy rain saw many riders crash as Bjerg makes history with triple defence of World title

Joe Robinson
24 Sep 2019

Severe rain dominated proceedings as Denmark's Mikkel Bjerg took a third consecutive under 23 men's time trial title at the World Championships.

Heavy rain across the 32km course from Ripon to Harrogate caused severe flooding along parts of the route, producing dangerous conditions and big crashes throughout the day.

Bjerg, however, proved impervious to the dramatic weather, powering to a time of 40 minutes 20 seconds to beat American dup Ian Garrison and Brandon McNulty to second and third respectively.

While Bjerg's record-breaking performance confirmed his place as one of the world's most talented time-trial riders, conversation around the race is likely to be dominated by the weather.

Bjerg's teammate Johan Price-Pejtersen crashed after riding through a deep, unmarshalled puddle while Hungary's Attila Valter also escaped nasty injury despite coming off in the slippery conditions.

With the weather expected to continue, the UCI is now considering whether to postpone the elite women's event later this afternoon that is scheduled to tackle the same course.

The day the rain came

Rather than the racing, the under 23 men's individual time trial ended up being more about the biblical conditions faced by the competitors.

The 32km test from Ripon to Harrogate would have been technical and tough enough yet persistent, heavy rain across the entire course added another dimension of difficulty with large parts of the road becoming flooded.

The first benchmark time was set by Denmark's Morten Hulgaard with a time of 41 minutes 16 seconds that proved good enough to ward off the efforts of riders such as Ireland and Team Wiggins rider Ben Healy and Mitchelton-Scott's recent signing, Barnabas Peak of Hungary. Hulgaard, however, was soon pushed down the pecking order by Garrison of the USA.

As more riders entered the course, questions were raised regarding safety. Parts of the road were severely flooded creating almost unrideable conditions.

So much so that Denmark's Price-Pejtersen crashed heavily after riding through a deep puddle that had been caused by an overflowing drain. The young rider was able to continue riding but the incident certainly raised eyebrows as to whether the event should be neutralised.

Norway's Johan Knotten was the next rider to experience trouble, dropping a chain after aquaplaning on a tight corner. He was followed by Valter of Hungary who was forced off his bike, again losing control in a puddle.

The weather clearly played a huge roll on proceedings with riders off the start ramp towards the end having to take extra care in the corners with some even reducing their speed to walking pace.

Eventually, defending champion Bjerg's power was enough to overcome the weather but questions marks will remain as to whether any rider should have been on course at all.