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Men's Under-23 World Championships Road Race: Eekhoff disqualification means Pidcock takes bronze

Joseph Delves
27 Sep 2019

Dutchman removed from results after winning seven-man sprint so local favourite Pidcock moves on to podium. Photo: SWPix.com

Dutchman Nils Eekhoff looked to have won the Men’s Under-23 road race at the World Championships at the end of a frantic and hard-fought day in Yorkshire. However, after a long delay Eekhoff left the commissaires' tent in tears after he was disqualified.

Home favourite Tom Pidcock rode a tactically perfect race, only to be denied on the line by the Dutch rider, also narrowly losing out to Italian Samuele Battistella and Swiss Stefan Bissegger. Each of those riders moved up a place to complete the revised podium giving Pidcock the bronze medal.

'Judges held a meeting directly after the race and the team celebrations of the Netherlands were cut short, as it was deemed that the 21-year-old had illegally drafted behind a team car to get back into the bunch after an early crash,' the race organisation explained in a press release.

Other reports suggested the rider had in fact held on to a team car.

Following early rain and after being involved in a crash, Pidcock managed to get himself among the final seven men, but failed to make the most of it having looked on target to win the sprint.

Losing one of its three final circuits did little to blunt the course’s bite, with a small number of riders finding themselves in contention come the race’s closing phase.

Stretching 173km from Doncaster to Harrogate, the course had been cut down from its intended 187km because of fears about low-light conditions in the murky weather late on.

Early break

A sizeable break having established itself early in the race, and the day’s first big question was who would lead the chase behind.

With Brits Stuart Balfour and Fred Wright out in the break, together with individual representatives from nine other nations, it was left to France and the US to form an unusual alliance to lead the chase behind.

However, a nasty crash hit the bunch to disrupt their efforts with around 70km to go. Although appearing to have stayed upright, British hope Pidcock found himself in need of a bike change. A slick change and a strong effort from the home favourite saw him work his way back up to the main field.

The climb of Greenhow Hill then threatened to pull the race apart. At the front the break found itself thinned down to a quartet of Andreas Kron from Denmark, Alessandro Covi from Italy, Stan Dewulf from Belgium and Balfour.

Crosswind chaos

Then crosswinds on the descent saw the pursuing riders split into two groups. Around 24 or so riders built a gap, Pidcock among them, as a group containing the Americans and Belgian WorldTour rider Jasper Philipsen struggled to chase back on. 

With 50km to go the race was now on in earnest. Soon the catch to the breakaway was made, which meant Pidcock gained a teammate to support his efforts.

With around 23km to go, Idar Andersen of Norway and Szymon Sajnok of Poland popped off the front, only to be joined by riders Pidcock, Swiss Stefan Bissegger and a second Norwegian in the form of Tobias Foss.

Coming onto the bell lap, a mechanical did for Andersen. As Pidcock came to the front, soon what was now a front group of four had almost 30 seconds to play with.

A group of three riders was coming up fast spearheaded by Colombian dangerman Sergio Higuita, among them the eventual winner Eekhoff.

Coming together with one-kilometre to go, the final was set for a seven-up sprint.

This article was amended following the revision of the results