Tao Geoghegan Hart and Ben Swift were the British finishers on a punishing men’s elite road race day at the UCI Road World Championships, as Denmark’s Mads Pedersen was crowned Yorkshire 2019’s final world champion.
The Dane prevailed in a three-man sprint finish after a truly attritional six-and-a-half hours on the bike, during which riders battled through the worst the Yorkshire weather had to throw at them.
Due to the heavy overnight rain, organisers took the decision to shorten the route and increase the number of laps of the Harrogate circuit, meaning that the peloton missed the northern loop and instead completed nine laps of finishing circuit.
A dangerous-looking breakaway containing Primoz Roglic, Nairo Quintana and Richard Carapaz established a healthy lead at one point, but the race was back together shortly after they entered Harrogate.
With riders falling victim to the weather on a regular basis, Swift, Geoghegan Hart and Adam Yates remained in the peloton until the final stages, but a five-man break of Pederson, Matteo Trentin and Gianni Moscon (Italy), Stefan Kung (Switzerland) and Mathieu van der Poel (the Netherlands) got away from the bunch to set up the thrilling finish.
With van der Poel and Moscon having been dropped, Kung, Pedersen and Trentin entered the final 200 metres together, with the Italian the first to commit to the sprint.
It was Pedersen who had the speed and the strength though, pulling away and raising his arms to celebrate his maiden title.
Trentin was second and Kung third, with Britons Geoghegan Hart and Swift in 26th and 31st respectively. Geraint Thomas, Owain Doull, Ian Stannard and Yates played their part before succumbing to the awful conditions.
Afterwards, Swift said:
“It was a really, really hard day out. I think it was tough for everybody. For a long time there was a really big group, then all of a sudden it just started disintegrating. I wanted more out of today, obviously, but I gave it everything and just ran out of energy in the end.”
“(The crowds) were amazing. In the last few years, the last decade really, cycling has grown incredibly in this country, and we don’t get the chance to race here very often, so the support, especially given the weather, was incredible – we enjoyed that.”
The Great Britain Cycling Team have ended the championships with three bronze medals, won by Anna Henderson, Lauren Dolan, Joss Lowden, Harry Tanfield, Dan Bigham and John Archibald (mixed time trial relay), Elynor Backstedt (junior women’s time trial) and Tom Pidcock (men’s under-23 road race).