2011 UCI Road World Championships
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Event: 19-25 September 2011
Report: Eddie Allen
Images: Cheryl King
Pierre Henri Lecuisinier of France took the World Junior Road Race title in a thrilling final sprint in Copenhagen. After a number of breakaways were reeled in, a final sortout saw six riders, including Lecuisinier, go away with a few laps to go. Almost swept up in the final km, the Frenchman counter-attacked to take the title after Belgian Leemans made an early lunge for the line. Owain Doull, active all morning was the best of the GB contingent, finishing 24th.
Following an excellent bronze medal result for Andy Fenn in the Under 23 road race, Day 5 began with the Junior men doing battle over nine laps of the 14km course on the outskirts of Copenhagen. Representing Great Britain were Jon Dibben, Owain Doull, Matthew Holmes, Sam Lowe and Alistair Slater.
Attacks began from the off with a group of 13 riders, including four Frenchmen and GB's Matt Holmes, going off the front. By the end of the first lap the group had opened up a gap of around a minute to the main field, with a smaller group dangling off the front of the nervous looking pack.
The second smaller chase group containing two Australian riders and yet another Frenchman was soon consumed by the main field as the lead group, headed by the French team, continued to press on. However, the breakaway riders didn't share a universal commitment to getting away and the gap began to shrink. The French riders, headed by Latour, attempted to split the group down to a more manageable, committed unit and cracks began to emerge.
As the riders finished the second lap French Junior TT champion Alexis Gougeard continued to press on as the rest of the group sat up, with Belgian Junior RR champion Daan Myngheer joining him. The two began to work well together, building a lead of around 45 seconds halfway through the third lap.
With around 170 starters it was inevitable that the crashes would be a feature of the race, with a few tumbles and touches of wheels punctuating proceedings towards the end of lap three. The digs off the front continued, with GB's Alistair Slater emerging briefly from the head of the field and upping the pace.
As lap four began, Gougeard and Myngheer were still away with a lead of around 44 seconds. Behind, sporadic attacks continued off the front of the bunch, none of them gaining more than a few seconds before being swept up. The situation remained static for the entire lap, the French/Belgian pair holding a 44 second lead when the peloton crossed the line to begin lap five.
By the midway point of the race, halfway through lap five, the break had gone out to over a minute with no sign of a concerted chase from the peloton; Italy and New Zealand amongst the teams taking digs off the front, Australia attempting to raise the tempo and GB sheltering in the wheels. A crash at the feedzone involving Serbian and Norwegian riders reminded everyone that the shelter of the bunch comes with attendant risks.
Once through the feedzone the chase was back on and the gap to the leaders dropped to around 30 seconds, with European Junior TT Champ Bettiol of Italy seizing the opportunity and attempting to bridge. Owain Doull headed the main field eager to bring back the Italian rider. Things were becoming more animated as thoughts of a bunch finish came to the fore.
With six laps completed, despite attack after attack, Gougeard and Myngheer were still 30 seconds ahead, continuing to work well together but as lap seven wore on, Gougeard began to show signs of fatigue, with Daan Myngheer gapping the Frenchman out of the sharp turns and up the course's short climbs. Meanwhile behind a group of around six, headed by Norwegian Daniel Hoelgaard, attempted to bridge to the head of the race.
Halfway through lap seven Myngheer and Gougeard looked around and saw the Hoelgaard group closing fast. The pair shook hands sportingly, knowing that their time in the sun was at an end and dropped into the chase group which now contained GB's Jon Dibben, the Brit keen to get on with the job, the rest of the group a little reluctant. The group dangled off the front for a few minutes, with the main field beginning to fragment as the pace rose and the kilometres ticked by.
After a few flurries another group containing two French, two Belgians and two Dutch riders got away and quickly gained 27 seconds with just a lap and a half to go. With the big teams of GB, Australia, Germany and Italy missing out on the split, Italy took up the chase, clearly worried about the strong sextet gaining ground up the road.
As the breakaway group of Lammertink, Lecuisinier, Martin, Leemans, Slik and Degreve took the bell for the final lap it was time to react. Then a big crash in the middle of the pack took out about a dozen riders, with a Dylan Groenewegen of the Netherlands coming off worst and a GB rider involved.
Following the crash the breakaway group began to split, with Slik dropping off the back. With 3km to go the quintet still had 16 seconds until the French team amassed its troops at the front, perhaps playing a percentage game, realising that despite having two men up the road, the catch was looking likely.
Inside 2km to go and fearing that the catch was imminent, Leemans of Belgium went for an early one on the agonisingly long finish straight. The remainder of the group gave chase with the bunch looming like a storm in the background. Slowly Leemans began to fade and right on cue, Frenchman Lecuisiner came through, timing his effort to perfection and sprinting clear to claim the world title.
1 LECUISINIER Pierre-Henri FRA 2:48:58 +0
2 DEGREVE Martijn BEL " "
3 LAMMERTINK Steven NED " "
4 SENECHAL Florian FRA 2:49:01 +3
5 ZABEL Rick GER " "
6 IVLEV Roman RUS " "
7 HOELGAARD Daniel NOR " "
8 MARINI Nicolas ITA " "
9 GODRIE Stan NED " "
10 PLESNER Frederik DEN " "
24 DOULL Owain GBR
34 DIBBEN Jon GBR
72 SLATER Alistair GBR
92 HOLMES Matthew GBR
122 LOWE Samuel GBR