Great Britain’s Owain Doull saw his UCI Road World Championships hopes dashed in the under-23 road race on Friday, baulked by fallers on the final wet climb of the cobbled Libby Hill while in prime position.
Doull and the Great Britain team of Tao Geoghegan Hart, Scott Davies, Alex Peters and Gabz Cullaigh had ridden the perfect race and were poised to vie for the medals before disaster struck with a few kilometres to race. Doull eventually finished 93rd, over four minutes down.
France’s Kevin Ledanois avoided the chaos to take the world title ahead of Simone Consonni of Italy and fellow Frenchman Anthony Turgis.
Gutted to say the least, wanted to win so bad today but not to be. 2 crashes and 2 mechanicals put an end to my race but that's bike racing— Owain Doull (@owaindoull) September 25, 2015
"I was feeling really good all day and it's just one of those things I think,” said Doull. “It was pretty treacherous.
"It was hard race but not as hard as we were expecting but then the rain played a big part. It got a bit heavier on the last lap and people were going down left, right and centre all over the place on the cobbles.
"I've had a really good year to be fair. I wanted to have a win today - I said to the lads before I'll either win or crash out and it was crashing out today.”
Early on, Amanuel Ghebreigzabhier (Eritrea), Jean Bosco Insengiyumva (Rwanda), Adil Barbari (Algeria), Joao Rodrigues (Portugal) and Omer Goldstein (Israel) broke clear and were joined by Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar, Wilmar Paredes (Colombia), Jose Luis Rodriguez (Chile), Gregory Daniel (USA) and Stepan Astafyev (Kazakhstan) at the head of the race
Dunbar and Rodriguez attacked and the rest were soon caught by the peloton, the Irishman and Chilean joined by Davide Martinelli (Italy) up front.
By the end of lap four the leading threesome had 19 seconds on the chasing group; a lap later and the lead was out to over two minutes, the trio joined by Kazakh Oleg Zemlyakov, with Germany’s Maximilian Schachmann trying to bridge.
The German made the junction with four laps to go but with a strong quintet up front it wasn’t long before the peloton started to peg their progress, Great Britain showing themselves occasionally at the front, trying to stay out of trouble on the course’s trio of sharp climbs.
The day’s efforts finally took their toll on Dunbar, dropping away from the leading group with just over 50 kilometres remaining, while behind Doull tested his legs on the cobbled ramp of 23rd Street.
As the group crossed the line with three laps to go, the hammer went down, stringing out the peloton into a long line and the gap to the leaders quickly tumbled below a minute.
On the eighth climb through Libby Hill Park disaster struck for Martinelli, a rear derailleur failure spelling the end of the Italian’s challenge, leaving just three riders up ahead with around 30 seconds’ lead.
With around 20 kilometres to go, Great Britain played their first card, Tao Geoghegan Hart burying himself at the front on the peloton in an attempt to make a selection as the race hit the foot of Libby Hill for the penultimate time.
The acceleration finally put paid to the break, which was swept up as Soren Kragh Andersen of Denmark launched a lone attack up and over 23rd Street.
Proud of the way myself and the lads rode today and wouldn't have done anything differently. Thanks for all the kind messages— Owain Doull (@owaindoull) September 25, 2015
Kragh Andersen took the bell alone, 16 seconds ahead of the peloton but the Dane’s challenge soon faded and as the rain began to fall, the race was all back together.
With six kilometres to go, three riders broke away briefly but the pack had other ideas but when the race hit Libby Hill for the final time the group was shattered with crashes on the slick cobbles. Owain Doull was baulked by a faller, forced to unclip and hopelessly distanced as, up ahead, four men avoided the chaos, broke clear and raced up 23rd Street for the last time.
At the head of them was Kevin Ledanois, who gave it everything with the pack bearing down on the Frenchman onto the final climb of Governors' Street. But Ledanois had done enough, taking the world title by a whisker from Consonni and Turgis.
Garner seventh in junior women's road race
Earlier, Great Britain’s Grace Garner was seventh in the junior women’s road race as USA’s Chloe Dygert took her second world title of the 2015 UCI Road World Championships.
Garner, Abby Mae Parkinson, Lizzie Holden and Eleanor Dickinson missed the winning four-rider move, which went away on lap two, with time trial world champion Dygert eventually hitting out for a long solo bid for victory.
Midway through lap two Agnieszka Skalniak (POL) and Emma White (USA) went on the attack and were soon joined by Juliette Labous (FRA) and Dygert and the quartet began to build the medal-winning move.
Halfway through the third of four laps of the 10-mile Richmond street course, their lead grew to almost a minute while behind the peloton had split in two, Great Britain’s riders all in the leading half.
With the final lap approaching it looked as if Great Britain were racing for minor placings but up ahead, Dygert attacked her breakaway companions and went clear.
But Skalniak, White and Labous began to slow as the race reached its climax and with medals at stake the peloton was chasing hard, with just Garner and Parkinson left for Great Britain, Dickinson and Holden having fallen back into the following bunch around a minute down.
With the kilometres ticking down it was clear that only misfortune would stop Dygert from claiming a second title on home soil, her lead extending while the group was bearing down on the remains of the break.
The American crossed the line to take the title and behind White, Skalniak and Labous held on, White taking silver ahead of the Pole in bronze.
Garner crossed the line in seventh, fourth in the bunch sprint, with Parkinson 18th, Holden 35th and Dickinson 39th.
"Really tough,” was Garner’s assessment of the race. “I didn't know what to expect because we don't really race with those sort of girls throughout the year.”
And for Garner the course’s cobbled climbs proved to be the race’s defining feature. "You have to go full gas or you can't get up them,” she said. “They're really quick in succession so that section of the course is where you make the race."
"Really, really hard. Just brutal,” said teammate Abby Mae Parkinson, whose job it was to police any breaks that threatened to go away. “Every hill was just like a smash-fest. If you let a wheel go you were just constantly fighting to stay in touch with it.
“My job was to be in the break,” Parkinson continued. “Obviously I missed that. Then it was just fighting to make sure nothing else went without me."