MADS PEDERSEN was the surprise winner of a rain-soaked elite men’s road race at the world championships after a brutal day’s racing in Yorkshire.
The Dane (pictured above), 23, beat breakaway companions Matteo Trentin and Stefan Kung in a sprint finish at the top of Parliament Street in Harrogate after 261 kilometres of arduous toil.
Trentin looked the favourite to add the rainbow jersey of world champion to his 2018 European title when pre-race favourite Mathieu Van Der Poel cracked on the ninth and final 14km lap of the finishing circuit.
The Italian was first to open up his sprint as the leading trio passed Betty’s Tea Rooms but made little impact and Pedersen swept past him to win easily, with Kung taking the bronze.
‘I would have just been happy with a medal but when there are only three guys left you have everything to win and nothing to lose,’ said Pedersen. ‘So I took a chance and it was enough.’
Tao Geoghegan Hart was the best-placed Briton, finishing 26th in a group a little over two minutes down, after team leader Ben Swift was dropped on the final lap. Geraint Thomas was one of many to climb off in the treacherous conditions, with only 46 of the 197 starters in Leeds making it to the end.
Earlier, organisers were forced to cut the route by 19km and bypass the key climbs of Buttertubs and Grinton Moor as flooding struck roads made famous in the 2014 Tour de France.
Problems with low cloud also affected TV coverage leading to frustration for viewers, although thousands of hardy fans lined the course. ‘It was a really tough day, pretty epic weather,’ Swift said. ‘It probably looked quite cool on some of the photos but it actually got really cold as well towards the end.’
■ 31st — Place finish for Britain’s 2015 world champion Lizzie Deignan in Saturday’s elite women’s race after a day spent in the breakaway