Men's World Championship Road Race
Harrogate, Yorkshire, UK | Sunday, 29th September 2019
It's fair to say that the weather for the Cycling World Championships in Yorkshire had been poor. In the Summer leading up to the championships flooding had meant that part of the course for the men's race had been washed away, with emergency repairs being carried out to ensure the route was passable. As the Sunday of the race dawned it became clear that these repairs had actually been in vain, as severe overnight rain meant led to certain parts of the course being impassable and two of the major climbs were eliminated from the route. Every cloud has a silver lining however, with the re-jigged route increasing the number of laps on the finishing circuit from 7 to 9 and meaning that the hardy spectators would get to spend an additional 40 minutes by the roadside in rainy Harrogate.
Despite the inclement weather there was still a festival atmosphere in the town, with many fans having made the trip over from mainland Europe for the weekend. A particular highlight for me was chatting to a local lady whose house was situated on the course. She told me that on the Friday a group of Belgians had turned up asking to use her driveway. The lady had welcomed them with open arms and the Belgian fans had set up a gazebo, satellite television and a barbecue - they had come prepared. I thought the lady might have been put out by this but she was clearly loving it, and I saw her later in the day a bit further down the road dancing with the Dutch spectators!
As far as the racing was concerned it was certainly an epic one, with the constant rain and cool conditions turning it into a war of attrition. As the race wore on more and more riders would be tailed off and decide to take an early shower, with less than a quarter of those starting the race actually making it to the finish. With five men clear in the final laps, including pre-race favourites Mathieu van der Poel and Matteo Trentin, it was actually the less-fancied Danish rider Mads Pedersen who coped the best with the conditions and emerged victorious.
Women's World Championship Road Race
HARROGATE, YORKSHIRE, UK | SaturDAY, 28th September 2019
It was the second weekend of the UCI Cycling World Championships in Harrogate. This would be the showpiece; the preceding events merely a lead up to the biggest two events of the week - the elite road races. With many fans arriving on the Friday the previously sleepy side of the course became akin to a festival site, with the roads lined by motorhomes, gazebos and increasingly raucous crowds.
The women's race would be run on a sunny Saturday and feature Yorkshire's Lizzie Deignan. Otley's favourite daughter was given a hero's welcome as the race passed through her home town in the early stages of a route that was almost a tour of her life. Support for the former world champion and Olympic medalist was also vociferous on the finishing circuit in Harrogate, but by then the race was practically over.
The damage had been done on the Lofthouse climb, over 100km from the finish. Annemiek van Vlueten attacked, nobody could follow and the race was done. Deignan did her best to lead the chase, but the strength of the Netherlands team meant that the pursuers were on a hiding to nothing and they would not see van Vlueten again. An ambitious attempt from time trial champion Chloe Dygert to bridge the gap by herself would come to nothing and in the end it was Anna van der Breggen who would take second place to round off a dominant display from the Dutch. Whilst the race couldn't match the drama of the previous day's controversial disqualification or the following day's epic conditions, it was a day that would go down in history as having had the longest ever solo victory in the world championships. Chapeau Annemiek!
Men's World Championship Time Trial
HARROGATE, YORKSHIRE, UK | Wednesday, 25th September 2019
Northallerton and Masham.
Team Time Trial Mixed Relay World Championship
HARROGATE, YORKSHIRE, UK | SUNDAY, 22nd SEPTEMBER 2019
Following the previous day's Paracycling International event, the world championships proper got underway with the trial of a new event, the Team Time Trial Mixed Relay.