Alejandro Valverde: ‘I was freezing – with the weather it was a crazy day’

The 2018 world champion abandoned the men’s road race in awful conditions

Alejandro Valverde has explained his decision to abandon the men’s road race at the Yorkshire 2019 World Championship in awful weather.

Valverde pulled out of the 260km race as the remains of the peloton took on the challenging Harrogate finishing circuit in torrential rain.

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The weather has caused dozens of riders to step off the bike, with Spaniard Valverde throwing in the towel with 80km to race.

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Valverde told Spanish newspaper As: “I was freezing and I told my team-mates that I could not continue.

“We knew we were going to ride a very demanding Worlds, but with this adverse weather it became a crazy day.”

The conditions have forced a number of favourites out of the race, including Philippe Gilbert (Bel) who crashed on the finishing straight and was unable to catch the peloton.

Belgian Gilbert, who was one of the favourites going into the race, was brought down by a crash with 120km to go, as the peloton entered the Harrogate circuit.

The 37-year-old got back up, grimacing, as Remco Evenepoel tried to shepherd him back up to the peloton.

Organisers were forced to change the route from Leeds to Harrogate because of the weather, removing the two final major climbs and increasing the number of laps on the finishing circuit from seven to nine.

The race was diverted at Bishopdale Beck, just outside Aysgarth, and instead riders headed east up Temple Bank and along the A468 to Leyburn where the race continued as normal.

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Heavy downpours have blighted Yorkshire overnight with the northern section of the race badly affected by the adverse weather.

Other big name abandons include Geraint Thomas, who had been riding in support of Ben Swift for the British team.