Benoît Cosnefroy (France) won the under-23 men’s road race title at the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway, on Friday.
The 21-year-old out-sprinted Lennard Kämna (Germany) to take the title at the end of the gruelling 191-kilometre race after the pair had combined in the final five kilometres to distance their rivals.
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Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Denmark) brought the chasing peloton home for third, with Great Britain’s Oliver Wood placing fourth and Ireland’s Mark Downey in ninth.
How it happened
The race tackled 10 laps of a circuit around Bergen, with each loop containing an ascent and descent of the 1.5km Salmon Hill.
An escape group of six leaders formed within the opening 20km, comprising Jose Fernandes (Portugal), Jai Hindley (Australia), Gustav Hoog (Sweden), Atsushi Oka (Japan), Vasili Strokau (Belarus) and Awet Habtom Tekle (Eritrea).
Hindley dropped out of the lead group relatively early on. Subsequently, a group of six chasers caught front group with 130km to go to make 11 riders. With 100km to go, the leaders had built up an advantage of around two and a half minutes over the bunch, led predominantly by the home team of Norway.
As the race progressed, there was some fluidity to the break with riders being dropped and other riders bridging over, helped by the launchpad of Salmon Hill.
With 50km to go, Hindley was back in a six-rider lead group, but with only around a minute on the peloton.
Into the penultimate lap and with 38km to go, the leaders’ gap was down to 24 seconds. Britain’s Scott Davies tried his luck on Salmon Hill from the break, attacking and causing Hindley to be dropped once more.
Behind, there were numerous attacks from the peloton, which was rapidly crumbling as the long kilometres and relentless climbing started to take its toll.
The race was all back together toward the top of the climb, with Davies somehow finding the energy to lead the pace on the descent.
There were then a series of ultimately fruitless attacks out of the peloton, but defending U23 champion Kristoffer Halvorsen found the pace too much, and was dropped.
Into the crucial final lap and it was Lennard Kämna (Germany) who put in a move on final climb to create a gap, sweeping down the final descent of Salmon Hill. The Team Sunweb pro gained 21 seconds on the peloton with 10km to go.
Benoît Cosnefroy (France) bridged over to Kämna into the final 5km, setting up what would be the race-winning move.
Winding their way through the streets of Bergen, the peloton was rapidly gaining on the two leaders – but they left it too late to make the junction, and Kämna and Cosnefroy engaged in their final sprint to settle the new owner of the under-23 rainbow jersey.
Cosnefroy may have limited chances to wear his new rainbow jersey, however, as he rides for WorldTour team Ag2r. Only the elite men’s winner can wear a rainbow jersey in professional races.
The 2017 UCI Road World Championships continue on Saturday with the junior men’s and elite women’s road race events. The Worlds conclude on Sunday with the elite men’s road race.
UCI Road World Championships 2017, under-23 men’s road race, 191km
1. Benoît Cosnefroy (France), in 4-48-23
2. Lennard Kämna (Germany), at same time
3. Michael Carbel Svendgaard (Denmark), at 3 secs
4. Oliver Wood (Great Britain)
5. Vincenzo Albanese (Italy)
6. Damien Touze (France)
7. Max Kanter (Germany)
8. Michal Paluta (Poland)
9. Mark Downey (Ireland)
10. Anders Skaarseth (Norway), all same time