Marc Hirschi has won the men’s Under-23 road race at the World Championships after a masterful display of tactics by his Swiss team.
The 20-year-old and team-mates sparked the decisive move and were strong enough to put a Swiss rider at the front of the race at all times.
Hirschi, who will be riding for Team Sunweb next season, was able to go with the strong three-man move on the final lap before attacking on the final descent to win solo.
Britain’s interests put in a very strong showing in Innsbruck, with Ethan Hayter and James Shaw both finishing in the top ten.
How it happened
The Under-23 course was a 179.9km route, featuring the 14% max Gnadenwald climb and four laps of the 7.9km Igls ascent.
Attacks started from kilometre zero with the Polish rider Szymom Tracz going alone as other breakaway hopefuls tried to bridge across.
Tracz sat up to wait for chasers Izifor Penko from Slovenia and Nickolas Zukowsky (CAN) and the trio hit the Gnadenwaled with a gap of 2-10 over the peloton.
But the brutal slopes took their toll on the escapees and Zukowsky found himself riding alone over the top of the climb with just over two minutes.
The Canadian was swept up on the first ascent of the Igls climb after Denmark attacked from the peloton.
More attempts to break free came on the descent from Igls but nothing stuck.
The peloton bunched up and the racing eased heading into the second ascent of Igls.
Switzerland then fired an attack on the descent of the second lap, forming a seven-man group with four Swiss.
Lukas Ruegg, Marc Hirschi, Patrick Muller and Gino Mader made up the Swiss contingent.
They were joined by Mikkel Frolish Honore (DEN), Neilson Poweless (USA) and Mark Padun (UKR).
The break managed to pull out a 50 second gap by the third ascent of Igls, with 40km left to ride.
Muller attacked from the breakaway on the third Igls run, Padun followed and the duo crested the climb together.
As the peloton was torn to pieces on the climb, the remaining breakaway riders were caught.
Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar flew off the front of the main group to chase down Padun and Muller.
Dunbar was quickly joined by Gino Mader.
Britain led the chase from the main group, trying to reel in the duos up front.
With 20km left to ride, Padun and Muller held a 30 second advantage over Dunbar and Mader, with the main group just six seconds behind the chasers.
The Irishman and Mader were caught on the final ascent, and Dunbar dropped straight out of the main group.
Belgium’s Steff Cras pushed the pace of the group, working for team-mate Bjorg Lambrecht to reel in Padun and Muller.
The breakaway duo were caught before the top of the climb and Lambrecht attacked immediately.
Hirschi was able to stay with the Belgian, as was Finland’s Jaakko Hanninen.
Just behind, Mader and Padun worked together and chased hard with a small group behind.
Cresting the climb for the final time, the trio out front had 30 seconds over the chasing group of five, which included James Shaw and Ethan Hayter from Britain.
At the front of the race Hirschi put in an attack on the final descent, catching Hanninen and Lambrecht by surprise.
With 4km left to ride the Swiss had 10 seconds on the duo behind, holding the advantage on the technical final section.
He crossed the line, arms raised with Hanninen and Lambrecht visible behind.
That duo sprinted and Lambrecht took silver at the line, Hanninen coming in third.
Padun crossed the line solo in fourth, followed by the larger group.
Britain ended the day with two riders in the top 10 – Hayter in 8th and Shaw in 10th.
World Championship Under-23 road race
1. Marc Hirschi (SUI), in 4-25-05
2. Bjorg Lambrecht (BEL), at 15 seconds
3. Jaakko Hanninen (FIN)
4. Gino Mader (SUI), at 35 seconds
5. Mark Padun (UKR), at 37 seconds
6. Jaime Castrillo Zapater (ESP), at 45 seconds
7. Tadej Pogacar (SLO), at 47 seconds
8. Ethan Hayter (GBr)
9. Patrick Muller (SUI)
10. James Shaw (GBr)