Samuele Battistella won the men’s U23 men’s road race at the Yorkshire World Championships after the Netherlands’ Nils Eekhoff was disqualified despite crossing the line first.
The Italian moves up from second place after Eekhoff was disqualified following a lengthy jury decision post-race. The Dutchman was disqualified for appearing to draft his team car following a crash earlier in the race, although the exact infraction is yet to be confirmed.
The Dutchman had sprinted ahead of Italy’s Samuele Battistella, who now takes the win with Switzerland’s Stefan Bissegger moving up to silver.
Eekhoff had been part of a chase group behind, with Colombia’s Sergio Higuita driving the trio up to the leaders with less than a kilometre remaining.
Tom Pidcock, despondent after originally finishing fourth, having opened up his sprint too early, now takes bronze in a World Championships on his home roads.
How it happened
Throughout the opening kilometres, a number of riders launched attacks and peeled off the front of the bunch, with Britain’s Stuart Balfour getting involved in the action.
Not long later, two strong riders in Fred Wright (Britain) and Stan Dewulf (Belgium) soon joined the front group of 13, with the American squad pulling the peloton behind, having missed out on all of the moves.
New men’s U23 time trial champion Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) then punctured, just before mishaps would befall other contenders for the victory.
With 70km to go, Wright suffered a mechanical, dropping from the leaders group, his day out in front over, before a big crash decimated the bunch.
A Swedish rider was sat on the left hand side of the road, half his skin suit missing from his body. Nils Eekhoff and Tom Pidcock were also involved, with the Brit forced to chase, safely making it back into the bunch.
The race split to pieces after the Greenhow climb, with the Americans forced to chase again after failing to get someone up front once more.
Crosswinds then buffeted the riders over the top of Blubberhouses Moor, with Pidcock making the front echelon, sporting blood on his knee from his earlier crash, but he still had two team-mates to protect him.
With 27km to go, as the riders crossed the finish line for another lap of Harrogate, around 50 riders were close enough to the front of the race to be in contention of winning.
Looking to double his medal tally, Bjerg attacked from 22km out, with riders scrambling to get on his wheel. The Dane’s move ultimately failed, but the leaders were dragged back as a new group forged ahead. With Pidcock not wanting to miss out he made a well-timed move on the climb to Oakbeck with 19km remaining.
Samuele Battistella (Italy) and Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) looked fresher than the rest as the front group worked well together. With 12km to go Pidcock led the charge, as Sergio Higuita drove the first chase group behind, closing the 30 second gap all the while.
The gap was closing, to 20 seconds with 8km to go, as Higuita pulled Tobias Foss (Norway), Georg Zimmerman (Germany) and Eekhoff up the road.
Bissegger then attacked the front group with 6km to go as Higuita stretched his legs to keep the impetuous in the poursuivant group.
Four riders were left at the front, Battistella, Pidcock, Foss and Bissegger, as Bissegger nearly crashed due to a lapse in concentration. The Swiss rider was looking behind him as he rode across Battistella’s wheels, somehow managing to stay upright, also hitting the front of Pidcock’s wheels.
The gap was down to 13 seconds with 4km to go, with Battistella still looking strong, before the gap came down to five seconds with 2.5km remaining.
Under the 1km banner, Higuita managed to close the gap after a remarkable effort on the front of the chase group, as seven riders started to play cat and mouse into the finish.
Turning onto Parliament Street the riders spread across the road, with Pidcock launching his sprint early. However, with the double misfortune of a crash during the race and having recently recovered from a heavy fall at the Tour de l’Avenir, the Brit didn’t have the legs to keep his speed to the line.
Eekhoff took the sprint ahead of Battistella and Bissegger, with Pidcock finishing fourth. However, after a lengthy jury decision, Eekhoff was eventually disqualified for drafting his team car after the same crash that had claimed Pidcock. This meant the Leeds-born rider ended up on the podium, tearfully collecting the bronze medal in front of local crowds.
Yorkshire World Championships, men’s U23 road race: Doncaster to Harrogate (173km)
1. Samuele Battistella (Italy), in 3-53-52
2. Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland)
3. Tom Pidcock (Great Britain)
4. Sergio Higuita (Colombia)
5. Andreas Kron (Denmark)
6. Tobias Foss (Norway), all at same time
7. Pascal Eenkhoorn (Netherlands), at 38 seconds
8. Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)
9. Mathieu Burgaudeau (France)
10. Torjus Sleen (Norway), all at same time