France delivers a one-two punch, sending Kevin Ledanois off the front to victory, while Anthony Turgis sits on the chase and takes third.

Grit, determination, and a good teammate — that’s what earned Kevin Ledanois France’s first world championship title in Richmond, Virginia. On a rainy Friday afternoon, Ledanois attacked the hardest part of the course, Libby Hill, which had dangerously slick cobbles due to the rain. Then, he drove home alone over two more hills to hold off a charging Italian sprint train, which was derailed by Ledanois’ teammate, Anthony Turgis, who sat on to ensure his compatriot took the rainbow jersey. Turgis claimed bronze for his troubles, behind Italian Simone Consonni.

“I can’t believe it yet. It was my dream to become world champion. Last year, I had attacked a lap too early,” said the winner, 22. “This time, I was sure to wait. When I saw it began to rain, I thought it was my chance.”

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The early breakaway included three men: Ireland’s Eddie Dunbar, Chile’s Jose Luis Rodriguez, and Davide Martinelli of Italy. With about 85 kilometers remaining, Kazahkstan’s Oleg Zemlyakov bridged the gap after chasing solo for nearly a complete lap. Another rider, German Max Schachmann, also bridged up with a solo move.

With 50 kilometers left, Dunbar was dropped on the steep climb of 23rd street. A light rain began to fall on Richmond.

Martinelli attacked on the Libby Hill climb with about 36 kilometers left, but he had mechanical trouble. Rodriguez, Schachmann, and Zemlyakov carried on at the head of affairs. It looked like the Italian had reconnected with the leaders on 23rd street, but his gears skipped again, and he was out of the break.

The three-man break had a 20-second gap to the field with two laps left.

However, on the penultimate lap, the peloton absorbed the leaders on the cobbled ascent of Libby Hill. Denmark’s Soren Andersen was quick with a counterattack. He crested the 23rd Street climb alone. With one lap left, his lead was 16 seconds. However, with the Austrian team driving the chase at the front of the peloton, the Dane was caught.

Rain began to fall more heavily, and three riders got clear of the field on the twisting corners prior to Libby Hill. The new lead trio included Martinelli, the early breakaway artist.

Back in the field a crash on a hairpin turn disrupted the front of the peloton. With the catch imminent, Martinelli delivered one last-ditch attack. It was pure carnage on the cobbled Libby Hill climb. Several riders slipped out on the twisting ascent as they tried to apply the power on the slippery stones. But Turgis and Ledanois rode clear and bridged to Martinelli, then passed the Italian to forge ahead. With 2.5km left, Ledanois had a slight gap on the chase.

After Governor Street, the final climb of the circuit, Ledanois put his head down and drove up the finish straight as Italy’s last few riders chased. But France had an ace in the hole as Turgis sat right on the Italian train, helping to stymie the chase.

In the final few hundred meters, Consonni of Italy threw caution to the win and sprinted, but he had to settle for silver by only a few bike lengths. The hesitation that Turgis had caused proved costly for the Italians.The team of France was fantastic. It was I who raised his arms, which have the jersey, but it’s the team that won the world championship.

“The team of France was fantastic,” said Ledanois. “It was I who raised his arms, who has the jersey, but it’s the team that won the world championship.”

On Saturday, the junior men will race 129.8km, as will the elite women, the second race of the day.

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