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Simon Andreassen wins junior worlds title; American Gage Hecht misses podium

Simon Andreassen takes the rainbow jersey in Tabor as American junior Gage Hecht just misses the podium, finishing fourth

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TABOR, Czech Republic  — Simon Andreassen of Denmark won the junior race on Saturday at the UCI Cyclocross World Championships in the Czech Republic.

Andreassen, 17, whose best result in the UCI World Cup is a third place in Namur, Belgium, attacked early and then soloed to victory on the Tabor course, which was dotted with patches of snow.

European champion Eli Iserbyt of Belgium, who dominated the regular season, winning three World Cup rounds, took the silver medal ahead of Dutchman Max Gulickx.

Andreassen said he made his move early so he could take the course as he pleased.

“I wanted to be alone so I could ride my own lines and not be disturbed by other riders,” he said, adding that despite his bold move he had not been confident of victory.

“I didn’t expect it, but I was hoping for it, and I’ve never been so well prepared for a cyclocross race before. So it was a dream, but it was perfect today.”

A big group formed early on, then split, leaving five riders out front — Andreassen, Iserbyt, Gulickx, Johan Jacobs and American Gage Hecht.

Iserbyt was first to fade, apparently using the wrong tire for most of the race, but came roaring back, as did Hecht and Gulickx, both of whom had falls but bounced back to rejoin the race on the final lap.

Iserbyt got his gap on the final lap, and while Hecht looked good to lead out the sprint for third, his chain skipped in the final corner and he lost too much ground to make up.

Iserbyt, who conceded that he had felt the pressure of being the favorite for the title, said he started with the wrong tires and “felt bad in every corner.”

“I lost a few seconds every corner,” he said. “So I wanted to change to the Rhinos, but they weren’t available. So they had to go to the mobile home to get them.

“I felt good this morning, but the course changed a lot. At 9 o’clock it was dry, could ride with slicks. I don’t know, the temperature raised five degrees and the course changed very, very, very fast. That’s something you can keep in mind, but you don’t know that before the race.”

Still, Iserbyt said he was content with the silver medal.

“I was focused on the first place, but second place is nice,” he said. “It’s a bit of a surprise for me to get second because in the middle of the race I thought about stopping. But that’s not me. There were a lot of supporters for me here, and from Belgium, so, yeah, I don’t know. If you stop — you don’t start here to stop.”

Editor’s note: Dan Seaton contributed to this report from Tabor.