COPENHAGEN (AFP) – Arnaud Demare gave a glimpse of what will be required to win cycling’s coveted rainbow jersey when he claimed a deserved gold in the men’s under-23 road race at the road world championships on Friday.
Sprint specialist Demare, a trainee with the French professional team FDJ, led a French one-two with compatriot Adrien Petit taking the silver ahead of Britain’s Andrew Fenn after 168 km of racing.
The under-23 men used the same 14 km circuit in the suburb of Rudersdal which will be used by the elite men in their 266 km race on Sunday, when they tackle it 17 times after a 28 km ride from the centre of Copenhagen.
And more than one contender for Sunday’s big event was watching the race to gauge which tactics will best be employed on the mainly flat course whose uphill finish has so far kept the field guessing.
Australian Michael Hepburn, who took bronze in the time trial earlier in the week, had been one of the big favourites for gold in the under-23 road race. But despite the Australians taking their responsibilities at the front of the peloton throughout, their earlier efforts meant they were reduced to virtual bystanders by the time the home straight came into sight.
Demare and Petit — a first-year professional with Cofidis — both played the waiting game throughout the race, sending teammates up to the front in a bid to stymie potential attacks. Their tactics ultimately allowed them to save precious energy, and when they pulled to the front once on the rising, 400-metre straight leading to the finish line they remained unchallenged.
English-born Fenn, a former track cyclist who rode for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games and is a former winner of the junior Paris-Roubaix, had to dig deep in the final metres to hold off Germany’s Rudiger Selig.