Second place Sunday was the loneliest place in the world for Italian Matteo Trentin.
The Mitchelton-Scott rider will be replaying Sunday’s sprint over and over in his mind during the next year after falling short in the world championships and placing second to Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo).
After a wet slog through the Yorkshire Dales, Trentin raced to the line in a group of three. Normally a strong sprinter ideal for this scenario, but this time his legs failed, and Dane Pedersen blasted to the rainbow jersey.
“It’s going to gnaw at me the whole year when I see him in the jersey,” Trentin said, reported La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“On the last lap, I was thinking about the sprint. On paper, I was the fastest, but after such a tough race, all statistics go out the window.
“I came here with the legs and the intention to win. I’m still upset.”
Italy’s “Squadra Azzurra” appeared to have the race in control when Belgium fell to bits after Philippe Gilbert‘s crash and the Dutch lost its star Mathieu van der Poel to the bonk.
Italian Gianni Moscon (Ineos) first bridged up to the leaders and then Trentin crossed over with van der Poel. Italy counted two riders in the final group of five, which fell to three when van der Poel and then Moscon faded.
Everyone’s eyes turned to Trentin, who just won the Trofeo Matteotti and placed second overall behind van der Poel in the Tour of Britain. Trentin’s staying power and kick have earned him several big wins over the years, including three career stages in the Tour de France, with one in this year’s victory in Gap.
“It was a really hard race, on the edge of what’s acceptable for man,” Trentin said of the miserable conditions in Yorkshire. “It was not a normal race, it was incredible. I am still trembling here.”
Trentin remained when others faded Sunday and he showed trademark grit that carried him through the classics these last seasons. Given these qualities, CCC wanted him in its team for 2020 and signed him from Mitchelton-Scott. But in Harrogate after 260.7km, all the Team Italy leader could say was “sorry” for the silver medal.
“I’m sorry about it,” he continued. “Gianni [Moscon] was phenomenal. I’m sorry I couldn’t transfer all of that work into a gold medal. This is hard to swallow.”
Denmark celebrated its first elite men’s gold medal with 23-year-old Mads Pedersen. Italy’s last win was with Alessandro Ballan in 2008, capping off years of success with Paolo Bettini and Mario Cipollini.
Trentin admitted that he did not know if he would ever have a chance like this again to win the rainbow jersey. Next year, cycling’s governing body runs the worlds in Switzerland and the year after that in Flanders, Belgium.
Moscon embraced Trentin near the finish line. “Too bad,” he said. “It was a brutal day, we raced well, and it seemed like day for Matteo.”
Sonny Colbrelli (Bahrain-Merida) gave his teammate a 10 out of 10 for the way he raced. Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol (EF Education First) added, “Working for Matteo is easy, he went so well, moved with the best. We have nothing to complain about.”
Italy’s head coach Davide Cassini had high expectations given he counted two of his ‘Auzzurri’ in the final five group and then had the normally zippy Trentin for the final. Instead, he was left in tears at the finish and said, “This second place burns.”