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Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kazakhstan) won the U23 men’s title at the UCI Road World Championships, trying his luck in breaks and holding off the chase group by the narrowest of margins.
Mathias Vacek (Czech Republic) finished second after joining a four-man move heading into the bell lap and forming a final two-man break with Fedorov but running out of steam short of the line.
Soren Waerenskjold (Norway) rounded out the podium, taking the sprint from the chase group just seconds later.
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How it happened
The pace was high from the start of the 10-lap, 169.8km circuit race through Wollongong, Australia as rain drenched the course, making for slippery conditions that would lead to several solo crashes.
Five riders formed the first break of the day early, including Fabio van den Bossche (Belgium), Hannes Wilksch (Germany), Petr Kelemen (Czech Republic), Mathis le Berre (France), and Fabian Weiss (Switzerland). Fran Miholjević (Croatia) bridged across not long after to make the group six. As the peloton relaxed and settled into the race, the lead rose steadily through the opening laps, reaching 3:03.
From there, the break held steady at about three minutes, with very little happening behind. Eventual winner Yevgeniy Fedorov was active throughout the race, trying to bridge across but getting caught in no man’s land. Several more riders behind him tried unsuccessfully to join the leaders.
With 54km to go, the race turned a new chapter when six riders formed a new chase group as the time to the leaders, now out for over 100km, dwindled to under a minute from its peak of three.
On the eighth lap, Le Berre put in an effort up the Mount Pleasant climb, which tops out at a 14% gradient, shedding three riders from the lead group, with Van den Bossche and Wilksch sticking around.
Behind, an attritional race had been developing as the tempo upped steadily in the peloton, splintering the main group and reducing it to 45 from the original 132 starters by 33km to go.
More riders would try their luck by leaving the peloton behind. Jakob Toupalik (Czech Republic) and Alexandre Balmer (Switzerland) formed a chase group. Behind them, a group of four dangled off the front of the peloton, consisting of Italians Lorenzo Milesi and Nicolo Buratti, Samuel Watson (Great Britain), and once again Fedorov.
The four riders caught the next group of two, but were soon swept back up by the peloton. Soon after, the remaining riders from the original break were caught with around 22km to go. Le Berre wouldn’t surrender though, attacking the dwindled main group, now numbering 31.
Four riders then got away just before the final lap: Alec Segaert (Belgium), Mathias Vacek (Estonia), Le Berre, and Fedorov.
Following the final ascent of Mount Pleasant, Vacek and Fedorov held a lead of about 10 seconds that grew as what remained of the peloton behind them all looked to one another to chase, blundering an opportunity to catch the duo and force a bunch sprint for the gold medal.
Instead, Fedorov and Vacek stayed away as the peloton, finally organizing itself moments too late, breathed down their necks. Vacek ran out of steam in the final meters, leraving Fedorov to take the sprint. Soren Waerenskjold led in the peloton a few seconds later to take bronze.
- Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kazakhstan) – 3:57:08
- Mathias Vacek (Czech Republic) – +1″
- Soren Waerenskjold (Norway) – +3″
- Madis Mihkels (Estonia) – same time
- Olav Kooij (Netherlands) – s.t.
- Pavel Bittner (Czech Republic) – s.t.
- Matthew Dinham (Australia) – s.t.
- Paul Penhoet (France) – s.t.
- Matevž Govekar (Slovakia) – s.t.
- Jenno Berckmoes (Belgium) – s.t.