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You can’t have a rainbow without the rain!

What a memorable week that was in Yorkshire. It really did have a little bit of everything, didn’t it? The crowds, the riders, the drama, the pain, the joy and above all else, the weather made it a World Championships that will live long in the memory.

Where to start with such an eventful week of racing?

Sunday 29th September will surely go down in road cycling history as one of the most brutal races ever seen. So harsh were the weather conditions that the race had to be re-routed but riders still had to brave 240km of punishing Yorkshire hills in heavy wind and rain. Nairo Quintana and Primoz Roglic were two standout names the made it into the early breakaway which stuck it out until the race reached the first of nine laps in Harrogate. It was from this point that several big names began to drop out after such a punishing route – Phillipe Gilbert crashed out, Alejandro Valverde and Geraint Thomas were among those opting for an early shower.

Late drama ensued as it looked as though favourite Mathieu van der Poel would make the winning move, only to run out of gas and drop out of the back, later describing feeling “dizzy and empty”, adding “it’s not happened to me in the past”. It just shows how hard that race was for the riders. It would come down to three men – Stefan Kung, Matteo Trentin and Mads Pedersen. As Trentin smelled blood with 200m to go, it was the surprise package of Pedersen who not only stayed with him but had the legs and lungs to get to the line first. His first World Championship title. A special shout to the fans who did not let the weather dampen their spirits. 

In comparison the women’s road race on Saturday was somewhat straightforward when compared to Sunday, but no less spectacular in how it played out. Despite her disappointing bronze finish in the TT, Dutch powerhouse Annemiek van Vleuten put in an astonishing show of determination and talent as she rode for over 100km in a solo breakaway to take the win. Despite the best efforts of her competitors she would not be seen again until the presentation ceremony after the race! It was arguably the standout individual performance of the entire week.

Major drama took centre stage in the U23 mens race as Dutch rider Nils Eekhoff was stripped of what he thought was his rainbow jersey after the commissaires declared that he illegally drafted behind a team car to get back to the bunch after a crash. This allowed Italian Battistella to take the win while young Yorkshire rider Tom Pidcock took bronze to rise his stock even higher. Despite the grim weather, the Americans once again took the gold in the women’s junior road race as Megan Jastrab showed her class after attacking with 3km to go and could not be caught to claim the rainbow stripes.

Just as it did in 2015, the Men’s Junior Road Race got underway in Richmond. This one was in Yorkshire though, not Virginia. A slightly different climate! The Americans took the race by the scruff of the neck from the beginning and chaperoned Quinn Simmons for much of the race. The Colorado rider then opened by a gap with 2km and never looked back. Fellow American Magus Sheffield finished third to make it a very successful day for the Americans.

After a couple of wet days, it dried up a little for the men’s time trial and it was the Australian Rohan Dennis who conquered all back if back-to-back world title wins. Home favourite and TT specialist Alex Dowsett rode well to finish 5th in a tough field to give the Yorkshire crowd something to cheer.

Another busy day on day three saw some big performances from the men’s U23 riders and a minor shock in the Elite Women’s TT. Dane Mikkel Berg powered to victory in the U23 TT, 26 seconds faster than his nearest rival – a sign of things to come from the Danish? The surprise came from American 22-year old Chloe Dygert who finished almost two minutes up on favourite Annemiek van Vleuten. The best would be yet to come for the Dutch rider…

Day Two was Time Trial day for the juniors where 114 riders from 66 nations took part. There was a good showing for the home riders where Elynor Backstedt finished third in the women’s race and Leo Hayter and Oscar Nillson-Julien bagged top 10 results for the UK. It was however the Russian rider Aigul Gareeva who finished on top for the women and Italian rider Antonio Tiberi for the men.

Going way back to the start however on Saturday 21st September, where in stunning Yorkshire sun, the world’s para-cycling stars got us off to an incredible le start. With too many highlights to describe in detail, Dame Sarah Storey stormed to victory in the C5 class and even described the experience as “the biggest para crowd I’ve raced in front of since London 2012 and I heard so many cheers and people shouting my name – it was amazing.”

A remarkable week in Yorkshire for so many reasons and a World Championships that will long live in the memory.