A gutsy, inglorious approach from Lewis Askey since the flag was dropped in Antwerp saw him finish fifth in a sprint for the line in Leuven, Belgium.
The 21-year-old didn’t choose a single moment in the race to attack, but many entered the men’s Under-23 road race, his first appearance as an Under-23 at the Championships. of the world on the UCI road.
It will undoubtedly be an unforgettable memory for the young Briton as he showed great spirit to achieve a better result; Askey will already think about 2022, gaining confidence in the ride of the day.
In the first race of the day, the junior men trusted Max Poole who, in a field filled with impressive talent from around the world, finished ninth overall. The men’s under 23 and junior events were won thanks to breakaways established during the Wijnpers’ last climb in Leuven.
Junior men road race
An early start awaited the junior men on Friday morning at the start line in Leuven, Belgium. With a wake-up call before 5am and 8.15am local start time, the British quartet of Jack Brough, Finlay Pickering, Max Poole and Josh Tarling will have hoped for a good night’s sleep beforehand.
121.4 kilometers, eight laps around a Leuven circuit awaited a total of 178 junior men competing to be world champions. Each turn would consist of tight turns, narrow streets, cobblestones, and four short steep climbs for good measure.
A nervous peloton at the start saw a fall a few meters from the start line even before the peloton left the neutral zone. A slowing of the pace car would allow the riders caught in the fall to rejoin the peloton, even bruised and bruised.
Once the flag fell, however, more carnage ensued with more crashes and riders retiring as countries scrambled to be in the lead and eventually enter the day’s break.
It would take 15 kilometers for the breakaway to form, the peloton allowing the gap to widen up to 30 seconds. In the break, there was British representation to Josh Tarling, fresh off his silver medal in the Junior Men’s Individual Time Trial on Tuesday; with him, only two riders Milan Kadlec (Czech Republic) and Luis-Joe Luehrs (Germany).
If premonitions aren’t his thing, they probably should be, Tarling telling TV reporters before departure: to have to make sure you’re up there all the time. Hopefully it will be reduced to a small group or a breakaway.
“It’s really good to be here, I’m really excited. – I love the class here, it sounds sick. The climbs are good, and yes, it’s an honor to put on this jersey and represent my country.
The breakaway gap only widened once to over a minute at the 89 kilometer mark as the three riders crossed the Keizersberg for the third time during the race.
Various attempts by the Norwegian, French and Danish teams proved unsuccessful to bring them back, but eventually the weather would slowly come down and the three would join the peloton with 32.2 kilometers (two laps) to go.
It was at this very inopportune moment that Tarling suffered a mechanical accident with TV footage showing a bent rear wheel as he waited for the team car. A quick bike change was well placed to get the Welsh rider into the peloton, but having spent most of the day ahead, with 20 kilometers to go, Tarling’s legs couldn’t push any further, and he slipped at the back of the peloton.
In terms of action in the lead, at the same time Dario Igo Belletta (Italy) and Daniel Schrag (Germany) had escaped the peloton and were pushing for the line. Behind them, Finlay Pickering was joined by Eddy le Huitouze (France) in hunting them, and another solo effort from Pierre Gautherat (France) meant he would join them as well to create a party of five.
One lap from the finish, Simon Dalby (Denmark) was slowly closing the gap with the group and once he caught up with them, was joined by Per Strand Hagenes (Norway) and Romain Grégoire (France) to create a head group of eight.
Pickering tested his legs 6.8 kilometers up the Decouxlaan climb but was chased by Dalby, not allowing the young Briton to escape onto the road. The attack that was going to stick was in fact on the next climb of Wijnpers.
Sadly, the attack this time was from Norwegian Per Strand Hagenes, and just behind him a fall hampered Britain’s hopes and spelled the end of Pickering.
Those who were shot were quickly swallowed up by what was now only a thin peloton resemblance, the only rider to avoid this fate was Grégoire (France) who was swinging between the Norwegian and the peloton and only three kilometers away of arrival.
Hagenes would lead to the line, securing a dominant victory, allowing himself to revel in the moment and celebrate with wide arms 50 yards from the finish.
Grégoire de France would finish 19 seconds behind, the main group just behind him finishing five seconds more and sprinting for third place. Among them was Max Poole who would finish ninth overall, Madhis Mihkels (Estonia) would win bronze.
Per Strand Hagenes (Norway) 2:43:48
Romain Grégoire (France) +19
Madis Mihkels (Estonia) +24
9. Max Poole (Great Britain) +24
25. Jack Brough (Great Britain) +24
32. Finlay Pickering (Great Britain) +56
48. Josh Tarling (Great Britain) +6: 33
Road race men U23
The U23 men’s road race was the second of the day and was contested over 160.9 kilometers from Antwerp to Leuven, completing a lap and a half of the Leuven circuit, a lap of the Flandrien circuit and another two and a half laps of the circuit de Louvain, before finishing on the same finish line that the junior men used a few hours earlier.
If the neutralized course of the junior men’s race was eventful, that of the under 23 years was nine kilometers of carnage. Various falls, stops for mechanics and visits to the doctor’s car, only meant one thing, a red flag, to stop the race and get everyone together again.
After a short delay we were finally in the race with Lewis Askey, Robert Donaldson, Oliver Stockwell, Ethan Vernon and Samuel Watson all representing Great Britain.
Any early breakaway would form in the race made up of Logan Currie (New Zealand), Gleb Karpenko (Estonia) and Adam Ward (Ireland). They would increase their lead to three minutes 18 seconds halfway just before tackling the first climb of the Flandrian circuit, the Smeysberg.
At 700 meters long and a maximum gradient of 16%, Currie proved himself the climber of the group by dropping Karpenko and putting Ward under pressure. The second climb on the circuit is the cobbled Moskesstraat, and this is where Ward finally broke as Currie continued.
That was until he got involved in a confusing moment with the New Zealand rider going the wrong way or at least being steered the wrong way, forcing him to stop with the TV motorcycle.
Lewis Askey at the same time had chosen the climb as his first opportune moment to attack with 58.6 kilometers to go. The next time, Askey was seen in front of the camera, he climbed the climb a few seconds behind Hugo Page (France) with Currie on his wheel.
They will soon be joined by an Italian representative; However, it won’t be long before they are all brought back from France by Page’s teammates, leaving the Frenchman to watch them in amazement. With everyone gathered, Stockwell and Watson were leading the pack for Great Britain patrolling things 34 miles from the finish.
The second time over the Smeysberg caused many attacks, it would take an additional 10 kilometers for a group of nine to form with a 30 second gap on the peloton, and two riders caught in the middle with 19 seconds on the peloton .
These two riders would eventually join the leading group to form 11 riders, but without Great Britain and host Belgium represented in either group, that meant a chase would come from behind at some point.
With a gap never exceeding 35 seconds, they were quickly brought back with a lap (15 kilometers) to do on the Louvain circuit.
Mauro Schmid (Switzerland) chose this moment to jump forward and attack, trying to make his way to the finish, but when he came up against the mighty steep climb of the Wijnpers, the same place who decided the junior men’s race, his lead would no longer be.
It would be Filippo Baroncini (Italy) who attacked at the same time and rolled to the line to win the gold, thus carrying the number one on his back thanks to his compatriot Samuele Battistella winning the last race of the men’s road of the under 23 years old. race in Yorkshire, 2019.
The remaining runners would be forced to sprint for the money, and despite a few brave last attacks from Britain’s Askey, and a long sprint, it would be the fifth for the 20-year-old, a good start in his first U23 World Championship road race.
Sam Watson wasn’t far behind taking 14e place. Biniam Ghirmay Hailu (Eritrea) would win silver, Eritrea’s first-ever medal at the UCI Road World Championships, and Olav Kooij (Netherlands) bronze.
Filippo Baroncini (Italy) 3:37:36
Biniam Ghirmay Hailu (Eritrea) +2
Olav Kooij (Netherlands) +2
5. Lewis Askey (Great Britain) +2
14. Sam Watson (Great Britain) +2
74. Robert Donaldson (Great Britain) +4: 30
110. Ethan Vernon (Great Britain) +11: 39
111. Oliver Stockwell (Great Britain) +11: 39