HARROGATE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 29: Mads Pedersen of Denmark / Rain / Fans / Public / during the 92nd UCI Road World Championships 2019, Men Elite Road Race a 261,8km race from Leeds to Harrogate 125m / RR / @Yorkshire2019 / #Yorkshire2019 / on September 2
Denmark’s Mads Pedersen sprung a surprise to become the youngest World Road Race Champion in three decades, winning a three-up sprint against Italy’s Matteo Trentin and Switzerland’s Stefan Kung in rainy Yorkshire on Sunday after Dutchman Mathieu van der Poel hit the wall with 13 kilometres remaining.
Twenty-three-year-old Pedersen proved the strongest of a leading trio after almost six and a half sodden hours in the saddle, the Dane kicking past the experienced Trentin in Harrogate, with Kung taking third in the 261km race.
Pedersen looked to have been dropped on the ninth and final climb of Oak Beck with just over five kilometres remaining when Kung’s tempo ended the chances of Trentin’s Italian teammate Gianni Moscon.
But Pedersen, a runner-up in the Tour of Flanders in 2018, rallied before making light of his tender years to zip past 30-year-old Trentin on the home straight after the final leg-sapping climb up Parliament Street.
Moscon took fourth place at 17 seconds before the former triple World Champion Peter Sagan of Slovakia finished fifth after leaving it too late to attack from the chasing pack.
Youngster Van der Poel looked a shoo-in to cap his meteoric rise with a rainbow jersey after joining the winning move with Trentin inside the final 35km.
But the 24-year-old cyclo-cross star imploded spectacularly with just under a lap to go, Van der Poel sinking like a stone in one of the many deep puddles flooding the Yorkshire roads.
Horrific conditions in the north of England forced the organisers to scrap two climbs and shorten the course, with the extensive list of riders failing to go the distance including the defending champion Alejandro Valverde of Spain and the 2012 champion Philippe Gilbert or Belgium.