Aggressive race tactics and self-belief proved to be vital on the first day of road racing at the 2014 UCI Road World Championships in Ponferrada, with Scandinavian riders Amalie Dideriksen (Denmark) and Sven Erik Bystrom (Norway) winning the rainbow jerseys in the Women Juniors and Men Under 23 races.
Dideriksen won the 20-rider sprint after going on the attack on the final lap, while Bystrom was able to savour a solo victory after a perfectly-timed late attack on the final climb. As predicted, the two climbs on the Ponferrada circuit produced some thrilling racing.
Bystrom proved that a new generation of Norwegian riders is ready to take over from the recently retired Thor Hushovd. He won the world title and was joined on the podium by compatriot Kristoffer Skjerping, who took the bronze medal for third place, with Sondre Holst Enger fifth. Australia’s Caleb Ewen won the silver medal after bringing home the peloton, seven seconds behind Bystrom.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling”, Bystrom said. “I felt really good the whole time and so took it easy, saved my legs for finale and did the right move at the right time.”
“I put all my power into the last climb and went full gas. Nobody could follow me and so I went super fast on the downhill and kept going.”
Bystrom celebrated with his Norwegian teammates and team staff. He will turn professional and race in the Elite category with the Katusha team in 2015, joining up with compatriot Alexander Kristoff, who is a favourite for Sunday’s Men Elite Road Race. Bystrom will be able to compete on home roads in 2017 when the UCI Road World Championships are held in Bergen, Norway.
“I think its a really good moment for Norway right now”, Bystrom said. “We’ve got some good pro riders too and hopefully they can show the world that they can fight for a medal.”
“Bergen is not far from where I live and so it’s going to be super special. I’m looking forward to it.”
Dideriksen take a second consecutive Juniors title
Dideriksen proved her immense talent by winning her second consecutive Juniors road race world title. The Dane won from a three-rider breakaway in Florence in 2013 but used her finishing speed to take her second rainbow jersey in Ponferrada.
Dideriksen went on the attack with Sofia Bertizzolo and Sofia Beggin when the two Italians surged clear on the final climb. However when the move was caught on the descent, she still had the speed to win the 20-rider sprint. Bertizzolo was second after starting her sprint early, with Agnieszka Skalniak of Poland taking the bronze medal.
Dideriksen is only the third Junior Women to win consecutive world road race titles, after Nicole Cooke and Lucy Garner of Great Britain.
“I’m very happy, I was not expecting this. I thought a lot of my rivals would keep an eye on me because of last year and it was a very different race to last year, too. This time round everybody knew me. So it’s amazing to get another gold”, Dideriksen said.
“I had a bad crash on the track, and I was only able to train on the home trainer. I did not want to miss the worlds”, the two-time champion said. “To win again makes me so happy. I was feeling confident, but also I was pretty nervous at the start. It ended up in the sprint, so I am so happy. I hope to continue both on the track and road – I love both.”
The road racing continues at the weekend, with the Men Juniors and Women Elite events on Saturday. The curtain comes down on the 2014 UCI Road World Championships on Sunday with the Elite Men Road Race.