This year’s course in Ponferrada is finely balanced and the sprinters took the medals on Saturday after the late attacks were chased down in both the Men Juniors and Women Elite races.
Pauline Ferrand-Prevot took the rainbow jersey for France after a thrilling final lap on the women’s race, while Jonas Bokeloh (Germany) won world champion’s rainbow jersey in the Men Juniors event with a powerful surge to the line.
Ferrand-Prevot is a multi-talented rider, competing in the UCI Mountain Bike World Cup presented by Shimano races as well as Cyclo-Cross in the winter. She used her bike handling skills to avoid a nasty crash early in the race, handled the rain in the final laps without a problem and then used her finishing speed to win.
Marianne Vos (Netherlands), Emma Johansson (Sweden), Elisa Longo Borghini (Italy) and Lizzie Armitstead (Great Britain) got away on the final descent but when they were caught inside the final kilometre, Ferrand-Prevot was perfectly placed and produced a great sprint to beat Lisa Brennauer of Germany and Johansson in a sprint.
Ferrand-Prevot was not sure she had won and broke down in tears when told she was world champion.
“I was not the strongest on the climb but we came back with one kilometre to go and I sprinted. I didn’t know I won at first but now I know and it is fantastic,” she said.
“I had the best team ever and they were ready for the entire race to put me in the front. I want to thank my teammates because it was a great race for us. I didn’t expect to be the first. I crashed on Sunday (in the team time trial) and I felt very bad this week. I wanted to follow the front and I had expected a top-10, so I am happy.”
Bokeloh surprised to win the sprint
Bokeloh was also surprised to win in a sprint, convinced the last climb of the 18km Ponferrada circuit would decide the race.
An attack by Swedish duo Lucas Eriksson and Hampus Anderberg looked serious and Bokeloh went after it, but it did not break up the peloton. Switzerland’s Gino Maeder took over on the descent and he opened a gap. He was joined by Stepan Kurianov (Russia) inside the final kilometre but the two were swept up and Bokeloh hit the front at the right moment.
Alexandr Kulikovskiy (Russia) came through the gaps to take second and the silver medal, while Lenderink held off Edoardo Affini (Italy) for the bronze medal.
“I thought it would be a sprint from a breakaway, that’s why I followed the attacks,” Bokeloh explained. “I was a little bit sad when the break was caught by the peloton. I really didn’t think I’d be able to sprint like I did after that. I was more focused on maybe a top ten place, I didn’t expect to be world champion. It’s amazing.”
The 2014 UCI Road World Championships end on Sunday with the Men Elite Road Race. It impossible to predict if it will be decided by a late attack or in a sprint finish, making for a thrilling finale to a huge successful 2014 UCI Road World Championships.