Kevin Ledanois and Chloe Dygert solo to first Road Race golds of 2015 World Championships
In what has been a superb week for Dygrrt, gold in the Junior Women’s road race was her second triumph in the World Championships after victory on Monday in the Time Trial. The US Junior Women’s team underlined their domination of their category in Richmond’s World Championships as USA team-mate Emma White, already a silver medallist behind Dygart in the Time Trial, once again took silver in the Road Race. Poland’s Agnieszka Skalniak clinched the bronze.
With over a lap remaining, Dygert soared away on the toughest part of the course from a four-rider break, containing Skalniak, White and Juliette Labous (France) and which had formed mid-way through the race. Dygert’s margin as she crossed the finishing line for the second time was only around 18 seconds, but she had enough fuel in the tank to remain ahead of the chasing trio the last lap and claim an impressive lone victory in the 64.8 kilometre event. By the finish line, the Indiana-born rider was 1 minute and 23 seconds ahead of White, who after breaking away late on, claimed silver with a five second margin over Skalniak.
“There was a point where I got a small gap, looked back, and decided to see what happened if I kept going,” Dygert said later, confirming she had not made a planned attack. “I felt pretty strong, I wasn’t tired and I knew I had the legs.”
'I really wanted us to podium. Going both races one-two is awesome,'' Dygert said. ''I couldn't be happier. Great team, we all worked so hard and I'm so glad we could do this.''
If the Womens’ Junior Road Race had seen the USA firmly in control of affairs from a long way out, the Under 23 Men’s Road Race remained far less clear cut until there was less than five kilometres to go.
More than three quarters of the race were dominated by a long, five-rider break initially comprising Eddie Dunbar (Ireland), Jose Luis Rodriguez (Chile), and Davide Martinelli (Italy). Oleg Zemlyakov (Kazakhstan), Maximilian Schachmann (Germany), already a silver medallist in the Time Trial earlier in the week, then bridged across.
Five became three again, however, as Dunbar and Martinelli lost contact, and on the second last ascent of Libby Hill, some 20 kilometres from the finish, the trio were caught. After a brief but intense five kilometre move by Denmark’s Soren Kragh Andresen failed to gain traction, the last round of attacks from a front group of some 90 riders began as they closed in on the trio of final climbs amidst increasingly heavy rain.
Positioning was therefore crucial, with France and Italy well-placed as the pack reached the foot of the first ascent. Crashes combined with the steeper, cobbled, first two climbs left the peloton split apart, but both French and Italian riders remained prominent in the shattered front group. Martinelli briefly went clear again before Ledanois seized the moment and shot away with some two kilometres to go. Italian and Austrian riders led the chase, but Ledanois, despite constantly looking back, maintained his lead of less than ten seconds as he roared onto the final ascent up Governor Street and round the last sweeping left-hand bend.
The long finishing straight clearly took its toll on the Frenchman as Italy’s Simone Consonni, aided by Gianni Moscon laid down a fierce pace behind to try and catch his rival. And despite another Frenchman, Anthony Turgis, shadowing their moves, Consonni’s counter-attack almost worked.
Ledanois, visibly getting more and more exhausted, alternated standing and sitting to work the pedals as best he could, finally crossing the line barely two or three bikelengths ahead of the deeply frustrated Italian. A bronze medal for Turgis underlined France’s superiority at the end of a tumultuous race where no nation seemed capable of dominating proceedings.
The 2015 Road World Championships continues on Saturday with the Junior Men’s Road Race and the Elite Women’s Road Race, both over a distance of 129.8 kilometres.
“I waited for as long as possible because last year I attacked a lap too early,” Ledanois said. “This time I waited and when the rain came, it was my moment."