Denmark’s Mads Pederson drops to the wet Yorkshire tarmac, a hundred metres past the finish line, he can’t take in what he’s just accomplished.

He has out-sprinted one of the foxiest and fastest men around, Matteo Trentin of Italy – the hot pre-race favourites for the title on this horror of a day.

Mads Pederson
Mads Pederson in the media scrum. Photo©Ed Hood
Mads Pederson
Mads Pederson takes an unexpected win at the World Road championships. Photo©Martin Williamson
Mads Pederson
Silver medallist Matteo Trentin (r) concentrates on a tricky descent on the 2nd lap of the finishing circuit. Photo©Martin Williamson

In third spot was the tall, handsome young man who forced the break, former World Pursuit Champion and Swiss Time Trial Champion Stefan Küng.

Mads Pederson
Stefan Küng. Photo©Martin Williamson

In fourth spot was Trentin’s Italia team mate, Gianni Moscon who was in the Küng break but cracked.

Mads Pederson
Gianni Moscon leads the break on the 7th lap. Photo©Martin Williamson

But the man who cracked in most spectacular style was the man who many felt was world champion in waiting with a lap to go – even the Belgians in the bar I had to take shelter in – Mathieu Van Der Poel.

The young talent reckoned he’d eaten enough but hadn’t bargained on the cold which ate into everyone as they hammered around the sodden streets of Harrogate.

Mads Pederson
The break on lap seven of nine. Photo©Martin Williamson

It’s arguable that it was VDP who won the medals for Messrs. Pedersen, Trentin and Küng with his power house spells dragging them clear, out of the clutches of the Belgian and French teams.

I can’t actually remember the last time the Worlds was won with a move which went clear before the last lap.

But on this day it was a ‘Paris-Roubaix-esque’ situation where the chasers are just as damn wasted as those in the break.

Mads Pederson
Mathieu Van Der Poel drives the break. Photo©Martin Williamson

Fifth place went to the irrepressible Peter Sagan who, by his own admission got it wrong, thinking the race would come together on the last lap for a sprint; like it usually does – but not today.

His late chase to bridge to the banditos up front came, well, just too late.

Mads Pederson
Peter Sagan tried in vain to get across to the break. Photo©Martin Williamson

It was another Dane who took sixth, Michael Valgren – reminding us of his talent and the strength of the men in red and white.

Wet and cold, from start to finish today. Photo©Martin Williamson

We reckoned before the race that ‘an old warhorse’ like Degenkolb or Kristoff may well flourish on such a long, tough parcours – never mind the horror weather endured on the day.

Kristoff took seventh and the German 15th.

Mads Pederson
Alexander Kristoff. Photo©Martin Williamson

* * *

Leeds, 07:30 am and the best bike riders on the planet are here among the old sandstone Victorians and ultra-modern glass buildings under a sky just waiting to deliver.

One of two impressive carved and gilded clocks by Potts & Sons projecting on brackets from each side of the Civic Hall. Photo©Martin Williamson
Mads Pederson
John Degenkolb shares a joke with (trade) teammate, Frenchman Julien Bernard. Photo©Martin Williamson
Riders signed a car bonnet, to be auctioned later. Photo©Martin Williamson

The crowd recognises some of the stars; but Spanish fans apart there’s little of the Vuelta-esque pagan idolatory for the man who will remain world champion until the 09:00 am roll out, Alejandro Valverde.

But today was not for a ‘man of the south’ – there was no sunshine to warm the bones on this day and it was appropriate that we had a Norse winner.

Mads Pederson
Alejandro Valverde. Photo©Ed Hood
Every bike gets the appropriate transponder fitted under the saddle when riders sign-on. Photo©Martin Williamson
Matt Stephens is working for Zwift today. Photo©Martin Williamson
Jacob Fuglsang and his three hats. Photo©Martin Williamson
Vasil Kirienka looks like he’s here under duress. Photo©Martin Williamson

Slovakia’s Peter Sagan is much in demand; Martin spots the TV cameramen readying themselves for an interview and slots himself in next to them, risking being trampled by dozens of feral media folk, desperate for The Big Shot or sound bite.

Mads Pederson
Peter Sagan, by far the most in-demand rider at the sign-on. Photo©Martin Williamson
Friend of VeloVeritas, Michael Mørkøv. Photo©Martin Williamson

Home Boy and Sky/Ineos stalwart, Ian Stannard always has time for us; he’s here to do a job for Ben Swift he tells us and not fazed by the course change, he’d actually prefer if the whole race was on the circuit; avoiding the moorland climbs.

Albeit he reckons the circuit is wearing on for being ‘dodgy.’

Mads Pederson
Ian Stannard. Photo©Martin Williamson
Esteban Chaves doesn’t hold high hopes for today’s race. Photo©Martin Williamson

Another old friend, Kiwi Jack Bauer has no big pretentious, ‘with such a small team we have to work off the back of the big nations,’ he tells us.

Mads Pederson
Jack Bauer. Photo©Ed Hood
Sam Bennett is touted as a strong favourite today. Photo©Martin Williamson

Big Irish man, Connor Dunn won’t be in the early break today, he’s on ‘bottle duty’ for Sam Bennett and Dan Martin; Ireland is ‘all for Sam and Dan,’ today, he tells Martin.

Connor Dunn. Photo©Ed Hood

Looking relaxed is the man we tipped for the time trial champs, but it didn’t happen – big Suisse, Stefan Küng, he’d be smiling still at the day’s end.

Stefan Küng. Photo©Ed Hood

Whilst his Swiss team mate Silvan Dillier was already thinking about all those kilometres he’d spend in the 11 man break which splashed through the floods and dominated the TV screens until the circuits. 

Silvan Diller. Photo©Ed Hood

Trentin looked cool, calm and collected – not the vision of dejection we saw on the podium. 

Matteo Trentin. Photo©Ed Hood
Photo©Martin Williamson
Not sure what Anthony Roux, behind Julian Alaphilippe, is doing here. Photo©Martin Williamson

The circuits – increased from seven to nine to account for the rain-shortened large loop – were savage, lumpy, technical, wet, cold and wearing.

We lost two race favourites for the price of one when Gilbert went down, Evenepoel went back for him and neither got back.

Remco Evenepoel tries to help Philippe Gilbert back on. Photo©Ed Hood

It wasn’t long until Phil Gil was pedalling along the narrow ‘escape’ lane back to the busses, not the way he’d have liked his Deceuninck days to end.

Philippe Gilbert packs. Photo©Ed Hood
The Belgian team try to salvage something late in the race. Photo©Martin Williamson
Photo©Martin Williamson
Toms Skujins looked relaxed at the start. We helped him remove the duct tape covering some of the sponsors names on his Gabba jacket. Photo©Martin Williamson

Latvian Champion and 2015 UCI Americas Tour winner, Toms Skujins finished 21st, his face told the story of a day of unrelenting misery.

Toms Skujins. Photo©Ed Hood

After we saw Julian Alaphilippe in action in the Canadian World Tour races we rather felt the little Frenchman wasn’t on his best game – the Harrogate circuit soon finds these things out; here he reflects on 28th place.

Julienne Alaphilippe at the start… Photo©Martin Williamson
… and at the finish. Photo©Ed Hood

The mighty Belgian squadra with four potential winners could do no better than eighth from GVA who slipped quietly away through the crush to safety of the Belgian team bus.

Greg Van Avermaet looked serious at sign-on. Photo©Martin Williamson
Mads Pederson
Game over for Greg Van Avermaet. Photo©Ed Hood

Aussie fast man, Michael Matthews did have form in Canada but he was another spurned by Lady Harrogate, he was almost in tears as he rode away from 24th place.

Mads Pederson
Michael Matthews. Photo©Ed Hood

Ben Swift’s boyish visage looked much older at the end of this race; twice a podium finisher in the Primavera and fifth in the Bergan Worlds, we’d expected more than 32nd from him – but then so did he on a day where the cold just bit harder and harder as the laps counted down.

Mads Pederson
Ben Swift. Photo©Ed Hood

The man who many expected would be King – me included – cut a picture of total dejection, pale and avoiding all eye contact, his gaze on the wet tar.

But with his talent, the day will surely come for Mathieu Van Der Poel?

Mads Pederson
Mathieu Van Der Poel cut a dejected figure at the finish. Photo©Ed Hood
Mads Pederson
Mathieu Van Der Poel was one of the favourites before the start – and still was with 10 miles to go. Photo©Martin Williamson

But this was a day for the Viking Raiders from the North with three men in the top 12: Pedersen, Valgren and Fuglsang.

Mads Pederson
Michael Valgren and Jacob Fuglsang. Photo©Ed Hood
Mads Pederson
Photo©Ed Hood

As we say in Copenhagen; “Tillykke !

Mads Pederson
Mads Pederson shows off his new rainbow stripes. Photo©Trek Segafredo