Heavy rain and flooding marred the third morning of the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire as some riders suggested the men’s under-23 time trial should have been postponed due to “extreme” conditions.
Persistent rain around Harrogate led to torrents of water running down the roads and large pools of standing water which made riding conditions treacherous on a day which is due to see the women’s elite time trial take place in the afternoon.
Johan Price-Pejtersen is the men’s under-23 European champion and began the morning’s race as one of the favourites but he finished last after suffering a spectacular spill when came around a bend and rode directly into deep standing water which threw him from his bike.
“I think it was a bit extreme,” the Dane said. “In my opinion I think they should have cancelled it for a bit, until at least the pools (of water) had gone and the rain had stopped being so extreme.”
“Everywhere you tried to go there was, you know … you had to take the pools of water into account, you weren’t able ride the apex that you trained for, so yes, very extreme.”
Hungarian rider Attila Valter also suffered a nasty crash on a short downhill section that left him careering down the road on his backside as though riding a water slide.
The 21-year-old did not stop to speak after finishing 28th, saying only that he wanted to go to hospital for a check-up.
Belgian rider Ilan Van Wilder told Het Laatse Nieuws: “It is super dangerous and I think it is irresponsible to let it go ahead.
“It was no longer raining, but really pouring. You take the longest route to avoid puddles, against all time trial principles.”
Asked by the PA news agency for comment, the UCI did not directly address Van Wilder’s remarks but said it was working to ensure rider safety.
To that end, the start of the women’s time trial was delayed by 40 minutes as organisers sought to make the route safe.
“The organising committee and the county are deploying marshals to yellow flag areas with standing water and staff and vehicles are draining water on the roads to ensure riders’ safety,” a statement said.
“The UCI and Yorkshire 2019 will continue to monitor closely the events and take any appropriate decisions.”
Though Price-Pejtersen was not alone in suggesting the under-23 race should have been stopped, others disagreed.
“It was pretty dangerous, but we race outside,” said Swiss rider Marc Hirschi, who finished 13th. “The weather is part of it. It’s how it is.”
Britain’s Charlie Quarterman finished 14th after managing to get around the course without incident, though he has enjoyed better days on the bike.
“It was pretty horrible, to be honest,” he said. “With so many puddles to avoid and all the standing water, it felt like we had to push on the whole day just to keep moving. It was already a hard course – I don’t think we needed that.
“It was just a hard day to perform really, but with the legs I had today I don’t think I could have gone much harder.”
The race was won by Price-Pejtersen’s compatriot Mikkel Bjerg, who completed the 30.3km route from Ripon in a time of 40 minutes 20.42 seconds to win the event for a third consecutive year, with American Ian Garrison second 26.45 seconds down.