Flooding after heavy rain turned the individual time trial for Under-23 New Zealand champion James Fouche more into a survival test at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire.

Heavy rain caused flooding over the course from Ripon to Harrogate and was enough for weather authorities to issue a yellow rain warning for the region.

Fouche had to be content with a mid-table finish but more importantly he survived the conditions ahead of the weekend’s road race, finishing in 44th place from the 61 starters.

Cycling New Zealand director sportif, Craig Geater said some of the early riders got through the course without too much concern and the latter riders had warnings of the flooded areas.

“We didn’t know where the flooding was and James just rode into them. He did well to stay upright to be honest but it was like riding into a sandpit. His performance was seriously compromised and that was a pity,” Geater said.

“However, he got through it safely and can now refocus for the road race. He is a strong time trialler so it was just a pity that the weather was such a disaster. It could have been worse in those conditions – it came down so hard and flooded so quickly. It turned it into a lottery and we are just thankful he survived.”

James Fouche battles treacherous conditions in the U23 men’s time trial, photo Robert Jones

Denmark’s Mikkel Bjerg won for the third time, managing to circumvent the flooding after warnings from officials.

While several riders crashed in the floods, most were significantly delayed as they slowly waded through the worst of the conditions.

The elite women’s race was delayed until conditions improved, with American Chloe Dygert holding off the Dutch pair of Anna van der Breggen and Annemiek van Vleuten for the title.

Focus turns to the men’s elite race tomorrow with high hopes for Patrick Bevin, but with everyone hoping for much improved conditions.

Results:

Under 23 Male Time Trial, 30km: Mikkel Bjerg (DEN) 40:20.42, 1; Ian Garrison (USA) 40:46.87, 2; Brandon McNulty (USA) 40:48.11, 3. Also: James Fouche (NZL) 44:11.64, 44.

Elite Female, 30kms: Chloe Dygert (USA) 42:11.57, 1; Anna van der Breggen (NED) 43:43.92, 2; Annemiek van Vlerten (NED) 44:04.23, 3. 

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