Highs and lows predictably shaped the week at Worlds for New Zealand. Ella Wyllie, Finn Fisher-Black and Patrick Bevin led the way against the clock, but the elite men’s road race summed up the impact that the weather had on the Yorkshire championships.
From victor Mads Pedersen through to Petr Vakoc who was the last man to cross the finish line in the men’s road race survival was not far from anyone’s thoughts in the elite men’s road race yesterday.
Some people will be coming away from the Yorkshire World Championships satisfied with the week’s work. The likes of Ella Wyllie and Finn Fisher-Black, two juniors who both picked up top ten finishes against the clock, can leave Britain with their heads held high. Wyllie is the best placed Kiwi junior woman in a World Championship TT since 2007, while Fisher-Black secured the best result in 8 years for the men.
For others satisfaction will be blended with disappointment. Patrick Bevin, so often the nearly man this season in time trials, was just 2 seconds shy of a podium finish in the elite men’s time trial; finishing fourth behind Rohan Dennis, Remco Evenepoel and Filippo Ganna.
Sadly weather played an inevitably but perhaps a disproportionately large factor in riders’ ability to perform, with rain scuppering the hopes of the likes of our U23 riders and our elite men’s racers; with only Paul Wright out of the two road races able to finish. The effect of the elements was summed up by Cycling New Zealand director sportif Craig Geater who’d watched all four of his elite men pull out of the race.
“It was one of the toughest days I have ever had in the sport,” he said. “The roads just could not handle that amount of water and it was cold and dismal.
“I am surprised that 47 riders managed to finish. It was disappointing for the world championships and at times very difficult just to stay upright.
It’s unfortunately telling that it was not the intensity or ‘racing’ that forced the withdrawal of Kiwis Bevin, Smith, Archbold and Bauer; but pure misfortune. Bevin was swamped by a passing team car on a flooded section of road. Shane Archbold, who replaced George Bennett very late in the piece, went down in a crash together with Dion Smith; and after trying to chase back on ended up withdrawing.
Jack Bauer, a late call up to the New Zealand squad in the wake of Tom Scully, was the last to withdraw. The former Commonwealth Games road race medallist held his own well in the peloton and looked to be in contention until a puncture spelled the end of his campaign.
“While it was not the way we wanted the week to finish, there were some good moments with Paddy’s outstanding fourth place in the time trial and the performances from some of the young riders.”