Pidcock claims bronze at Road World Championships after Eekhoff disqualification
Eekhoff had raised his arms in victory in Harrogate.
Yorkshire’s own Tom Pidcock claimed Great Britain’s third bronze medal of the UCI Road World Championships on Friday after Dutchman Nils Eekhoff was dramatically disqualified from first place in the men’s under-23 road race.
Eekhoff had raised his arms in victory in Harrogate after edging out Italian Samuele Battistella on the finishing line, leaving Pidcock in tears as the 20-year-old rolled home fourth.
But the UCI jury quickly announced the results were under investigation and after a 25-minute wait, it was confirmed that Eekhoff had been disqualified for drafting behind a team car early in the race.
Though the jury’s decision put him on the podium, Pidcock – a former cyclocross world champion at junior and under-23 level and the 2017 junior time trial world champion – said he was still disappointed with the result.
“I don’t think the bronze medal changes much,” the Leeds-born rider said. “It meant that I have more time to enjoy the crowd on the podium but I’m still disappointed.
“There’s only one place that matters in a World Championship. I’ve got a souvenir but I would have liked a jersey.”
The 173 kilometre race from Doncaster came down to a seven-way battle on the streets of Harrogate, with Eekhoff instrumental in bridging the gap as a group of three riders caught the front four – including Pidcock and Battistella – as they passed under the flamme rouge.
Pidcock looked well placed as the group raced up Parliament Street but the 20-year-old – only back on the bike for two weeks following a nasty crash at the Tour de l’Avenir last month – ran out of steam on the long drag up to the finish line.
“It’s not how I would like to win a medal,” Pidcock added. “I guess there are rules and consequences if you break them.”
Pidcock had earlier crashed himself and sporting a bloodied and bruised knee, though he said that had little impact on his performance.
Eekhoff later revealed he had suffered a dislocated shoulder in a crash before he had drafted behind his team car in an effort to get back.
“Although I suffered serious pain from a dislocated shoulder, the crash early in the race never stopped me from fighting for my ultimate goal,” he wrote on Twitter.
“To hear they DQ me, was/is a big shock to me. I understand the rules of cycling, but truly thing this decision is inappropriate.”
Battistella had banged his arms on the handlebars in frustration when he crossed the line in second, but was smiling broadly on the podium.
“At first I didn’t understand what happened,” he said. “Then they said you’re the new world champion.
“Now I understand everything and after I saw his jersey and this medal, I cannot believe it, I cannot explain it with words.”
Earlier American Megan Jastrab won the women’s junior road race as Elynor Backstedt took fifth place for Great Britain.
Jastrab jumped on an attack from Russia’s newly-crowned world junior time trial champion Aigul Gareeva in the final kilometres and had the strength to hold off the field on the finishing straight, delivering America’s third gold of the championships.
“I can’t believe it,” Jastrab said. “I’m just smiling ear to ear. I’m so grateful for my team-mates, it wouldn’t be possible without them.
“It was pretty stressful being the favourite. I had to play my cards right but my team-mates were amazing. I could put a lot of faith in them.”
Backstedt, who took bronze in the junior time trial on Monday, was happy with fifth.
“Everyone is here for the same goal, everyone wants to win that jumper but I’ve got many more years to come,” said the 17-year-old, who later in the day announced a three-year deal to race alongside Lizzie Deignan at Trek-Segafredo from next year.
“I’m still really happy with fifth. For us as a team, to pull off that result on such a technical finish and a course that’s so different to normal, I think we should be really pleased.”