After Megan Jastrab delivered the third gold medal for the USA in the UCI Road World Championships in the Women’s Juniors, Samuele Battistella won the Under 23 Men’s road gold for Italy in very demanding racing conditions after Nils Eekhoff from The Netherlands was disqualified.
Inspired by Chloé Dygert in the Women’s Elite Individual Time Trial and Quinn Simmons in the Junior Men’s road race, Megan Jastrab, at the age of only 17, claimed the gold medal in the Junior Women’s road race, in her first year in the category. In a very competitive finale, she rode away with 2km to go, along with UCI Women Junior Time Trial champion Aigul Gareeva (RUS), just after Cédrine Kerbaol (FRA) and the Chilean rider Catalina Soto Campos – who looked like they had made the right move – were brought back by the pack.
“I’m just so grateful for my teammates today, it wouldn’t have been possible without them,” said Jastrab after outsprinting Gareeva with the first of the bunch right behind her, Belgium’s Julie De Wilde and Lieke Nooijen from The Netherlands having taken the other two medals away from the Russian. “They were there from beginning to end. I know a couple of them got caught behind a crash and they came back stronger than ever.
“I knew it was going to be technical and it would be decided with 10km to go on the climb and then a fast descent. Katie Clouse and I were both at the front and then the Russian took off, and I was like 'well, this is what I thought was going to happen. I’m not going to let it go this time.' I just stayed with her, and didn’t really want to work because I wasn’t feeling the best. I saw that nobody was chasing so I just relaxed, kept it rolling and saw that we had a big enough gap that I could take enough of a breath and then start my sprint, so it was great.
“What’s happening here this week is just insane,” concluded Jastrab, a former BMX and mountain-bike rider.
The Men’s Under 23 road race was equally washed out by the rain in Yorkshire and it was a very demanding race even when it cleared up later. Chinese sensation Lyu Xianjing was still in the mix when echelons were formed to split the already reduced peloton with less than 60km to go.
Following one of the crashes, home favourite Tom Pidcock, who is a Yorkshire native from Leeds, made it back to the pack and later found himself in the decisive move along with Battistella (ITA), Stefan Bissegger (SUI) and Tour de l’Avenir winner Tobias Foss (NOR).
A chasing trio came across to them under the flamme rouge of the last kilometre as Sergio Higuita, the youngest ever Colombian stage winner of a Grand Tour at La Vuelta a España two weeks ago, rode across with great motivation, accompanied by Andreas Kron (DEN) and Eekhoff, 21, who won the conclusive stage of the Tour de Bretagne (third overall) and the U23 Paris-Roubaix in 2017. Higuita launched the sprint, Battistella came strongly from behind but the most powerful was Eekhoff in the centre of the street in Harrogate.
Eekhoff, who had crashed earlier in the race with 128km remaining, was eventually penalised by the commissaires’ panel for sheltering behind a vehicle and Battistella was declared the winner after a lengthy delay. Bissegger and Pidcock rounded out the podium. “I was just happy with second place,” said Battistella after the verdict. “The picture with my hands raised up in the air will remain missing but I’m incredibly happy.”