Racing on a Thursday? At the World Championships? What gives Doha? Yes indeed, instead of the usual road race practice day five saw the U23 men battle it out over ten laps and roughly 260 corners and roundabouts. It was scrappy, there were crashes and mentions of vomit, but it did end in the expected no-holds-barred sprint showdown between two strong teams.
Men U23 road race
Kristoffer Halvorsen finished off the superb work of his Norwegian teammates with a beautifully crafted late run for the line. Norway and Germany dominated the twists and turns of the final kilometres to get their sprinters into position and it worked. As the peloton came around the last corner and into the finish a sparkling white Halvorsen went for a gap by the barriers, jumped off the wheel of the Germany’s Patrick Ackermann and held off Jakub Mareczko (Italy) to take gold. The 20-year-old World Champion has a wise head on young shoulders too: he has decided to take another year with his Continental level team Joker Byggtorget before seeking his first professional contract.
The Norwegian U23 team have been strong all year and it was a joy to see them celebrate this icing on the cake.
Sparkling white… one of our favourite kits
and here’s another, the always so chic French team
A few final thoughts…
I might be one of the few people that adores the racing at the Tour of Qatar. There is nothing I like better than the constant fight for the wheel on a wind blasted parcours… unfortunately today was nothing like that. Halvorsen’s win was brilliant and I have no problem with sprint friendly Worlds – or one for the climbers – but a criterium race around the Pearl did not make for a happy Midge. That’s not to say the peloton had an easy time of it. There may not have been echelons, but the stress and constant fight for position came from the 26 corners and roundabouts contained in each of the ten laps. It wasn’t lessened by vehicles on the road or the battle at the feed station either: so many soigneurs squeezed along a tiny strip of tarmac was chaotic to say the least. Sort it out!
Header image: Kristoffer Halvorsen © Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images