The World Championships in Bergen was pretty damn special. So special, they deserve their own A to Z!
A is for #Aussie7
There was outrage when Simon Jones, performance director of Cycling Australia, announced there would only be five elite women in Bergen, two less then the quota they had qualified for. The decision was reversed after a determined and successful appeal and a team of seven fierce Aussies set out to prove a point.
And prove it they did with Katrin Garfoot following the moves, digging hard and bringing home a silver in the sprint.
All this after taking bronze in the time trial as well.
B is for Bergen love
I can’t think of a starker contrast between the World Championships in Doha in 2016 and those we have just witnessed in Bergen. The fans and the energy they brought to proceedings deserve a mention all of their own (see later), but I have to say the “city among the seven mountains” provided THE MOST spectacular setting. Safe to say it’s now on every cycling fan’s bucket list.Embed from Getty Images
C is for Carpe Diem
Seize the day! There’s one chance to grab rainbow glory and it’s far better to reach out and fail, than to end with regrets. It’s time to celebrate those brave enough to risk losing in order to win.
Julian Alaphilippe lit up our twitter line when he lit the blue touch paper on Salmon Hill.Embed from Getty Images
I did what I could. I’ve no regrets. I’m just disappointed it didn’t work out.
Hannah Barnes animated the elite women’s race. Time and time again she made the crucial breaks and must have had a whole boxful of matches the rate she was using them up. We loved it.Embed from Getty Images
We went into it and we wanted to be really aggressive, we knew the Dutch were going to be and they were. I’m a little disappointed but I’m pleased with how I raced.
Somewhere in the closing kilometres, when we were all on the edge of ours seats praying for pictures, Denmark’s sprinter Magnus Cort broke clear and hurtled into our view. The rainbows were in sight, but alas 500m too far.
If I just had to finish and place in the top ten, if that was all it was, then I should of course wait for the sprint. I think I made a really good attempt to win. I don’t regret it.
D is Down to the wire
The men’s U23 race always fizzes with action and this year was no exception. With the peloton hot on their heels, Lennard Kamna (Germany) and France’s Benoit Cosnefroy had no chance to look back on the run to the line.
The rainbows went to France and the whole team rocked the podium.Embed from Getty Images
There’s always a discussion on whether professional riders should be eligible to take part in this category. As the rule stands now if you’re under 23 you can ride. Personally I don’t think WorldTour riders should be there, they have moved beyond needing this step in their career. But given they can, then at least let them have rainbow bands somewhere on their professional kit.
E is for Everything given
Cycling isn’t a game, it’s a sport. Tough, hard and unpitying and requires great sacrifice. One plays at football or tennis or hockey. One does not play at cycling. Nothing illustrates Jean Gribaldy‘s words with more painful clarity than the end of a time trial when there is nothing left to give.
There is an incredibly moving feature in Soigneur Cycling Journal by the photographer Kåre Dehlie Thorstad. The words alone move me to tears, the images are agonising.
You wonder where these youngsters learnt to be so hard on their bodies, and what’s driving them to do it again and again. It’s a very intense experience, watching these frail and young bodies sprawled out on the tarmac.
F is for Fratelli d’Italia
Nothing is more joyful than the Italian national anthem sung with exuberance and passion. Thanks to Elena Pirrone we got to hear it twice. HOORAY!
The outrageously talented youngster TT’d her way to the rainbow in the U19 time trial and then repeated the feat with a stunning solo ride in the road race.
Both times she had compatriots to share the steps and sing it out in style.Embed from Getty Images
G is for Goosebumps
If podium ceremonies raise the hairs on your arms, imagine the goosebumps riding the World Championships on your home roads. The fans cheered for everyone but there was a special roar reserved for their heroes in red.
Alexander Kristoff so very nearly gave the home team a dream ending.
There was a successful Norwegian Viking raid for the top step of the elite podium. Bergen native, Odd Christian Eiking, was overjoyed to be awarded the most competitive rider salmon jersey. Definitely cause for celebration.
H is for HupHup
The Elite men’s time trial included a final lung-busting climb that got everyone in would-they-wouldn’t-they bike change tizzy.
The Belgians had been practicing already…
Tension mounted and numbers were crunched. Who would change the bikes? Would it be worth it? A red carpet arrived on the cobbles and the questions kept coming. Why? (it was the change zone) and would mechanics be able to push? (apparently not, but you wouldn’t have known it). So many questions, so few answers, oh the fun on twitter..
First rider to attempt the feat was Alexey Lutsenko and it really didn’t go to plan. More #RedCarpetOfShame than strutting your stuff.
There was a collective wince at the enthusiastic leap from Syria’s Nazir Jaser (more on him later)
Slickest change of the day went to Spain and Gorka Izaguirre
Some riders went for a compromise
Could anyone imagine Vasil Kiryienka entertaining such shenanigans? No! The Belarusian maintained his granite TT position and dared the mountain to do its worse.Embed from Getty Images
In the end the podium was split. The winner Tom Dumoulin and bronze medallist Chris Froome stayed on their TT bikes while Primoz Roglic’s change to a road bike saw him climb the ascent in the fastest time to take silver.
Tom’s pit stop was ready though – yeah it’s the joke that keeps on giving.
I is for International
Any international sporting event brings together athletes from around the globe. To paraphrase The Naked City: “There are a thousand stories at the Bergen Worlds, here’s just a couple of them..”
Alyssa Rowse made her debut in the U19 time trial and road race, the first ever female competitor from Bermuda. We’re pleased to report she finished both.
Syria’s Nazir Jaser, Ahmad Badreddin and Mohamed Rayes journey from Aleppo to Bergen is extraordinary.
Another highlight of the Worlds is the international break of the day. If you’re unlikely to feature at the sharp end of the race, or you are the only representative of your country. Why not go up the road and soak up the atmosphere and screen time.Embed from Getty Images
This year the men’s elite race BOTD featured Costa Rica’s and Kitty Fondue’s favourite cyclist Andrey Amador who kept his fans entertained with his seemingly limitless ability to zip and unzip his jersey.
J is for Just for MidgeEmbed from Getty Images
Denmark really were the little nation that could. Third in the medal table behind the two big hitters The Netherlands and Italy, the Danes went home with two bronze medals (Michael Carbel, Amalie Dideriksen) one silver (Emma Norsgaard), and two towering performances for gold and the coveted rainbows. One from Julius Johansen who stormed the victory in the U19 road race and dabbed over the line.
The other from 18 year old Mikkel Bjerg who roasted the competition in the U23 time trial to claim victory by over a minute.
K is for Kicking ass and kicking back
And not just Journal Velo’s. Team Rwanda exude such fierce joy and excitement that you just can’t help getting swept along with them.
When they’re not mixing it up with the big guns in the peloton …
…They’re kicking back and bringing their own special brand of party atmosphere
This is just the most perfect comeback to a lack lustre race report
L is for a Locked out
Poor Danny van Poppel returned to the Dutch team bus early, only to find everyone was out watching the race he’d just left.
M is for Mount Fløyen
The best individual time trial I have ever seen in my life, and you KNOW how much I LOVE a race against the clock. The final ascent of Mount Fløyen was truly special, a privilege to watch and one of those increasingly rare days when the twitter line was filled with happiness. It had everything..
15,000 fans on the road who cheered each and every rider
and treated them all with the utmost respect.
A gripping contest, even when victory came with a 60 second margin.
The winner and first Dutchman to wear time trial rainbows.
The joke that never gets old
A trip back to the podium in a funicular with sandwiches laid on #theglamour
The podium where Tom had crush-tastic fabulous hairEmbed from Getty Images
And rainbow clad goats!
It simply beggars belief that the elite women did not get the same opportunity for such a memorable time trial – come ON UCI!
Stay tuned for N-Z!
Header image: Norwegian fans © KT/Tim De Waele/Corbis via Getty Images