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  • Tomorrow’s Worlds: under-23 men’s road race

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    Can Pidcock pull it off? Will Higuita deliver a scorpion’s sting in the tail? Not for Moley – it’s going to be Stokbro, bro. Remember the name

    Photographs: Benedict Campbell
    Benedict Campbell
         
            


    Once again, our ‘expert’ panel here at Rouleur Towers pit their wits and intimate knowledge of the racing scene against Cycling Mole, our harshest critic and king of the tipster scene, to see who will be crowned King of Yorkshire. 


    Hours of painstaking research will go into our World Championships picks, whilst stroking our luxuriant hipster beards over a mug of single origin coffee, listening to ambient techno. [Did Moley write this? – Ed]


    Can any of us outfox the crafty Mole? Or will he rip us a new one, as per usual? Read on…


    Men’s under-23 road race: Doncaster – Harrogate, 192km


    Andy: Sergio Higuita (Colombia)


    All bets are off for this one. There will be attacks galore, and you can expect the versatile Vuelta stage-winning revelation to be in a few. If he isn’t knackered, he’s got a base there that all his rivals are lacking, and the rise to the finish suits his kick. I just wonder whether it’s hard enough for him.


    Ben: Tom Pidcock (Great Britain)


    To be honest, I got fed up of squinting at the startlist on the Yorkshire 2019 app and decided to opt for one of the few names I recognised. I have no stats to back this up, but it feels like the current prominence of cycling’s young prodigies in the pro peloton has meant that more of them have made the senior teams this year.


    Miles: Tom Pidcock (Great Britain)


    With an unquestioned slew of talent potential hitting the start-line, it’s difficult to pick somebody objectively. Instead I hold out hope that Tom Pidcock of Great Britain might take the glory, partly due to some patriotic allegiance, but also a fool’s hope that he may wheelie across the line. 


    Nick: Jasper Philipsen (Belgium)


    Not just because he’s already a WorldTour pro. Also because he’s Belgian. And, having done some actual research, because he’s had some decent late season form and picked up some good results this month: second in GP de Fourmies, and who can forget his 3rd place in the Brussels Cycling Classic? He’s due a win. Why not a biggun?


    Ian: Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark)


    Much as I’d like to see Pidcock do it, it’s hard to see it happening after his bad crash and injury at the Tour de l’Avenir. Bjerg delivered for me and Moley in the TT. I reckon he is capable of doubling up here, especially as the conditions are likely to be absolutely filthy once more. 


    Cycling Mole’s Verdict


    After we all missed the win for Australia in the ITT, or should I say Team Dennis, it remains a draw in the battle for the tipping rainbow jersey. We now enter the road races, thank God for that as TTs are boring. We should all be familiar with the lap circuit by now, there aren’t any big climbs, but it is constantly going up or down. More rain is expected, and the wind will be stronger than previous days, this will add to the difficulty level of the race and make it more selective than the profile suggests. Everyone should be wondering what type of race we will get. Is the lap circuit hard enough to blow the race to pieces? Will some sprinters survive? As it’s an under 23-race, predicting is even harder than usual.


    Ben and Miles are going with the local boy, Tom Pidcock. If he was at 100%, he would be the huge favourite for the title, but he crashed out of Tour de l’Avenir and hasn’t raced since. I have my concerns about his current fitness level, which is a real shame as this would have been a huge moment in his career. Given his talent, he still can’t be written off. 


    Andy is going with the Higuita Monster, a rider that featured heavily in Top Mañana. The little Colombian is brilliant, but I just don’t think this route is hard enough for him. Saying that, he does pack a fine sprint finish, but how will he cope with the weather? Nick also sides with a world tour pro, Jasper Philipsen. The Belgian possesses a hugely impressive uphill sprint, which is perfect for this finish. The roads in Yorkshire are similar to those in Belgium, which will suit Philipsen down to the ground. He might be a sprinter, but he can handle some lumps and bumps and has hopes of competing in the Tour of Flanders.


     Ian is hoping that Mikkel Bjerg can do the double, but he rarely threatens off the TT bike. The Danes have a strong team, meaning that Bjerg is unlikely their chosen son, which would be a shame for Ian. I’ll be honest, I was hoping the Rouleur team would make a fool of themselves in this race, but they’ve actually done rather well. Can I pull a rabbit out of the hat?


    The lap circuit isn’t that hard, but the weather will make it tough. Looking at the field, WorldTour pros like Higuita, Philipsen and Eenkhoorn certainly have an advantage over their under-23 rivals, but as Marc Hirschi showed in 2018, it doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily win. The route reminds me of a Flemish classic, so why not go with the current unde- 23 champion of the Tour of Flanders? The Danes will love the weather and Andreas Stokbro will take home the title. Remember that name, he’ll be riding in the world tour for Team NTT next year.


    I nearly forgot, your beer is in the post.