What a crazy World Championships that was! It'll take a while for it all to sink in, but a huge thank you to every last fan of bike racing who made the event so special. It was an awesome thing to be a part of, and it was great to meet so many of you out on the road, cheering riders on in the pouring rain. We hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
We're left with nothing but a sense of immense pride for Rory Townsend, not just for his ride on the day, but for his road leading up to Harrogate. Following a rocky 2018, he rode an immense season this year, with podium places in both the Classic Loire Atlantique & the Rutland-Melton CiCLE Classic in the Spring. Another few podium places came during a big block in Belgium in the mid-part of the season. Then a win at the final stage of this year's Tour Series in Brooklands preceded a 4th place at the Irish National Road Road Championships at the end of June. Then, of course, came his amazing ride at the Tour of Britain, which saw him take the Eisberg Sprints Jersey, just days before receiving the call-up for the World Championship squad.
The Elite Mens' race day itself saw the biblically long course shortened to just a ridiculously long course of 265km, although the parcours cut out a section of the climbing (including Buttertubs) and instead added more laps of the Harrogate town circuit. On paper, this was said to favour the strong men at the expense of those who could climb better, but what transpired over the following hours was nothing more than a mental war of attrition. Physical strength almost didn't come into it (almost)...
After being seen on TV near the front of the bunch (and receiving a reasonably loud cheer from many in the Zwift pop-up pub at the Cold Bath Brewery in Harrogate), Rory rode solo after being distanced by the ever-shrinking selection. What captured our hearts was his persistence and determination to lap the circuit whilst out alone.
Race coverage kept cutting to riders climbing off, visibly thrilled to have finally been dropped so that they could stop the madness. World Tour superstars, Grand Tour winners, world champions, all unified by their desperation to stop pedalling around in the rain... Rory rode straight past them lap after lap, before becoming one of the very few riders actually pulled out by the race organisers.
Performances like Rory's, and Annamiek Van Vleuten's truly epic 100km+ solo attack, are underpinned by nothing but sheer grit & determination. Whether resulting in victory or not, rides like those are why we fall in love with the sport every day.