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Valverde and Martin drop out of rain-hit world road race

Conditions are miserable in Yorkshire.

Conditions are miserable in Yorkshire.
Conditions are miserable in Yorkshire.
Image: Manu Fernandez

DEFENDING WORLD CHAMPION Alejandro Valverde cut a sorry figure as he pulled out of the rain-lashed cycling road race world championships on Sunday.

The veteran Spaniard who won an epic race at Innsbruck last season dropped out with 100km to go and was part of a growing army of drenched cyclists throwing in the sponge at Harrogate as the French and Belgian teams set a pace as relentless as the rain.

The conditions were so difficult that even a pair of gritty pre-race favourites Ireland’s Dan Martin and Belgian Philippe Gilbert, world champion in 2012, dropped out.

Rain caused widespread disruption to the cycling world championships on Sunday as the route was sheared of its iconic heart, fans were turned away and the television images were interrupted.

Earlier, a relentless overnight downpour and flooding led organisers to strip 50km from the men’s elite road race.

That included the celebrated climbs of Buttertubs and Grinton Moor, the stages for wild crowd scenes during the 2014 Tour de France and where droves had been expected Sunday.

The race set out from Leeds with the peloton marshalled through huge puddles as floods seeped out of the Yorkshire dales.

2019-uci-road-world-championships-mens-elite-road-race-leeds-to-harrogate The start of the men's elite road race. Source: Bradley Collyer

The fan park at Harrogate quickly became a quagmire and was closed.

Fans were gamely standing four or five deep most of the way around the Harrogate track for the culminating nine laps with water streaming down over-flooded gutters in many sections.

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At least those on the course could see the race. Television were cut because the bad weather forced the camera helicopter to land and refuel.

The drenched peloton were treated to an extra feeding section before arriving at Harrogate.

© AFP 2019   

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