Harrogate (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Denmark's Mads Pedersen created a huge surprise when he emerged from a rain-drenched Yorkshire road race with cycling's world title on Sunday.
The 23-year-old timed his last-gasp run to perfection to beat a devastated Italian Matteo Trentin and Swiss rider Stefan Kung in silver and bronze positions after 261km and over 6 hours and 27 minutes of exhausting racing.
"That's an unbelievable day, I didn't expect this morning," said the Leopard-Trek team rider who won much as an under-23's racer.
"It was just survive, survive, survive. Then hope for the best in the sprint," said Pedersen, who was far from favourite to beat Italian 30-year-old Trentin, usually a crack in the sprints.
"When I saw the finish line I thought anything can happen," he said.
The race was shortened Sunday morning as relentless overnight rain took its toll on the narrow roads through the Yorkshire dales, flooding an iconic hilly section of the route which was cut out altogether.
The rain also turned the Harrogate fan park into a quagmire and grounded the television helicopters.
Dutch 24-year-old Mathieu van der Poel had looked set for victory with a lap to go but cracked suddenly and spectacularly.
The conditions took a huge toll. Only 46 of the 182 starters crossed the finish line.
Among the early victims, defending world champion Alejandro Valverde cut a sorry figure as he pulled out with 100km to go.
But the rain gave Pedersen his chance.
In 1993 the Oslo worlds were also run in a downpour as the now disgraced American former rider and admitted doper Lance Armstrong won in short sleeves in a deluge, crossing the line in near darkness.