Mohoric wins U23 men's road race world championship

Meintjes earns silver while Enger sprints to bronze medal

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A year after he took silver and gold at Valkenburg in the junior men's time trial and road race world championships, Slovenian Matej Mohoric claimed gold again, but this time with a solo win in the U23 men's road race.

Due to turn pro with Cannondale next year, the 18-year-old Slovenian proved that he is more than ready for the step up into cycling's top league as he rode a near-faultless race at Florence.

Saving his energy through the first five of seven laps of the circuit, Mohoric bridged across to France's Tour de L'Avenir stage winner Julian Alaphilippe on the second last lap then dropped the Frenchman on the last ascent of the Fiesole climb for a solo challenge.

Riding to his considerable strengths as a descender, the lankily built Mohoric opened up the throttle on the technical, fast drop off the Fiesole back down into Florence, creating a gap of 28 seconds by the time the road flattened out.

Behind the chase, initially led by the Italians, spluttered and fizzled fitfully into some sort of life as Mohoric, often in view ahead on the longer straights, continued to plough onwards regardless, only for the pursuit to die away again as riders took their own chances here and there.

The only one that succeeded in actually going clear was South African Louis Meintjes, and on the second, shorter, punchier climb of the Via Salvati, Mohoric came painfully close to being caught by his nearest pursuer.

But the summit of the 600-metre ascent came too soon for Meintjes to close the gap definitively, and Mohoric's ultra-fast descending - clipping the corners perfectly and wrapped around the top tube - helped the gap widen again.

With 400 metres of the 172.3-kilometre course left to race, the penny dropped with Mohoric that barring divine intervention with a capital "D", the victory was in the bag, and he slowed slightly to allow himself to savour the moment. After raising his arm skywards one last time, the Slovenian crossed the line with three seconds on Meintjes, whilst Norway's Sonder Enger led in the tiny front bunch of 17 chasers 13 seconds later for bronze.

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