Road World Championships 2021 - Per Strand Hagenes takes superb first ever Junior Road Race world title for Norway
Hagenes reversed the result of the European Championships as he accelerated away from Romain Gregoire of France on the penultimate climb of a gruelling romp in Leuven. The Norwegian was able to celebrate in style and comfort after timing his decisive attack perfectly to secure a famous victory as Madis Mihkels (Estonia) won a reduced bunch sprint for third.
Highlights: Per Strand Hagenes powers away to create history for Norway
Per Strand Hagenes became Norway's first ever junior world road race champion with an outstanding victory in Flanders.
The Norwegian produced a stunning attack on the race's penultimate climb to power away from the field in a heavily-taxing battle that started and ended in Leuven.
The European Championships junior silver medallist, who will join Jumbo-Visma's development team next year, was able to ascend the final climb in relative comfort after distancing France's Romain Gregoire, beating his chest and roaring his approval as he crossed the line for a statement victory.
"I knew it was possible when I looked at the course yesterday," said a beaming Hagenes after his victory. On those short, punchy climbs I am quite good, but to make it happen is incredible."
Of his telling final attack, the Norwegian said: "I had to gap up to the breakaway on the hill before but the French guy [Gregoire] was on my wheel so I knew I had to go full gas."
WATCH - Moment that Per Strand Hagenes attacks with 5km to go
Pre-race favourite Cian Uijtdebroeks crashed on the opening lap of the Leuven circuit to end his hopes of a home victory.
The prodigious Belgian, who has been compared to compatriot Remco Evenepoel, failed to figure despite a heroic, prolonged effort ti bring himself back into contention that ultimately proved in vain.
It continued an eventful couple of weeks for Uijtdebroeks, who revealed that he had been injured in an attempted burglary just days before finishing sixth in the junior time trial.
'It has been a horrible morning!' - Jeromel latest to crash out
In a race full of incident, accident and action, the world's leading young bike riders produced a high tempo throughout with plenty of largely unstructured attacking.
Denmark's Simon Dalby impressed throughout a gruelling 121.4km romp around the roads of Leuven but crashed at the worst possible time, delaying others as Hagenes produced his supreme acceleration.
'I knew it was possible' - Per Strand Hagenes talks about men's junior win
Great Britain's Edward Pickering also figured prominently throughout but faded after mistiming his breakaway attempt, though teammate Max Poole secured a ninth-placed finish among the sprinting bunch contesting third place.
After keeping a reserved presence for much of the race, the jerseys of a strong French team became ubiquitous in the final kilometres with three riders in the final group.
Yet Hagenes timed his effort perfectly to blow away Gregoire and claim a famous Norwegian triumph.
You can watch the 2021 UCI Road World Championships live and ad-free on the Eurosport app and Eurosport.co.uk. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now. You can also watch the most comprehensive live & ad-free racing on GCN+. Go deeper and get interactive with live polls & quizzes, plus rider profiles, race updates, results & more – plus stream exclusive cycling documentaries.