Germán Darió Gómez Becerra fell victim to a cruel fate at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire. The 18-year-old represented Colombia in the junior men’s road race Thursday and was riding with a reduced pack about 80 kilometers from the finish when he suffered a crippling mechanical issue as he rolled his rear tire. Gómez was then forced to stand on the side of the road waiting for either his team car or a neutral service car to hook him up with a replacement wheel.
Neither came, and Gómez broke down in tears as his chances of winning a world championship evaporated. The cars that could have saved his race were too far back to help him, so he sat in a ditch and walked up the road with his bike in one hand and his tire in another.
Via Cycling News:
“In that moment, I was despairing, powerless. I was frustrated and sad, because I felt really good. I was in the group with the favourites, and I could have stayed there,” Gómez told reporters in Harrogate after the race.
“When I started to walk, I wasn’t really thinking. The adrenaline was at maximum and I must have thought if I walk a few metres it’s a few metres less to get back on.”
Gómez’s team car reached him four minutes later, and he went on to finish in 60th place. The timing of Gómez’s mechanical issue could not have been worse, as the race had just fractured, scattering the race into a few groups and pushing the line of team cars back. Colombia was also drawn into 21st position out of 25 cars, and they were forced to share a car with Chile and Uruguay, who had a rider crash behind Gómez.
(From my brief experience riding in a team car, this strung-out grouping is basically the scenario that would most thoroughly strand a rider, and there’s nothing Colombia could have done to pass 20 cars and dozens of riders get to their man in time for him to reach the break again.)
The Colombian team has lodged a complaint with the UCI over the absence of the four neutral Shimano service cars and four motorbikes that could have fixed Gómez’s bike. Longtime pro cyclist Iljo Keisse also noted the poor organization of cars in the peloton.
Gómez crossed the line in good spirits, almost 17 minutes behind the winner: Quinn Simmons who won by 56 seconds after a dominant long-range solo attack.