HARD, EVEN by Yorkshire standards.
That was how home rider Ben Swift summed up the elite menâ€™s race which closed the UCI Road World Championships.
Of the 197 riders who set off from Leeds yesterday morning, Swift was one of only 46 to reach the finish in Harrogate.
And that was after the length of the race was reduced â€“ and the tough Buttertubs and Grinton Moor climbs bypassed â€“ due to torrential rain and flooded roads.
Swift, the British champion, clocked a time of six hours, 34 minutes and six seconds to cover the 260.7 kilometre course and finished 31st, six minutes, 38 seconds behind winner Mads Pedersen.
â€œIt was a really tough day out there, pretty epic weather,â€ said the Rotherham man.
â€œIt definitely was [hard, even for Yorkshire], it was cold, it was quite windy at times and there was a lot of big, deep puddles out there which made it more difficult.â€
Despite that, Swift insisted he never considered throwing in the towel.
â€œNo, you donâ€™t want to give up,â€ he said.
â€œYou go until you canâ€™t go any more. Thatâ€™s pretty much what I did.â€
Huge crowds turned out at roadside and, as the only Yorkshire-based competitor, Swift received the loudest cheers.
Of the fans who stood for hours in the driving rain, he said: â€œIncredible, the atmosphere was buildng and building and it was amazing to see so many people there in this pretty bad weather, so thanks to them.â€
Swiftâ€™s team-mate Geraint Thomas was one of the riders who did not finish.
The 2018 Tour de France winner said: Itâ€™s never nice, personally, not to finish, but the support was second to none.
â€œWe rode well together [and] the crowd was really good. This is something weâ€™ll remember for sure.â€
Even Pedersen was surprised at the ease with which he out-sprinted Italyâ€™s Metteo Trentin, a past stage winner in all three Grand Tours. Stefan Kung, of Switzerland, took bronze.
â€œIt was brutal, a pretty rough day, 10, 12 degrees and a lot of water,â€ Pedersen said.
â€œIt was a really tough day, but thatâ€™s the way I like to race.â€