Champion for 15 minutes - Dutch star Nils Eekoff speaks after VAR controversy at UCI Road World Championships

Nils Eekhoff crossed the line first in Harrogate. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Nils Eekhoff crossed the line first in Harrogate. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Dutch rider Nils Eekhoff has revealed his devastation at being world champion for only 15 minutes - but the UCI say the decision to disqualify him was correct.

Eekhoff finished first in the men's under-23 race at the UCI Road World Championships in Harrogate on Friday, but - after being interviewed for live television - was disqualified on video evidence.

That was good new for Leeds' Tom P:idcock who was fourth across the line, but found himself promoted to bronze medal position behind Samuele Battistella (Italy) and Switzerland's Stefan Bissegger.

But there was widespread sympathy in the sport for Eekhoff.

The UCI, cycling's governing body, said he was disqualified - along with two others - for "sheltering behind or taking advantage of the slipstream of a vehicle (for sometime)".

Though against the rules, riders frequently use the slipstream created by race vehicles to get back into the peloton after a crash or mechanical incident.

The issue with Eekhoff was for how long he used that advantage.

The fact Eekhoff was allowed to finish the race added to his and supporters' frustration, but the UCI said evidence of the incident was seen only after the finale.

On social media, Eekhoff said he was "proud" of his performance - and revealed he had been "suffering serious pain from a dislocated shoulder" after an early crash.

"To heard they DQ me, was/is a big shock to me," he said.

"I understand the rules of cycling, but truly think this decision is inappropropriate."

Questioning the UCI's consistency, he added: "I will never ever forget these best 15 minutes of my life...I'll be back."

Later, the UCI released a statement clarifying its decision, revealing Eekhoff had been drafted the the car for "over two minutes".

It insisted the punishment was "appropriate due to the time spent sheltering".

The statement added: "As the world governing body of cycling the UCI is deeply committed to ensure the integrity of cycling and the fairness on the field of play."