Stefano Viezzi of Italy won the junior men’s world title in Tabor after a battle with Aubin Sparfel of France.
Viezzi attacked going through the finish as the bell rang out for the final lap. He survived a spill and managed to distance Sparfel, who was struck by a puncture and slipped to fourth.
Keije Solen of the Netherlands won a battle with Krystof Bazant of the Czech Republic to take the silver medal at nine seconds, with Bazant at 31 seconds.
Sparfel finished at 48 seconds, with junior road race and mountain bike world champion Albert Withen Philipsen fifth at 1:02.
Viezzi slumped to the ground in a mix of pain and emotion. He dominated the World Cup this winter with victories in Troyes, Paris and Hoogerheide. Now he is the new World Champion.
“I can’t believe it. It’s impossible to understand what I’ve done. This was a big dream and I’ve pulled it off,” he said emotionally before pulling on the rainbow jersey.
The Tabor course was more compact early on Sunday than on Saturday but as the temperatures warmed and riders took different lines, the mud depended and began to hurt the riders and slow their speeds.
Sparfel had the best start, going over the bridge first but Viezzi and Bazant were soon on his wheel and they quickly pulled away from the rest of the race.
During the second lap a series of surges by Sparfel cracked Bazant as the French rider went wheel to wheel and shoulder to shoulder with Viezzi.
After two laps they led by Bazant by 12 seconds as Solen rode a more controlled race and caught him.
Sparfel wanted to race on the front and he and Viezzi were locked in a tactical battle. Viezzi opened a light gap before the finish straight after the third lap and decided to keep going with an attack on the asphalt as the bell rang out for the fourth and final lap.
Viezzi got a gap but then stumbled and lost speed. It could have lost him the race but behind him Sparfel suffered a puncture. He had to ride on with a flat and so was cruelly passed by riders he had previously distanced.
Up front Viezzi kept his composure and rode to victory, giving Italy their first cyclocross world title since Davide Malacarne in 2005.