Mathieu Van Der Poel survived a late crash on the damp streets of Glasgow to claim the coveted rainbow jersey in the men’s elite road race at the UCI Cycling World Championships.

Van Der Poel slipped on a right-hand corner a little over 16 kilometres from the end of the 271km race, but quickly remounted and continued to put time into a chasing group of Wout Van Aert, Tadej Pogacar and former world champion Mads Pedersen.

The Dutchman had shredded part of his right shoe as he slid across the tarmac, unable to tighten it back up, but with adrenalin pumping through his body – and a hint of anger on his face – he powered away and opened up an unassailable gap on the last of 10 laps around the city centre.

Van Der Poel, grandson of the great late French rider Raymond Poulidor and son of Dutch former world cyclo-cross champion Adri Van Der Poel, already had five world titles in cyclo-cross, but becomes the first Dutchman to win the men’s road world title since Joop Zoetemelk in 1985.

“It was one of the biggest goals I had left and to win it today was amazing,” the 28-year-old said. “It almost completes my career in my opinion.

“For me, maybe it’s my biggest victory on the road and I cannot imagine yet riding in the rainbows for a year.”

Belgium’s Van Aert came in second before Pogacar beat Pedersen in a sprint for third place.

The riders would have avoided the worst of the wet weather which characterised the final three laps of the race were it not for environmental protestors who held up the race for almost an hour in the morning as the peloton made their way over from the start in Edinburgh.

Great Britain’s Owain Doull and Irishman Rory Townsend had been part of a nine-strong breakaway who had more than seven minutes on the peloton at the time, but all the riders had to take an extended break as police worked to clear the road.

The technical Glasgow circuit, a considerable challenge even in the dry, would quickly break up the race once they arrived into town.

Van Der Poel, Pedersen, Pogacar and Van Aert had been in a select group that went clear with around 70km left before the rain began to arrive with a little over an hour of racing to go, a beautiful rainbow appropriately arcing over the city as riders contested the jersey of the same name beneath it.

Alberto Bettiol launched an attack off the front and opened up a gap of around 30 seconds, but he was reeled in as Van Der Poel made his own decisive move with 23km remaining, quickly opening up a gap as they made their way through Kelvingrove Park.

“I knew this was hardest moment of the race,” Van Der Poel said of his attack point. “I felt pretty strong and I saw they were on the limit.

“When I went away I didn’t expect a gap immediately but when I saw nobody was following it gave me wings and I was just flying around the course.”

That was until he was on the deck, losing control on some painted lines.

“It was not that I was stupid or taking risks,” he added. “But all of a sudden I was on the ground. I was pretty p***ed at myself because I just had to stay on the bike and I didn’t manage it…

“If this had cost me the world title I would not have slept for a couple of days but it’s an incredible feeling.”