Josh Tarling makes it two golds for Britain in junior time trials at Road World Championships
There were two rainbow jerseys for British Cycling on Tuesday in Wollongong, with Josh Tarling winning the men’s junior time trial in style to follow Zoe Backstedt’s earlier dominant victory. The Welshman was out last and started as favourite, living up to that billing as he beat Hamish McKenzie to the title at the Road World Championships.
Highlights: Tarling wins time trial gold at the Road World Championships
Josh Tarling made it two golds for Britain in the junior time trials at the Road World Championships as he grabbed the rainbow jersey with a consummate performance.
Australia's Hamish McKenzie had set the early pace and managed to cling on to the lead for the best part of three hours as he took silver ahead of Emil Herzog (Germany). But Tarling paced his race superbly to win by 19 seconds.
“It definitely hasn’t sunk in yet, it just feels like a relief. I was a bit annoyed after last year, I really wanted it," Tarling said afterwards, before acknowledging that he was not going to celebrate this one until after the road race.
The junior men got to tackle a 28.8km course around the town of Wollongong, with conditions holding steady and ideal for time trialling. There were 52 men in a relatively open field, setting off in four groups across the afternoon.
The first rider to light up the course was home favourite McKenzie. He was fourth off the ramp in the early wave but cheered on by the crowds, crossed the line in 35:18.45 to set the time for the others to chase in a professional performance.
Hamish McKenzie of Australia sprints during the 95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 - Men Junior Individual Time Trial a 28,8km race from Wollongong to Wollongong
Image credit: Getty Images
Duarte Marivoet Scholiers (Belgium) had scrawled ‘Go aero’ on his right hand to remind himself to maintain position, with time trialling not necessarily coming naturally to all the juniors. Alexander Gustin (USA) was then the first to fall, after misreading a corner and having to run wide to miss some road furniture. He toppled relatively gently into the barriers, but then lost his chain which cost him even more time.
Cameron Rogers (Australia) is the nephew of the great time trialist Mick Rogers, but he could not emulate his uncle, coming home down on the clock albeit with enough style to mark himself out as one to watch in the future.
Back to the leaderboard, and McKenzie had a long wait in the hot seat with nearly two hours passing and one group of riders remaining before his time looked likely to be toppled. Sitting with arms crossed, he watched on as rider after rider couldn’t match his early effort – but the fourth wave of riders was packed with talent including Tarling, last year’s silver medallist.
Such was the length of time the Tasmanian topped the leader board, he had given up with the lycra and donned a tracksuit as he waited to see if his time would be beaten. Natan Gregorcic (Slovenia) could not manage it – and neither could Serbia’s Mihajlo Stolic.
William Eaves (Australia) went off to plenty of cheers – and looked competitive through the first check point. But the wind had picked up, from 7kph to 32kph, which suddenly made McKenzie’s time take on new significance. Eaves lost enough time to the second check point that attention turned to the last handful of starters.
William Eaves of Australia sprints during the 95th UCI Road World Championships 2022 - Men Junior Individual Time Trial a 28,8km race from Wollongong to Wollongong
Image credit: Getty Images
Herzog was fourth last to go, Mathieu Kockelmann (Luxenberg) was third last out and the reigning European time trial champion. But both of them were down through the first time check too, McKenzie shaking his head in disbelief as he saw the times come in.
But Tarling was the last off the ramp and the first to beat McKenzie’s time through the first check point. The Welshman was looking to emulate compatriot Zoe Backstedt who had gone off last in the women’s time trial earlier and taken gold – but with McKenzie having ridden a negative split, there was work to do.
Tarling's first complete lap was quicker than his rival’s, the Ineos Grenadiers rider showing why he has been awarded a three-year contract with a mature performance. He caught and passed Jens Verbrugghe (Belgium) for good measure as he continued to stretch his legs. But at the second time check, he was only 13 seconds ahead of McKenzie...
Herzog crossed the line to slot into second, tongue sticking out as he gasped for air. But this one was all about Tarling. He picked up even more time in the final kilometre to cross the line and take the title, McKenzie finally dethroned after the best part of three hours.
"The first lap it was important, it felt all uphill especially with a headwind," Tarling said, with the Britain not getting the best of the conditions compared to the early starters.
"Then it’s downhill and tailwind into the finish. I was hurting anyway, but when I saw Verbrugghe I eased off and I took it too easy, so I had to then kick on. I had a bad start to the season with injuries and feeling empty, and halfway through the year it’s been all about this. It’s awesome, just really proud."
‘It has not sunk in yet’ – Tarling on relief of winning junior time trial
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