Australia dominated yesterday’s opening day of the UCI Road World Championships in Copenhagen, with victories in the men’s Under-23 and women’s Junior Time Trials, courtesy respectively of Luke Durbridge and Jessica Allen. Great Britain’s Elinor Barker finished second behind Barker to clinch silver.
In Geelong 12 months ago, Durbridge had missed out by less than 2 seconds to Taylor Phinney as the American took gold. With riders signed to UCI ProTeams not allowed to participate in the Under-23 events, Phinney, who moved to BMC Racing for 2011, was missing, as was Team Sky’s Alex Dowsett, making Durbridge, who rides for Jayco Skins, a strong favourite this time round.
The 20-year-old from Western Australia completed the 35.2 kilometre course in 42:47:13, 35 seconds ahead of home rider Rasmus Quaade. It could even have been an Australian one-two, but Michael Hepburn had to settle for bronze after crashing 5 kilometres from the end, although he recovered to post what was then the fastest time until the Dane beat it by 11 seconds.
"My main goal all year has been to come here and win," said Durbridge afterwards. "I concentrated purely on this time trial to make sure I came here with the best form and it's a fantastic feeling.
"Watching Jess (Allen) win was inspiring and made me even more determined to go and get my own rainbow jersey," he continued.
"When I knew I was up on the time checks I just continued to bring it home (but) the last lap I was taking it a little bit safe on the corners just to make sure I got home."
Hepburn, like Durbridge a member of the Australian team pursuit squad that won the world championship in the Netherlands earlier this year, spoke afterwards of the cause of his crash, which left him with cuts and grazes.
"A little bit of wind caught my front wheel and it skipped a bit," he revealed. "You don't plan for these things to happen but sometimes they do and it definitely shakes you up a bit.
The 20 seconds lost in getting back onto a spare bike cost Hepburn a almost certain silver medal, and with the rider taking time to get back up to racing speed, he may well have pushed his compatriot for gold, not that he was making excuses.
"In these races you can't afford to have anything go wrong,” reflected Hepburn, “but hats off to these guys [Quaade and Durbridge] because they're better than me today. I was happy with my ride so what more can you ask for?"
Allen, the final rider on the course for the 13.9 kilometre women’s Junior event, won by 1.84 seconds from the 17-year-old Barker, who hails from Cardiff, in a time of 19:18:63. Mieke Kroger of Germany finished in third place.
This afternoon, Great Britain’s Emma Pooley defends the title she won at Geelong in the women’s time trial, and will be joined by Julia Shaw, bronze medallist in the Delhi Commonwealth Games last year, confirmed only yesterday as having been awarded the second British slot for the event.
Shaw is due to roll off the start ramp at 13:46 BST, with Pooley, as defending champion, the last woman out on the 27.8 kilometre course at a little after 15:16.
Owain Doull and Jon Dibben, meanwhile, ride for Great Britain in this morning’s men’s Junior time trial.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.